Alain Goma exclusive

Thursday 21 March 2002

From Fulham Today's Ian McCulloch

There were suggestions made in the Sunday Press that Alain Goma was substituted against Everton on Saturday because it was felt that the height of Abdes Ouaddou would be better able to cope with the threat of Duncan Ferguson.

In fact, Goma was the recipient of an accidental "Glasgow kiss" from Ferguson that left him groggy and with blurred vision. Ferguson, needless to say, was unhurt.

"I was involved in a clash of heads with Duncan Ferguson," said Goma, talking on Thursday, "And then this lump came up straight away, and I found I couldn't see properly.

"I think I burst a blood vessel and then I ended up with a lump like an egg! I suspect that the referee wouldn't have allowed me to play on, but it was serious enough to stop the game.

"Ferguson was ok, he has a very strong head I think! But I'm fully recovered now, with no after effects, so I'm ready for Sunday."

It can't be the most enticing of prospects coming up against Duncan Ferguson, back after an injury lay-off, given the captaincy of the side, and fired up by the introduction of a new manager only two days earlier. As Goma says, a physical battle was what they expected, and a physical battle was what they got.

"He's very strong, and he's very good in the air. He knows how to use his body to make things difficult for you. When a striker plays the way he plays, it always difficult for a defender to get any advantage over him, especially with high balls. Trying to stop him in the air is very difficult."

Ferguson and Goma used to be colleagues at Newcastle, but apparently there were no friendly words of greeting before the game.

"I was very surprised, because he didn't say hello," said Goma, "He was so motivated and focussed he didn't see anyone around him."

Tottenham are next up on Sunday. With the last meeting between the two resulting in a thrashing for Fulham, the team should need little in the way of motivation. Goma agrees that they will be really up for this one.

"We've played them twice and lost twice," he said, "We played quite well at home in the Cup, without getting what we deserved, but in the second game they beat us 4-0 and that was very hard to take. Recently they haven't been doing so well, like us, but it would be very dangerous to take them for granted.

"You could see against Everton, a team who were having a bad run, how they reacted very well to their difficulties and were very positive. So the important thing is that we concentrate on our own performance and make sure that we have the positive reaction.

"When you get beaten 4-0 by a team, you remember. I wouldn't say it's exactly revenge that you feel, but you remember. You are a professional and you have pride, and you want very much to turn that result round on them.

"It doesn't matter who plays for them, we just have to be ready for a big game. We have had a bad run, but you have to say that four of those games were away, and the home game was against Liverpool who aren't a bad side. That isn't making excuses, but now we are at home, we have to put the bad run behind us and react positively. But we can win on Sunday, definitely."

Alain Goma has been a rock at the heart of the defence this season, and it was worrying to see such a tower of strength being taken off against Everton. Fortunately Fulham won't be up against Ferguson again this season, and with everybody fit and raring to go, it should be quite a game on Sunday.