Now that misunderstood Joey Barton has vowed to make a Nelson Mandela-like transition from jailbird to global role model, could the next part of his rehabilitation be a surprise return to the England fold? He will certainly think so after seeing Fabio Capello sitting in the stands, even though the latter's usual inscrutable expression offered no clues.
There were not many other home grown players to tempt Capello to the Cottage when he could have been relaxing at home with a nice warm bowl of pasta. Jimmy Bullard perhaps? Bobby Zamora? Andy Johnson?
In truth, it was probably Johnson, who is finally discovering his scoring touch in Fulham colours, though Barton, whom Joe Kinnear, his Newcastle manager, describes as the "heartbeat" of his team. It just shows how desperate they have been, though to be fair to Barton he was a genuine and an intelligent presence in his team's midfield.
He also forced Mark Schwarzer into a fingertip save minutes after Newcastle's equaliser when his team were dominating the play. But they lost to a penalty which had Kinnear fuming at referee Martin Atkinson. He said: "I had no problem with the penalty decision but there was a blatant push by Johnson on Cacapa just before it. But the Mickey Mouse referee did nothing.".
It left Newcastle back in the bottom three after another robust home performance by Fulham, who after securing 13 points from six games here, can amass enough points to stay up without bothering too much in away games where they have secured only a single point.
At the Cottage they are far less craven, a side only too keen to attack opponents, with Simon Davies producing some clever touches, Bullard providing the driving force and Danny Murphy the sticking plaster when things went wonky. Yet Fulham were running out of attacking ideas when Newcastle's defence came up with another novel way to concede a goal, Claudio Cacapa heading a hopeful, swinging cross from Jimmy Bullard straight into Fabricio Coloccini and into the path of the grateful Andrew Johnson. Newcastle deserved to draw level – even though there was again a touch of comedy about it. Nicky Butt and Duff produced clean enough passes but Obafami Martins did not know much about the knock on into the path of Shola Ameobi.
Newcastle looked the more likely winners after that but Johnson's knack of drawing fouls in the penalty area saw Coloccini become his latest patsy, Murphy confidently driving home the spot kick. It lifted Fulham from the bottom three to 10th place, manager Roy Hodgson observing: "That's the nature of the league. You don't know whether you are preparing to get your passports stamped for Europe or getting ready for the Championship."
Goals: Johnson (23) 1-0; Ameobi (57) 1-1; Murphy pen (66) 2-1.
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hughes, Hangerland, Konchesky; Davies, Bullard, Murphy (Baird, 88), Gera (Dempsey, 64) ; Zamora (Nevland, 74), Johnson. Substitutes not used: Zuberbuhler (gk), Gray, Stoor, Andreasen.
Newcastle (4-4-2): Given; Beye, Coloccini, Cacapa, Jose Enrique; Gutierrez (Owen, 70), Butt, Barton, Duff; Ameobi, Martins. Subs not used: Harper (gk), Guthrie, Bassong, N'Zogbia, Geremi, Carroll.
Referee: M Atkinson (W Yorkshire).
Booked: Hangerland (Fulham).
Man of the match: Danny Murphy (Fulham).
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