Martin Jol was left frustrated by Fulham’s lack of a cutting edge as they laboured to a goalless draw at Norwich City this afternoon.
The Fulham manager welcomed back Dimitar Berbatov from a hamstring injury and paired him with Hugo Rodallega up front but Fulham failed to create many clear-cut chances despite dominating possession for long periods of a desperately poor game at Carrow Road. The visitors had only a solitary shot on target – a speculative second half strike from Steve Sidwell – to show for their efforts and Jol bemoaned his side’s lack of creativity afterwards.
I thought we could have made this one of the most exciting games this year because, for an away game, I thought we did well. We lacked a bit of momentum up front and a bit of tempo so we couldn’t hurt them. Although, I thought, especially in the first half, we were the better team.
Jol felt his side coped well with the late changes forced upon them after both Sascha Riether and Chris Baird withdrew from the squad through illness. That allowed new signings Stanislav Manolev and Emmanuel Frimpong to make their debuts and Jol felt there was a possible hangover from a busy programme of international football in midweek.
Our preparation was the same as it always is in international weeks. It was not fantastic as Bryan Ruiz joined yesterday in the hotel. Sascha Riether had to leave our camp and [Stanislav] Manolev was not even in the squad, he was in London and had to come over in a cab. This morning Chrissy Baird had the same problem with a bug.
Two players made their debut; Manolev and [Emmanuel] Frimpong. It was the first time he [Frimpong] had to play with Sidwell so that was not ideal but we still looked okay and, hopefully, in the next two weeks we can do a lot on the training pitch with our new players. Manolev is an international player. Six weeks ago he was man of the match against Italy. Of course he was a back-up player for Sascha Riether and that is exactly what he did today so that was good.
Fulham’s early play rhythm was affected by hefty challenges on Rodallega and Berbatov, with the Bulgarian striker requiring stitches after taking a boot to the face – something which Jol made light of in the post-match press conference:
That is something that you get very irritated by. When somebody kicks you and you have to go off for five minutes and then later Hugo was kicked and he had to go off for a few minutes. He [Berbatov] still looks handsome. He came to the byline and said he’s still handsome because it was only a little thing – I think he only had one stitch.