Date:Sunday January 14 2007
Fulham boss Chris Coleman has been in the game long enough to know that players come and go, but the Fulham manager could barely have been less complimentary about Luis Boa Morte yesterday when he was asked to explain why he agreed to sell the Portugal winger to West Ham United for £5 million eight days ago.
Boa Morte is expected to line up against his former team-mates at Upton Park this afternoon and when he pulls on his new claret-and-blue shirt he will do so with Coleman`s blunt assessment of his diminishing abilities ringing in his ears. According to Coleman, the former Fulham captain was sold because he was past his sell-by date and was surplus to requirements.
"I would imagine he is going to play, but he is not someone we are going to worry about. He had lost his aura and his presence. I`m not being bitter and twisted, but I don`t think we will be weakened by his departure." Commented Coleman.
Boa Morte, 29, became an instant favourite when he moved to West London from Southampton 5 1/2 years ago, but his love affair with Fulham soured when he returned from playing for his country in the World Cup finals in Germany last summer. A fractured cheekbone sidelined him for six weeks at the start of the season, but when he returned in October, Coleman suspected that the winger was going through the motions. Boa Morte`s decision to swap a club who are twelfth in the Barclays Premiership for one who are in the relegation zone proved to Coleman that he was desperate to leave Craven Cottage.
"Luis struggled with injuries this season and wasn`t himself — his heart was somewhere else. When Luis played off the cuff, he was a real force, but we hardly ever saw that this season. Luis is an exciting player on his day but he is nothing we have not come up against before." Said Coleman.
Although Boa Morte was a popular figure at the club, Coleman demands total loyalty from his players and he believes that the winger had underperformed since he was linked with a transfer to Newcastle United in August 2005. Nevertheless, Boa Morte left the club on good terms, although rumours circulated around Craven Cottage that all was not well in the dressing-room before the winger`s departure last Friday.
"As far as I know he said goodbye to the other players. There was no friction in the dressing-room, but I guess we will find out on the pitch today." Commented Coleman.
Boa Morte`s place in the Fulham team has been taken by Tomasz Radzinski and Coleman rubbed salt into his former captain`s wounds by saying that the Canada winger had strengthened the side.
"When Radzinski has been playing, he has looked sharper and more potent than Boa Morte." the manager said.
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