All you got to live for is what you left behind…

Other things:

Mark Schwarzer seems to be back to something like top form – very impressed

Nice how Stephen Kelly has won people over – another good game from him.  It’s a shame about Zdenek Grygera though.  He’s looked a fine defender and this doesn’t look like a minor injury, so our thoughts are with him.  That sounded like serious pain.

(NB: we then had a 2,5,6,3 back four, just like in the olden days).

Baird and Hangeland look a fine partnership. Does Hughes go straight back in when he’s fit?  Could Baird have done more for either of the first two goals?  Probably not. Bale’s cross was violent, Lennon’s run was how I imagine Stanley Matthews to have been, only at rocket speed. It was telling to see the TV footage later: Lennon’s jink inside made Baird overplay him that way, but Lennon switched back and Baird could not.  Thrilling football.

Still unsure on Riise. We sit in the left back marauding area and a few times there were runs to be made (e.g. man in possession, space to the left) but Riise was about three seconds late taking off, if he went at all. Konchesky never had any bother getting into these areas at the right time, and perhaps this is what’s tainting my opinion, but the timing and quantity of his runs seem wrong to me. Which is especially annoying as the team needs some width to avoid being funneled straight into opponents’ busiest areas (and therefore having 47.5 shots, none of which were clean or uncontested…)

Thought Murphy had a really good game and his substitution messed things up a bit. I know why Jol did it, I think: with all the attacking players on the field, having Etuhu’s athleticism was probably important in protecting us on the counter and chasing down Spurs raiders, but we lost a bit of momentum there

Sidwell did pretty well but Scott Parker showed himself to be the better player. Both took the ‘Chelsea reserves’ route to where they are now, of course.

Dempsey had a fine game, a constant threat and an extraordinary ability to anticipate chances and put himself in good positions. He was unlucky not to have scored and had the game gone into extra time (for some reason) I’m sure he would have.

Similarly, Dembele was terrific. There was one moment where he ran round Adebayor (literally right around him) for no great reason, but otherwise his driving runs and bullish defensive efforts really impressed.  There’s something thrilling about having a player who can really dribble the ball (rather than just run with it). His jinks and twists and turns are a joy to watch.

Duff, like Murphy, slightly unlucky to come off, but to bring on Ruiz someone had to be sacrificed.  I’d have sent Duff to left-back and taken off Riise I think. Class player and good to see him back.

Zamora was up against King and Kaboul and therefore was always going to have a toughish time of it, but I thought he grew into the game and by the time the second half ticked around he was bullying his way about like it was 2009.

Ruiz looked class again. The through-ball to Dempsey was nicely weighted, and there’s something of Dembele in the way he dribbles (not the fully Monty, but similarish). Time to find a way to get him in the side I believe, even if it means a Roma style 4-6-0 for a few games (not that you can or should drop Zamora… what to do? Move Dempsey deeper? Play Duff as a Dani Alves style left back?)

Etuhu gave his critics a nice air shot, and in truth didn’t get into the flow of the game at all. Thing is, if our full-backs are to attack properly someone in the midfield needs to drop back and cover, and I still believe Etuhu is the second best player in the squad (behind Baird) to do this.

10 thoughts on “All you got to live for is what you left behind…

  1. Murphy did have a really good game and his substitution did mess things up a bit, but then after a while we got going again, so that was encouraging in terms of the bigger picture — Dembele, Ruiz and Dempsey all on the pitch concurrently and after a while making things happen. Proof of concept.

    1. I think you sit quite near to us – do you see the same things when the ball is coming left, the ghost of Konchesky overlapping; the present Riise not?

      1. Hadn’t thought of it like that before, but yes. Briggs could revive the ghost, but not sure about his defensive qualities — nor the latter-day Riise’s either, so maybe nowt to lose.

        1. The other possible doubt about Briggs is his stamina. He may be 10 years younger than Riise but he tends to need to be substituted after an hour or so.

          With Riise perhaps we need to remember that he’s been playing in a slower league and maybe he just needs to get up to speed which won’t happen without games.

          I do agree though that he’s been a major disappointment.

          For Lennon’s goal it may be that you need to be where we were to appreciate how very good and unstoppable it was. I don’t fault Baird. Had we had Hodgson’s two banks of four we might have prevented the goal though at the expense of the attacking system that Jol is clearly favouring.

          I think that good times are on the way.

  2. Rich I respect your views highly and on almost all occasions agree with your analysis of the games……but just explain to me what Etuhu gives us ? I simply do not understand why he is playing at this level. In my 52 years of watching my beloved Fulham, he ranks with the most inept we have ever had. A player that has no ‘reading’ of the game in anyway at all,
    should not be playing in the Premiership.
    ????????????

    1. You have to ask yourself though why Hodgson, Hughes and Jol DO see some value in Etuhu.

      The answer IMO is the screening he gives to the defence and his expert ball retention which is, admittedly, a consecquence of his lack of passing ambition but if he’s quickly feeding players better able to use the ball then I don’t see the problem.

      What doesn’t work is asking him to do things that take him out of his comfort zone and I suspect that he will gradually fade from the picture as Jol seeks something more adventurous. Or reckless.

  3. I’ve finally worked up the nerve to comment here — I’m a fairly new fan, from San Francisco, and this is by far the best Fulham blog I’ve found.

    Anyways, three quick thoughts:
    1) Dembele is a serious talent. This is probably old news, but I only get to see Fulham on television once in a while (more often, I end up listening to the BBC radio feed), and his quality really shone through in this match.
    2) Ruiz deserves a start after the break. His ball to Dempsey was lovely.
    3) Speaking of Dempsey, I love him, but sometimes I wonder what’s going on in his head. He’s a ball-stopper — instead of making the one extra necessary pass, he gets it into his head that he can go straight through the entire defense. It’s true sometimes, but not often enough. Somehow, it strikes me as a very American approach.

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