Whether it was intended as a metaphorical kick up the backside or just a plain‑speaking observation, Martin Jol's suggestion in midweek than Andrew Johnson did not score enough in the Premier League was given an emphatic answer.
A regular threat in the Europa League, Johnson came into this match without a goal in the Premier League for five months. One hour was all that was necessary against a shellshocked QPR to register a hat-trick. In doing so, he became the first Fulham player to take home the match ball in the Premier League.
What pleased Jol, however, was the fact that Johnson's resurgence was just one cog in a spectacular team performance. The attacking quartet of Johnson, Bobby Zamora, Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembélé gave QPR a painful hiding. Perhaps it is what they call creative tension, but as well as Johnson, Zamora put a reportedly uncomfortable week behind him with an outstanding display. Jol tried to play it down afterwards, although he did intimate that the Fulham striker could be sensitive and contrary. "Hopefully, Bobby will start liking me. Because I like him after scoring a goal," he said with a wry smile.
Unsurprisingly, what fits of pique there were to be had concerned the visitors. There were whispers that Adel Taarabt, who was substituted at half‑time, left the ground and wandered off in his kit in search of a London bus. Neil Warnock shed no light on the matter. "That's not my problem at the moment," the QPR manager said.
"I have no idea [whether he left the dressing room]. I've more worries than any individual when you lose 6-0. You're going to get days when he throws his toys out the pram, but that isn't a worry for me. If I sub somebody and they are happy, then I have more of a problem with that."
Warnock was so sheepish he admitted he did not even have it in him to blame the referee. "I can't see the point of losing my voice at 6-0," he conceded before walking out of the press conference after more questions about Taarabt.
Fulham eased in front with their first attack, as Paddy Kenny's block on Dembélé's shot fell invitingly for Johnson to rifle in. The second arrived when Rangers botched up defensively twice in the same move. When Johnson received the ball on the left side of the penalty area, Anton Ferdinand hesitated, and Kenny cluttered into their tormentor. Fulham's captain, Danny Murphy, swiped the spot‑kick into the roof of the net. Johnson heaped the misery on to QPR before half‑time, turning in Zamora's low cross after Dempsey again turned the screw in the build-up.
If a chastened Warnock attempted in the interval to give his team something resembling a game plan, Fulham's fourth, which came courtesy of defending he derided as "amateurish", ensured the game was beyond saving. Nothing would disrupt Fulham's marvellous stride. After Johnson latched on to a smart free-kick to angle in his third – and fifth in four days – Fulham created the goal of the day. Johnson careered up the flank and his centre was flicked on by Zamora for Dempsey to place past Kenny. A classy team goal. Then Zamora, having been such a generous creator, lashed in the sixth.
Their first league win of the season, which hurtled them up the table, could not have been more emphatic. Johnson obviously took most of the plaudits and Jol is keen to inspire him to score more. "When I was first here he played for Crystal Palace and everyone was after him. The only negative was he scored 10 penalties because he was always falling over. I said to him: 'I think you're capable of scoring 12 or 15 goals.' And I think he will prove me right."
He certainly gave QPR food for thought on the short journey home. With injuries and suspensions affecting his defence, Warnock confessed he did not have the resources to cope. But even so, there was shamefully little fight in the dog.
Almost a quarter of a century has passed since these two teams came perilously close to a merger. At the time when Fulham Park Rangers was a possibility being rigorously pursued by a property development company, Fulham were grateful for a gate of 3,000 here. This time, a full house in the blazing sunshine could not believe their luck. This particular west London derby must have felt heavenly for Fulham.