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Four years ago today, Fulham faced 81 crosses and still claimed a point at Old Trafford

A crestfallen David Moyes, soon to be put out of his misery as Manchester United manager, told the press that ‘it doesn’t get any worse than this‘. His reaction was understandable – anyone who had watched the Sunday afternoon live game from Old Trafford would have considered one of the most remarkable results of the weekend – after bottom of the table Fulham resisted 81 crosses, a whole barrage of United pressure and then claimed a precious point thanks to Darren Bent’s injury time equaliser.

Whilst Moyes was left to lick his wounds following what was widely lamented as the nadir of his spell in the home dugout at Old Trafford, this result marked the high point of former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen’s brief spell in charge of Fulham. The Belgian followed this draw with a gut-wrenching injury-time defeat by Liverpool at Craven Cottage and, after a far flatter performance saw the Whites eliminated from the FA Cup in a fourth round replay by League One Sheffield United, Meulensteen was replaced by the eccentric Felix Magath in a doomed attempt to preserve the club’s Premier League position.

Meulensteen had sprung a surprise on his return to Old Trafford by handing Fulham debuts to Jonny Heitinga and Ryan Tunnicliffe, the Heywood-born midfielder who had captained United to FA Youth Cup success and left for London only ten days earlier on transfer deadline day, whilst teenage forward Muamer Tankovic made his league debut. The new coach preferred Dan Burn to Brede Hangeland in the centre of defence, with the young defender making headlines in days following the game by comparing United’s constant crossing with the type of attacking he faced during his non-league days.

Fulham absorbed home pressure from the off, but stunned Old Trafford by taking the lead against the run of play twenty minutes in. Little Lewis Holtby dinked a delightful ball over the United defence and there was Steve Sidwell sliding in to steer a finish past the stranded David de Gea. Robin van Persie, who had already been denied by a fine Sascha Riether tackle, should have equalised almost immediately but lifted Rafael’s cross over the bar at the back post. The visitors had another lucky escape when Maarten Stekelenburg parried Michael Carrick’s effort before Sidwell bravely blocked van Persie’s follow-up.

The visitors should have made it two before the break, when they hit United on the counter attack. The impressive Tankovic, looking far from overrawed on the big stage threaded a ball through for former United utility man Kieran Richardson, but the ex-England international fired over the bar. Had Tankovic opted to play the ball right rather than left, Tunnicliffe would have been free for a tap in. As it was, Fulham would still have considered themselves fortunate to head in ahead at half time.

The same pattern continued after the interval. Stekelenburg made a sensational save to keep out Wayne Rooney’s effort from a van Persie cross and it was soon all-out-defence from the man in white. Jon Arne Riise got in the way of a venomous van Persie drive and substitute Scott Parker also produced a block tackle on Rooney, when the England skipper looked certain to score. When Fulham’s defence was breached, they caved in twice within the space of two minutes. First, a tiring back four could only clear Patrice Evra’s cross as far as Juan Mata and van Persie poached the equaliser from two yards and then Michael Carrick’s deflected drive from the edge of the box wrongfooted Stekelenburg to put the hosts ahead.

It looked for the world as though Fulham’s brave rearguard action would count for nothing, but that assessment reckoned without the late drama. Bent, who had been something of a spectator in the final third having replaced Tankovic at half time, stopped to head home the equaliser in the fourth minute of added time after David de Gea could only push Richardson’s shot up into the air, sparking wild scenes of celebration in front of Fulham’s travelling supporters.

Burn moves on

Dan Burn announced this morning that yesterday’s win over Bolton Wanderers was his last game in a Fulham shirt. The club and the player had been engaged in preliminary talks over the possibility of extending his contract earlier in the year, but after five years at Craven Cottage, the central defender will move on in a search of a new challenge. The likable 23 year-old has taken a fair bit of a flak from some of Fulham’s more vocal social media followers, but I would prefer to remember him by the two excellent performances that turned out to be his last showings in a white shirt.

Plenty of surprise was expressed when Slavisa Jokanovic shuffled his pack to include Burn and Shaun Hutchinson at the heart of his defence when Fulham travelled to Ipswich a couple of weeks ago. The duo were the pairing that was usurped by the arrival of Richard Stearman and Tim Ream late in the August transfer window and have struggled for game time since but put in a composed and mature defensive performance against a side pushing for the play-offs and were cruelly denied a clean sheet by an injury-time strike that happened to be Town’s first on target.

It perhaps wasn’t as big of a shock when Jokanovic made four changes following the horror show at Griffin Park for this weekend’s visit of Bolton. The Trotters might have already been relegated but they posed plenty of attacking threat in the contrasting form of the experienced and imposing Emile Heskey and the pacier, diminutive and talented Zach Clough. Burn produced one excellent last-ditch tackle to prevent the latter escaping and marshalled the former effectively as well as finding time to strike the post with a rasping drive after a rare foray forward, which even he acknowledged with a chuckle on his way back down the pitch.

Burn’s passion for the club shined through whenever you spoke to him – he was fiercely determined to do well and recognised he was in a privileged position as a footballer – and I got the impression he wanted to repay Fulham’s faith in him. Not that there was a shortage of suitors for his services when the Whites swooped to sign him from Darlington, with whom he won the FA Trophy, for around £350,000 in spring 2011. Indeed, Burn picked Fulham over his boyhood club Newcastle United, believing he could develop better at the Motspur Park academy and eventually flourish in the first team.

