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.