I’ve had a brilliant day today. Can’t stop smiling. Fulham stand 8th in the top flight of English football and have reached the quarter final of the F.A. Cup. Makes me happy just to type that, how far we’ve come. Last night brought back memories of midweek games in less confident times, the hustle and bustle of a well contested cup match, a sparse crowd (though 12,000 would have been a decent turnout back in the day) and an excitement about what might happen next I've not felt for some time.
“Super, Super Dan, Super Danny Murphy!”
If anyone still doubted it, the last two matches have been as startling a piece of evidence of Danny Murphy’s importance to Fulham as you’re likely to find. He ran the game on Sunday from start to finish and it wasn’t a big surprise Roy chose to rest him. Olivier Dacourt took his place in the starting eleven and I felt confident he could do a decent job for us. Olivier had a stinker though, we’ve seen hints that he’s a quality player but as the pace of the game increased he couldn’t keep up. A series of misplaced passes and tumbles suggested it just wasn’t going to be his night. Murphy was already changed and waiting when Dacourt took the knock that saw him hobble of the pitch. Hopefully nothing too serious and just a bad night at the office for Dacourt. Murphy’s arrival was spectacular though. 1-0 down at the time Captain Dan was the catalyst that turned the game in our favour. His passing and movement were as exemplary as ever but he also worked incredibly hard in the centre to win back possession when we lost it.
I’d not been particularly excited when Lawrie Sanchez signed him back in August 2007. It seemed a purchase born of desperation. He played well enough at times but I felt he’d struggled to impose himself too often. Even under Hodgson I doubted his qualities. Had I been picking the team he wouldn’t have got in – that will be one of many reasons why I’m not earning a living as a professional football manager. The purple patch that saw us achieve the great escape began to show me the error of my ways but even then I could never have imagined a scenario where Danny could change the shape of a game so effectively and rapidly as he did last night. He really is a quality player and it’s a joy to see him play for us right now.
“He scores with his left, he scores with his riiii-ght, that boy Clint Dempsey makes Drogba look …”
You know the rest. Dempsey impressed me again last night. He worked his socks off and looked genuinely spent when he was subbed near the end. He’s earned the right to be in the starting eleven and seems happy to play in whatever position he’s given. He showed great desire to reach Simon Davies corner and head home the opening goal and almost grabbed a second minutes later.
“Bob, Bob, Bobby Zam-orrr-ra!”
Bobby had a hatful of chances and there were moments when I began to lose patience with him. I’ve been a pretty firm supporter of Bobby Z thus far but found his performance last night frustrating. He turned up trumps in the end crashing home the second and match winning goal less than five minutes after Dempsey’s opener and celebrating in style.
“Come on you Whites”
Dickson Etuhu hasn’t got his own song yet. He might never get one as it’s a tricky name to scan but he’s fast becoming a cult hero at Fulham. Despite Dacourt’s personal nightmare, Dickson continued to provide the anchor for our midfield. Despite a needless booking from “Cerebral” Halsey very early on, Dickson was imperious throughout and even managed another cannon bolt shot from distance, though this time he didn’t find the target.
Arsenal on Saturday, Hull next Wednesday then United arrive for that quarter final and a chance to play at Wembley. Let’s enjoy it while we can, I’m off to do more cartwheels down the corridor.