Fulham 1-1 WBA

As London went Siberian (although not for me; watched at home while looking after the boy) Fulham were much as Fulham are.  Yes, we lacked a true number 25, but individual players are always less important than we think they’ll be. In truth we looked more or less okay.

Fulham lined up with what was more or less a 4-4-2, Murphy and Sidwell flanked by Duff and Davies, with Dempsey and Ruiz a surprising but skilful front two. They grew into the game and by the end of it we glimpsed an intriguing future, all skill and happiness. The Fulham goal was a peach, Ruiz reversing a delicious pass into Dempsey’s path, Dempsey spinning and thrashing the ball past Ben Foster for another goal (once more hit first time; he may be the greatest ever first time goalscorer). Dempsey – who seems like a nice chap – made sure he pointed at Ruiz in the celebrations.

Fulham had the ball almost all game, but were occasionally troubled by Albion’s counter attacks.  This eventually led to our undoing, a through ball saw our back four bypassed a bit too easily and the shot slammed past Stockdale for an ‘oh dear’ equaliser.  Really the game should have finished 2/3-0 given Fulham’s dominance, but still we have issues with creating space in the attacking third, so chances remain scarce and snatched.

That’s that then. A comfortable 1-1 draw full of neat passing and not quite enough end product.

24 thoughts on “Fulham 1-1 WBA

  1. Not Siberian here in front of my TV in Melbourne either, 27C.

    It was like watching Fulham from 2-3 years ago, except it was the opposition! They were very compact, ran hard and counter attacked well. The amount of times we saw, under Roy, more skilful teams have truckloads more possession but still walk away without the points because of shape and discipline and not enough quality to open the defence up.

    We had more possession, but still less shots on goal.

    Not a major worry, but it is still an extra 2 points we need to pick up somewhere else.

  2. We moved the ball effectively, maintained possession well, and didn’t play too narrow — all things that have troubled us at one time or another recently. And the interplay between Dempsey and Ruiz is getting — to use Rich’s word — very intriguing. So there were several positives.

    Still, plenty of little frustrations. Luckily, we can make up these points at City this weekend.

  3. I thought we played well and I really enjoyed the match as a football match. I’m VERY glad that I turned off the television at the final whistle and ran to the computer to write The View From South Texas, since I evidently missed the home crowd booing our players off the pitch — and this after giving the opposing manager a standing ovation.

    But the booing was just prologue for the carnage at Friends of Fulham. Sad really. I mean, DAMN we got a point against a very well organized Hodgsonesque side, guys. Really.

    1. I fear there’s probably more of that to come. Even the guy who write the FFC blog at ESPN is starting to pick Jol’s (supposed lack of) methods apart. Whether it’s true or not, the trope or meme is in place and catching steam.

      1. Phil Mison at ESPN has been on Jol’s case for months — it’s not just because of the transfer window stuff. He seems like a bit of a grump, really.

          1. I don’t do ‘hate.’ Jol has achieved things in football I can only dream of. He’s a professional doing a difficult job at FFC to what he thinks is the best of his ability. Having no inside knowledge I judge him only on results and the quotes he gives to the press. To date I don’t think he’s doing very well and an increasing number of supporters feel the same

            1. I would say that you have been on his case from day 1. The fact that when we turned it around against Newcastle you attributed it to Danny Murphy’s managerial skills rather than a tactical switch from Jol shows me you have completely given up on him.

              1. I’m with Phil on this. Who knows who said what at half time, but the obvious switch beforehand was Sidwell for AJ, Ruiz in mid-field = a goal down shortly afterwards.

                1. My take on the situation – We were playing awfully with a 4-2-3-1 and it was near half time. Sidwell got injured. Jol could have brought Baird on if he wanted to continue with a 4-2-3-1 but instead swapped it around to a 4-4-2 and brought on AJ. Ruiz was in midfield and we conceded, but I think it was Jols intention to get it to half time at 0-0 and see what we could do. AJ was brought on to use the space behind Newcastle, a tactic evident as he was brought down by Santon (who was lucky to stay on). I still think that Jol thought Ruiz could launch some counter attacks with his passing from centre mid (which he did, the aforementioned foul on AJ).

