The Joy Division song has shown signs of taking off over the last couple of home games and with good reason.
Damien Duff was outstanding again yesterday. Full of energy, able to beat his full back and having a turn of pace that people perhaps didn’t expect of a man of his age and with his well-chronicled injury record. More important than all of that is the extra yard he has in his head. Even when he seems surrounded by defenders and the situation seems hopeless, Duff seems to find a way to play a pass or get a shot away.
The goal was a perfect example. It looked as if we had delayed for too long in getting the ball out to him. Bodies blocked the route to goal, but Duff found a way to fit his shot inside the far post. Maybe it took the slightest of deflections off Cahill on the way in, but it was a piece of predatory finishing you’d associate with a poacher-type forward. There’s justification for playing him on the right there too. He seems to revel in cutting in and having the ability to go either way.
There’s a broader point to be made here. Duff’s getting better and better as he integrates into the team. Part of that is game time as he reaches fitness but I wonder if Roy’s just subtly tweaked the way we play. We seem more eager to get the ball out to Duff and his team-mate on the other flank, rather than being so narrow as before and relying on Pantsil and Konchesky to provide the width.
As time has gone on, the Irishman’s become more influential. The chalkboard shows just how many passes Duff made yesterday – and how he was involved all over the pitch. His first league game against Chelsea was a different matter. Obviously, that’s because we were playing against a top defensive outfit – and many of those players would have known Duff’s game inside out – but the comparison is striking.
It’s worth noting, too, how happy he was to score looks like he’s really enjoying it at Fulham – something I didn’t pick up initially from high up in the Hammersmith End.
The part to really wonder about is that there’s probably more to come.