Same old Fulham

Saturday 3 November 2001

Paul Thorpe writes for Fulham Today...

A good old fashioned London derby, a good atmosphere (at least in the away end) and a fine performance from the lads that now, thank goodness, sees us looking up instead of down.

What a difference a win or two makes! The final 15 minutes saw us back to our best, passing the ball around, frustrating the opposition into making mistakes and carving ourselves open chance after chance.

They say the Premiership is all about taking goal scoring opportunities when they come along and this afternoon both sides saw some good ones go begging. Fulham in particular...

Kanoute's miss in the first half seemed crucial however (although I thought Van der Sar's positioning was excellent and made the angle very tight) whilst in the second period Fulham could have scored five.

Barry would have notched up a hatrick on another day, Bjarne and Luis Boa Morte could easily have registered and Steed will be disappointed not to have secured a brace in successive games.

Talking about our little Frenchman, what a difference he has made to the side. He's got talent, pace, strength and skill. But the thing that I like about Steed more than anything is his heart. You can't buy one of those. You've either got it or you haven't, and Steed has a big character to go with his other attributes. And he knows how to celebrate a goal...

The whole team worked hard this afternoon and it's difficult to single out anyone for special praise. But the creativity of Malbranque, the energy of Boa Morte, the reliability of Finnan and the way John Collins ran the midfield, particularly during the first 45 were magnificent.

For one reason or another we always end up talking about referees. Today, I thought Graham Barber missed two glaringly obvious fouls, both of which should have resulted in a spot kick to Fulham.

The handball after Barry seemingly scuffed the ground to miss a virtual open goal in the first period and less forgivable perhaps, the push on Boa Morte who's run on goal was only checked when he was clearly shoulder barged in the second half. Anywhere else on the pitch and its a foul. So why not in the penalty area? It beats the hell out of me...

I also felt that Paulo DiCanio let himself down this afternoon. Personally I like the man. He's another with a passion for the game that plays with his heart on his sleeve and it's easy to see why the West Ham fans love him. But he was perhaps a little fortunate to stay on the pitch this afternoon after raising his hands on at least one occasion, kicking the ball away in anger on another, and then clearly verbally abusing Fulham supporters for no reason other than his own frustration boiling over - and all right in front of the referee. It's a pity Luis Boa Morte isn't so lucky!

Finally, I was impressed with the Hammers Stadium although the atmosphere created by the home fans was easily the quietest I've heard so far in the Premiership. It's going to be a big stadium when it's completed - but it has to be said that the journey home is an absolute nightmare...

Bring on Newcastle...