Managers are usually reluctant to compare promising young players to established stars. Making your way in top-level football is hard enough without being tagged "the new George Best" or "the next Ryan Giggs". But, on Saturday, Martin Jol refused to shy away from parallels between Kerim Frei, Fulham's 18-year-old Switzerland youth international winger, and Gareth Bale, whom Jol managed at Tottenham Hotspur.
"I had Bale when he was as young as Frei and Bale is a great player," he said. "I think Frei could be one. He is different – he is right-foot, Bale is left-footed – but he has got confidence and he is not like other young players – play well, play bad, play well – he is always the same. So that is great to watch and he has got real pace."
Norwich found that out on Saturday, when Frei's performance on the left wing helped Fulham dominate the first half, but he also showed another side of his game with a clearance off his own line. With Bryan Ruiz languidly inventive on the other flank and Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey breaking from midfield in support of striker Orlando Sa, Fulham's new look is promising.
If Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora are not fit for today's home game against Arsenal, Jol could do much worse than persevere with the same starting eleven that drew against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day and should have won at Carrow Road but could not add to Sa's first goal for the club.
That allowed Norwich to rescue a draw with a stoppage-time header from Simeon Jackson. Paul Lambert, their manager, aims to sign "two or three" players to ensure Premier League safety but Jackson's second point-saving equaliser in his last two appearances, both as a substitute, suggests a goalscorer may not be a priority. The Canadian forward's goals helped seal Norwich's promotion last season and, although not a regular this time, he is as keen as any Canary to retain top-flight status.
"We just have to keep going in the New Year and keep picking up points where we can," Jackson said. "The main focus is to stay up."
Scorers: Norwich City Jackson 90. Fulham Sa 7.
Substitutes: Norwich Holt 6 (Fox, h-t), Jackson 7 (Morison, 69), Bennett (Pilkington, 80). Fulham Etuhu 6 (Murphy, 65), Duff (Frei, 80), Sidwell (Sa, 80). Man of the match Frei.
Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Norwich 51% Fulham 49%.
Attempts on target: Norwich 9 Fulham 6.
Referee H Webb (South Yorkshire).
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