We make our luck

Wednesday 9 October 2002

One of the brightest moments of Sunday's London derby against Charlton was the goal celebration of Facundo Sava. After poking in the rebound from Steed Malbranque's long-range strike, the Argentine striker fumbled around in his sock before pulling out a black mask that he proceeded to put on before performing a dance of delight with his colleagues.

Despite incurring the wrath of the collected television punditry, it was a very funny, light-hearted moment in a game that these days is so strangled by financial considerations that it seems almost completely devoid of humour. At one point it looked very strongly as though referee Jeff Winter was going to book Sava for his celebrations.

One of the first players to get to the scorer with his congratulations, as he always does, was Rufus Brevett - having someone around with the enthusiasm and commitment of Fulham's left back must be like having an extra man on the field at times. Brevett explained the significance of the man behind the mask.

"He used to do it when he was in Argentina," said Brevett, "And they used to make a big thing about it. I didn't even know he was going to do it, to be honest, and I think he forgot which sock he'd put it down when it came to it! But he's very, very pleased to have scored."

It wasn't a classic game on Sunday, but further evidence perhaps that Fulham are no longer the easy touch that they might have been last year. Brevett confirmed that the team had to really get their heads down and scrap in the second half.

"It was a very, very hard game," he said, "It wasn't pretty at times, but we dug in there and got the result.

"We created quite a few chances in the first half, and if one of those had gone in to make it two-nil then that would have killed them. But at one-nil they're always going to be in the game, so we had to stay focussed and concentrated.

"It was the same as the UEFA game where they threw caution to the wind at times and pushed bodies forward, but we had to deal with it, and I thought we did that well."

Charlton's performance was reminiscent of Fulham's last season, where lots of possession was not always reflected in the result. Brevett had no doubt about what needs to be done in that situation.

"You've just got to keep working hard on the training pitch," he said, "We were in exactly the same position as them last year. They've hit the bar where they should have scored on Sunday, but that's the way it goes; we may have been a bit lucky but we'll take the three points thank you.

"You've got to keep believing in yourself. If you lose confidence then things are just going to get even worse. It's all about belief."

There is a belief about this team at the moment, and after putting up with last season's comments about Tigana's team playing pretty football but not being able to punch their way out of a paper bag, it's a delight to see them confound their critics and grind out some hard-fought results. It would also be a delight if the surprisingly puritanical television commentators could don some masks of their own and leave the rest of us to have a bit of a laugh in peace.