Monthly Archives: September 2008

The minutes of Erik Nevland

Villa, home: subbed after 70 minutes, lone striker, replaced by McBride.   We scored almost immediately after he went off, then added another later on.

Boro, away: subbed after 64 minutes, lone striker, replaced by McBride.  Not much happened for us that day.

Man Utd home: on in 91st minute in a game we’d lost horribly.

Reading away: on in the 83rd minute, scored in the 90th.  A game we’d dominated but not put away.  Nevland made it safe.

Liverpool home: on 76, bad game for Fulham, lost 2-0, can’t remember any impact.

Man City away: on 71 for McBride, straight after we’d scored a goal (seems unlike Roy doesn’t it?).  Hauled down for equalising penalty.  We scored again in the 90th minute.

Birmingham home:  on 67 for Kamara, scored 87 to seal win.

Portsmouth: on 72 for Dempsey, we scored in the 76th minute to win 1-0.

Hull away:  on 85, 2-1 down.

Bolton: on 85, 2-1 up.

(also Leicester in the cup when he scored but was offside)

It’s a pretty decent track record so far.  Noteworthy that he’s started twice and been fairly invisible (not entirely his fault), then come on as a sub and done well.    It’s hard to know the extent to which he was the beneficiary of a team hitting its stride or whether he was a vital part of that team hitting its stride.   I think it’s fair to say that he did his bit.

Roy’s sub patterns much more varied, although I guess with McBride coming back to fitness this was a clear need, and Kamara got a couple of knocks I seem to recall.  The Portsmouth sub (on for Dempsey) was a fairly attacking move.

In summation, you shouldn’t really read the above and spontaneously combust over his lack of use this year.   He’s done a good job when called upon but there’s nothing there to suggest that his absence is costing us dear.   One player simply doesn’t make that much of a difference, particularly a fringe player, however effective he might be.

My guess is that we’ll see more of Nevland as the season wears on, but that he’s unlikely to grow from his current role.   We’ll probably see the odd start and he might do well and he might not (just like most forwards!) but there’s nothing here to get angry about.

Sitting on the dock of the bay

John Paintsil’s heart-warming words remind us that “Roy not making subs” is not the same as “Roy doing nothing”.

Playing ten against eleven against a team that is leading by two goals wasn’t easy for us. When we went into the dressing room, the Manager changed things around and we pushed forward, pushing the right and left backs more forward and that changed a lot for us.

I’ll do the Telegraph density maps later in the week, but from them it’s clear that Simon Davies was operating as a second forward, playing, in total, further forward than both Zamora and Johnson.  Now we get confirmation from Paintsil that the full-backs were pushing on.   I noticed Paintsil roving in the second half, and thought he did that quite well, but Paul Konchesky worries me somewhat when asked to do too much attacking.

Paul Doyle of the Guardian has something about Roy’s subs too, incidentally.

That could be construed as an admission of the lack of his squad’s depth, and certainly the absence of a specialist left winger was punishing, though either Seol Ki-Hyeon or Clint Dempsey could reasonably have been expected to be more visible than the ghostly Zoltan Gera. Chris Baird and Toni Kallio may also have been more reliable in the full-back berths than the negligent John Pantsil and Paul Konchesky. But not “definitely”.

“Definitely” was the key word in Hodgson’s explanation. By using it he left himself open to accusations of indecision or excessive caution. If we reflect on a record of success that extends well beyond last season’s great escape, we may instead deduce that his refusal to gamble on a substitution attests to the strength of his conviction in his methods, a belief, borne of his rich experience, that if you keep performing well you will eventually be rewarded.

Fair enough, all this.  I think that, as usual, we’re slightly overreacting, but it’s a trend that does bear watching.   Roy must have purchased the likes of Andreasen, Andranik and Etuhu for a reason; I’m sure if we’re patient we’ll see them.

The main thing is points on the board, and we’re about par for the course at the moment.  No need to panic just yet.

Tackles

From the telegraph, via the press association, who count these things impartially.  The talk of Seol not tackling is nonsense.   He does his bit.

He might or might not be a good player, but he is not the player people think he is.

Roy’s thoughts

Here.

I pretty much agree with him.  I thought we’d done alright until I met the others at the pub and they weren’t very impressed.  All a bit confusing.

Re. Subs – can see Roy’s point.  I’d have changed it, but I’m not as aghast as most.   Incidentally, I did the Observer fans’ bit and tomorrow morning there may be some words from me in the paper about the lack of subs.  I didn’t really think that, they just asked me for “one more thought” about the game when I’d finished all my other rambles, and I couldn’t think of anything.  So I wondered about the lack of subs because I knew it was a hot topic.   And the way they do these things it’ll look like I was outraged, probably.  And really I’m not.

Anyway.

Fulham 1-2 West Ham

How quickly good things can turn bad.  In the space of ten first half minutes a straightforward game went belly up, with two goals and a player conceded.  And that was that.

We started well.  The passing was as good as it normally is, and the feeling that we have a genuinely reasonable team was enhanced with every slick attack, every near miss.  In the final analysis we realise that Robert Green in the West Ham goal had nothing of note to deal with all day, but territorially Fulham had this game under control.  It was there to be won, and won well.

Then Carlton Cole beat Brede Hangeland to a bouncing ball near halfway.  This set off an attack down our left flank, an attack that was not halted.  Schwarzer spilled a hard cross-shot, Cole mopped up the rebound.  Stunned silence.  It had been going so well.

It got worse.  A simple dolloped through ball caught us square, Schwarzer decided to play sweeper, Etherington beat him to the ball, and we were two down.

And worse again.  Andrew Johnson, who may well be trying too hard, left a boot in for the second time in the game, and saw his second red.

Half time.

