This past weekend was pretty good wasn’t it? Somehow, life is just better when we win. It’s even better when we win away. It is positively euphoric when that away win is at QPR.
When I was on my way to Loftus Road on Saturday, I had a remarkably good feeling about our chances. Logic told me it was because, in my mind, I had compared talent levels and form, and come out with the conclusion that we shouldn’t lose.
For the first time in forever, I decided this week to actually give something up for lent. Maybe I was feeling bad after a decadent pancake day, but Diet Coke and snacking have been the bane of my waistline for far too long so I decided to go cold turkey for a month. Now, I’m not saying karma is on my side, I’m sure plenty of the home fans on Saturday had given something up (winning perhaps?) but maybe there is something in this lent lark after all.
So, I started thinking about, what, various personnel around Motspur Park should give up this Easter-time, so here is my Fulham Lent List:
Mark Schwarzer – Some of his Qantas reward points, preferably to me. This week our superhuman goalkeeper has once again flown all the way from London to Brisbane for a midweek Asian World Cup Qualifying match against Saudi Arabia. Travelling to Australia so frequently, yet still turning in performances and saves (like the one from Shaun Wright-Phillips on Saturday) just goes to show what a terrific goalkeeper Mark is.
Brede Hangeland – Having Bobby Zamora in his back pocket. Dropped from the England squad and heading for the Championship, the last thing Bobby needed on Saturday was to come up against a defender who has presumably marked him in training for the last three years. Bobby won headers when it didn’t matter and Brede won them when they did. It’s good to see the Norwegian back to his best.
Stephen Kelly – Nosebleeds. On Saturday Kelly had the ball in the opposition half more times than I care to think, especially when we were struggling for creative impetus in the second half. Unfortunately he tends to become nervous and generally bereft of confidence when going forward. Defensively, Stephen’s been solid but I’d love to see some more attacking verve from the incumbent right back for the rest of the season.
Moussa Dembele –Extracting the Michael. QPR had a song last season that went “Adel’s too good for you”, I’d have loved it if, on Saturday, we’d have started going “Moussa’s too good for you”. He was. The back-heeled pass for Pogo’s goal was simply mesmeric, but much of Moussa’s game involves dribbling around people because he can. Now when he’s doing it to annoy Joey Barton I am all for it, but Moussa clearly has the talent to win matches singlehandedly. A little less aimless dribbling and some more clinical passes and heck, a shot every now and then, would elevate him to the next level.
Bryan Ruiz – Trips to the barber. Bryan’s had his hair cut. Not one to comment on style (though it’s not his finest look), Bryan had his best game in a while on Saturday. His decision making was at times still a tad haphazard and I know he doesn’t put himself about as often as most would like, but, especially in the first half he was outstanding. He waltzed through a parting defence to create a chance for Dempsey and induced several of the challenges that saw Diakite sent off for cumulative fouling. Hopefully Bryan keeps progressing into the player we want him to become for us, so all the time this haircut is working he’s not to go get it cut again.
Clint Dempsey – Standing Still. Out of sorts on Saturday, Clint looked tired and didn’t run off the ball like he usually does. I’ll put it down to an off game but he was lucky to stay on the pitch for the full 90 when Kerim Frei was sat on the bench. Saying all this, he nearly scored with the shot across Kenny’s goal and caused havoc from one Bryan free kick. No doubt our top scorer will return to net finding ways in the coming weeks.
Kerim Frei – Retweeting thoughts about Bryan Ruiz. Martin Jol is a stickler for discipline. It is no surprise that, in the month since Kerim closed his twitter account after retweeting a fan’s opinion that he should play instead of Bryan, that Jol has barely used our teenage sensation. It’s time for Kerim to get some more game time and upcoming fixtures against the likes of Villa and Swansea could provide the opportunity.
Pavel Pogrebnyak – Hugging fans. This rule is absurd. Players should be able to celebrate however they like. The aim of the game is to score goals and Pogo did just that for the second straight game and quite frankly I loved his passion when he ran over to celebrate with the fans. Notice that Bobby never once did so. However, we don’t need our new Russian powerhouse to get himself any more needless bookings. As Mark Hughes will testify, games are won by teams with eleven on the field. Hopefully Pogo will unveil a new celebration against Wolves next week.
Marin Jol – Not Playing Hughes. It is no coincidence that in the last two games with Hughes and Hangeland reunited at the back, we have six points. With a fully fit Senderos left on the bench on Saturday hopefully Martin has finally got the message. It was good to see the manager use his full compliment of substitutes on Saturday as well. After all it’s what they’re there for. Now if only Pajtim, Kerim and Marcel can get a game. One thing I’d like Martin to keep doing is shaking the opposition manager’s hand. Some bosses have class, eh Mark?
Enjoy your week and it’s back to The Cottage on Sunday.