Fulham 1-3 Everton

What about that then, eh?   What can we say?  Taken in isolation, two evenish teams played out an entertainingish game which was ultimately decided by the two centre-forwards: ours missed, theirs didn’t.  But there’s so much more to it than that, isn’t there?

Everton scored in the second minute, Royston Drenthe smashing home from ‘downtown’ with a skimming drive that Mark Schwarzer couldn’t get to.  He absolutely belted it: funny how many Dutch players can hit the ball very hard, isn’t it?  This had been immediately preceded by Danny Murphy losing his way in midfield, the first of several curious mishaps from the skipper.

After that we were even-Steven, Murphy hit the woodwork via Tim Howard, Everton wasted a couple of very good headed chances.  Baird was having a good game at centre-back, but otherwise it was hard to see a Fulham player who looked in good shape.

The second half saw more of the same, and we were rapidly entering afternoon nap territory when something rather wonderful happened.  Bryan Ruiz, on for Murphy, found space on the left of the area, then clipped an absolutely delicious chip over Tim Howard for a splendid equaliser.  Wow.   Hello, Bryan Ruiz: now we see.

Fulham, with Sidwell and Dembele a livelier engine room and with Johnson showing surprising spark on the right, suddenly grew into the game and perhaps looked like the more likely winners. Zamora found Ruiz with  a nice far post cross, but our new hero’s well met volley couldn’t beat Howard.  Another – better – chance came in the last minute when Zamora skipped inside Howard (with impressive skill, it must be said) then blasted the ball over the open goal.  Mouths agape: unbelievable miss.

At which, Everton went up the other end and scored, Saha beating Hughes (only on the field for a few moments) then Schwarzer.  Oh.  Then Jack Rodwell drove home a third, and our afternoon was done.

What to make of that, then?  We looked ordinary for long stretches, with the aforementioned Baird the only player to emerge with much credit. Dempsey seemed crowded out by Riise’s adventure, Dembele – still such an important player – flitting but not with conviction (Everton had done their homework on him) and the forwards somehow not featuring. Johnson’s running is supposedly a strength but Everton’s defence seemed happy to let him go, passing him over to whoever’s zone he ran into.  Distin, Jagielka and the excellent Baines hardly needed to break sweat.  Johnson’s demotion to the right flank following Ruiz’s introduction showed a new side to him and he was at the heart of much of our good approach play, but he still doesn’t look like he’s going to be an important part of the next good Fulham team.

When that team emerges is, of course, the big question.  The side looks badly out of sorts and needs a bit of luck, a moment of genius (which we got today, then wasted) if it’s to get through the next few months without more tears.  I suspect this was a better performance than it now feels like, but we need something to change soon.

14 thoughts on “Fulham 1-3 Everton

  1. God I hate football sometimes. Didn’t enjoy that game for one minute except when Ruiz scored that beaut.

    What would we be saying if Ruiz’s volley and/or Zamora’s sitter had gone in and we’d won the game?

    Jol’s substitutional decisions have bugged me all season. Ruiz for Murphy kinda made sense although I would have been more inclined to do Ruiz for Dembele and someone like Etuhu for Murphy to protect our defence. But bringing Hughes on in the 89th minute was a weird one and then not bothering with a third sub at all to replace weary legs baffled me. Seems to have been Jol’s pattern – one earlyish sub 70th minute then a second very late sub and no third.

    Think Fulham edged performance wise today just – but its goals that count.

    Press is going with the easy ‘europa hangover’ verdict but half the team today didn’t play during the week so no excuse.

    :(

  2. I’m really worried by the fact that I seem to be the only one who saw little glints of a diamond in the rough forming in today’s match – some of the build up play was really good to watch. I’m sure we were seeing, in patches, Jol’s vision of how he wants Fulham to play.

    I’m worried though because most people disagree with me, leading me to believe that perhaps I’m seeing things because I want to see them.

    1. I agree to an extent – but we will never get to Jol’s vision with a 4-4-2 IMO. Yes we’re seeing it in patches but I don’t think well see it come to full fruition until Jol can go with his preferred 4-2-3-1. Think the only reason we’re 4-4-2 right now is because the players can’t/don’t want to play anything else (ruiz, dembele excepted).

      think Jol needs to see where we are by January then put his foot down and go with either 4-4-2 with bobby and AJ or lose bobby/AJ to another club, raise some funds and get another player more suited to the 4-2-3-1.

      I’ll be happy with either way as long as the whole team are on board with it and Jol’s happy to. Unhappy manager and unhappy players = bad results…

      1. I agree, but I’ve always thought a 4231 variant suits us best anyway (like our Roy vintage 4411 in Europa).

        4 = we don’t seem to be doing too badly here, whoever
        2 = Murphy and Sidwell/Etuhu (ideally Etuhu)
        3 = Ruiz/Dembele/Duff/Dempsey/AJ/Davies
        1 = Zamora/Dempsey

        It wasn’t a good indicator really, but when we beat RNK Split 2-0 it looked like we were playing as Jol wanted us to (granted, it was a laboured 2-0 but we weren’t match fit). Perhaps having a team full of youngsters helped then, because they were less stubbon?

        1. I dunno, it looks to me that we don’t really have much of a plan in how we want to play and what we want to do in possession. Most build-up looks stilted and laboured. The ball movement is way too slow with many players continuing to take several non-productive touches. To me, this prevents us from any sort of combination build-up that last more than 2-3 passes. The ball movement is not crisp at all which makes it more difficult for us to break down a defense in the final third.

          For the amount of matches that we’ve played this year already, you would expect us to look more cohesive out there, but we just don’t.

    1. gonna put a little crimp into your reporting, eh? Of course, you could work for some of the English tabloids. I don’t think most of their reporters ever see matches.

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