Disappointing draw in Fulham and Spurs' London derby
Fulham 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0
Before this match started on Saturday, Roy Hodgson was presented with the award for the Barclays Manager of the Month for February. If he manages to win it for March as well then he will have certainly earned his prize.
This drawn FA Cup quarter-final is followed by a fixture list that reads Juventus (away), Manchester United (away), Juventus (home), Manchester City (home) and Tottenham (away). Five games in two weeks that show just how far Fulham have come since Hodgson was appointed in December 2007, and saved the club from relegation to the Championship.
The Cottage was rocking for Fulham's FA Cup quarter-final with Tottenham, but it wasn't even the biggest game of the week as far as the home supporters are concerned. Thursday's trip to Turin to face the might of Juventus added a compensatory gloss to the rather disappointing fare on offer on Saturday.
Simon Davies, Fulham's former Tottenham midfielder, is not one to complain about the accumulation of fixtures. "Coming from nearly being relegated two years ago, I think if someone would have offered that run then we'd have been jumping at it," Davies said. "We've had a great run in February and it was a tough month, and it'll be another tough month in March, but there's a lot of experience in the squad and I'm sure the manager will negotiate the month quite wisely."
In much the same way that Fulham's fortunes have turned full circle under Hodgson, so Tottenham are a greatly improved team since Harry Redknapp took over, having risen to fourth in the Premier League. Saturday's game was a contest between the two leading English managers, men who could have every right to believe they have a chance to replace Fabio Capello when the Italian has had enough of managing the national side.
Redknapp thinks that English managers contesting the game's top honours will soon become an even rarer occurrence. "With more foreign owners there will be fewer British managers. Every club will have a foreign owner eventually," Redknapp said.
The Fulham owner Mohamed al-Fayed has proved, contrary to predictions, to be one of the game's more sensible foreign owners. Certainly, his decision to appoint Hodgson has become the defining moment of his tenure. Despite missing key players such as Andrew Johnson, Clint Dempsey and Danny Murphy to injury, Fulham enjoyed the better of the chances, forcing Heurelho Gomes into a fine reaction save to deny Zoltan Gera's header in the game's best moment.
Bobby Zamora led the line well for Fulham, while Luka Modric for Tottenham relished his move to midfield, although his influence faded the longer the match went on. Tottenham will be favourites for the replay, not least because Fulham have a dismal record away from the Cottage.
Niko Kranjcar, the Spurs midfielder, said: "We've already proven we can beat them because we did so in the league 2-0 earlier this season."
Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Shorey; Duff, Etuhu, Greening, Davies (Elm, 73); Gera; Zamora. Substitutes not used: Zuberbühler (gk), Kelly, Konchesky, Okaka, Riise, Smalling.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Kranjcar, Palacios, Modric, Bale; Pavlyuchenko (Defoe, 82), Crouch. Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Gudjohnsen, Rose, Livermore, Dervite, Townsend.
Referee: M Clattenburg (Tyne and Wear).
Booked: Fulham Etuhu.
Man of the match: Palacios