At the centre of Fulham’s defence in the great siege of Old Trafford on Sunday was the 21-year-old centre-half Dan Burn who, at 6ft 7in, was the ideal man to repel a Manchester United side who broke the Premier League record for the number of crosses in a game.
It was Burn, alongside new signing John Heitinga, who was a crucial part of the Fulham game-plan and the Englishman was selected ahead of Brede Hangeland for the task in what was only his seventh senior game for the club. Signed from Darlington three years ago, he has played on loan at Yeovil Town and, most recently, Birmingham City in the Championship this season.
Burn, the same height as Peter Crouch, scarcely put a foot wrong in the 2-2 draw and has put himself in contention for the next England Under-21 squad, ahead of their European championship qualifiers against Wales next month. He has never been called up to represent any of the junior national teams at any level. He only made his Fulham debut in the first FA Cup tie with Norwich City.
Speaking after the game, Burn said: “I was just saying to the lads that I've never headed that many balls since I played in the Conference! I'm happy for them [United] to play like that. We knew that we were going to defend our box well. We were going to keep our back four quite narrow so that we were between the goal and the wingers were going to look after the wide men.
“We've been working on that in training. I thought it worked well. They've had plenty of crosses, loads of chances and stuff but the second goal was quite lucky. I always felt we had something left.
”We're at the stage now where if it's going to go to goal difference [we'll go down]. We knew when we went 2-1 down we had to keep pressing them and we didn't give them time on the ball and it helped us to get chances.”
Born in Blyth, Northumberland, he played in the Yeovil Town team that gained promotion to the Championship last season, scoring in the play-off final victory at Wembley over Brentford. “I have always had a plan in my head that I wanted to play in the Premier League at a certain point but I'm way ahead of that. I should still be at Birmingham [on loan]. To get the chance, backing of the manager and the lads [at Fulham] is amazing and I'm not taking it for granted.
“It's the first time I've played against Man U. It's still a massive club and the players they've got there. They know that they should be doing better themselves. I'm just pleased we've come away with a good result.
“We knew that [the volume of crosses, 81 in all] was going to happen. Once we were dropping further back that we were going to get more compact and make them play around us because we thought we had the strength in numbers. I'm 6ft 7in. It helps when dealing with them sort of balls.
“It shows you how well we've defended. They didn't have many chances. They're still amazing players - on another day they could have had however many but we defended really well.”