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Sunday 31 August 2014

Barrage leaves Burn cross-eyed

Published 10/02/2014 | 13:12

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Dan Burn celebrates after Fulham snatched a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford late on

Fulham defender Dan Burn thought he was back in the Conference with all the crosses he had to deal with at Old Trafford on Sunday.

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Manchester United knocked an incredible 81 crosses into the Fulham box - and scored from none of them as Darren Bent struck deep in stoppage-time to clinch a 2-2 draw for the Premier League's bottom team.

Six foot seven inch Burn cleared on 22 occasions, his sheer size underlining the futility of a tactic that raises question marks over David Moyes given he has such gifted technical players in his ranks.

It was certainly meat and drink for Burn, who up until four years ago was plying his trade outside the Football League with Darlington.

"I've never headed that many balls since the Conference," he said.

"We knew that was going to happen and I was happy for them to play like that.

"I'm six foot seven. It helps when dealing with those sort of balls.

"When we started dropping further back we wanted to get more compact and make them play around us because we had the strength in numbers.

"Manchester United still have amazing players - on another day they could have scored more often but we defended really well."

Burn's first trip to Old Trafford is part of a steep learning curve for the 21-year-old, who joined Fulham in 2011, since when he has had spells on loan at Yeovil and Birmingham.

He was recalled from a season-long loan at St Andrews in January, and new Cottagers chief Rene Meulensteen has shown plenty of faith in the north-easterner, on Sunday selecting him ahead of Brede Hangeland.

"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," said Burn.

"By rights, I should still be at Birmingham, so, to get this chance, and receive the backing of the manager and the lads is amazing."

Despite the euphoria at a draw that seemed certain to be a win as United laboured to recover from Steve Sidwell's opener, Fulham remain anchored to the foot of the table, three points adrift of safety.

And the tasks do not get any easier for them given in-form Liverpool are the visitors to Craven Cottage on Wednesday.

It will be a special game for Lewis Holtby, given his dad is a huge Everton fan.

Not that he has given it much thought after stepping into a survival battle from Tottenham.

"I am thinking about Fulham - I just want to stay up," said Holtby.

"I am definitely looking forward to Wednesday, everyone is.

"We are going to need the same focus because a team like Liverpool have the confidence to destroy you, as we saw against Arsenal.

"We did our jobs against Manchester United though, and we have the confidence to survive against Liverpool too."

Later on Monday, Fulham felt moved to publish their own interview with Burn in which the defender "clarified" his comments regarding United's tactics.

"I didn't mean that quote to sound as disrespectful as it's been reported," Burn told the club's website.

"There were a lot of crosses, statistically more than any game since stats started, so I just joked that I hadn't headed as many balls since the Conference."

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