Who needs Dempsey Fulham's unsung heroes shine in Norwich romp
21:30 GMT, 19 August 2012
Martin Jol was forced to leave Clint Dempsey out of his Fulham squad against Norwich, with the American’s future at the club uncertain.
Last season’s top scorer was not missed, but who were the lesser-known faces in Jol’s new-look team
On his way Clint Dempsey (centre) looks to heading out of Fulham
WHAT THEY NEED IN THE WINDOW…
FULHAM: To get the Clint Dempsey situation resolved quickly. Martin Jol hasn’t ruled out a return for the American but was clearly angry with his attitude in pre-season. After such a great start, they could do without disruption. Either get rid of him or make him commit.
NORWICH: Fresh faces. Buoyed by back-to-back promotions Norwich looked comfortable finishing 12th last season but they’ve lost the man behind that, Paul Lambert, and his replacement Chris Hughton hasn’t brought in enough quality to maintain what will be a tough second season at the top.
Mladen Petric, 31, striker
What a debut for the Croat. Two goals — a header and a 25-yard deflected shot — and the deftest back-heel flick to set up Alex Kacaniklic for another.
The 31-year-old has scored 124 goals in 336 appearances over a career spanning 14 years and five clubs, plying his trade for the last five seasons in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund and then Hamburg.
He scored five goals in six pre-season games for his new club so he’s settling in quickly. Jol certainly thinks he got a bargain, signing the player on a free.
He said: ‘Petric is in the group of players who will score goals, maybe not 20 in 20 games, but he will score one in two.
Thumbs up: Mladen Petric celebrates after scoring his second goal
‘That is a good record but he didn’t do it last season and if you are not a Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, you have to get the quality in when they are not playing well. I think that is what I did with Petric.’
Alex Kacaniklic, 21, left winger
The 21-year-old got his first senior goal in only his third start. Jol only told him he was starting, in the position on the left side of an attacking three behind a main striker usually adopted by Dempsey last season, the day before the game.
Young gun:: Alex Kacaniklic steers the ball past John Ruddy on Saturday
He made his debut for Sweden last week against Brazil so it was quite a week for him. He finished well for the goal and terrorised Russell Martin on the left all game.
He’s been given the nickname Kaka, but he said: ‘That’s from my surname obviously. I don’t want to be compared to anyone. He’s a great player, I’m just making my name for myself now.’
Sascha Riether, 29, right back
The little-known German right back has had a mixed career. He has joined Fulham on a season-long loan after being relegated with Cologne last season.
Late developer: Sascha Riether (left) has joined Fulham on loan
But the 29-year-old, who can also play in midfield, has a Bundesliga title on his c.v., having won it in 2009 with Wolfsburg. Fulham have an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season.
Hugo Rodallega, 27, striker
Five seasons of Premier League experience at Wigan has seen a return of only 24 goals. But in 2009-10 he scored 10 league goals and nine the following season, so he has proved he can get a team goals when he is fit. Still returning to full fitness but came off the bench and won the penalty that Steve Sidwell scored for Fulham’s fifth.
Out to impress: Hugo Rodallega (right) moved from Wigan in the summer
Bryan Ruiz, 27, forward
He signed from FC Twente for 10.6million at the end of last summer’s transfer window so he is hardly a new face — but the performance he put in on Saturday is one that Fulham fans have not seen before.
Last season he broke a bone in his foot and his lack of goals (he scored two)meant he did not live up to his price tag. But he showed against Norwich he’s got the awareness and passing ability to unlock defences this season.