Sean up for the Cup

Tuesday 8 January 2002

Ian McCulloch writes for Fulham Today...

Kicking his heels after the postponement of the Wycombe game on Saturday, midfielder Sean Davis spent the afternoon watching the reserves beat Brighton at Motspur Park and taking the mickey out of Barry Hayles' lunch - an outsize sausage being the centre of some hilarity.

Fresh from his inspired performance in an unfamiliar role against Derby, Sean spoke about how the games can't come quick enough after a good result, particularly for himself as he has struggled to impose himself on the team somewhat this season.

"It was very nice to get the game against Derby," he said, "and it was nice to play in a position I haven't played in for a long time - on the right side of midfield, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was hard work, but we got the goal that gave us the three points that we desperately needed."

There was some confusion about the line-up initially, not least amongst the Talk Sport commentators, who confidently predicted that Zat Knight would line up alongside Melville and Goma at the back with Brevett and Finnan pushed further up the wings. It also wasn't clear what had happened to Luis Boa Morte who was seen participating in the warm-up.

"I think Boa Morte came down with a slight hamstring injury," said Davis, "So Zat Knight played in my position and I moved over to the right. They didn't really want to risk the injury so he had a run-out in the warm-up but it wasn't up to it. We never take risks at this Club.

"So the change was forced on us a bit, but the players dealt with it well and we worked very hard as a team. We've been good defensively all season, we've kept a lot of clean sheets and again the back four and Edwin did well, and I thought we created quite a lot of chances in the second half. We could have won by two or three in the last ten minutes."

Last season, Sean made the holding midfield role his own. This term he has vied with Sylvain Legwinski for that position, a comforting sign for Fulham fans that there is such strong competition for places. What the Derby game also showed is that manager Tigana has more options available to him than we realise. Davis obviously relished the challenge and the new opportunities that it gave him.

"I enjoyed it a lot," he said, "The first half was a real battle, but in the second half it opened up a bit and I was getting a lot of the ball and able to get forward more with it. I was just glad to be playing really, and my confidence is high now so hopefully I can get a few more games now and try and repeat the form of last season.

"My favourite position is in front of the back four but I'm happy to play anywhere. I enjoyed it at Derby because it allowed me to get forward a lot and in theory it gives me the chance to score some goals. It's hard to do that from my normal position, I'm not really allowed to get forward all that much otherwise I get a telling-off from the Gaffer. So it was nice to get in the box and try and score some goals. It's great when you do score because that gives you confidence in itself."

Clearly desperate to play against Wycombe, and on a high after the win at Derby, Sean was very focused on Tuesday night. In sharp contrast to most games this season, the Wanderers are a bit of an unknown quantity. Did Sean know much about them?

"Not really. I played in a reserve game against them a few years ago, and won, I think seven-one, and I think I made my first home team start against them back under Kevin Keegan. We won that one two-nil. So I've come up against them a few times. They're a nice side with a nice stadium and a good bunch of fans. There's no doubt that it'll be a hard game though. They'll be looking to have another good Cup run again this year, so when we go there we'll have to show them respect, but not too much."

Having come up through the ranks, there can be nobody more aware of the massive change in fortunes that has Fulham going to Adams Park as the Giants ripe for the killing. Perhaps it's that appreciation of what football is really about that gives Davis such a determination to do well. His eagerness to applaud the crowd at the end of every match, regardless of the result, shows his affinity with the fans and how much the club means to him. It also shows that this is a man who will not hide, even when he is not playing well or things are not going all his way. At the moment, things are going his way, and he is confident that Fulham will get the win on Tuesday that we are all desperate for.

"When we were in the Third Division we had a League Cup tie at Ipswich which was a huge game for us, but now we go to Wycombe and they're massive underdogs. It's just an indication of how dramatically the club has changed since I first joined. We're the big boys now and we have to go there and show them what we can do. We need to get that win and get a good Cup run going for the fans.

"With the players we've got in the squad, we've got a lot of ability and if we play to our potential then we should definitely come away with the victory."

I think that Sean is desperate to score again for Fulham. Thinking back to some of his fabulous long-range strikes last season or his glorious goals against Blackburn and Sheffield Wednesday, wouldn't it be lovely if he got the winner against Wycombe on Tuesday and sparked off some more of those fantastic celebrations. I for one would love to see his post-goal dance-floor shimmying once again.