Manchester City are harder to get at than Manchester United says Fulham boss Martin Jol
Manchester City 2 Fulham 0: Fulham manager feels there is a toughness about the champions that sets them apart
How does it feel, you wanted to ask Martin Jol, to be out of the frying pan with just a week to prepare for the fire?
His Fulham side had just lost 2-0 to a mechanically efficient Manchester City. On Saturday, they travel to Old Trafford for the fourth round of the FA Cup.
They will be expected to lose to Manchester United, although Fulham will probably be given more of a chance than they had during a sterile, frost-bound Saturday at the Etihad, which is often one of the dullest places in Europe to watch football.
This is not because Manchester City are not playing well, it is because when they face opponents who are anything less than high-quality they simply stifle them. This time, two David Silva goals were enough.
If you take away City's games against the top eight in the Premier League, they have won eight matches by a collective scoreline of 21-3. The last of these lesser sides to score a league goal here was Queen's Park Rangers on 1 September.
Against the same kind of opposition, Manchester United have, like City, won all their matches but kept two clean sheets. They conceded two against Stoke City and three in a theatrically gripping encounter with Newcastle United. Aside from a couple of 1-0 wins over West Ham in the league and FA Cup, there has been very little at Old Trafford that has been routine.
"As a matter of fact, we played at Old Trafford earlier in the season and lost 3-2," Jol said. "Last season, we only lost 1-0 and Danny Murphy was brought down and we should have had a penalty. We tend to do OK against Manchester United but, maybe you are right, City are different.
"We analysed City and saw they had a problem against Ajax and Borussia Dortmund when you put their midfield under pressure and this is what we tried to do.
"But if you concede a goal in the second minute, as we did, you can probably put all your plans aside. And the problem we had was that, if you look at Javi Garcia and Gareth Barry, City's midfield is so physically strong.
"City are more rigid and play with more individual quality than United – but I am not going to say that United are more vulnerable because we have to play them on Saturday."
When he managed Hamburg, Jol got to know Vincent Kompany well and when Fulham did attack the Manchester City captain was in the mood to dominate.
"They are very difficult to beat, especially at home," Jol said. "I can remember five or six balls in their box and Kompany was like a tower and at half-time, I was saying, 'Try to get the ball over Kompany', because I know him very well and he is a strong guy.
"We could have hurt them, you know, because I don't think they played as well as they can."
Goals: Man City Silva 2, 69. Substitutions: Man City Nasri 5 (Zabaleta, 64), Aguero (Tevez, 81), Lescott (Silva, 89). Fulham Briggs 5 (Richardson, 67), Petric (Dejagah, 73).
Bookings: Man City Garcia. Fulham Karagounis, Richardson.
Man of the match Silva. Match rating 5/10. Possession: Man City 45%. Fulham 55%.
Attempts on target: Man City 7. Fulham 0.
Referee J Moss (West Yorkshire).
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