Fulham manager Chris Coleman hailed Steed Malbranque after the French midfielder scored twice to mastermind a 2-1 victory over Manchester City.
Malbranque finished neatly in the sixth minute and on the stroke of half-time to open his account for the season and give Fulham only their third win in the Barclays Premiership.
Earlier in the day Tony Blair named the 25-year-old among the Premiership’s three biggest unsung heroes in a television interview and Coleman had no argument with the Prime Minister’s assessment.
“The Prime Minister has good taste,” he joked. “One of the lads mentioned it in the dressing room before the game.
“Steed has being doing very well for us. He was excellent today, he scored the goals and his all round play was brilliant.
“Like many foreigners he’s technically excellent, but he has also improved his work rate. His recent form is the best I’ve seen from him since he joined the club.”
Malbranque turned down a £5million move to Manchester City over the summer but City are reportedly ready to renew their interest in when the transfer window reopens in January.
But Coleman is determined to keep Malbranque and revealed only a huge transfer fee would prize him away from Craven Cottage.
“We’ll do our best to keep Steed, we want to negotiate a new contract with him. His current deal runs out at the end of next season and we want him to stay,” he said.
“I’m trying to build a team and don’t want to sell our best players. We managed to keep hold of Luis Boa Morte this summer and it will be the same with Steed. If we were to sell him it would be for an incredible amount of money.”
Fulham dominated before the break with City claiming the 20th minute equaliser through Lee Croft in their only meaningful attack of the half.
“All the time I read that Fulham are going to finish in the bottom three and I’m one of the favourites for the sack,” Coleman added. “In fact, we’ve been in the bottom three once this season.
“We’ve been playing consistently well and much better than last season. I can’t think of one time I’ve had to have a proper go at the players. I’ll take similar performances over the next 12 games.”