With a smile spread with a trowel and a gruffness that betrayed his playful eyes, Martin Jol seemed to be happy with his side’s destruction of Norwich City. In truth it looked like a dynamic Fulham could have passed their way out of any trouble, anyway, but Norwich played with a near catatonic level of energy.
Although this was only the first game of the season, such a level of disparity will discourage Norwich fans. While manager Chris Hughton had hustled in the off-season to pull off deals with Championship sides and out-of-favor names, calling in hard working professionals like Richard Snodgrass and Michael Turner, his team simply wilted when faced with Fulham’s quality.
The Cottagers had intelligence in their midfield, with Bryan Ruiz continuing to show his fondness of cute, airlifted passes. Alongside him was Moussa Dembele, a man heavily linked with Champions League sides.
It was the cutting edge that was the difference between the two sides, though. While Norwich watched lone hitman Grant Holt shunt about up front, Fulham had new signing Mladen Petric being fed by onrushing players like Damien Duff, Ruiz and Dembele.
By the time Petric was replaced by smart free transfer Hugo Rodallega, the Croatian had helped himself to two goals.
Swede Alex Kaciniklic slotted one at the end of neat passing, while a reinvigorated Duff also put one away. Rodallega jinked into the box late on and drew a penalty. Steve Sidwell stepped up to hammer it home and the game finished 5-0.
This match may well signal intent from a Fulham side who has recruited well over the summer, without losing any of their better players. Yet. There was no Clint Dempsey in this side. However, if Jol convinces the American to stay it will be considered a brilliant bit of business by the club.
In such shape, it is conceivable that Fulham will be a top ten team. Norwich, meanwhile, will be trying to find some cutting edge. Somewhere. Soon.