The appearance of Dimitar Berbatov was the sole positive for Martin Jol on a disappointing afternoon at West Ham United.
With the Hammers leading 3-0 at half-time, deadline-day signing Berbatov was introduced from the substitutes’ bench for the start of the second period.
And the Bulgarian showed glimpses of the quality he possesses to suggest the future looks rosy for the striker at Craven Cottage.
“The only positive for me was to see Berbatov again, to see his class and quality, I’ve missed it,” said Jol afterwards.
“We agreed beforehand that he’d get 20 minutes if necessary or he’d stay on the bench. But I told him at half-time that we needed him. I thought he looked good.
“He brought others into play and that is his quality. Hopefully with Bryan Ruiz available in the next game and some work on the training ground we can go into the next match feeling positive. The only problem is the players now go off for international duty and don’t come back until next Thursday. We will try and get the balance right for the next match.”
The Hammers were galvanised with the loan signing of Andy Carroll, with the England international causing the Fulham defence all manner of problems.
“We knew that they would play the long ball and look for knock-downs so the first goal was disappointing as we’d spoken about that,” said Jol.
“The second goal came from a corner kick and for the third we didn’t pick up the second man and they scored.
“If you’re five foot eight or five foot 10 then maybe you’ve got a problem but we should have coped with Carroll.”
Berbatov’s introduction saw an improvement in Fulham’s play, although the game was effectively over with West Ham leading 3-0.
“It was better but we’d almost destroyed ourselves,” said Jol. “We missed a few players in the creative role behind the striker. That is a worry as we have to find a balance for the future. I think we will be fine.
“We missed out on a couple of players on Friday but in the end you have to be happy you have Berbatov, Hugo Rodallega and Mladen Petric.
“I really thought Mousa Dembele would stay as it was a big clause. But Tottenham Hotspur paid up and they always do in the last week. I think we have the players to play a different sort of system. We will come up with something.”
Jol also handed a debut to another deadline-day signing in Kieran Richardson, with the former Sunderland man deployed in something of a central role.
“It was not easy for him,” stated Jol. “He hadn’t trained for the last three or four days but he will be fine for the future. I don’t really see him as a winger, I see him more as a central midfield player or even a number 10. He can play left-back as well.”