Hodgson in awe of 'best ever' United

Fulham 0 Manchester Utd 4: They are as good as it gets, says Fulham manager after seeing his side dumped out of the FA Cup by quintuple chasers

Roy Hodgson has spent more than three decades coaching in European football and he has never seen a better team than Manchester United's current incarnation.

The Fulham manager made that assessment after watching United eviscerate his team at Craven Cottage on Saturday night, inflicting the heaviest defeat of his 14-month tenure despite, as he said, Fulham playing reasonably well.

But they were no match for a United team who opened Fulham up at will in cruising to a 26th FA Cup semi-final 100 years after the club's first such appearance. The only concern for Sir Alex Ferguson was the sight of Rio Ferdinand limping on to the team coach with his ankle encased in a protective boot, after going over on the joint shortly before the interval.

Ferguson admitted that, with a Champions League second-leg tie coming up against Internazionale on Wednesday, "Ferdinand is a concern". But a scan yesterday showed no serious damage and Ferdinand believes he will be fit. If he is not, Jonny Evans will deputise.

Such is Evans' progress this season, Ferguson will still feel reasonably confident of keeping a clean sheet which, said Hodgson, would be a problem for their Italian opponents. The former Inter manager said: "Your only chance against United is to go a goal up. If they get into the lead, if it's Fulham, or if it's Inter or Liverpool, it's very difficult to get back into it because they know how to defend a lead, and how to pressurise and soak up pressure. And then when there is space in the counter-attack they know how to use it and they did that against us.

"They are as good as any team I've seen. Technically they are very, very good. Ours is a very difficult pitch yet the quality of their technique was quite fantastic, and their movement is very, very good."

What makes that movement even more impressive is the constant rotation of United's squad. Aside from the replacement of Jimmy Bullard and Zoltan Gera with Dickson Etuhu and Clint Dempsey, Fulham have fielded the same first-choice XI almost all season. They should be able to read each others' play and their neat passing could be expected.

United change personnel and formation regularly yet, such is the quality of the work on the training ground, and the excellence of the players, the joins never show. At the final whistle, they were clapped off by the home support, who knew they had been in the presence of greatness, even with Cristiano Ronaldo given the weekend off and Dimitar Berbatov joining Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes as unused substitutes.

The odds are now 6-1 about a quintuple and, said Park Ji-Sung, "We are concentrating on games one at a time, but we feel we can win all five [trophies]." Having won 13 of their last 15 matches – the exceptions being the first-leg draw in Milan, and the Carling Cup final (which they nevertheless won on penalties) – United's confidence is as intimidating as their advance billing. "We were playing against the best team in the world," said an admiring Etuhu.

Fulham snatched at their chances, then buckled under the weight of pressure to concede bad goals. Paul Konchesky was outjumped at the far post by Carlos Tevez. The Argentine was then allowed to run unchallenged before lashing in from 25 yards. The unusually tentative Brede Hangeland gave Etuhu a risky pass he failed to control before Wayne Rooney struck. After both managers withdrew players to rest them, Gera passed straight to Park for the fourth.

Tevez's two goals are unlikely to win him a place in the starting XI on Wednesday, despite Patrice Evra insisting: "Carlos has given the boss a problem. He does not play every game but when the boss puts him on the pitch he is a different class, an unbelievable player."

Whether United are prepared to stump up the £32m his owners, whoever they are these days, want to make the loan deal permanent remains to be seen.

"My biggest concern is picking the right team," Ferguson said. "I'm leaving out great players all the time and that's not easy." For much of this season he has made the right choices; Internazionale provide a new problem but he has everyone, except Owen Hargreaves and possibly Ferdinand, fit, which at this stage of the season is a testament to his rotation and United's medical staff.

Hodgson was asked if he would be offering Inter – he is close friends with the club's president, Massimo Moratti – any advice. "I have friends at Manchester United too, so no," he said.

Given that Hodgson's normally resolute Fulham have shipped 10 goals without reply in three games against United, Jose Mourinho is unlikely to be calling anyway. And, pity Fulham, United are back at Craven Cottage in a fortnight.

Goals: Tevez (20) 0-1; Tevez (35) 0-2; Rooney (50) 0-3; Park (81) 0-4.

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky; Davies, Etuhu, Murphy (Dacourt, 57), Dempsey; Zamora (Gera, 67), Johnson (Kamara, 60). Substitutes not used: Zuberbühler (gk), Nevland, Stoor, Kallio.

Manchester United (4-4-1-1): Van der Sar; O'Shea (Eckersley, 52), Ferdinand (Evans, 46), Vidic, Evra; Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson, Park; Rooney (Welbeck, 64); Tevez. Substitutes not used: Foster (gk), Berbatov, Giggs, Scholes.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Booked: Fulham Pantsil, Dacourt.

Man of the match: Carrick.

Attendance: 24,662.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice