There are days when I feel a bit of a fraud writing about football. I don’t spend a lot of time watching games that don’t involved FFC. My awareness of the rest of Premier League only extends as far as what I can glean from Match of the Day highlights and my knowledge of players outside of the UK is appalling. So bad I think even Alan Shearer could give me a run for my money. I’ve been reading “Inverting The Pyramid” and Jonathon Wilson’s excellent prose about tactics and the development of the modern game has drawn my focus to how limited my view of football really is.
To compound this as far as Fulham is concerned, I rarely go to away games and this season, because I’m only sharing a season ticket, I won’t even make all the home games. Then I have the audacity to come on here and write something about a game I’ve only followed via online commentary and the subsequent two minutes and forty seconds of televised highlights.
That said, it seems if I had to miss a game Saturday’s toil against Aston Villa was not a bad one to pick. I could sense the frustration building in Gentlemen Jim’s voice as the game seemed to be destined to end goalless but then up popped Bairdinho with a smart finish to what at first glance appeared to be a well rehearsed set piece. Jim was ecstatic, the crowd sounded loud and I … well I was trying to put a straight face on whilst Mrs Chop explained something important to me about something one of my sons will be doing next weekend. Jol later showed endearing honesty by admitting it was probably one of the worst corners he’d seen and he was relieved Chris Baird had reacted smartly and turned into something useful. Of course, knowing Jol, it might be he just didn’t want to give away one of our secret game plays – though based on our historical poor corner taking ability it was most likely the former.
Collecting three points from this type of game is fantastic. This is a team that’s still getting to grips with each other and inevitably we’re seeing some inconsistent performances, so to take 4 wins out of out first 8 matches is an excellent return. There are also some signs that a team togetherness is starting to form. It seemed everyone on the pitch went over to congratulate Baird and Diarra jumped so high to join the group huddle he landed on Karagounis’ shoulders. The joy on the bench was equally unconstrained and there was a nice moment between Jol & Petric that suggested all is well between them.
Following Alex L’s excellent article on Friday Match of the Day 2 provided us with further proof that our squad is getting on a bit. Based on the weekend’s starting elevens we had the oldest team in the Premier League averaging a little over 31 years (and that didn’t include the 35 year old Karagounis). Despite this I’m not hugely concerned, Jol is well aware he needs to bring in younger players but he has a nice spine of experienced players that will surely make that job easier and has already demonstrated he is not shy in giving youngsters a chance. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy watching Hangeland, Diarra, Berbatov and co. whenever I get the chance.