Writer: Kristian Balkin
Date:Sunday October 31 2010
How ninety minutes makes a difference.
Two Clint Dempsey goals have brought Mark Hughes out of the metaphorical dog house and suddenly, despite the weather on Saturday, it's not all doom and gloom in SW6.
We were, to put it bluntly, beautiful against Wigan yesterday. By no means perfect, but beautiful, without a doubt.
Some of the football we played could have almost put Hodgson to shame and it was a joy to watch from the stands; stands which were filled to the brim with nothing but Fulham fans.
The likes of Hughes and Hangeland were rocks at the back, however, they were barely needed such was our dominance within the tie.
The passing was crisp and elegant, while some of the flair shown from Dembele and Dempsey for example, was something more suited to Brazilian football than an end-of-October affair in the Premier League.
And, the plaudits have to go to Sparky for this turn in events.
Now, I think it's fair to say our 'poor' run of form was slightly over-exaggerated and in reality, we weren't in the sorry state we were made out to be by some media outlets.
Yet, Hughes still had a job on his hands to prove to some that he is indeed the man to carry the Whites forward, and, his style of play and approach to the game showed he certainly is that man.
Take Salcido for example. The left-back was easily the man of the match in my eyes. His presence on the wing and his array of pin point crosses caused the Latics no-end of problems.
I'm sure we're all aware of who moved quickly over the Summer in order to bring in the Mexican in what is now clearly a great piece of business.
On top of that, we were disciplined and played some really nice stuff. Those who doubted Hughes' ability to allow his teams to play attractive, free-flowing football can stand back and congratulate the man on building upon the strong foundations that Hodgson left us behind.
And finally, it's the sheer intent that we now show. There's no sitting back and allowing teams to come onto us, instead, we take the game to our opponents and it's a delight to see.
As I said at the start, we weren't perfect, and it will be decent amount of time until we are the team that Sparky wants to build.
In the second half for example, we didn't threaten nearly as much as we did in the first, but, the signs are there that we have really quite a good setup at Craven Cottage now and Hughes' capped it off delightfully when finalising his post match interview, with the line
'I feel we are a top 10 side and I won't be persuaded from that.'
Well, here's to finishing in the top ten then!
Date:Sunday October 31 2010
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