Bolton 0-3 Fulham

Exhibit 318 in the “this is why we don’t panic when we’re not 7th in November” file. Fulham, despite a slowish run recently, demolished an in-form Bolton team on their own patch. We’re an inconsistent team, no doubt about it, but a lot of football teams are. And when we’re good, we really can be very good.

Like today. Clint Dempsey added two more goals, but it wasn’t just about him today, the whole team did their bit. It’s the sort of away win that makes you wonder why they’ve been so hard to achieve, but we mustn’t be fooled into thinking that doing this once means we should do it every week. Football isn’t nearly like that.

Today’s opener came when Clint Dempsey took a free-kick and blasted it into the top corner of Bogdan’s goal. Dempsey doesn’t often get to take them these days, which has always seemed daft when Baird and Riise are regularly set up to blast the ball either into the wall or the terracing. Here he stood, in it went. Cracker.

The second was all about Damian Duff, who had a great day but who Owen Coyle seemed to think would go away if only he was left alone. Not so. Time and again Duff made Alonso look silly – on this occasion he tricked to the byline and dinked the ball across right footed, where – guess who? – Dempsey headed home yet another goal.

Dempsey should have had a third in the second half, exchanging passes with Kacalinkic on the edge of the area and finding himself through on goal. He casually rolled the ball a fraction wide of the post. It would’ve been some goal, and it would’ve been his third hat-trick of the season.

As it was Mahmadou Diarra finished the job, John-Arne Riise (who had a barnstorming game today, and not just because of a goal-saving tackle and this assist – he is now the player we thought we were getting) charged down the left and knocked the ball inside. Diarra arrived as if on a children’s slide and diverted the ball low into the far corner. Game over.

Which takes us about where we expect to be, again. It’s all very well wondering if this is Fulham’s most talented squad (kind of, except the star players are mainly past their peaks) and whether we ought therefore to be a bit higher in the table, but once more we’ve achieved about what we should achieve, so far, and done so while (yes) transitioning into a completely different (but not that different – check our F and A away from home) football team. And now Martin Jol is giving the young players more of a chance, which in itself is encouraging. So it’s all good, isn’t it?

The only blot on the performance was an injury to the increasingly influential Bryan Ruiz – we hope he’s okay.

13 thoughts on “Bolton 0-3 Fulham

  1. Been a while since we scored directly from a free kick hasn’t it? Was worth waiting for though. I know you try not to deal with contract/transfer rumours on here but what do you rate our chances of holding on to Clint are. A lot of people on Twitter seem to be think he’d do well with Arsenal.

    We’d really miss him if he went I think.

  2. I know someone who knows someone who knows someone etc… and word is Dempsey is planning to leave this summer. Take that with a pinch of salt, since it’s third hand and via his agent – but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    Noticeable today was the way we didn’t miss Murphy at all. Encouraging, future-wise.

  3. If he wants to leave it HAS to be this summer. But we would need to find someone with similar instincts to replace him, if we lose these 15-20 goals next season we need to know we have 1 or 2 players who can come in and contribute those goals instead.

  4. Our 3 away goals today account for nearly 30% of our entire season output.

    Another solid defensive performance. 5 goals conceded in last 5 away games, 13 in last 10. Roy would be jealous, no?

  5. I really hope that Clint stays, but if he goes I am not that worried.

    Firstly, we would get a good return for him which could be reinvested.

    Secondly, Jol has started to change the team so that we are no longer reliant on the old guard as much. He got rid of Zamora, a man without whom we had mustered less than a point a game, and has shown that there is life in the fulham midfield after Danny.

    Whatever happens in the summer, I will remain supportive of Clint and hope if he does go he flourishes in the top 4, since many think that he is not top 4 material.

    1. Dempsey has scored 36% (and including assists brings him up to at least 45%) of our goals this season – “we don’t rely on the old guard as much” – I think we do!

  6. Of course, this was the match I decided not to stay up an watch – feeling tired. And I miss the best away result of the season. Typical.

    How did Kaca and Dembele play? Looking at the highlights, it was all Duff and Dempsey.

  7. Fair play to Dempsey if he wants to leave, but as he has said himself, the grass is not always greener. The decision to leave for another English club would probably be based on playing champions league football and playing regular first team football. I’m not sure that would happen in England. Arsenal and Spurs are cited most often as potential suitors, but not Dempsey would be guaranteed regular games at either. At Spurs, Harry’s main position for strikers is the bench, and certain Decent players in the form of Bale and Van de Vaart cover his main positions. As for Arsenal, Dempsey is the wrong side of A levels and would be running into Van Persie’s space, so might not be as prolific. I think the clubs that would want Dempsey and give him regular first team football are Europa league candidates – and might not take that competition seriously. I think he would be great at Newcastle or Liverpool but it would mean upheaving the family for what might be a gamble. Plus I would like to think all Fulham players would reject offers from Liverpool on grounds of the disgraceful way backstabbing Dalglish and the kop treated Roy – I love watching Dalglish (Kenny for those who only watch or listen to BBC) go through Roy’s experience – hope Roy isn’t so nice as to not enjoy it too.
    In my mind it comes down to three choices
    – legendary status at Fulham
    – a bigger English club but with risks
    – finish your career with a challenge in Spain or Italy – bigger risks but nice weather.

  8. If Dempsey does go I think we are lucky as we will have had him for his best years. From 2009/2010 Europa Exploits to his great goal tally last season and his incredible tally this season I don’t think he’ll have such a successful 3 consecutive years again in his career. If we sell now yes he may have one or two more years of success which we’ll miss out on, but we’ve had incredible value from him and I’m sure the Fulham faithful would wish him well wherever he goes (unless he goes to Liverpool!)

    My ONLY concern is making sure we can find those 15-20 goals from someone else. Whether thats Ruiz contributing say 10 and another midfield player coming in to contribute another 10. Then if we have a a 15 goals a season striker then I think we won’t miss Clint too much.

    1. Agree in general, but wouldn’t rule out his continuing to improve over the next three seasons. After all, sheer pace isn’t his game, but his knowhow has increased annually, and there’s no obvious reason why it shouldn’t continue to, here or elsewhere. Didn’t he say that yesterday’s was his first ever goal from a direct free-kick? Maybe he’s a few other late developer tricks up his sleeve. There’ll be for us to enjoy, hopefully, but if not we can take vicarious pride so long as his leaving is handled well.

      1. Likely Dempsey will see out the last year of his contract and go on a free in 2013? Tie up a big deal to see out his career in Europe?

  9. Completely unhelpful point but Clint was trending WORLDWIDE for a while last night during Match of the Day. Majority of the comments were based round the fact he’s too good for us etc etc. Bit depressing but its nice to have positive buzz around our own players. Hopefully that will add an extra 1m to his sale price :/

    Very interested to see how Jol/Board play this one out over the transfer window to maximise our return for him if he does get sold.

  10. I don’t see how Dempsey stays. The reason he has gotten so far has a lot to do with his particular mentality and his drive to excel at the highest levels possible. I think he would sacrifice a lot for the opportunity to play in the CL, even if it were somewhere like Italy where his visibility to US fans would probably decrease. (He likely doesn’t care — for whatever bizarre reasons, Dempsey is still the #2 name in American soccer among casual or non-fans, behind Donovan, even though he both looks and sounds like Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights.)

    But anyways, I finally caught the replay of this, and what an awesome game. I can’t remember seeing Fulham dominate on the wings (particularly the right) in quite this way. Duff was spectacular.

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