The game was Fulham under Jol in microcosm: lots of lovely attacking play in the first half, then a complete shutdown and hanging on phase that could easily have seen us lose the three points. I don’t know why it happens but it is frustrating. That was a 4-0 win waiting to happen.
I’m seeing a bit of basketball in our play. There’s something of the Stockton/Malone in Ruiz and Dempsey’s working relationship. The passes that Ruiz set Dempsey free with in the first half were absolutely magic, the free-kick in particular coming when he saw something nobody else did. Equally, there’s a bit of basketball in Dembele’s play, that extraoardinary free-styling approach work… you know you’re watching something special when you can’t think of anyone else in football who can do what he does.
Mark Hughes certainly has a chip on his shoulder, doesn’t he? That hand-shaking incident just made him look small and silly.
I imagine that Anton Ferdinand and his defence were drilled with “watch Clint Dempsey’s runs” until the subject thoroughly bored them. Hughes knows his former team and will have known what he had to do. By and large they did keep Clint quiet.
Funny how we got good at set pieces under Hughes – for the first time in a long time – now we’re not so good again. You’d think that the act of crossing and heading home would be outside the realms of coaching, but perhaps not.
A good win, anyway. Jol’s approach is now clearer than ever and hopefully he can make it work. If we take a moment to be optimistic there’s much to admire about the team as it now stands. There are issues, but there always will be. If Jol can keep us where we have been and get us playing more sorcery football then that’s probably okay.