Fulham playing Wigan means one thing: Clint Dempsey will score a goal. Those of us bold enough to put money where our mouth is were able to turn £3 into £13.38. Thanks, Clint; thanks Wigan!
Perhaps the result was a bit hard on Wigan, who had most of the ball and spent much of their time in Fulham’s half, but when you’ve lost six on the spin you need a spot of luck, and that was missing today. Victor Moses – a player I’ve long hoped might end up at Fulham – hit the angle of bar and post with a big dipper of a volley; Maynor Figueroa hit the post with an absurd long range strike that veered back towards the goal as if Wasim Akram had bowled it. Other than this they were there or thereabouts, although Mark Schwarzer wasn’t overworked.
Wigan feel like a good team’s B side, with lots of interesting players who aren’t quite what they might be: the aforementioned Moses will be a decent player for someone someday, I like Figueroa, and Ben Watson goes underappreciated because of where he plies his trade. Hugo Rodellega is an enigma, but an enigma with some pedigree of scoring Premier League goals. They’re not the only ones.
But somehow they’re less than the sum of their parts. Perhaps a couple of good centre-backs would make the world of difference; perhaps for all his pleasant traits, Roberto Martinez isn’t quite the man to lead this team on to better things. Who knows? But it does look like this odd club is teetering on the brink of a relegation that now feels overdue.
Fulham weren’t all that today, but did enough. Danny Murphy banged a long ball over the top for Bobby Zamora, who squared for Dempsey to make it 1-0. Simple. Fulham’s second, also at the end of a half, also involved Clint Dempsey being clear, but this time the ball-carrier, Dembele, rolled the ball into the bottom corner past a curiously compliant Al-Habsi. Perhaps the keeper expected Dembele to do the right thing and lay the ball off. Whatever, the shot wasn’t exactly unsaveable.
So yes, we did enough. Danny Murphy enjoyed a welcome return to form before making way for Dickson Etuhu (who didn’t give the ball away once), Andy Johnson looked lively-ish wide on the right, and while Dempsey and Dembele were quite quiet, both scored. Bobby Zamora isn’t the menhir up front we’ve previously enjoyed, but he set up Dempsey’s goal and is contributing in other ways. He really is a fine all-around player, even if he is only using about half of his talents in his current role.
These points matter and the team will be relieved to have won them.