Fulham 0-3 Swansea City

What can you say? Sometimes things just click and you have to tip your cap to the opponents. I read that Leon Britton made 99 passes, and found a teammate with 95 of them. That’s astonishing (although you can be sure that Fulham fans would complain that those passes don’t *do* anything were he our player). Swansea were simply really good, courageous in their adherence to a difficult approach, good enough to make it work. Fulham couldn’t keep up.

The bare facts, before we go too far forward, were that Fulham conceded a pair of goals to Gyulffi Sigurdsson and a third to the excellent Joe Allen. None of these goals had been undefendable, but the suspicion is that our players were so twisted and dizzied by Swansea’s passing that poor defending was all but inevitable.

Usually in these games you can have a ponder and suggest ways in which the team might go about changing things. A popular answer in our area was to “get stuck in” but it felt like this would just make it easier to pass around us – did we get stuck in against Shahktar Donetsk? No, we kept our shape and weathered the storm. Something similar may have been required today, but we just weren’t at the races. Would another body in the middle of the park have helped? It felt that way, but equally, it might just have meant that Swansea found space elsewhere.

They set up to get us from all angles, you see. The back four could all keep the ball so you couldn’t just let them have it. Allen and Britton are as close as we’ll see to Xavi and Iniesta in this league, and then it gets really interesting: Scott Sinclair and (yes) Wayne Routledge (whom I’ve always rated) can buzz, pass and fly on the wings, then you have the imperious Sigurdsson behind the hardworking (and effective) Graham up top. They have all the ingredients and it’s tempting to wonder what another year of TV money signings might mean for this squad. The sky could be the limit and again, I’m not sure what we might have done to change things other than be 20% better in all facets of our play.

Which I suspect is the trick: Swansea played so well because they are very good, but they’ll find few more welcoming hosts in their travels this season. For whatever reason, Fulham just weren’t at the races. We really accomplished nothing, with no sense of danger from anywhere in the team. A goal, were it to arrive, would have had to come from nowhere (Ruiz is the only player we have to can conjure but Jol took him off) and so we were left wondering what a fit Bobby Zamora might have meant in a game like this, and again why everyone else had such a hard time imposing themselves. Where were our big players today?

Just as it’s stupid to get carried away like I did after Wolves, so too is it daft to panic too much after this kind of defeat. Nobody will do that to us again this season, and we must remember that every 10th place finish must be accompanied by a dozen defeats or so, and that these rarely look particularly good. Yes, today was bad, but as we said, sometimes you just tip your cap and move on. Well done, Swansea; wake up, Fulham.

16 thoughts on “Fulham 0-3 Swansea City

  1. I had to duck out at around 60′ to take my two year-old on our weekly expedition into the city’s subway system, so I missed the part where things went truly south, but from what I saw, you’re on point as usual.

    “Welsh Barcelona” is a good team, and what is sort of alarming is that they are continuing to improve. Meanwhile, we are still a team in transition — although we can play the notorious “free-flowing, attacking” style, the team does not have the level of comfort (and perhaps, quite the particular set of skills) to do it consistently. The last two weeks have shown that certain types of defense have the ability to knock us out of our game, at which point the machine collapses into a pile of twisted metal. In the first half, Dembele appeared to be the only person on the pitch (except maybe Dempsey? but he was way up front) who could move the ball through the Swansea midfield on the ground. So we ended up trying to boot it forward, to poor results. The holes that Diarra was seeing in the first half were real, I think, but his touch was off and our front line isn’t in sync with him yet, timing-wise.

    This was the ESPN3 (aka online) game this week, and I’m not sure who their broadcasting team was, but by god I was frustrated with their hatred of Ruiz. Blah blah, he’s got holes in his game, and every time he goes for a header I expect something terrible to happen, but he is clearly putting in the effort to try to improve his game defensively and fit in with the team, and we have seen his upside in the forward half.

    1. I watched the game in Sydney via Fox Sports so I don’t knoiw if we get the same commentators but we had Tony Gale, the ex Fulham legend and he was bang on with his comments on Ruiz/Duff and Diarra/Murphy.

  2. I think a lot of our woes came from starting with Diarra & Ruiz instead of Murphy & Duff.

    Diarra needed to adjust to seemingly every pass he received and never looked like picking out the sort of game winning pass Danny can. I think this left Dembele with too much to do and resulted in us being disorganized & open in the centre.

    Ruiz may eventually prove to be a fine player but he’s not currently capable of playing in a midfield four. He’s never going to be a defender but his presence puts added pressure on Kelly, a player who needs all the help he can get. This might not be such a problem if Ruiz did more with the ball going forward.

    That’s not to say we wouldn’t still have struggled but I do think we’d have competed better. If we were going to change style to combat Swansea, then and extra man in midfield might have helped too.

    Swansea impressed again, nice to see Allen & Britton, key players under Martinez when we played them a few years back, still part of a very effective team.

    Rant over. I suppose the remaining games SHOULD be about finding out if players like Ruiz & Diarra can cut it. Jol needs to know if he can make this team play how he wants or we’ll be frustrated next season too.

    Thoughts with Muamba, certainly put things in perspective, hope he pulls through.

    1. I’d stick with Ruiz. He shouldn’t come deep for the ball as he’s a liability in posession in our half, but almost all of his passes when he’s facing their goal seem to be positive and constructive. Shocked and disappointed when he came off.

