There was a moment in the buildup to the fifth (knockout) goal in which Mahmadou Diarra seemed to have lost control.  A challenger saw him moment, but while Diarra re-orientated himself and relocated the ball, the tackler seemed to bounce off an invisible force field, perhaps more than once. It was like a lion cub trying to play with its mother: yes, yes, I know you’re there but I’m busy at the moment, get off and go away. Diarra regained his composure and moved the ball on, the defender perplexed. What?

Diarra said that his time at Fulham would consist of a series of cup finals in which he’d have to play out of his skin to win a contract.  Well so far, so good. It was as if the game bowed to Diarra’s wishes, not the other way around.  True, his victims were an exhausted, demoralised and useless Wolves team, but you can only dominate what’s in front of you, and dominate Diarra did.

His passing was sure, crisp and successful, and he was happy to play as a midfield pivot and (later) as a classic #10, offering Dempsey a fifth goal with a deliciously simple through ball that again showed composure and nous in a busy area. He can tackle, too, and while there was a fairly calamitous attempt at a clearing header, we’ll put that down to wind and rustiness: everything else he did oozed class.

It’s that sense of time that impressed me most though. Diarra got the ball, Diarra used it as he wanted to. To make a lazy observation, he looked like a combination of Etuhu and Murphy thrown into one player, which could be terrific news for us. If he really is this good and this useable we may be on the verge of something rather special, with Dembele playing champions league football, Dempsey enjoying the fruits of his hard work and Jol’s attacking tactics, and the wand of Ruiz available for special occasions. Pogrebnyak can’t keep going at this rate, but there’s enough good stuff going on out there to make us wonder if the all white kit, rather than an abomination, isn’t in fact a masterstroke after all.

Don Revie got Leeds playing in all-white and saw that team lurch into something extraoardinary; could we be witnessing the same?

(Obviously not, but this team is looking frighteningly good when it’s on song).

13 thoughts on “Diarra?

  1. Some nice description. This was of course the ideal context for Diarra’s introduction, but he did indeed ooze authority. A combination of him and Murphy — I’m thinking more sequential than concurrent — combined with the more general outsourcing of creativity that Jol has introduced (bringing centre-backs into it, even) may solve the “how on earth do we ever replace Danny” conundrum.

  2. The use of Dembele in central midfield has certainly been interesting. As well as his uncanny dribbling ability he can tackle (often again in an uncanny fashion in that he almost never goes off his feet) and has good stamina. What’s not to like? The fact that he maybe plays too much football in the ‘wrong’ area?

    The question for Fulham now is if Diarra becomes a regular in central midfield who does he replace? Danny Murphy is obviously the more experienced and the more ‘typical’, using hs tight close control to win/keep possession but quickly move it away to a more spacious area etc. But can Diarra offer this and also some protection for the advances of Dembele?

    Manchester Utd over the past couple of season’s have offered an interesting study in the idea of the central midfielder in modern football. Indeed it could be argued that some of their selections have suggested that they no longer see it as a ‘specialist’ position, that anyone can play there (eg. John O’Shea, Ryan Giggs). This is probably particularly true when a team is playing two deeplying central players (very much the fashion in recent times).

  3. “(Obviously not, but this team is looking frighteningly good when it’s on song).”

    Let’s not get TOO carried away; Wolves are terrible, and that’s a big part of what we saw yesterday.

  4. Good post as per usual. I think you’re quite right to say he looks like a Murphy-Etuhu hybrid. So far I’m very excited about him. I’ve been saying for some time that if we are to play this passing game Sidwell and Etuhu aren’t good enough as they don’t have the required passing range. Diarra showed that he does have that, and given that he’s by trade a defensive midfielder you’d have to assume he’s pretty nifty in that area. Could be an inspired signing.
    A bit of a digression but how good did Dembele look. He showed a passing aptness that I’ve not seen from him before. Made a string of precise long range passes. With Diarra and Dembele I’m confident that we can keep Murphy fresh by giving him more of a bit part role next season, much like Scholes last season.
    More importantly we have in Dempsey, Ruiz, Dembele and possibly Diarra the required creative ability to make us less predictable through being over reliant on Murphy.
    Fingers crossed we can keep Dempsey and Dembele.

    1. I was thinking that Man Utd need a centre mid who can dribble and pass to compliment what they have already.

      Dembele would be a perfect fit – a good enough player, would not cost the world and the right mentality (wants to play, wants to win, no bullshit character problems)

      Ideally he would sign another contract, then we could sell him in a years time for £20m and I would not begrudge him the move

  5. Yep: DemPele won’t be with us long term – but I do hope we can keep ThePog and Diarra, Ruiz and Dempsey.

  6. My only observation of the fella is that he has *that* type of gait.

    You know, the one where when running with the head forward and a low center of gravity…it looks like he’s going to poop his pants at any moment.

  7. Diarra won’t be replacing anybody any time soon. He’s woefully short of match fitness to go 90 minutes and probably won’t be really there until there’s a few weeks left in the season.

    What IS nice is that his skill set is such that he can come on at 60-75 for either Dembele or Murphy. We REALLY need to hang on to Dembele. His work at centre mid is stunning.

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