Fulham boss Martin Jol is convinced Norwich City have recruited a born winner in Chris Hughton.

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Jol suspended the old pals’ act for 90 brutal minutes at Craven Cottage, but the Dutchman’s delight was tempered by the pain inflicted on his former Tottenham assistant.

“I didn’t cheer after the third goal because I thought may be it is better if we keep it like this,” he said. “It is a professional game and of course 5-0 is 5-0. I love to win 5-0 or 6-0 – but not today. I think it’s always difficult when you start your season with an away game.

“Chris did an unbelievable job with me, he did a great job at Newcastle and Birmingham so I’m certain that he will do the business over the next couple of months.

“In the first 10 minutes you could see that it was very hot and they played with some confidence. After that I think we did well – exactly what I had in mind. We tried to increase the tempo occasionally and keep the ball. We always try to let the ball do the work because it was very warm. “It was still hard but the variation in our pace was very good to see. The plan was to try and get behind their midfield and defence which is what we did for the first goal.”

Twin strikeforce Bryan Ruiz and Mladen Petric, along with fresh young talent in the shape of Alex Kacaniklic, underlined there will be life after Clint Dempsey, with the American’s contract impasse still unresolved.

“I thought Alex did very well on the left. It is not easy to follow in the footsteps of Clint Dempsey but he did exactly what we had in mind,” said Jol. “I know Bryan and I know what he is capable of. He is such a quality player and he’s always able to find space.

“He can play unbelievable passes but sometimes these types of players can lose possession.

“With Mladen, I was not only impressed with his finishing but he was good on the ball as well. It was good to see because in the Premier League it’s a bit different for strikers. They don’t give him time on the ball and I felt that was exactly what he did well to keep the ball for us.”

Jol opted to row back from pre-match suggestions Dempsey had reportedly gone on strike in a bid to force a protracted move to Liverpool.

“If you say it literally it sounds a bit harsh,” he said.

“He wants to move and if you want to move you don’t wan to take risks - that was a very awkward situation for us and for him as well.

“What’s more is that there was no bid at all, not from Liverpool. Of course someone told him that Liverpool wanted him and then his head was turned but for us there was nothing on the table – I don’t know, maybe Clint knows more.

“We feel and the players feel that he should stay because there is no bid. In the normal world you have to stay where you are because you have singed your contract and hopefully he will play for us again. I would like to have players that are playing for other clubs, but we have to pay unbelievable prices.

“If you take Clint Dempsey – look at the other offensive players in midfield. Four or five goals and they are worth £15m or £16m. Clint scored 17 goals from a wide position so what is his value? I don’t know.”

Fulham’s fans made their feelings known towards Dempsey at the final whistle; in stark contrast to their adoration for Dempsey’s midfield ally, Mousa Dembele, who has also been touted for a possible Craven Cottage summer exit.

“Hopefully that (support) helps. Moussa is different – he wants to play every game,” said Jol. “If you’ve got the likes of Real Madrid or Barcelona or whatever it’s different, but he wants to play for Fulham. He is giving us 100 per cent and if nothing happens he will be with us.

“With Clint and the fans, that is not what I want to know because he was a terrific player for us. He was probably the most productive midfield in the whole league. He has one year to go so it’s a very strange situation.”

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