Monday, February 11, 2013
Martin Jol felt Norwich City midfielder Bradley Johnson should have been punished for leaving his mark on Fulham’s talisman Dimitar Berbatov.
The Bulgarian needed a stitch in a gash to the bridge of his nose after Johnson had raised a boot to control a high ball in an early skirmish at Carrow Road. Jol was less concerned with the potential damage to Berbatov’s looks as the numerical disadvantage in a key phase of the game.
“That is still something that I get very irritated by. If somebody kicks you, you have to play 10 versus 11 and the same when Hugo (Rodallega) was caught and had to go off, so I think we have to change that rule,” said the Dutchman.
“Berbatov still looks handsome. That is the main thing he was worried about when he came to the line he asked was he still handsome because it was only a little thing. That was important for him, not for me. I like the Joe Jordan’s of this world. I think he had one stitch.
“If someone gets kicked they play with 11 and then after that we have to wait two minutes for our player to get on the pitch. It is an awful rule. Send him away for five minutes as well, their player, and play 10 versus 10. It was early in the game, we had not started well against (Manchester) City or United but we had started well here and we were very focused and then we play with 10 men.”
Illness as well as injury was the other abiding memory of Fulham’s trip to Norfolk with a sickness bug in the Cottagers’ camp forcing Bulgarian international Stanislav Manolev to make an emergency dash from London for his debut.
“Manolev was not even in the squad. He had to come over with a cab this morning,” said Jol. “Chrissy Baird had the same problem with a bug so we had two debuts in Manolev, who was not involved, and (Emmanuel) Frimpong it was the first time he has had to play with Sidders (Steve Sidwell). That was not ideal but we still looked okay and hopefully in the next two weeks we can do some work with three or four new players. Manolev is an international player. Six weeks ago he was man of the match against Italy so of course he was a back up player for Sasha (Reither) and that is exactly what he did. Preparation was as usual after international weeks, not fantastic but the international boys joined us in the hotel on Friday and then Sasha had to leave the squad.”
Jol revealed Fulham had a total of 12 players away with their countries during the disrupted build-up.
“Bryan (Ruiz) was not here for the whole week, he was in South America and had to play in midweek. He came back late on Friday night,” he said. “It was the same with (Ashkan) Dejagah. (Brede) Hangeland was injured still but he wanted to play for Norway so he played 45 minutes. So we had a few little problems – then more with Baird and Riether. It’s not ideal at this stage of the year for players to be making their debuts. So, if you take all that into consideration, you feel that every point away from home is very important.”
Jol insisted Fulham still fielded enough attacking quality to have edged a dour contest at Carrow Road: “It wasn’t the most exciting game we have had this year but I was happy with the defensive side,” he said. “We maybe lacked a little tempo to our attacking play which meant we couldn’t hurt them, but especially the first half I felt we were the better team. We still played with Berbatov, with Hugo, with Damien Duff, with Bryan Ruiz. I thought we tried to do everything to be positive. And I think we have been better this year than we have been here for the last couple of years. In the first half, without being dominant, we were controlling the game and we should have been better up front.”
Jol’s men have a similar two-week break to the Canaries before their next Premier League contest, but the Cottagers will not emulate Chris Hughton’s squad by heading for sunnier climes.
“That’s a good idea but we have left it a bit late for that so we have to stay,” he said. “I always tell people from my country that we have got a sub-tropical climate in London anyway. It’s always good – if you compare London with the Midlands. It’s very important that the new players get used to what we do and hopefully we can do that now because we could not do that over the last week.”