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Time is now for Fulham to cash in on Boa Morte

After Wednesday's historic 2-1 win over Arsenal at Craven Cottage, Fulham supporters were brought back down to Earth on Saturday when the Whites fell to Blackburn 2-0 at Ewood Park.

One player who to me seems to be a microcosm for the inconsistency problems Fulham face is captain Luis Boa Morte.
Tom Wille

It was not just the fact that Chris Coleman's Cottagers lost, but it was how the team lost that was disappointing to me and my fellow Fulham supporters from around the world.

The team looked uninspired, lacked energy and did not seem to care one way or another about the result of the game at Blackburn which to me is unacceptable.

While the Arsenal victory will remain in our memories for a long, long time to come, the bottom line is that a win over Blackburn would have gone a lot further in helping Fulham solidify its goal of finishing in the top ten of the league.

Instead of consolidating Wednesday's upset win over Arsenal with another win or even a draw against a Blackburn team that was sitting 16th in the table, Fulham failed miserably and in the process took what could have been a huge momentum-building victory over Arsenal and wasted a huge opportunity to climb further up the table.

All too often over the past few seasons inconsistency has plagued this team. Whether it be the team in general or individual players this team looks great some weeks and looks lost other times.

Similar to the scenario Fulham faced this past week after the Arsenal win, the Cottagers were in the same situation last season after beating Chelsea. Unfortunately once again Fulham drew with Aston Villa and lost 3-1 at home to Portsmouth in the two matches that followed. That is once again unacceptable and someone needs to be held responsible for this kind of inconsistent play.

One player who to me seems to be a microcosm for the inconsistency problems Fulham face is captain Luis Boa Morte. In fact this past week's performances by the 29-year-old Portuguese international sum him up completely.

On Wednesday night, Boa Morte was phenomenal. Not only was he playing with energy up and down the left flank, he was getting involved in tackles, setting up goals for his teammates and playing with a kind of intensity and flare that few players in the Premiership can match.

It is safe to say that Boa Morte was one of the main reasons that Fulham was victorious over Arsenal last Wednesday. Cottager supporters had not seen a vintage Boa Morte performance like this in quite some time.

Unfortunately, just like the team's performance at Blackburn, Boa Morte was non-existent. Watching the match you would have thought Boa Morte missed the bus or did not make the trip because his play on Saturday was as productive as my play.....and I was sitting on my couch the entire match waiting for Boa and the rest of the Fulham team to make something happen. Unfortunately, I am still waiting for Boa and company.

Additionally, it is not just this past match where Boa Morte has not played well. In fact, in his eleven appearances this season in league play, Boa Morte has not scored a goal and only assisted on one goal during the Arsenal match.

To find the last time Boa Morte scored, you have to go back to April 15th of 2006 when the Fulham captain scored two goals in a win over Charlton.

On top of that Boa Morte has not scored a goal on the road since April 9, 2005 against Bolton in a 3-1 loss.

I am not completely blaming Boa Morte for Fulham's road woes and their inconsistent performances in his time with the club but I do not necessarily seem him as a solution to the problem either.

As we all know, one of Boa Morte's best features is his pace. His ability to get up and down the left side of the field is something to behold when on top of his game, but that has not been the case in the last two seasons.

On top of that, there is a good chance that Boa Morte is only going to get slower over this season and next. While players aged 29 are by no means ancient, I would bet a good number of pacey wingers have to reinvent themselves a bit when they start losing their pace. I am not sure I think Boa Morte has it within him to make the kind of change needed to be able to play at a consistently high level as Fulham needs him to over the next few seasons.

That being said, it is time to cash in during January. As mentioned earlier, there will be suitors for Boa Morte's services come the new year. Offers will likely come in the range of £2.5milion to perhaps as much as £5million for the Portuguese international's services.

Rumours have swirled over the past few seasons about the possibility of Boa Morte leaving. Whether it be Newcastle, Tottenham, Manchester City, Aston Villa or a number of other clubs in England and other parts of Europe there is a market out there for the 29-year-old left winger and it is my belief that the time is now for Fulham to let him go and start life at the club without him.

This kind of money is way too difficult to turn down for an inconsistent player like Boa Morte. Additionally, money does not grow on trees for Fulham as we all know and when opportunities come along where money can be made on an aging player, it is good business on Fulham's part.

If Boa Morte continues to have bad, inconsistent performances, his value will continue to decline and the chances of Fulham making any money on him will decrease as he gets older each and every season.

I still think Boa Morte can play at a high level in the Premiership, but I am not so sure Fulham is the place for him. Perhaps he can become a squad player at one of the bigger clubs trying to make a push for a European place in the second half of the season. g In the meantime, Fulham can take that money earned from the Boa Morte sale and bring in some fresh, new, younger faces. While we would not be able to bring in the next Cristiano Ronaldo, we could bring in some new blood that would be able to adapt to life in the Premiership and play with passion and energy not just once in a while as Boa Morte seems to do, but every single match.

Rumours have been swirling of American international Clint Dempsey moving to Fulham in January. That would be a good signings and with the Boa Morte cash, Chris Coleman could have some significant funds to bolster squad not just on the left wing, but in defense and up front with Dempsey.

To me, it is a win-win situation for both Boa Morte and Fulham. Boa will get his chance to make it at a bigger club, while Fulham can continue its push for a top-ten finish with its current team and some new players that might be able to push them over the top.

Additionally, the departure of the inconsistent Boa Morte would mean that Chris Coleman would have to give the captains armband to someone else. I have heard Fulham supporters say that giving Boa Morte the armband before the 2005-2006 season was the start of his downfall and inconsistent play.

If anything, the captain needs to be a rock. Someone who gives it his all each and every match and who has the ability to lead vocally and by example. That does not sound like adjectives that describe our current captain Boa Morte.

Perhaps someone like Brian McBride, Michael Brown or even Zat Knight would better be suited for the captains role. McBride and Brown fit the bill perfectly with their energy, passion and committment to the club each match. While both do not have the most talent in the world, they both make up for it with their tremendous work rate. I would put my vote in for one of these two if and when Boa Morte leaves in January.

Let it be known that I am not at all blaiming Luis Boa Morte for the teams inconsistent play in his time with the club. I do feel he has been a part of the problem though. At the age of 29, Boa's best days are past him in my mind. Fulham must cut their losses in January and let him go to another club so Fulham can get on with things and continue working to move up the table.

Chris Coleman and Fulham Football Club are at a crossroads right now. It is going to be a tough decision to let Boa Morte leave, but in the long run it is what is best for the club. Coleman can keep Boa Morte and expect the same kind of performances has witnessed the last two seasons or he can cut his losses in January and bring in some fresh, younger faces to take his place with the money from the sale of Boa Morte.

Luis Boa Morte has been a phenomenal player with Fulham Football Club over the years but all good things must come to an end. The days of Luis Boa Morte playing for the Cottagers are coming to an end. I am not saying the season will turn around when he leaves, but I feel his departure will be the start of a new era at Craven Cottage with a new captain, a few new players and a fresh outlook on things for the next few seasons.

The time is now for Fulham to cash in on their lottery ticket in the form of Boa Morte. If they do not cash in now, they will regret it for some time to come at a club where money is hard to come by.

• Boa Morte swaps Fulham for West Ham United

• If you have comments on this article then email the author Tom Wille.

• Read more from all Soccernet Correspondents here.