Report: Fulham 2-2 Odense

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…

Why?

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? 

Why?

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.

 

29 thoughts on “Report: Fulham 2-2 Odense

  1. This should be required reading for every player & coach at the club right now.

    Trying hard to be constructive about the state of the team right now but there’s nothing to say. You’re spot on as always, complacent, lazy and hopeless. Something dramatic needs to change very soon or we’re going to sleepwalk into oblivion.

  2. Agreed in full. An all time low. That 2nd half display was the most insipid, gutless, heartless, gormless performance by any so – called Fulham team I’ve seen in 40+ years. Where would I start. Shouldn’t blame Etheridge for leaving a gaping hole on his left post, but who to blame? Where were the experienced heads checking that his judgement was right. On TV it was blindingly obvious that all the Odense bloke had to do was slot it to Etheridge’s left and that’s what he did. Hangeland was captain – where was his leadership? Where was he? – I didn’t detect him geeing up the team, shouting, cajoling. We now know that we ALWAYS concede in the last 10 minutes so we need to budget to be at least 2 goals up. Where did the midfield go in the 2nd half. Was Gecov on the field?

    There was something seriously wrong here, and if we lost to Bolton I will be jumping on the rapidly accelerating “Jol Out” bandwagon.

  3. There was a free kick after about 75 mins or such, 35 yards out facing the hammersmith end, attacking the goal. Baird took it short to Duff, who gave him it back, and it ended up back at Etheridge’s feet a mere 5 seconds later. This summed it up – in the 2nd half there was little desire to go forth and conquer as we should reasonably expect from a side that we could only term, to coin a phrase “Championship at best”.

    A colossal disappointment, and perhaps the first time I’ve realised that the GREAT FULHAM XI of the Roy era is sadly on its way out and that change is needed. And it isn’t going to be pretty.

  4. I tried to time my jimmy riddle for last from the 88th until the 90th minute, but like our team I got my tactics wrong.
    Surely with less than a minute left and a free kick awarded, you play keep ball? Surely the coaching staff were yelling ‘Noooo’ when it was hammered into the box? Surely (as Andy Townsend said on a previous tv commentary) Martin Jol must see that: ‘It is difficult to know what Sa’s strenghts are?. Surely the wise thing to do would have been to keep Zamora on the pitch to hold up the ball and run down the clock. Surely given the amount of late late goals we have given away this season, an avoidance strategy should have been put in place?

  5. No point me repeating what everyone else has said. But what I will say is that now we don’t have the excuse of Europe I expect a least a 10th place finish and a good FA cup run.

  6. Oh, what to say about that one. Every match I try to defend Jol as our most progressive and ambitious manager in a long time, yet every match he finds new, strange and baffling ways to undermine this faith.
    I can’t understand the reasoning for substituting the two players who desired to get ahead of the ball and systematically turned us into a 4-6 formation. Why remove Dempsey when it was clear he provided an outlet, and Gecov was getting overwhelmed in midfield. Surely bring Etuhu on to break up play and give us some strength in the center?
    Our set pieces were laughable if not for the embarrassment of being shown up on telly. What was Baird thinking, or rather what was he told to do in the 75th min.
    We ended up losing due to a total, team-wide bottling, combined with sideways football after Dempsey went off, and finally backwards football after Zamora left.

  7. Shameful and inexcusable. Taking off experienced players towards the end that grasp the concept of holding the ball up was woeful management. Allowing Stockdale out on loan and having a junior debutant as the only back up to Schwarzer was farcical – even though Etheridge acquited himself well it was unfair on him to expect heroics. Most of all the players lacked commitment, invention and effort…Bobby Zamora in particular.

  8. That second half was horrible. You’ve phrased it much better than I ever could. How many last minute goals against us is that now? 2 against Everton, 1 to Spurs, missed penalty and a goal against at Swansea, 1 at Twente, 1 tonight. Why does it keep going wrong in those last few minutes?

