Everyone’s an expert these days

With the benefit of hindsight…

The midfield issue

Injured Murphy + growing realisation that teams can stop him and stop us + Wolves impressive midfield work = dodgy performance.

Murphy’s legs will go, but it’s as much the team’s problem as his.  That’s why I liked Sidwell coming on and smashing things around a bit.  This ought, in theory, buy more space and time for Murphy.  It’s easy to say that Sidwell didn’t offer a great deal beyond energy, but a) we needed that energy and b) we needed to compete in the middle of the pitch.  If you check the Guardian chalkboards Wolves won shed loads of tackles in the corridor between their own penalty area and the centre-circle.  Fulham won about three in this area. But Sidwell did win five tackles in the second half.  Murphy didn’t win any all game, which is unlike him and surely a result of his injury.

Dickson Etuhu looked quite good, keeping the ball, seeing lots of it, and adopting what looked like a slightly left-leaning position on the field. He was unfortunate to be substituted, and in retrospect perhaps Murphy should have given way.

I’m guessing Kasami was injured, but the switch for Dembele certainly helped.  Kasami’s time will come, but he did look a bit lost in the first half.  Duff – who’s been in lively form this season – was relatively quiet.

The defensive issue

I think Jol’s making a mistake here. You really do need a good reason to break up the team’s best ever central defensive pairing, and I don’t think Phillippe Senderos, impressive as he has been, is a good enough reason.  Hughes and Hangeland know each other inside out, have perfected their partnership and are the pillar on which the whole team is built (with Schwarzer behind).  Senderos has been very good individually, but I’m concerned that the team’s play has been compromised.  Added to which, Hughes has clearly shown that he’s a better centre-back than right-back.  His distribution has always been poor – those floated balls into the channels are about the sum of it – and this is only accentuated at right-back.  Fine, Jol might not like the look of Chris Baird, but as a new manager he surely has a duty to familiarise himself with what we did last season when Baird was so successful.  In some ways it’s nice that a new manager feels able to make tough decisions, but in this case it flies in the face of sensible thinking.  Put another way, what can the justification for the switch be?  Baird is clearly better with the ball – this can’t reasonably be disputed – and arguably no worse as a defensive right-back.  It doesn’t make sense.

Up front

Zamora supposedly told Tony Gale before kick-off that he was fine to play so lord knows what’s going on there.  Did I also hear that Clint Dempsey had had back spasms before kick-off?  We had nothing up there.  Dempsey nearly converted a rebound after AJ had shot at the keeper when well placed, but otherwise the front pairing was non-existent.  If the midfield breaks down, if the full-backs don’t give you thrust and width, forwards will suffer, especially away from home.  We’d have been better off withdrawing one of them and trying to win the midfield war, then using that as a platform from which to build.

6 thoughts on “Everyone’s an expert these days

  1. I always worry when some of the calmer heads start to panic, and both on here and on FOF this seems to be the case.

    I personally still think that the real issue is up front. AJ is just not good enough. I thought we looked much better when he was not on the pitch against Dnipro – more movement up front, more ball retention. We desperately need a new striker, or even two. If AJ never played for Fulham again, I doubt many would be too upset.

  2. I think the interesting thing will be how Jol reacts to this performance and what changes he makes for the next PL game.

  3. Zamora hasn’t looked right all season. He wouldn’t have been in Wolverhampton if he wasn’t expecting to play and will not have been pleased about not playing but my suspicion is that Jol think’s he’s not fit enough whereas Zamora wanted to give it a go.

    That there’s a message to the money men at the club that we MUST sign at least one striker may be the subtext.

    We’re clearly trying desperately to bring players in and probably Baird is going when a replacement arrives.

    I don’t think that we should rush to judgement until we see the shape of the squad on September 1st.

    Bringing in younger, quicker players inevitably means that some well loved favourites will be dropping out of the team and maybe the squad – including, quite possibly, Danny Murphy.

    I don’t doubt that Jol’s intentions are correct and even necessary. I’m not that sure though that he’ll manage to be successful.

    1. Re-zamora not being fit: … and yet, Dembele is so obviously NOT match fit and still was on the bench and, eventually, on the pitch.

      Re-younger, quicker players: … Kasami slowed down our passing mearly every time he got the ball in the first half. Dembele slowed down our passing nearly every time he got the ball in the second half.

      I have no problem with favorites being replaced by better players as we grow younger — or perhaps “less old” — but I haven’t, as yet, seen the better players. The one OBVIOUS better player is Riise, but he still looks as if he’s playing like a guest in a testimonial match. It doesn’t seem as if he and the rest of the squad quite understand how he fits in. And, yes, it’s early in the season, but that’s what training is for. I’m just not sure that Jol is making enough use of training to form a cohesive unit. Hughes did MUCH better in a MUCH shorter time.

  4. Rumours on Twitter state that Jol and Zamora had an argument about strikers that Jol is trying to sign and that is why Zamora was benched. Added to the complete freeze-out of Baird, the breaking up of the H&H partnership, playing Hughes at right-back where he’s been tried many times elsewhere without success, rumours early on that Murphy was unhappy, and some things I’ve read on the internet about Jol having many a fight with players at Spurs and freezing them out, and frankly I’m worried.

    My big concern with Hughes back in the day was that his ego was so great he wouldn’t be happy acting as a steward from Hodgson’s time, only gradually bringing in changes. This seem founded at the start, but he really turn things around, admittedly going back to the way they were playing under Hodgson after the West Ham game. That was very impressive and made me comfortable with him as a manager.

    Jol, I didn’t think, came with the baggage of an over-sized ego, clouding reason. I am really worried that what we’re seeing is someone so stubborn and needing of complete adherence from the players, that he is willing to ruin a great team to get it. This Standard article indicates that he’s still trying to move players out:

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard-sport/football/article-23980111-jol-refuses-to-press-panic-button-but-admits-that-fulham-need-new-players.do

  5. With Zamora having his banged up, bandaged hand and now an ankle knock, and considering how much fixture congestion there is, it was probably for the best that he sat out, even if he wanted to play and it lead to a loss.

    I’ve played games with torn ligaments and broken bones (in silly recreational leagues to boot) because I didn’t have a coach there to tell me to take the day off. I just tried to play through everything. I imagine many professional athletes are the same, especially a guy who plays Zamora’s style and with the passion that he plays it. The fact that Jol him held out as maybe just even a preventative measure is a positive in my book.

    I don’t mind the changes either, or at least the idea of them… but I’m worried that he’s implementing them too quickly. This squad has been together for some time, and any attempt to break up the band isn’t going to go over very well… but it’s a necessity at some point to have an eye towards the future.

    Jol has a difficult balancing act to work. I hope he gets it together… the first week wasn’t so bad, but yesterday was dismal.

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