Yikes. A horror show from Fulham, the sort of performance that really causes fans to question the team’s direction, second league game of the season or otherwise. Wolves are a handy side, of course, and were at home, but we’d expect to have given them more of a game. We’d expect to not play so carelessly, so… well, what do you call that? Sloppy is another word.
The defence conceded two shoddy goals, the midfield kept giving the ball away, the forward line was about as static as a team at this level can be. It reminds me of the old ‘can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field’ headline that cricket journalist Martin Johnson used to describe the England cricket team. Fulham have enough credit, enough goodwill in the bank for us to not get too carried away, but you can’t play like that.
Put another way, who comes out of the game with credit? Philippe Senderos perhaps, Dickson Etuhu maybe (although he was taken off at half-time owing to the goal shortage – but he did alright until then) and then Steve Sidwell, whose performance was a tidal wave in a duck-pond. He’ll start next week. He has to. Ditto Moussa Dembele, who wanted the ball and tried to do things with it. The fact that his teammates’ movement was non-existent was baffling and enfuriating, and meant that there were few passes to make the most of the angles his trickery created. Even John Arne Riise looked tentative going forward – I’d expected more from his overlaps.
Fulham had a good chance early when Duff shot wide from a right-wing cross. He should certainly have scored, and the game may then have taken a different course. He didn’t, it didn’t, and until Andy Johnson shot at the keeper in the second half (Dempsey was denied the rebound by some excellent defending – I thought he’d scored) we didn’t create much at all.
Neither did Wolves, really, but then they didn’t have to, having scored twice in the run-up to half-time. The first was a good finish by Doyle, but the fact that you rarely see forwards score goals like that in this league suggests that he ought to have been stopped. The second goal had an air of misfortune, but also of shoddy defending. What’s happened to our team?
It could just be standard away day blues, early season rust, long-pre-season fatigue, or merely ‘one of those things’. The latter seems more likely, especially given Bobby Zamora’s absence from the XI, but even so… very disappointing.