  9. When Jol arrived we were told he wanted to make us a more adventurous and attacking side. So what do we get? A team who are so negative away from home that we have failed to score in 10 out of 15 away games; who went to Twente looking for a point when whether we took 1 or 0 points would still have left us needing to win our final game; who took their foot totally off the gas last night when a third and decisive goal was there for the taking. and instead invited Odense back into the game; a group of disaffected senior players who can see they are being led up a tactical blind alley.
    Jol has a decent track record but with each game it is harder to see why. Hopefully Big Mo will have him in the office to ask him what the hell is going on and to issue the 2012 objectives, more wins and more flair.

  10. Difficult to maintain perspective at a time like this but in the cold light of day it certainly not our lowest hour as there are a number of freak mitigating factors that need to be considered
    Looking at our festive schedule & injury list had to play a team with one eye on Bolton. We had a scratch midfield of youth and rusty stand in. Due to europa squad constraints & a freak injury we had the greenest keeper in the squad. Our options up front were limited by that daft Johnson red card. Even our back had second string full backs.
    This was always going to affect the stability of the team and inexperience was the key factor in our lack of composure and poor decision making at the end. 2 goals to the good made us all complacent (including Jol)
    Hindsight is a beautiful thing but I maybe would not have thrown etheridge in (even the lad would admit he fluffed his angles), Duff in the Gera role looked lost, Kelly should have known better not to have wasted that free kick and under the circumstances subbing Zamora seemed a poor decision…
    This is not the same as Everton & Swansea where we were chasing the game – this is a different flavour of disappointment that hurts but it is certainly not unrelated to circumstances somewhat forced upon Jol

  11. Now I get why all those Vancouver fans rioted this past June when the Canucks did something similar in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

    It’s not just that they lost, it was how gutless they were in the process.

    I’m a peaceful guy, but I seriously want to go smash shit right now.

  12. What a fucking miserable second half. I’d be furious if I were Zamora, he was holding up the ball well and then Sa comes on and gives the ball away. FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

  13. I sat towards the Hammy end in the Riverside stand. Joked with fellow fans that we’d be getting a birds eye view in the second half – it promised to be so entertaining. 2 goals and 2 very near misses in the first half – but looking the length of the pitch down towards the Putney end.- it all looked and felt rosy again. 2 up and it could have been more.

    They came out in the second half and we all got ready for the entertainment. What happened? We didn’t get in the Odense half very much and it was all the most baffling display I’ve seen for years. Lack of grit, skill, desire – what was that half time team talk like I wonder? Hangeland fluffed 4 or 5 passes, Etheridge looked very “green” (no pun intended), was Gecov on the pitch?

    Really don’t know why we didn’t get Etutu and/or Kasami on as we were being murdered mid park. Taking Bobby off (who I thought did ok in the first half) seemed odd and as for Baird’s free kick! It was a total shambles, and the booing at the end was a lot kinder than it should have been. I just walked off miserable.

    I used my time and money to follow the lads for this Europa adventure and I feel quite sore about it today. Bloody Fulham!

  14. I watched both the Swansea and Odense games on TV from the States. They were some of the worst losses I have seen from Fulham. They were total gut punches. In both games the team underperformed, and didn’t take its chances. Ruiz slipped in on Saturday, one on one and misses. Sa slipped in and chose not to pass or shoot. Dempsey missing the PK. These moments are absolute killer and really hurt.

    That said, today, in the cold light of day, we’re not talking about a team that’s horrible. This Fulham team has some great players that can do damage against virtually any top team in Europe. We are also talking about a team that has had one really bad week. With a run of form and luck, this season can be something. We’re not that far off eighth. I think the question will be how we respond to on Sunday. Beat Bolton, go into the holiday season on a high, get some results there, and this won’t be so horrible.

    Europe can be a season defining event. What we need is for Europe to become a more common event. We need to push on and get into the Top 8-10 consistently.

  15. I have a good Dutch friend, a fan of Ajax, who only this last Summer warned me about Jol’s very odd man management skills. If one does not learn from history then you are bound to repeat it.

