It’s late and I should be off to bed. I’m going down to the Isle of Wight tomorrow with my boys and we’ve got an early-ish start. But if I don’t post now it’s going to be another week missed and for now I’m keen to maintain the one post a week schedule. Also one of my favourite former Fulham players is in the news this week.
Steed Malbranque is my second favourite Fulham player, second only to the mighty Gordon Davies. Signed in the build up to our first ever Premier League season Steed slotted into our team like he’d been there for years. He always looked comfortable in possession and once in control was difficult to knock off the ball. He fitted the club too. Apparently quiet and unassuming off the field but a willing worker and excellent team player when on it. It’s always annoyed me when large sections of the crowd have booed him on his return. I’m all for a bit of banter when a player deserves it but it seemed to me Steed left as much down to a lack of support from the management as any desire to find greener pastures.
His spell at Spurs didn’t pan out as well as he’d hoped. Signed by Martin Jol (hence the rumours of his return) and making some 50 appearances but then released by Juande Ramos. The move to Sunderland gave him more regular football for two seasons but last year it was apparent he was no longer viewed as a garaunteed starter. Steve Bruce recently confirming this by stating that whilst he had done remarkably well for the club it was probably time to move on. And so back to France and to St. Etienne, a club with a great history but one that is currently in the shadow of their great rivals (and Steed’s first club) Olympic Lyons.
Steed made over 200 appearances for Fulham and scored over 40 goals. He was never as prolific anywhere else. We got to see him at his very best. The video below highlights everything I loved about him. The excellent control, the stooped run, the awareness of other players. A quick pass, a continued run, a neat finish. We beat Manchester United 3-1 at Old Trafford. I think this was the first day I began to believe we deserved to remain in the top flight.