      1. I am genuinely flabbergasted by the support Ruiz is getting on this board. I have been supportive of him in the past but in last night’s game he was truly awful. “A goal, were it to arrive, would have had to come from nowhere (Ruiz is the only player we have to can conjure but Jol took him off)” & “Shocked and disappointed when he came off.” I reckon he was lucky to see out the first half he was that far off the pace and gave so much possesion away (mind you, he wasn’t Robinson Crusoe on that account). As to “so we were left wondering what a fit Bobby Zamora might have meant in a game like this” I reckon Booby would been doing what he always did, stand around moaning to the ref because he ‘s getting no service.

  3. I went to bed after the second goal (I live in Sydney), I couldn’t bear anymore. Not one of them should receive their wages this week and that includes the manager. They stroll around thinking their shit don’t stink while a bunch of average Welsh tossers run rings around them. I seriously didn’t think Swansea were much good, but they were, much much much better than a team that seemed to think they all had a god given right to acres of time and space. They closed us down, pressed us back further into our area and pounced on our errors. This is a good example of what happens when a team gets ahead of itself by beating a shit team 5-0. Rather than take that confidence and build on it, they have relaxed into thinking they are safe and don’t have to bother trying. They are all believing their own press and wondering how much more they can ask for in wages and transfer fees. And lastly, what’s wrong with a settled side? Why Ruiz? Why Diarra? Why not Hughes? Roll on Man Utd, I hope the thrash us, it might, just might refocus the players minds on the task ahead which is survival first and foremost. Top 7 finish my arse!

    1. Have a lot of sympathy with many of your points – we were well off the pace and, like the majority of Fulhamites that I speak to in the pub I share their frustration with Ruiz, but you seriously undermine yourself by failing to recognise the quality in the Swansea side that we faced today.

      1. You are probably right, but I didn’t really see them do anything that we couldn’t/haven’t except run faster, try harder and not give the ball away more. i don’t accept that they are an outstanding side jus a tad better than most. Don’t get me wrong they absolutely deserved to win and comfortably, but I thought it was us giving it away rather than them who played fabulous football around us. I suspect it was actually a massive mistake by the manager who st the team up wrong and who is loathe to make changes in case its seen as sign of weakness.

  4. Before the game Jol mused on whether we needed a Lee Cattermole or Dixon Etuhu. He said we’d been playing 5 attackers and Murphy, as one of our 5 defenders was hardly a Nobby Stiles. So he gets the dilemma.

    We are very good when we impose our attacking game on other teams but when they do it to us we fall to pieces for lack of ball winners. As Jol also said – we’re too high in the fair play league for our own good.

    Jol knows what’s wrong but the dilemma is whether we do better playing as we are or reverting into difficult to beat mode particularly when too many of our players aren’t cut out for that.

    We saw at Villa last week that opposing managers get that the way to beat Fulham is to go at us and deny us possession.

  5. Think you guys have let off Hangeland and Rilse. Sat high up behind the goal at the Hammy End for the first time in years and had a different perspective of the game, than from my usual JH seat. Thought Brede was hesitant and ‘out of sorts’ from the start. He is not a captain, and maybe his mind was on that too much and not concentrating on his game. Rilse gave their wingers so much space, and then blamed all around him for defensive errors. Senderos made crucial mistakes of course, and from where we were sitting, too often our defence simply parted like the Red Sea to let them through.
    Saying all that, I don’t go to all the home games, but Swansea were by far the best footballing team I’ve seen at the cottage this season. How refreshing to have a new, ‘smallish’ club out playing the ‘big boys’.
    Oh yes, and how disinterested did Clint look ? !

  6. I highly recommend reading the comments below todays match report in the Guardian. Towards the end they start discussing how Swansea got to where they are today. In many ways its quite mystifying. Little money and a Fulham-like manager turnover. Yet they have continued to play the same style of football, slowly improving every season. There is someone (or some people) somewhere in the club pulling the strings and doing an incredible job of it. If there’s a team to lose to, this is it. Everything about them is good for english (and Welsh I suppose) football.

  7. A friend (a lifelong FFC fan) said this was easily one of the most impressive performances an away team has performed at the Cottage since Fulham came up. Possession 62 to 38, and Fulham never seemed to have a plan to get it back. I watched a lot of Swansea last season when they were on their way up and when they were on they were truly impressive. That was the team we saw yesterday.

  8. Thanks, Rich. This is the report I’d have written had I a little more discipline and perspective. And, yes, McBride of Frankenstein, the last time I saw a team play this was at the Cottage, it was Shaktar Donetsk.

    I’ve watched Swansea very often this season, and they always impress. Rogers is a brilliant manager who will probably be off for Italy or Spain when the time is right for him.

  9. Swansea played well, but as with the wolves game, one team was made to look even better than they actually were.

    Martin Jol lost this game when he took of Bryan Ruiz and brought on Damien Duff. It was painstakingly obvious that playing 4-4-2 against Swansea meant that our usually excellent midfield was completely overrun. This was exacerbated by the fact that Murphy was on the bench, so Dembele was pretty much playing on his own with Diarra trying to defend against 4 players.

    Had Jol taken off AJ (who did nothing) at half time when we were still in the game, and brought on a midfielder, then we might have wrestled back some control. By taking off Bryan, we lost our most creative outlet. By bringing on Duff we ignored the problem of being overrun in midfield. It is no coincidence that we looked absolutely awful after Ruiz came off and Swansea scored two simple goals right through the middle of our midfield.

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