Fulham boss Chris Coleman declared it would take a “hefty ransom” to prise either Luis Boa Morte or Papa Boupa Diop away from Craven Cottage after the pair’s match-winning contributions in the 2-1 victory over Blackburn.
The Portuguese midfielder netted a crucial second goal just after the break following Bouba Diop’s close-range effort on the stroke of half-time.
Rovers played well in patches, but were guilty of some wayward finishing – with Brett Emerton the major culprit – and all they had to show for their efforts was a consolation goal in the final minute when Zat Knight headed past his own keeper.
Afterwards, Coleman was full of praise for his midfield duo.
He said: “When they are in the team, we have got a bit more purpose, pace and strength about us.
“Bouba has that capacity to win a ball in the middle of the park, get up and run 40 yards with it.
“He has got a bit of heart and passion.
“He gives the crowd a lift, and there are not many players capable of doing that.”
The Fulham boss added: “We are a different team when they are in the side.
“We missed Steed [Malbranque] today as well, because he was not fit.
“They are three important players for us and if we are to do well this season, then they are three players which it is unthinkable to talk about them leaving in January.”
Coleman maintained: “If Patrick Vieira, the Arsenal captain, has got his price in going to Juventus, then our players have got a price. But I have said all along we must not be soft touches and if someone wants our best players, they are going to have to pay a hefty ransom for them.”
Referee Mark Clattenburg booked no fewer than eight players, but Coleman insisted: “I think Mark is one of the best in the league.”
However, the Fulham boss said: “I don’t like saying to referees to get the cards out, but I thought the first challenge on Boa Morte from Lucas Neill was a yellow – then that changes the second challenge, because that would then be a red.”
Coleman added: “It was not one of our better performances at home, but we dug in and ground it out – that is the sign of a good team.
“We battled with them and got stuck in – I am certain that this time last year, we would have lost that game.”