Martin Jol welcomed a much-needed win after Fulham defeated Newcastle United 2-1 at a cold Craven Cottage on Monday night.
The Whites went into the game without a win in seven but goals from Steve Sidwell and Hugo Rodallega either side of a Hatem Ben Arfa strike secured the victory for Jol’s men.
In an open game, both sides had plenty of chances, but it was the Whites that eventually came out on top.
“Before the goal we had chances and then we scored,” said Jol afterwards. “I think it was at least half an hour before they scored. We couldn’t finish them off and they scored a goal from Ben Arfa. He’s a quality player.
“But we’ve had three or four opportunities. [Dimitar] Berbatov had three of them. Even at 2-1, they could have scored and we had chances. We deserved to win.
“We needed it. Everyone said we’d done well away from home but one win and four draws is not enough. Then we had a spell which started against Sunderland with a red card and two big injuries. That was very disappointing. Then we couldn’t play Bryan Ruiz and the truth of the matter is that every time he plays we score. Now he’s out for four or five weeks. I was happy for Berbatov to fill in that role.”
On another night, Berbatov could have had at least two goals, only to see two first-half efforts saved by Tim Krul, before hitting another shot into the side-netting in the second period.
Jol, though, was pleased with the Bulgarian’s contribution, adding: “He didn’t score but he kept the Team together in the hole and I was very happy with him. My squad realise that Berbatov is a key player. He is the one that keeps us together. He probably covered more ground than ever before. He’s a good number 10. After losing Clint Dempsey, I’m very happy that he came to this Club.”
The return of Brede Hangeland from a three-match ban was also key. The Captain’s mere presence united the back four to give Fulham a base to build on from the back.
“Brede was vital,” added Jol. “We really missed him. He’s a leader.”