FC Twente 1 -0 Fulham

We bought Bryan Ruiz from FC Twente for 10 million, or whatever it was. There’s an element of food-chaining here, isn’t there? We bought their best player; they didn’t buy ours. Which ought to imply that we’re a better team, particularly as Ruiz – promising though he may be – is not yet in Fulham’s best XI.

I appreciate that this is not how the world works, but clearly something doesn’t quite add up. In the pre-match talks Schteve Maclaren talked about Twente’s midfield three being up against Etuhu and Murphy in the Fulham midfield as a point of interest, and this immediately set the alarm bells ringing: games are frequently won and lost in the engine room, and if Twente are devoting three players to that element and we only have two, it could lead to a lot of possession for them.

Which it did, to the point where Fulham almost appeared stumped. No – not one – shots on target all game, and only 2-3 shots at all in the entire match. We couldn’t get any forward momentum going and seemed somewhat otherworldly in our approach. Zamora and Johnson – neither well suppported nor supporting one another – played like men serving out their notice period, which they may very well be if the rumours are correct.

The game’s high points from Fulham came from Danny Murphy passes: the first slid AJ through deliciously, but the ‘keeper was alert and smothered the ball in the nick of time. The second, from a free-kick on the right flank, saw Zamora circle back around the Twente marking corps, then stab Murphy’s clever pass wide with the outside of his boot. It trickled just past the post.

But of course Twente were putting together chances, too, notably a freeish header that dropped just the right side of the post when scoring might have been simpler. They got a winner late on when a tidy (and quickly played) right-wing cross found its way into the six yard box. Kelly was caught the wrong side of his man and the finish was simple. A deserved win for the hosts.

Hard to know what to make of all this. We haven’t scored a goal in several hours now – own goals not counted – and the expression on Martin Jol’s face seems to be saying “crikey, we should be better than this. Why aren’t we better than this?”….. If he is going to impose his ideas on the team fully, and make wholesale changes he needs to be bold in doing so. There is a feeling of compromise about the team at the moment, that we are playing a certain way that doesn’t quite fit anyone’s preference, using players that are too good to ignore but who don’t really display the traits the manager would like to be working with.

Or not. Football is about long seasons and fatigue is likely to already be a problem. Form comes, form goes, and we all read too much into things. The problem with continually changing the manager is that we cannot necessarily differentiate between a temporary bad run and a wholly bad situation.

8 thoughts on “FC Twente 1 -0 Fulham

  1. Martin Jol had the look of a man who just placed his trust in something/someone and it/they were not returning the favour. I have not seen him look so pissed off for the entire match this season at all. I dont think he even registered when Duff came off. Just sat there staring into the distance.

    I think we just witnessed the end for Zamora and Johnson, which is probably a good thing. Zamora is not doing his hopes of an England place any good with these consistently half-hearted performances and Johnson has just been poor. Sell him to QPR for £2m in Jan and move on. Then we wont be wasting £40k a week on a player who stopped being good when he left Crystal Palace. You know the end is near for AJ when he is played on the wing and it seems this has now finally come.

    New faces, younger blood, changing of the guard – this is what we need. I hope Jol gets the backing he needs from Al Fayed and the fans (consensus currently seems to be favourable towards the manager atm, with the players bearing some of the criticism). Survival with a rebuild is our aim this season. I am relatively confident in Fulham’s ability to do this (mainly based on our good defence) but Jol needs to have faith and drop the ‘stars’. Time to go back to playing as a team (a la Hodgson) than as a collection of your best individuals.

  2. Really don’t know who was responsible for last nights dismal performance, the players of the manager?

    Who’s call was it to stick 9 players behind the ball and play like England did against Spain a few weeks ago? Twente are a strong side, but by no means so good that we should play park the bus for 90 mins? I’d expect it away to teams like Man City, Utd, Aresnal etc – but surely we have a strong enough squad to take the game to Twente even if we were away?

    The team looked absolutely shattered from the minute the game started and once again no pace/creativity on the counter. Surely Jol’s a smart enough man to realise if you play for a 0-0 draw for 90 mins there’s every chance you’ll slip up, concede and lose the game.

    Ruiz must have been questioning his summer move big time. Leaving a successful team where the fans clearly adored him, where he was banging in 20 goals a season, for a club full of thirty something has beens who can’t be arsed and to top it off he can’t even get a game!

    Going to the Liverpool game on Monday – slightly concerned we’ll see a repeat performance of last year…

  3. On recent evidence, the defensive stalwarts remain stalwart while the skipper maintains an extraordinary level, but further up the field it doesn’t look right at all. There’ll still be enough to get by if the spirit is willing, but is it? Last night appeared joyless drudgery to most of those present.

    Simon Davies should be back soon, and Ruiz may kick on, but apart from that we need to look to the January window. Frei is promising, but not a 90-minute answer right now, while the other youngsters are even less so. Worrying.

  4. I was surprised at how quickly Twente closed us down whenever we had the ball. They worked really hard from the 1st to the 91st minute to prevent us having any time on the ball. I’m not sure what happened was entirely Zamora or AJs fault, I didn’t see them receive a great deal of support from the midfield.

    I think that compromise between what Jol wants and what the team can give is probably key. This all seems very reminiscent of last season under Hughes. Either Jol accepts a system that isn’t quite what he wants but gets the best out of the players he has, or he spends a lot of money to bring in players who can give him what he wants.

    Dembele worries me. I can see he’s a talented player but he really doesn’t offer a lot to the team as it stands. It’s also a massive shame Ruiz can’t play in Europe, as I think he’d be better suited to that style of play and would benefit from some extended game time.

  5. To me, Zamora has been a tremendous disappointment this year. His drop in form has been troubling and he spends an inordinate amount of time complaining to the officials about minor things. I’m not sure if he’s been carrying an injury or perhaps he’s just getting older, but he hasn’t been performing at a high level for quite awhile.

    It was surprising how little of an attack that we were able to produce. Even when Duff was on, we couldn’t get forward at all as every time that he had the ball, he had a defender closing him down with another one covering behind. Tough to do much with that, especially when we couldn’t switch the point of attack quickly enough to catch them shorthanded in other areas. We really missed Ruiz and Dempsey in that regard.

    The reception that the Twente fans gave Ruiz was tremendous. While I’m sure that he was genuinely touched by it, I’m positive that he doesn’t regret his move to Fulham at all, especially when he looks at this paycheck.

  6. Soooo frustrating. I was watching in a bar without the audio and most of the time trying to figure out what our formation was…..4-4-2 with AJ as an attacking right midfielder?…..4-3-3? 4-3-1-2? As a side note, I downloaded the Review on my Kindle and am having a good time reliving last season while riding the NYC subway.

  7. The Twente game really just confirmed how desperately poor our away performances have been this season. In 14 games played we have scored 3 goals once, 2 goals twice, 1 goal twice (including the own goal at the Emirates) and have failed to score 9 times. With hindsight the defining performance may have been our first, back in July, when we drew a blank against the Faroese part timers of NSI Runavik.
    Realistically we are not going to play all out attack, that would be a recipe for disaster, but there has to be something better than defending in depth and numbers while hoping to grab something on one of our very pedestrian breaks. Could our negative away tactics be the reason why Bobby Zamora is looking increasingly pi**ed off?
    Martin Jol may not be enamoured of the squad he inherited but he had the time and money to make several signings in the summer. So far only a defender, Riise, has made any kind of impression.In any case his job is to make the best of what he has not sit on the bench looking like a man in the throes of chronic depression.

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