Fulham 2-5 Liverpool

Well bugger me. Who knew?  Last we heard Liverpool were a deluded team caught up in their glorious but distant past, on the rebound from appointing our best ever manager. Then this.

Fulham were in many ways the archetects of their own downfall – how many times have you seen Hangeland and Hughes made to look like amateurs? – but Liverpool brought something special with them tonight. Curiously you could almost see it before kick-off: they had the body-language of Roman centurions about to do battle; they seemed to know that they would win.

News to me, as I had thought we had a good chance, but Liverpool scored in 30 seconds when Suarez skipped off down the left, cut inside and eventually found Maxi Bloody Rodriguez, who scored.

Then he got another, Glen Johnson beat the offside trap (!) and crossed to the far post, from where Maxi volleyed past our yellow suited goalkeeper.

Then a third, Kuyt this time, drilling hard and low and past Mark Schwarzer’s hands and in.  Whooops.

At this point an argument could have been made for making three subs, as we were getting embarrassed. At half-time no single player could claim to have earned 5/10.  In the event we saw Zamora on for Davies, when the introduction of Etuhu might have given us more chance in the middle of the park.  But it made a difference, as Sidwell and Murphy stepped up and Zamora bounded around with that endearing optimism he sometimes has.

We got one back when Zamora teed up Dembele in the Duff zone, 3-1.  Then came the game’s best spell, as the crowd roared the Whites on.  A goal here would make all the difference, and momentum was with us.

Then it wasn’t. Maxi blasted one of those goals that makes you think “that’s the hardest I’ve seen a football kicked”, the Suarez flew past Schwarzer and tapped home a fifth.  Steve Sidwell got in on the screamer fun with a belter of his own, but sensibly opted not to celebrate such a meaningless moment.

It was the sort of match where you find out afterwards that Aaron Hughes had a cold and Brede Hangeland’s hamstring wasn’t quite right after all.  I’ve never seen those two outplayed so comprehensively, and while much of that is a result of Suarez’s skill and general slipperiness, we’re better than we showed.  Murphy had a poor first half but stepped up in the second, and it was encouraging to see Zamora so strong again.  Kakuta’s play suggested that he might have been a good choice to start, but, well, we got hammered anyway.

One minor annoyance: Liverpool’s players were poleaxed six times (I counted them), and while Mereiles went off, the remainder were surely in the “you don’t need to act like that” category.  Anyway: have we just seen next season’s champions? They looked awfully good.  We just looked awful.

28 thoughts on “Fulham 2-5 Liverpool

  1. 5 yellows. There goes Europe. Time for Hughes to take that bigger gig he’s been pining for. Bayern, Villa, back to Blackburn, I don’t really care.

    1. Even with the five yellows, we’re still first in the Premier League disciplinary table, and by a pretty fair margin. And if the season ended today and we finished in 10th it would be, what, the third highest finish ever? Seems a bit too soon to be running Hughes out of town, no?

  2. Realistically, it was all over after 30s. Baird had a terrible 6 minutes, then one by one the other 10, rather sportingly, joined in.

    Starting Gudjohnson was surely the mistake of the season. With him playing so anomalously it gave us no way out of defence/midfield, so everything bunched up behind him and made our attempts at an offside trap look childish.

    I’ve been droning on like a single track record about Dempsey/Dembele being played the wrong way round, and the 10 minute spell after half time seemed to prove that right (albeit from the right and not the left). Bringing AJ on seemed to stifle us again before the 4th LFC goal.

    So frustrating tonight as all the things we did wrong felt really elementary and totally obvious for all to see.

  3. You know what, I didn’t mind that game. We were slaughtered but somehow it felt more random than significant – MS had an absolute nightmare and on another day the same two teams could easily have produced a very different result.

    I think the way Hughes sets us up means we will occasionally get badly done by the better sides (see the Man City 1-4) when their attack is on form but I’ll take that if the pay-off is more exciting football generally and more competitive, positive performances away from home.

    Some of our forward play in the second half was outstanding and we were looking genuinely like we might mount a recovery from that horror start until Maxi’s strike (another MS mistake..?) I struggle to comprehend just how good Zamora is at what he does. The man is a genius. And with Kakuta, Dembele, Gudjohnsen and Dempsey playing off him we are seriously threatening.

    Still think next season could be a good one…

    1. I think I know what you mean. While people were getting angry around us we were having a fairly enjoyable evening all considered, and it’s not every day you see seven goals. But we are awful against the big teams now, and we weren’t before, and I do think that’s a shame. Also I am again reminded of the old Roy Keane thing: no use playing well when you’re 2-0 (or in this case 3-0) down.

      Liverpool were excellent though, they had lots of space, lots of passing avenues, and for a time we looked like we just couldn’t get a grp. We were always on the very edge of control. It got better in the second half but it had to.

      That said, enjoyable enough.

  4. Jamie’s cheered me up with that spot of optimism. It was odd to see the whole team fall apart. Baird had a horrible start but seemed to recover after the 2nd goal only to see the rest of the defence take turns to see who could make the worst mistake.

    Murphy lost it early on after a rash challenge, talked himself into a yellow card and then grouched round the pitch for the rest of the half. The midfield as a unit struggled to control the ball and I think this put pressure on the back four and led to the errors. Fair play for putting in a much better 2nd half display.