West Ham were on top now, but Fulham got help when a penalty was awarded in our favour for hand ball.  Danny Murphy sent Green the wrong way.  Would this see the initiative return to the whites?

No.  Sure there were more attacks, but as the game wore on they became less and less threatening.   Zamora, alone and weary, headed wide when well placed.  Bullard hit free-kick after free-kick into the West Ham wall.  Murphy probed and nudged the ball around, but now there was no space to play in and West Ham contained us easily enough.

Disappointing.  On the one hand we played our game again, and did it quite well.  On the other our defence was carved up far too easily today, something that cannot be repeated if we are to progress this season.  Schwarzer mades some good saves but was culpable twice today, Paintsil was willing but erratic, Konchesky’s game is going backwards (especially with the ball at his feet), and Hangeland had one of those games to remind us that he’s not the finished article.  Hughes was Hughes, which is to say he generally did well.

In the same way, the midfield did as the midfield does.  Simon Davies seems to be regaining form, Murphy played well enough, Zoltan Gera had his moments, and Bullard was everywhere (but in a good way).  Decent performance from this group.  They are what they are and it should be good enough most of the time.

But we must come up with more of a cutting edge.  Johnson was busy but harmless until his dismissal, and Zamora is showing himself to be capable, hard-working, but not completely ruthless in front of goal.  This team will make chances, but needs to do a much better job of turning them into something worthwhile.  Time and again today we found ourselves gasping at another near miss.  We need to do better, especially against ordinary sides like West Ham.

Organisational stuff

Paul DePodesta again.

The flex was a complicated offense, well complicated for 6th graders who could barely discern the difference between man-to-man and a box-and-one. By many accounts, it was complicated for high school varsity players as well, as it involved crisp passing and a lot of coordinated movement away from the ball. So, this small school in Northern Virginia that wasn’t necessarily competing for national championships started teaching the flex offense… in the 6th grade.

Guess what offense we ran in the 7th grade? 8th grade? And so on.

There were two primary results from this process: 1) by the time anyone reached the varsity basketball team the flex offense was second nature and 2) we won a whole lot of basketball games – many more than our talent (or certainly my talent) would have ever dictated.

I wonder to what extent Roy’s famous ‘patterns’ are worked on down the Fulham teams.   Roy mentioned at the fans’ forum that he does work with the junior sides, more than perhaps he is obliged to.   But I wonder when all the movement off the ball, rehearsed patterns, etc, come into play for younger players or reserve players.  Do they get all that expertise, or is this first team only business?

Oops – one last Blackburn thing

Telegraph on the Blackburn game – I forgot I hadn’t posted this.   Shows we got things about right with the possession winning bars (given it was an away game, etc).  Also Gera and Davies swapping wings confused the density map tracking so we can’t really tell what the team looked like.   Looks fairly normal though.

Look at this though.  It’s West Ham’s 3-1 win over Newcastle:

Did them on the counter attack, no?    West Ham’s forwards spent a lot of time just beyond the halfway line.  Newcastle had the edge on what we’re going to have to call ‘field position’ (where the ball is won; the higher up the park the better, generally, as you have less far to go to get to the goal, less danger of losing it in a dangerous area, etc) too.   So either West Ham got lucky here, or they played pretty cleverly on the counter attack.   Something to watch tomorrow, as our defence isn’t the quickest.

Peckham’s Dickson Etuhu speaks

Here.   Good comments, I think:

I couldn’t have asked for a better move to be honest. It was the hardest decision of my career, because Sunderland didn’t want me to go and I had a lot of friends there, but as soon as I spoke to the Manager here at Fulham I knew that I had to come here, because he can teach me and make me the player I should be.

Peckham boy too, which I hadn’t realised.  Nigerian international and all.  Still, good luck to him.  I’m looking forward to seeing him play.

Good day for me.  Expected disasters at work didn’t materialise, and after work I nipped up to town to get some guitar strings.  I have an old classical guitar that I can’t play very well (most people say this, but I really can only play to basic chords) and it’s a string light, battered (I dropped it down the stairs when I was at uni), and now covered in dust.  So I need to clean it up, which I’ll do on Sunday, but I also needed strings.  So I nipped up to Denmark Street where all the guitar shops are.  I’d love to love it there, but the people in the music shops are so damn pleased with themselves I’m almost ashamed to go in. Everywhere you look are the cool kids you thought you’d left behind years ago, playing unspeakably clever things on their guitars and generally being intimidating.  This surely says more about me than it does about them (and one of my best friends is a guitar wizard), but I couldn’t get out fast enough.  There’s an excellent crime bookshop on Charing Cross road (I think it’s called Murder Ink) so I nipped in there to pick up the latest Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, accidentally wandered into their erotica and romance section (who knew?!), then picked up a few back issues of Alfred’s magazine.   Huzzah!

Then I got home, and not only was there a package containing Juliana Hatfield’s autobiography “When I grow up”, but also a mystery ticket explaining that something else was supposed to be delivered but wouldn’t fit through the letterbox.  Cool!   Alfred Hitchcock can wait. I’m onto Juliana, a fantastic account of what it’s like to be a once worshipped indie star now playing to the same 200 people over and over again.  (not in England though. She hasn’t been here much so gets… maybe 600 people).  Priceless stuff for a fan like me, and in early October we’re going to see her live at the South Bank, which is going to be fantastic to the power of about 90.

Tomorrow’s Friday, then it’s down to mum and dad in the west for the night, then back up to see us play another team in claret and blue against whom we rarely succeed!  Huzzah.

Life feels pretty good again though.  Funny how it all works out.  Swings and roundabouts, I used to say when I was 18 or so, whenever I could.  And I was right.   On Saturday we may well beat West Ham.  Imagine.