Ha ha. What crisis?
Playing the league’s bottom team at a time like this was always likely to be one of those tricky games. On the one hand, you would rather be playing a bad team than a good one; on the other, lose this one… doesn’t bear thinking about.
Anyway, it didn’t happen, owing to two marvellous goals involving Bryan Ruiz’s wand of a left foot. Wand? Wand. The man can do some seriously interesting things with it.
The first came after Dembele set him off down the right. Ruiz checked onto his left and pinged a cross onto Clint Dempsey’s head. Dempsey’s header was excellent. A very pleasing goal indeed.
Moments later we got another. Ruiz was set free by Dempsey and, faced with Jaskalaainen 1 on 1, scooped the ball over the advancing goalkeeper. From where we were sitting the ball seemed certain to drop halfway up the Putney End terrace, but no, down it came. A quite extraordinary finish. What a player, we gasped, shaking our heads in disbelief.
2-0, as we know, is not a safe scoreline, but while Bolton are better than Odense, Fulham weren’t going to mess this one up. The second half was a little flat, and we’d have all preferred a third goal to allow full relaxation, but the result was a good one and just what the doctor ordered.
Most pleasing were the contributions of Danny Murphy – visibly encouraging his teammates (he’s been a little grumpy lately but perhaps sensed that leadership was required) – and of the front four. Andy Johnson missed a couple of good chances, but led the line well and worked well with the tricky three behind him.
And it’s that three that we must be most pleased about. Today it felt like their team. Sure, Ruiz is a little behind the other two in terms of settling in, but he’s part of what we need to be and has already given us plenty of magic. Dembele… it feels like it’s becoming the man, the player opposing teams will make plans to stop. Dempsey is hard to stop, too, that rare combination of delicate buildup and aggressive finishing. As a three they have more or less everything, and it’s not hard to envisage a Fulham team built around them and doing someone some serious damage.
That’s a best case scenario, and after recent times we must guard against getting too excited lest we be accused of being ‘knee jerk’ or something like that. Nevertheless, excellent play builds hope and we had plenty of the former and so some of the latter.
PS Nice to see David Stockdale back. A solid game: long may he stay between those posts.