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No doubt which section were making the most noise Boxing Day at the Bridge. Yes, the overlong wait for a win at Chelsea goes on a further year, but another mauling after getting so comprehensively turned over by Man U would have raised serious doubts about Jol's vision for Fulham FC. At the very least, this battling point, and the manner of our play, struck a positive chord and served to remind those teams around us there's still some quality about the Whites.
Pray the green shoots of revival are on display again at Carrow Road. A winnable game? No Fulham follower needs reminding how we repeatedly come up short against the promoted sides season after season. Hull City anyone? And points already tossed carelessly away this month at Swansea. Of the three who came up, Norwich have really been the ones to give it a go - as Blackpool did with such brio last season. At home they've been as bright as their strip. bagging lots of goals, feeding Holt and Morison the kind of meaty service poor Bobby can only dream of and generally sending the turnip farmers barmy. Good on yer Canaries!
But the turn of the year plays a cruel trick on all new boys. Once we've all worked out your style the return fixtures present a different challenge. Rarely is the level of intensity maintained, injuries ask questions of your resources, that inevitable dip in form, and the doubts, surface along with the daffodils. Fulham's mental problem with road trips is the stuff of Freud, as we know, but if the Whites can only turn up and give it a go then we are more than capable. Only a 94th minute pen denied Blackburn a win here back in October.
The team for Saturday picks itself. Once upon a time pre-match news of Duff, AJ and Zamo all sidelined might send a tremor through the ranks. No more. Have I been critical of Jol's handling of the side he inherited to date? Er, have you been paying attention since August? I'm nothing if not even handed. Full marks for the bold approach at Chelsea. Demps dropped deeper frees space up top, takes a huge burden off Danny's shoulders, and Frei's start at last gives us genuine width. You would not have known it from MOTD's appalling edit of the match, but young Kerim made a real impact. He's the best of Kit's boys to come through the ranks - and Trotta's not far behind, as his exploits at Wycombe testify.
I don't want to heap any pressure at all on the 18-year-old, but he really is the future. Likewise Stockdale, who cannot be faulted for any of the six goals to go past him in the past week. Ergo FFC, please snatch any money coming your way for Duff and AJ. These high earners are now a spent force. We'll remember them for their service, but please allow them to go with some dignity intact. For all desperado managers battling relegation the previous sentence should read: Damien and AJ are quality and should be first on every teamsheet. They have much to offer any club and will be greatly missed.
As for Bobby. Well, it's complex. Unless you can replace him as our main target man up front with a player of equal or better quality in the January window, he must stay. Jol continues to send out confusing signals on this front. Now, as of Monday, we learn our England man's achilles has been troubling him for some weeks (operated on May 2010 and denied him a trip to the World Cup remember, injury exacerbated helping FFC's cause in the Europa Cup run). It's been pretty damn obvious the big man has not been right for a while. But was it his knee, a hip, his back, the ankle fractured last year or the state of his mind? The track record from the gaffer on this one has been utterly confusing. Zamo's been dropped from Europa nights when we've been informed he's fit, yet been repeatedly asked to lead the line and fire goals when he isn't. That's how it reads Mr. Jol. You feed the quotes, BZ's kept his views to himself.
Every manager in the UK loathes the January window. Fulham remember, with one of the smaller grounds in the league and a very strict salary structure, shelled out just shy of £2 million to so-called 'agents' last year. I swear on my bound copies of Toofif if I replaced Richard Scudamore tomorrow agents would be run out of the game (and we'd have a winter break). Please endorse my nomination here. Kia Joorabchian representing both Tevez and Mark Hughes at City..!!! Someone please tell me how that works in any other business?
Back to my point. There are precious few deals out there, prices are inflated, and frankly right now I see no talent to top what Bobby already gives us. No joke, I'd rather see Zamora still pulling on the white shirt for the next four months than either Torres or Carroll. You can't seriously play Sa till May as your striker. If Gignac finally comes over on loan, there's your cover for an injured or off-form Bobby - and that's the deal that should have happened in August.
Normally I refrain from adding to the transfer rumour mill as so much of it is lazy, made-up journalism. But the one move I fervently hope Fulham nail is Mark Noble from the Hammers. There indeed is the ideal successor to our captain in midfield. Why, the boy even takes a mean penalty. As for the other targets mentioned, we'd all welcome another winger and a proper full-back I guess. Having said that, Stephen Kelly is playing as well as anyone presently, and drew solid praise from the hacks for his display at the Bridge.
To finish on a piece of nostalgia, who else enjoyed Bilet's video of the Hamburg 2nd leg win from April 2010? My how the Cottage rocked that spring in our run to the final. The full backs looked pretty solid that night. Konchesky and Paintsil...how quickly the game moves on. So to Norwich and the omens for FFC are good. Unbeaten in the last six meetings and no goals conceded in the last four. Good ground to visit for atmosphere, welcome and ease of travel from London too.
So before we ring in 2012, let's have that 2nd away win of the season to end the year. COYW!!! Twitter@fulhamphil