    Liverpool were good though. Came out of the traps really firing and didn’t let us settle until it was too late. Suarez looked a real handful and Liverpool more of a cohesive team without Gerrard.

  5. ‘They looked awfully good. We just looked awful.’

    I don’t think it was so bad.

    Fham v City 490 passes (72% success)
    City v Fham 580 passes (82% success)

    Fham v Pool 520 passes (75% success)
    Pool v Fham 528 passes (72% success)

    Liverpool just scored a lot of goals!

  6. Dreadful result. This never would have happened under Roy!!! (Yes, you can read that last comment either way, Fulham fan or Liverpool…)

      1. Timmy-

        In the 2009-10, did we ever concede more than three goals? Maybe once — that last game against Arsenal (a throw-away game, so I am apt to discount it entirely) — but even still that was only 4. And how many times did we even concede three? Not that often if memory serves… Less than five times? And that includes the Europa and a decent Cup run as well.

  7. I enjoyed the match because Liverpool were superb and we’ve already won our safety.

    Picking up on things said above I was thinking that under Hodgson we frequently gave the best a good game but often failed against weaker teams. Under Hughes it seems to be the opposite, I’d guess because we try to match them in open play. Had we had Hodgson’s two banks of 4 we probably wouldn’t have conceded those early goals but playing like that against Bolton and Sunderland would have been showing them too much respect.

    Some keyboard punters have been saying for 3 year that Murphy’s legs have gone whilst others, like me, want to believe that he can carry on forever. Hughes has to decide how much he can take but last night the pace and intensity was too much for him. Sidwell also was ineffective. Had Etuhu been sitting in front of the defence retreating to be an auxiliary central defender maybe the early goals might have been avoided.

    And the truth is that the first 4 goals should all have been prevented.

    Big questions though. An off night? Certain players being past their best? Time for a more defensive approach against stronger teams?

    1. Certainly agree that Etuhu, with his extra strength and ability to cover back, might have made a difference – thought that during the game but forgot to mention above.

      Against the weaker teams, the Murphy-Sidwell pairing offers more creatively so has been a definite positive. Last night, however, the defence was left too exposed. Hughes has built a good squad with options so he should use it.

  8. Liverpool’s fans can hope for a title next season if Liverpool keeps playing like this. Dalglish is a great football manager and Liverpool’s owners will probably invest some money this summer to strengthen the Reds.

  9. When I saw the line-up I assumed that we were going to fill the midfield. Unfortunately, Mark Hughes’s pragmatism decided to go for another wander tonight after several weeks of being with us.

    Some basic football errors last night – you cannot press a five man midfield with four men, play a high line and expect to get away with it. Unfortunately after the first goal that highlighted this, we did not adjust.

    Without Zamora we had no ‘out ball’ so their centre backs were untested as they built up a three goal lead.

    I can see what Hughes is trying to do, but the way he went about it was suicidal.

    Suarez was excellent, best player I have seen at the cottage this season along with Tevez and Yaya Toure.

    Oh well, onwards and upwards!

  10. That third goal from Rodriguez sealed the game.

    Pity Sidwell had to score a stunner in such a game- tends to go unnoticed because of the scoreline by which Liverpool won and the way they played.

  11. Strange night down on the Thames. Agree that Etuhu does shore things up against the better teams – we missed him. He is a better foil to Murphy.

    No excusing our goalkeepers awful night. I am a big fan of MS’s coolness under pressure but he was at fault for the 1st 3 goals; 1. his clearance from the goal-line was awful. 2. Was side onto Maxi when he shot, hugging the post as opposed to being “big”. 3. Obvious error. Stockdale needs a run-out soon.

    1. Schwarzer did have an awful night, but he’s hardly the first good goalkeeper ever to do so, and honestly it’s probably better it came against an opponent we were unlikely to beat even if he was on his game than in a match we expected to win.

      That being said, age spares nobody and Stockdale clearly has more of a future than Schwarzer, and if we think that future is bright then it would be prudent to start giving him more minutes on the field so he can continue to develop, as you suggested.

  12. Just wanted to add a few things to the comments above. First of all, I agree largely with what has been said: defense was all over the place (all four of them), MS – terrible (for once!), Sidwell and Murphy were also both a mess (particularly in the first half). Re. Murphy, he’s definitely coming to the end of his career (no one would argue that, not even him) but for most games (well, at least 60 minutes worth) he does fine, and while we have no obviously replacement he will continue to be picked. Ball playing midfielders, with a good pass, shot and who can tackle (and lead the team!) cost a lot of money, but if we’re in the market for one this summer what does everyone think of Scott Parker? With the Hammers all but down and him living in London anyway, it’s not too much of a stretch is it? I for one would like to see that. Thoughts?

    1. Have often wondered if we could or should try to get Parker. I wouldn’t give up on Murphy just yet. And by the way, where is Joe Cole’s career going? Could he fill this sort of role and would his expected salary have dropped to within Fulham’s range? I don’t see him staying at Liverpool.

  13. MS had a similar howler, the same time last season vs Arsenal maybe he’s already on his hols this time of year?! No one seems to have mentioned how poor Simon Davies was – he gave the ball away a lot and at vital times when we had worked into good attaking positions, still we would have looked a lot more assured with BZ on from the start. The score was 2-2 with Bobby on second half, if only the defence hadnt had a mental breakdown in the first 17 mins. I dont see Parker fitting in – still havent forgiven him for that chop on Bullard!

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