Disappointment is part of football, of course. We all know this and in some respects enjoy it: our real lives are generally on the ordinary side and furthermore it’s very rare for us to be able to shout, scream, jump around or make outrageous accusations in the real world without there being consequences. So we go to football where all of those things are okay. Running up and down the scale of emotions is part of being a football fan.
Then you get games like that, where in the end there is no emotion because emotion is replaced by an otherworldly nothingness, a nothingness that occasionally gives way to fury but then comes back, bringing with it a cliched but very real sick feeling in the stomach. Have you been punched in the stomach? It feels like that.
Put another way: how could they? How could they do that?
Put another way: we’re out of Europe because…
Did they underestimate Odense? Did they think at 2-0 that pissing around doing nothing for the second half would be fine? Do they hate the manager so much that they don’t want to play for him? Or are they the victims of poor fortune?
Odense started brightly but Fulham took control soon enough. Kerim Frei, who presumably sat in the changing room after the game gutted that his birth as a contributing star of the future was wasted, surged down the left wing and had the gumption to find Zamora with a cross. Zamora – memories of days gone by! – turned the ball back to the edge of the box and Dempsey slammed home a first goal that oughtto have seen us on our way.
Then Dembele won the ball and slipped Frei through and Frei slotted home a second. What a game for the lad.
It was men against boys at this point.
In the second half it got a bit sleepy. Both teams seemed to have accepted their fate and were content to play at 75%. But Odense won a free-kick that was promptly rifled low past young Etheridge (a decent, blameless debut for Neil), and oh dear we had a game to play again.
It is easy to go down the gears but when you lose momentum it can be very hard to get it back, and Fulham were briefly trapped in what felt like a bad dream about to start.
I don’t blame Orlando Sa for their winner. Partly because I’d nipped out for a (in retrospect complacent) jimmy riddle and didn’t see it, but in general because we’ve had six games, none of which have been particularly difficult, and thoroughly fucked them up. We didn’t lose this group in the 93rd minute we lost it over six matches, and particularly the last two. The defeat in Twente would be understandable (away to the group winners) had the display not been so insipid. This one?
In days gone by we’d have seen a 2-2 draw against a strongish Danish side as an exotic disappointment, but tipped our hats to our opponents and moved along. But now the game in England, and Fulham are part of this, is so awash with money that this really should not happen. I sound like an Arsenal fan or something now, but the talent we had on the field, the wage bill required to put it there, frankly Odense, bottom of the group and away from home, shouldn’t have had a sniff. They should have been stuffed out of sight. Yes, football is not like that, but it isn’t as if we got ambushed by a surprisingly technical team or knocked out of our stride by some well timed physicality, or anything like that. We just stopped playing when we thought the job was done, an enfuriating counterpoint to last Saturday when we didn’t *start* playing until it was too late.
It is only a game, but we give up valuable time and money for all this. We pour our wallets into the club, we pay £400 that really we don’t have then we give them more for cup matches, and we get this back. I hope the players are ashamed of themselves. I don’t think I’ve written that before in CCN’s five years. This is a low.