Five thoughts from Fulham vs Norwich

I have been conspicuous by my absence on here of late so I thought it was time I pulled my finger out and tried to contribute something. In keeping with my normal modus operandi here’s five random points of interest from the game for you to mull over.

1. Winning games can overcome all sorts of concerns and doubts about a team. Much as I might claim to be more interested in the way we play than in the results we gain, you need those boosts of three point tallies to keep feeling positive. Saturday was an enjoyable afternoon for all sorts of reasons. The sun had disappeared and there was a definite chill in the air but it felt like the right sort of weather to play association football. Norwich arrived with their bright yellow & green kit, their fans in good voice and their own variation of pass and move football. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Norwich gave us a little more space than Swansea a fortnight ago and this allowed us to grab an early lead. Despite that I felt we’d need a 3rd goal or a lot of focus to take the points and so it proved. The Canaries pressed harder as the first half progressed and the formation change at half time saw them back on an even footing. We were unlucky not to nick that 3rd goal but ultimately it was pleasing to see us hold on to lead during that fraught final 10 minutes.

2. Ruiz looked much more effective in a central role. He did fabulously well for the opening goal. He even put in a decent shift defensively, one moment in particular standing out when he slid in to win a ball in the middle of the park having chased his man down. He still has some way to go to win me over. He still had a few moments that left me exasperated and his input faded as the game went on but I’ll leave any further criticism of him for another day.

3. The half time shootout was a joy to behold. I missed the announcement about where the kids were from but I got the impression they were from somehwere in Europe. It was lovely to see almost every player attempt some sort of trick or misdirection on their run in to goal. It seems to me this is one of the things English youth development gets wrong. Too great a focus on winning games and not enough focus on having fun (I realise the irony of this statement based on my Ruiz comments). They scored some corkers too.

4. Stephen Kelly in the penalty area! A much improved performance from Mr Kelly capped by the bamboozling run that ended with him laying the ball off for Duffers and bombing into the box but then running into traffic so that he was unable to get in a decent shot. An exciting moment though.

5. Alex Kacaniklic making his debut. Losing the Pog so early was a blow but Kacaniklic impressed greatly, particularly in the second half. He had pace and control and, I felt, really brought our attacking play to life. He used the ball well and was unlucky not to score a glorious debut goal as he curled a right foot shot towards the top corner only to see Ruddy get a glove to tip it onto the crossbar.

10 thoughts on “Five thoughts from Fulham vs Norwich

  1. Ha ha, see, I was impressed but exasperated by the kids showing off like that You’re right of course but it looks like showboating to me, which I suppose is great for the kids but run contrary to what we all believe in as English football fans! BAH HUMBUG.

    But they won me over with their ability in the end. It wasn’t just empty trickery, they really could play.

    Still, a double stepover to go past a static cone..

    1. I did tsk early on, but then if you can’t have fun during a half-time penalty shoot-out when can you! I particularly enjoyed the two lads who cannoned shots of the crossbar, I reckon they’d have been ballooning over if they were older but still, it was fun to see.

  2. I definitely agree that Ruiz looked much better centrally. He hit 3-4 excellent through balls and that cheeky chip for Dempsey to attempt the overhead kick.

    I remain very optimistic that the is gradually fitting in, but I do spend every match wincing when he has the ball because I know if he makes a mistake it will be used as a stick to beat him whether justified or not.

    1. I find myself getting frustrated when he plays a pass too short or has a weak attempt at a shot, but he’s a work in progress really (for the PL at least). I’m hoping next season he’ll come into his own.

      1. My comment was not aimed at you btw, more at those who sit around me and constantly bemoan Ruiz and the messageboard warriors who have decided that he needs to ‘man up’ as though becoming more like Karl Henry would be a good thing.

        1. I thought that the mutterings and noises around Ruiz as I left the ground were generally positive. At least much more positive than in recent days. I certainly think supporters’ have some reason to be at least a little critical of Ruiz’s performances even if this hasn’t been expressed particularly clearly or if criticisms have been robust for the wrong reasons. They aren’t entirely without merit though. Hoping like Chopper that he will come good, but don’t think he’s there just yet.

          1. Of course people are allowed to criticise Ruiz, he has been far from perfect in his debut season, and terrible at time.

            I just feel when people bemoan his lack of defensive instincts they are focusing on the wrong thing. Almost like bemoaning Etuhu for not running central midfield when Murphy is absent, or Hangeland for not playing consistent defence splitting through balls.

            I probably come across like far too much of a Ruiz apologist, but I just think he has been unfairly maligned for a part of his game that ultimately, does not matter to the team as much. I would be far more worried if he had not been playing excellent through balls and instigating attacks but putting in loads of tackles.

            1. I agree with you and it’s not about apologising for Ruiz because we all want him to succeed.

              I just think people have found it hard to articulate what it is they find difficult about Ruiz. I guess it’s the ‘ethereal’ quality about him which you don’t see in Dempsey / Duff / Dembele who attack with seemingly (I use this term on particularly) more purpose.

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