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.
But even against Chelsea he was getting balls in the box. Nobody else really does that for us. Great player.
It’s true, Rich, but I remember Chelsea being a rather stilted performance. He was much more influential yesterday and looks like a cracking signing. An old-fashioned winger – the very kind of player we were crying out for at times last season.
Dan I totally agree with everything you said, he has that extra kick that everyone else doesn’t. He always tries to get a shot at goal or a cross, and can play superbly on either side of the pitch, and even in the centre I think he would perform well.
Interesting point about playing him through the middle Tomo. I reckon he might be a bit lightweight and easy to bundle off the ball. Would Roy try it though?
think you’ve hit the nail on the head there, Dan. I was thinking the same about Simon Davies, who I always wanted to be a classic 10. But there’s no way he’d have the strength to survive in the modern game there. Duff’s so effective working his angles that you wouldn’t want to take that away anyway.
I think you would diminsh the effectiveness of both players by moving them out of their current positions to a role behind the striker (presumably we’d only play with one up in such a system). I still think Davies could do a good job as a replacement playmaker for Murphy – playing from a deeper, more orthodox central midfield position. He did this in his earlier days for Peterborough and then, very effectively against Fulham as I recall, for Spurs.