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.