    We followers of FFC are watching it happen before our very eyes.

    I find it very,very sad.

  16. Very surprising reading.

    Everyone seems to be following the tone set by Rich, who for once seems to be less than his usual sanguine self (his blood is up on this one).

    The Europa League is/has-been clearly no sort of priority. You could say, ‘been there, done that (almost)’, almost.

    Why the gloom?

    Fulham only last week beat Liverpool 1-0. And have in the past six weeks drawn at Arsenal and outplayed Tottenham (for 45 minutes), losing undeservedly. There hasn’t been a single instance of Fulham being outclassed yet this season.

    According to whoscored.com’s ratings Fulham are the seventh best team in the Premier League this season. Sorting the table by goal difference Fulham are tenth.

    Prescription? Beat Bolton on Saturday! Win at Norwich at year end! Pull a surprise versus one of Arsenal, Chelsea & Man Utd! Happy new year!

    1. I think Europe has grown to matter more than we thought though. This was our excitement. Who knew what the knockout rounds might bring?

      Obviously you’re right, for the most part, but that was awful to be at.

      1. For the reasons above, I think this is not a lost season. If we manage to place 8-10th and put ourselves in the running for Europe, I would suggest we are still on track, progression-wise. The key is to bring in quality, while still keeping current players happy.

        In this regard I think Jol has made his biggest mistakes: Kasami looks good, but Sa and Gecov have looked a little underwhelming. Grygera was pretty good but got injured. So he hasn’t added well but seems to have made players unhappy.

        I am still positive. I think this stretch will be defining for our season. Will we have our away to Stoke game this year?

    2. I think it’s just the way Europe wrapped up. The last two games were pretty tough to take.

      The last couple months Fulham seems to be playing up to good competition (City, Arsenal, Liverpool, and nearly Spurs), but letting easier matches slip away in frustrating fashion. And that makes me extremely worried about Bolton.

      What a shame; the first half was great fun.

  17. My head tells me that this result could actually help us in the league while my heart aches at the loss of European football.

    I work with a Spurs supporter who basically said that I should be happy that Fulham is out of that joke of a competition. My response was that this couldn’t be further from the truth as European nights were really something to look forward to.

  18. Could it be that one of Jol’s biggest issues is expectation management? We’ve had an amazing run of success in recent years, by the standards of a club with Fulham’s history and resources. Two top-eight finishes, and a cup final in between. Let’s not forget the law of mean reversion: we’re due a ropey season. Granted, last night’s second half was abject. But at times this season, we’ve played super football – as in the first half last night. True, we seem to have trouble maintaining that level for a full 90 minutes. But for a team negotiating the tricky business of transition away from good but ageing players, it’s not been a bad season, on the whole.

    One other point: is Zamora’s elevation to the England squad unsettling him? Wouldn’t be the first time that a player from a lesser club has his head turned by association with players from bigger clubs.

  19. If there had been a protest outside the Cottage after the game about players receiving ridiculous amounts of money disproportionate to their efforts, then I would have been in there. If I went to a professional concert and the orchestra came out after the interval and played appallingly, i would demand my money back. We should be doing the same with any premiership team that is so casual.
    These guys are paid a fortune to entertain us….they are failing miserably at present and I for one cannot afford to keep driving up from Brighton every other week to watch a team that can’t be bothered.
    Will not be returning until I think I’m going to get a reasonable return on my pension !
    I have loved Fulham since 1959. The 2nd half on Wednesday was the most depressing I have seen for many a day, made worse by the fact that I enjoyed the first half thoroughly.
    Don’t get it at all……actually, no I do get it. Fed up with football premier donnas.

  20. And part of the depression is that European Nights are great (except this week’s), and it will be a long, long, long time indeed before we are in there again. 7th place won’t be enough in coming years, not sure how regular England gets a fair play award or how often we are the fairest in the PL, so it will have to be 5th or 6th (or cup final win/appearance – depending on who else might be there).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s