No place in Premier League for lazy stars

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When David Moyes saw the Fulham XI for Sunday's game against his beleaguered Manchester United side, the Scottish manager would've almost certainly felt as though he was about to have himself a little respite from the doom and gloom that has engulfed his first term at Old Trafford.

However, we all know by now that it wasn't to be.

The Cottagers surprised many by fielding a much-changed outfit; former United youngster Ryan Tunnicliffe debuted, while Muamer Tankovic, Dan Burn and William Kvist are also new to Premier League football. 

Rene Meulensteen has wasted little time in decking out the squad since taking over from Martin Jol back in December and Sunday's game outlined the style that the Dutchman wants; hard-work and then some more - it got a valuable point too.

Three high profile players departed Craven Cottage to fund moves for the new arrivals; Dimitar Berbatov, Bryan Ruiz and Adel Taarabt. Arguably the trio are more talented than the men that replaced them.

However, while everybody may not agree, if you were to quiz most informed fans on which players they thought were, perhaps, lazier than others then those three names would come out somewhere near the top.

Meulensteen has clearly taken heed as well, and with his side in deep relegation trouble he feels there can be no passengers in the fight for survival.

Some will look at Berbatov's record in England and label Fulham crazy for letting him go, this is a man who, until recently, was Manchester United's record purchase.

The Bulgarian has scored over 100 goals in the English top flight but this was his time to go. 

Berbatov retains that touch of class that got him so well respected here in spells with United and Tottenham Hotspur before that, but he has never faced a relegation situation. 

If the striker is at a top club, as he arguably is now with Monaco, he will get service and nine times out of ten he will score but Meulensteen knows that there simply isn't enough quality in the other playing staff to allow for Berbatov.

To make matters worse; Berbatov's support men were Ruiz and Taarabt, the guys who had to do the legwork - but didn't.  

Taarabt, especially, has proved himself to be difficult to manage. Neil Warnock dedicated nearly a whole chapter in his autobiography to Taarabt's tantrums while Harry Redknapp washed his hands of him at QPR. 

The Moroccan has skill but it seems you have to catch him on a perfect day to see it performed, a late bus could probably lead to him having an off-day.

Yet, it was entirely unsurprising that he got a move to Italian giants AC Milan and scored on his debut because the Premier League has such a unique game style.

Our fast paced action means that every player has to be mega fit, mega concentrated and mega motivated. There's nothing to suggest that way is more successful, it's just the way it is. 

In Italy it's more relaxed, a player like Taarabt is perfectly suited to it. He doesn't have to track back and when he does receive the ball, he has time to get his skills out and not worry as much about pressure.

It's the same with Ruiz too, seldom did we see the play-maker deliver the goods despite knowing how capable he was.  

Whe Martin Jol bought Berbatov, Ruiz and Taarabt together in the same team, it was a surprise, and it was a gamble. He hoped individual quality would be enough but it wasn't and the mess that Fulham have found themselves in proves that only the big teams can afford such luxury players.

Sometimes you need a 'no-thrills' squad.

Having Berbatov, Taarabt and Ruiz together may work for a big European club fighting for a title, but it sure backfired on a small club fighting relegation to the Championship.

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Adel Taarabt
Dimitar Berbatov
Premier League

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