                  At half time, Jol decided that Ruiz was too much of a defensive liability and was being bullied out of the game. Baird was brought on as a ball winner/ long range passer and he shored up the midfield. The rest is history.

                  The key that makes me think it was Jol over Danny: the AJ substitution that everyone thinks makes no sense, but showed that Newcastle were vulnerable to balls over the top.

                    1. We did think “Player Power” at the time didn’t we? I’m Jol Neutral in the main but do find him frustrating.

                    2. I just feel the player power argument is too convenient in that situation.

                      However, I do think it was player power that made us play 4-4-2 against QPR, and with that the players (well, some of them) tried incredibly hard to win the game to show up Jol.

                      Whatever the situation, with Bobby gone, I would imagine that player power is over, no?

    2. I can’t say I blame the fans. Yes, WBA are a Hodgson side, but they’re also a team below us in the table that we should be beating at home. And for all that Murphy “ripped them apart” (to use Don’s words below) or had lots of time on the ball to run the game (paraphrasing what the TV commentators said), it was in an entirely directionless manner, and I can’t think of one good scoring chance we had that was due to all the passing around midfield we did. The final ball was entirely missing (Duff was probably the one who looked most threatening), and the game cried out for a substitution, or at least a change in tactics. Ben Foster isn’t that good, and yet for all the possession we had we barely tested him; 6 shots on goal are just not enough.

  4. Oh, and I’m really looking forward to one of those chart thingies on Murphy’s passes. He really ripped them apart. It reminded me of Yaya Toure in the first half against us. Well, except for the difference in height, of course.

  5. The funniest thing about the game was our tactics. With Jol wanting to play variations of 4-3-3/4-2-3-1/4-1-4-1, it was obvious that our “traditional English-style forwards” like Zamora and AJ didn’t really fit in his fluid system that seems dependent on versatile attacking players. So, Bobby leaves and what does Jol do? Go directly back to a 4-4-2 that he and AJ were brought in to play. I thought it was ironic.

    That said, I really liked what I saw out of the Deuce/Ruiz combination up top

    In the end, it was a game we dominated but didn’t come away with the points. It really did feel like a Hodgson away performance.

  6. If anyone ever needs evidence that 4-4-2 is simply three numbers written on a piece of paper and nothing more this was it.

    We may have played 4-4-2 last night but it was nothing like playing it with Zamora and Johnson. We had fluidity, movement and some good passing. We even had a cutting edge.

    I thought we played well, and were 5 mins away from a hard fought victory against a team that obviously knows how to defend. They looked dangerous on the counter, but again, this is how they have grabbed the points so far this season.

    If this kind of football is what we can look forward too, I will be very happy. Not direct football, but patient, passing football. A few more additions to the squad and a few more departures and we could be very interesting.

    Perhaps losing Bobby was the kickstart the Jol revolution needed.

  7. I would like to see Jol stick to a starting eleven for a few games at least.

    We are all frustrated with our inconsistency, and not having much to play for (provided we don’t end up in relegation battle), and I too was booing the team off after 90 nights.

    But when you consider we have lost only once in 6 games that included wins after coming from behind against arsenal and toon, as well as a draw at the bridge, us boo crowd have definitely lost perspective

    1. I agree that the 4-4-2 was different than when we had AJ/Bobby up there, but it was still a 4-4-2. We still had actual wingers in Davies and Duff which is totally different than when we’ve played a 4-2-3-1 with Dempsey and Ruiz cutting in. Have we finally found the right spot for Bryan, playing up top? He looked really comfortable out there. It was good to see Simon play well yesterday also- by far his best game since coming back.

  8. Might have been the siberian conditions, the tepid football or hodgson’s return after giving us the cold shoulder but the atmosphere at the cottage last night seemed distinctly ‘luke warm’…

    Weak temperature gags apart, could help get the feeling that to many the sale of BZ represents part of the end of an era.

    The man was a key part of the hodgson revolution that took us from perenial relegation candidates to Europa qualification, a European final and mid table complacency.

    For all his faults, on his day the man could stick it to any team in the league. This not only gave us beleif but also made for excellent entertainment value.

    Last nights blend of attractive if unconvincing football just didn’t have that angry streak that he brings to the game

    Might have been the right price at the right time but with the overhaul of the hodgson foundations we move into uncharted territory and last night you could almost feel the unease…

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