A year ago Cesc Fabregas, Gary Cahill and Gaël Clichy were automatic choices for their clubs; this week they were on the bench at Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City. Martin Jol will point this out as he seeks to persuade Clint Dempsey, Fulham's leading goalscorer, to sign the contract extension offered him last week.
Dempsey, 29 last month, knows this is probably his last chance to secure a move to a Champions League-level club. The Texan scored one goal, his 19th of the season, and made another for Damien Duff as Fulham took an early grip of Saturday's mid-table encounter with Norwich City, then resisted a late rally prompted by Aaron Wilbraham's first goal of the season.
Afterwards Jol said: "We have offered Clint an improved deal and I hope I can convince him he should stay with us for another couple of years. There are not many players who have left Fulham over the last few years who did well. He is a regular here; at a different team, maybe a top four team, I'm not sure."
Wilbraham is also wondering about his future. The 32-year-old is out of contract in the summer but whatever happens he can now say he is a Premier League goalscorer, his first at this level being the 100th of his career, 14 years after the first. "That was against Man City at Maine Road for Stockport County," he recalled. "We lost 4-1."
Much has changed since, but not, for most, the profession's insecurity. "You are playing for your career every game, even if you are in contract," Wilbraham said. "You have got to go out and give everything and, hopefully, get your reward."
Fulham: SCHWARZER 7/10, KELLY 7, HUGHES 7, HANGELAND 6, J RIISE 6, DUFF 6, MURPHY 7, DEMBELE 8, DEMPSEY 8, RUIZ 7, POGREBNYAK 6
Norwich: RUDDY 6, WHITBREAD 6, WARD 7, R BENNETT 8, NAUGHTON 6, SURMAN 7, FOX 6, HOWSON 6, R MARTIN 6, MORISON 5, HOOLAHAN 7
Scorers: Fulham Dempsey 2, Duff 13. Norwich City Wilbraham 77.
Substitutes: Fulham Kacaniklic 6 (Pogrebnyak, 36), Diarra 5 (Murphy, 71) Etuhu (Ruiz, 83). Norwich Jackson 6 (Whitbread, h-t), Wilbraham 7 (Morison, 68), E Bennett (Fox, 84). Booked: Fulham Etuhu. Norwich Ward, Fox.
Man of the match Dempsey. Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Fulham 54% Norwich 46%.
Attempts on target: Fulham 9 Norwich 8.
Referee A Taylor (Cheshire). Attendance 25,700.Reuse content