Saturday was my first chance to see Fulham live this campaign. It was a perfect day to watch football and it turned out to be a perfect game too. It certainly inspired me to do a bit of writing again, and I though I’d have another go at a regular CCN post. A Monday morning alternative view of the weekends events, something a little off the cuff but hopefully something worth reading.
The pre-match talk in my bit of the Hammy End was all about injuries to key players (Ruiz, Petric, Richardson & Diarra all out), excitement over Dimitar Berbatov and concern over how the midfield partnership of Baird & Sidwell would cope.
Berbatov oozed class. One of those pinch yourself moments when a player of genuine quality plays at the Cottage. He strolled around the park without appearing to break a sweat yet popped up time and again in the perfect position to contribute to our attack. At times he reminded me of Danny Murphy; gaining those vital yards of space thanks to his speed of thought rather than his speed of foot, cajolling his team mates when they didn’t pick the right choice but encouraging them when they did and, of course, calmly sliding home the penalty that effectively won us the game. He seemed a natural leader, a shining example for those around him. Perhaps this was a one off, the thrill of being a big fish again, a game that gave him room to express himself. We shouldn’t get too carried away but I think I’m going to enjoy watching Mr Berbatov.
I love Saturday afternoon games in the sun. There’s a feeling of optimism in the air helped by my memory suggesting we always win in the sun (I know we don’t really but my brain eliminates the losses as abberations). West Brom played some neat football but were let down by a moment of madness from Peter Odemwingie. With Fulham a goal to the good already the normal concerns about playing against ten men were allayed. When the penalty was converted it felt like the games was won (I’ve seen us thrown away leads before, I’m rarely completely confident but this would have taken a complete disaster to lose and so it proved). Not the most thrilling of second halves then but enough to keep us entertained and the joy of three points in the bag.
Other than King Dimitar it was the youngsters that caught the eye.Kacaniklic had a stormer of a first half causing all sorts of chaos down the left wing and creating both the first two goals. Second half he tailed of a little, perhaps the West Brom defence wised up a little, but he continues to show enormous promise. Rich suggested in his match report that Kasami tried too hard but I enjoyed his late cameo in the game. He charged about like a bull in a china shop but there was a desire to make something happen that I felt revitalised the game just when it needed it. The surge forward that led to the final goal was perhaps not the most elegant piece of football but just as it seemed he’d overcooked it he manage to stab in a left foot shot that caught everyone by surprise and eventually fell to Sidwell. Poor old Rodallega must wonder if he’s ever going to score and I felt for him a bit as he pounded the ground with his hand having seen his header bounce back off the crossbar. Finally a word for Alex Smith, who seems to have been part of our academy/reserve set up for ages. He didn’t get long on pitch but it’s great that Jol is happy to give youth a chance.