Martin Jol has hinted that he will try and retain the services of Arsenal’s Emmanuel Frimpong for another season should Arsene Wenger agree to extend the midfielder’s loan at Craven Cottage.
The 21 year-old midfielder has made just single appearance for Fulham to date since completing his loan move from the Gunners in January, but Jol and his coaching staff have been impressed by Frimpong’s application. The Ghanaian was drafted in as additional cover for an understaffed midfield area, especially due to Mahamadou Diarra’s extended absence with a knee problem, and his combative hour on debut in the goalless draw at Norwich three weeks ago was a more than creditable start to his Fulham career.
If there was an opportunity to take him on loan, I would probably do that. It is quite a nice position to be in, to get a loan player you do not have to pay a transfer fee. It is a good way of doing things because it would be quite expensive to take him [permanently].
I was impressed with him from the start. He is the type of player you would like as a manger because he is versatile and he can play as well because he is an Arsenal player. He did well for us at Carrow Road and he is getting better and better. I can play him from the start if I want to.
Tomorrow’s Telegraph carries some quotes from our new midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong after the on-loan Arsenal midfielder made his Fulham debut in Saturday’s draw at Norwich.
Arindam Rej points out that Frimpong’s career has stalled at the same time as his old school mate Jack Wilshere looks set to anchor the midfield for club and country for many years to come. Frimpong’s lack of progress has plenty to do with injuries and a knee operation, from which he’s only just recovered, but the Ghanaian midfielder says Arsene Wenger was keen for him to sample some more first-team football at Fulham:
The boss at Arsenal, Mr Wenger, told me to come here and get some games because there is no point sitting on the bench. I was told to show what I can do, come back next season and see what happens. I’ve had injuries, just like Jack. I’m not going to get his head even bigger than it already is and say he is an inspiration! But he is a great footballer.
Frimpong’s new manager, Martin Jol, seemed happy enough with his performance, only withdrawing him when he looked in danger of transgressing for a second time:
It was the first time he had to play with Sidwell so that was not ideal, but we still looked OK. Hopefully in the next two weeks we can do a lot on the training pitch with our new players.
There were two sides to Frimpong’s Fulham bow. The first impressions were overwhelmingly positive: he was eager in the tackle, sharp and purposeful and looked comfortable in possession. A bit of doubt and anxiety seemed to creep in once he picked up a booking for felling Robert Snodgrass, however, and it’s clear he still needs to get used to playing in Jol’s system. Frimpong certainly gave Fulham a bit more of the bite they’ve been missing during Mahamadou Diarra’s prolonged absence and they might need more of his physicality against Stoke City in a fortnight.
If the marketing men at the Premier League want to showcase their greatest league in the world, they’d do well to lose the footage from this forgettable encounter at Carrow Road. There was so little spark between two sides determined not to be beaten that the scoreboard gave up the ghost well before the final whistle. Not that Martin Jol will be complaining; points on the road are precious for Fulham and, when he reflects on the fact that their first clean sheet in fourteen games lifted the visitors to twelfth in the table, the Dutch coach could find a few reasons to be content with his afternoon’s work.
Alarming lapses in what used to be a reliable rearguard have threatened to drag Fulham fully into the relegation dogfight this season but they rarely looked troubled against a Norwich side who badly missed their captain. Grant Holt had only a watching brief today after injuring his back this morning – the tall and powerful pairing of Brede Hangeland and Philippe Senderos coped easily enough with Luciano Becchio, who battled manfully to little avail on his first start since signing from Leeds United. The visitors’ defence diligence was all the more impressive given the absence of an ill Sascha Riether – the previously ever-present right back was replaced by Bulgarian Stanislav Manolev, who hardly put a foot wrong on his Fulham debut.
Jol made other changes as well, with on-loan Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong adding some bite into the midfield on his first appearance for Fulham and Steve Sidwell returning after a knee injury. Dimitar Berbatov replaced Ashkan Dejagah to partner Hugo Rodallega up front, but the Bulgarian had barely shaken off his hamstring strain before being bloodied by a high boot from Bradley Johnson that left a damaged nose requiring stitches. Fulham were intrepid, eager and disciplined – but they barely mustered an opening in the first half despite dominating possession. Damien Duff had the briefest of glimpses of goal before Michael Turner blocked his cross-cum-shot.
Norwich came closest to breaking the deadlock whilst Berbatov’s nose was being tended to. Clever interplay between Elliott Bennett and Javier Garrido fashioned the space for the Spanish full-back to cross but Becchio’s blunt shot dribbled straight into Schwarzer’s arms from nine yards. The home side’s most promising moments came through Wes Hoolahan, who went on a couple of mazy dribbles deep into Fulham territory, but first Alex Tettey and then the lively Robert Snodgrass failed to attach an end product to the Republic of Ireland midfielder’s enterprise. City’s only other openings came from more direct means with both Russell Martin and Becchio missing the target with headers.
Fulham started the second period brighter with a fierce drive from Steve Sidwell stinging the palms of Mark Bunn from twenty yards before a venomous strike from Bryan Ruiz was bravely blocked by Sebastien Bassong’s throat. There was plenty of endeavour and application, but little in the way of quality as misplaced passes and mistimed tackles were far more common than clear cut chances. A spell of home pressure culminated with a speculative shot from Bennett blocked by Sidwell and, whilst Urby Emmanuelson’s introduction perked up Fulham, it was the home side who had the better chances to break the deadlock as time ticked by.
Hoolahan’s prompting produced another chance, although Johnson rather snatched at a left-footed effort from the edge of the box that flew well wide before Norwich’s newest arrival, Sierra Leone striker Kei Kamara – signed on loan from MLS franchise Sporting Kansas City – joined fellow substitute Simeon Jackson, who scored a late equaliser here last season to deny Fulham a rare away win, up front as Chris Hughton gambled in search of a winner. You couldn’t fault Kamara’s willingness as he sent a header off the crossbar and then jumped into Schwarzer at successive set-pieces, but his cameo lacked the spark necessary to provide a winner.
NORWICH CITY (4-4-1-1): Bunn; R. Martin, Garrido, Bassong, Turner; Tettey, Johnson, Snodgrass, E. Bennett (Jackson 76); Hoolahan; Becchio (Kamara 76). Subs (not used): Camp, Whittaker, Tierney, Howson, Surman.
BOOKED: E. Bennett, Snodgrass.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Manolev, J.A. Riise, Hangeland, Senderos; Frimpong (Emmanuelson 64), Sidwell, Duff, Ruiz (Dejagah 90); Berbatov, Rodallega (Petric 76). Subs (not used): Etheridge, Hughes, Karagounis, Kacaniklic.
BOOKED: Frimpong, Manolev.
REFEREE: Howard Webb (Rotherham).