The 6ft 7in defender will, of course, always be remembered for heading away most of Manchester United’s 81 crosses on that extraordinary afternoon at Old Trafford when Fulham somewhere escaped with a 2-2 draw. There’s also the small matter of him scoring in the League One play-off final against Brentford at Wembley ensuring Yeovil reached the Championship for the first time in their history during a successful loan spell on the south coast. But perhaps the moment I’ll most fondly recall was the unexpected and glorious headed equaliser that snatched a point at Rotherham in October 2014 from an injury-time corner. At that stage, given Fulham’s dreadful start to the season, points were precious.

Burn had his detractors but he never shirked a challenge and performed well as part of a back three in the early weeks of Jokanovic’s reign, especially in the easy win at Loftus Road. A move to Sheffield United has long been rumoured and, should he end up at Bramall Lane, I’m sure he could become a firm favourite with the Blades fans. Jokanovic is looking to reshape his squad for a serious dart at promotion and whilst Burn no longer figures in those plans, he should leave the Cottage with the best wishes of the Fulham faithful.

Burn details dressing room shock

Fulham defender Dan Burn says the Fulham dressing room has witnessed a few low moments this season – but the defender reckons it was in a state of shock after Saturday’s defeat to Bristol City.

The Whites dominated the first half, and might have been more than 1-0 ahead. Even after the Robins hit back, there was an almighty scramble at the end with shots from sub Cauley Woodrow, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Ross McCormack all bundled away.

The other side had four shots on target, scored from two, and Burn says he is still trying to work out how.

“I don’t really know to explain it,” he said. “To come away without even a point – we’re in shock. We should have finished the game, but we invited them on to us. When you’re down there and fighting you don’t always get the rub of the green.

“The lads are pretty down, but we haven’t got time to sit and worry, we got nine massive, massive matches.”

The defender, who has kept Richard Stearman and Tim Ream out of the side in recent weeks, neatly sidestepped whether this is the lowest point of a poor campaign, but agreed losing at home to a side in the bottom six, hit the squad for six as well.

“The dressing room? It’s never good when you’re down and you’ve lost, but everybody knows how big a game this was for the club,” he added.

Fulham open contract talks with Burn

Fulham have began talks over a new contract with defender Dan Burn, whose contract deal at Craven Cottage expires at the end of the season.

The 23 year-old had looked to have fallen out of favour at the club before new head coach Slavisa Jokanovic restored him to the starting line-up after taking permanent charge at Craven Cottage in December. The 23 year-old has impressed with a series of composed and committed performances and a confident Burn hopes that a deal to keep in west London can be agreed shortly.

We’ve spoken about it a little bit but there’s nothing concrete at the moment. I’m keen to stay. I’m playing games now and I’m leaving it down to the club and my agent and we’ll see how I get on. Slavisa has given me confidence. Playing every game has helped massively.

Burn insists that rumours linking him with a move to Sheffield United are just that.

I’ve heard nothing. It’s all over Twitter and I see it every day but I’ve heard nothing concrete about it at all. I’m out of contract at the end of the season so I’m waiting to see what’s going to happen.

The former Darlington centre back wants to help put Fulham’s season back on track after a dismal defeat at Blackburn in midweek.

Charlton is a massive game for us to keep the distance between us and them. It’ll be good to get a win there. We put in a good performance in at Charlton and would have won if it wasn’t for two sloppy goals, we’d have won.

If we can put in a decent performance like QPR, I’m sure we’ll get the result. It’d widen the gap. Charlton, like every team in this league, is a good team and they can beat anyone on their day. We’ve got to make sure we’re on our game. Hopefully we’ll get a good result.

Burn delighted with return to winning ways


Dan Burn was delighted with Fulham’s derby day victory over QPR at the weekend – although he admitted there was more than a tinge of regret that an injury-time consolation cost his side a precious clean sheet.

Three first half goals from Ross McCormack, Moussa Dembele and Tom Cairney put the visitors firmly in control at Loftus Road and secured a long-awaited first win for new head coach Slavisa Jokanovic. Burn, who has been restored to the first team since Jokanovic’s arrival, felt the victory was perfectly timed as the Whites head into a busy period of four games in a fortnight.

It’s massive to open the account under the new boss. Performance wise, we’ve improved massively and should have got something from Hull and we should have beaten Derby. It’s important to get the three points as we’ve got four games in two weeks; five including Saturday.

We seem to love playing QPR, especially this season. They have probably been two of our best performances of the season. It doesn’t matter who it’s against, it’s more the fact we’ve got the three points after a long wait and we probably should have had more from the last few games. Everyone is really glad we’ve got the win.

QPR’s late goal from a corner, scored by substitute Tjarron Chery, was the only blemish on an almost flawless afternoon. And, given how well Fulham had defended in a reshaped 5-3-2 formation that saw Austrian defender Michael Madl deliver a promising debut, it frustrated Burn.

I think the disappointing thing is the fact we conceded again. We should have had a clean sheet. I’m not happy with that to be honest. We scored three but I would have liked a clean sheet. I feel we’re more solid and not giving away as many chances. We keep the ball really well. We played a back three today that did quite well and took them by surprise.