Manchester United could have lost to the depth-dwelling and relegation-threatened Fulham, the team out of all 20 clubs currently occupying the Premier League who are, after 25 match-days, the worst-performing. This is an opinion voiced by Richard Keys, who has long hoped for the Old Trafford side to recapture their champion's mettle as Britain 'needs a strong United'.
Writing on his official blog, Keys wrote: 'Never mind the possession stats, nor the fact that United have set a new record for crossing the ball. This is the only fact that matters - The Champions have just been held at home by the worst team in the Premier League - Fulham.
'And they could very easily have lost.'
Fulham went ahead through Steve Sidwell on Sunday, February 9 at Old Trafford, only to fall behind after a two-minute period in the 78th and 80th minutes when Robin van Persie secured an equaliser, prior to a rare Michael Carrick goal. In injury time, though, Darren Bent powered in a last gasp header.
Fulham's form has been misery and, even with the draw, they remain at the foot of the division, four points adrift of Sunderland, who are safe with 24 points in 17th place.
'This is a Fulham team beaten in eight of the 11 games Rene Meulenstein has been in charge of. That played for 45 minutes at Old Trafford without a centre forward and should have led 2-0 at half time. If they had done, so fragile is United's confidence right now, I'm not sure they'd have come back to get a point,' remarked Keys.
'When it went 2-1 I wasn't sure if I was watching United win the European Cup - or take the lead against Fulham. The celebrations - and the noise - were extra-ordinary. That should've been it. Would've been it in previous years. But United went looking for a third. Why? Shut the door - see the game out. Be professional,' he said.
That lack of professionalism in seeing out the result ultimately came back to haunt them, as United failed to significantly close the gap on sixth-placed Everton after the Toffees lost to Tottenham Hotspur.
'United aren't good enough. Not by a long stretch. And they haven't been all season. That will not come as a surprise to regular followers of these blogs but I'm sensing something really isn't quite right behind the scenes. I want David Moyes to succeed. We need United to be strong,' Keys added.
United's next match is against Arsenal, again in the Premier League, on Wednesday, February 12 at the Emirates Stadium. Both teams desperately need maximum points as the Gunners look to bounce-back after the humiliating 5-1 drubbing Liverpool gave them at the weekend and United boss David Moyes looks to scalp a big opponent.
Keys believes Arsenal are a side previously bullied by United and, unless they do inflict a similar fate on to them midweek then questions will begin to be asked over the suitability of Moyes…
'It's Arsenal next - a team they've bullied time and again in recent seasons. If Utd lose badly on Weds night it'll take some strong men to leave things as they are. It's a huge night for the 'Chosen One'.
image: © Paolo Camera