The two guys in front of me who gleefully barrack Bobby Zamora were strangely subdued last night. I’ve spoken before about Zamora perhaps being a modern-day Micky Conroy, the surly Scot who wasn’t well liked at Craven Cottage before Micky Adams turned a hesitant forward into a goal machine and Fulham romped to a glorious promotion, but it does surprise me that Bobby doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
On another messageboard, one of the regulars went to the trouble of listing Zamora’s finest performances in a Fulham shirt. The list ran to Bolton, Kettering, Vetra and Manchester United. It ignored a splendid performance as the spearhead of our attack against Arsenal early last season, a fine display at Anfield and perhaps his best effort for Fulham – when he turned the game as a substitute against Middlesbrough.
Of course, one thing many people gloss over all too quickly is how much Zamora works. He’s constantly running centre backs this way and that and is a meance in the air. His off-the-ball work is one of the main reasons why Fulham create so many chances and I’d go as far as to suggest that he was our man of the match against Hull. Not just for that instinctive reaction that sure him pounce to head a rebound past Boaz Myhill or for the powerful run and cross that laid our second on a plate for Diomansy Kamara, but because of his unflagging physicality.
It was interesting to note that in Hodgson’s post-match comments he said that, although Fulham accepted a bid from Hull for Zamora in the summer, he told the striker that he still felt he could be a key part of Fulham’s plans for the forthcoming season. Hodgson has faith in Zamora despite a difficult first season and when he plays like that you can see why. So, instead of mocking one of our players (‘How sh** must you be?/Zamora just scored etc.) and doing the media’s job for them (see how the Independent reckoned Claudio Ranieri would be pinching himself), let’s give the big man the credit he deserves.
We were probably helped by some baffling tactical decisions from Phil Brown last night. Playing Kevin Kilbane at centre back was very strange indeed. The Irish international might not have the pace of his earlier days, but he’s been a pretty solid makeshift left-back in the past for various clubs (and couldn’t have done any worse than Andy Dawson). Sonko looked all over the place, but of more concern to Hull followers would have been Brown’s negativity.
Hull got a crucial result against Wigan the other week by going at their opposition from the off. They never looked like doing that last night. Content to sit off Fulham and bring everybody back behind the ball, they would have been delighted with a 0-0. Jan Venegoor of Hesslink was so isolated at times that it looked like he was playing on a different pitch to the rest of his team-mates. Why didn’t Altidore – who’s looked very impressive since he swapped Spain for the Premier League – start? And what was the point of bringing on a creative player – in Bullard – only to sacrifice someone likely to sniff out a goal (Ghilas)?
The jockeying-for-position nature of the league at this stage of the season was reflected in the table. Hull could have climbed to 14th win a win, as it was Fulham rose to 12th. It was a decent performance from Hodgson’s start, and although Baird and Duff are definitely worth mentioning in dispatches, the points were won by Bobby Zamora.