The defeat at Chelsea was about as predictable as these things get.  Chelsea absolutely battered us for long periods and while we held out for a time, there was no sense of controlled resistance.  The final shots allowed tally was well into the 20s, which is a theme we’ve all identified and which can’t continue if the team is going to pull itself out of this hole.  True, Stockdale was at fault for their opener, but he’s made a lot of good saves since his return to the side and the defeat wasn’t remotely on his shoulders.

There was a telling moment on Match of the Day where Cardiff’s two banks of four were highlighted and praised.   I appreciate that we’re not that team anymore, but as Jose Mourinho is pointing out whenever asked about Juan Mata, no team is too good for hard work in defence.  Fulham certainly aren’t.

Did you know that Chelsea outshot us 24-4?  Maybe you did.  But I bet you didn’t notice that they out tackled us 27-16, too.  (I’m being slightly wrong-headed here, as we intercepted 20 passes to their 2, but still).   Look at the team summary for the season:




That’s diabolical.

As we’ve seen in recent days, the team has had ups and downs like this a few times in the recent past and on each occasion a downward swing has been followed by much better form.

We’re due that upswing now, and if it doesn’t happen we’re in new, bad, territory, and perhaps the angry men have been right all along (although we must remember that many were equally negative about Hodgson, Hughes, and Jol during better times – sometimes it seems as if being negative about a football manager is a minor hobby for many).

It’s easy to blather on about things not being well but here, again, is a proposed simple solution: remove one attacking player and introduce one defensive player.  Restore some balance to the team by installing Derek Boateng in front of the back four.  He might not be “the answer” but I was persuaded by Tony Gilroy’s interpretation of his performance at Sunderland. Sidwell and Parker are to be defensively minded, too.  These three will be the core of the team, it’s soul.  Get back to basics by becoming hard to play against.  Grind out some results.  Earn the right to play.  It’s a long season and we have the players to come good, but at the moment we’re playing terribly.  A minor tweak like this could make a big difference without sacrificing too much.   Dunno.  We’ll see.  Chances are we’ll improve without doing much in the next few games so all of this could be moot.  And certainly we don’t want to see Jol flailing around for ideas with a new 11 and a new system every week.  So we’ll see.  It’s not all doom and gloom, but we’re due an improvement.

9 thoughts on “Bleugh

  1. The answer (sadly ) lies in the need to change the manager and not the players . Jol is far too 2matter of fact 2 and does nothing to instil a sense of urgency in the team . We are an attacking threat to no one (not even Burton Albion ) and unless we impress against Everton and take three points off Cardiff , which is no means ceratin , then I think it’s time for a change of manager , as nothing has changed since we went into decline after the QPR game ( or even half way through it ).

    We are the team that goes into decline one season and carries it into the next , despite a refresh of the team – therefore there is only one common denominator and a swift change would be far better than allowing the rot to continue for another ten games or so .

  2. We were crying out for Ruiz and Berbatov. We really missed their creativity – a couple of good through balls aside (like Kasami to Bent). I hope this shows their detractors that it is not R & B that slow the game down; we do it anyway – even when they are absent we can’t break at speed.

  3. With each passing week I become less and less certain of anything with this Fulham team.

    On the one hand, we are obviously struggling and look like a team without a plan or suitable instructions to play as a team. Jol’s position looks tenuous and there is only so long he can be defended when the results are not coming. With some winnable games coming up (H: Cardiff, Stoke A: Palace) it is make or break time for him. He’s never lasted long at other clubs and perhaps this is down to a team needing more of a coherant plan and more instructions than he gives.

    On the other, Jol’s been battling on with a squad that shows severe underinvestment, especially when taking into account the spending of our rivals and the new premier league money. Can he be expected to improve an ageing team with no investment to refresh it and his best players being sold? As for the season so far, whilst we’ve not been great, we’ve only really had one ‘banker’ at home (which we were 1 min away from winning) and 4 points seems relatively realistic when considering that we’ve had two NE away games and two games against the top 4.

    I’m not sure what will happen, but nothing would surprise me. He’ll be gone next season regardless, it just depends if he departs sooner rather than later. The man who should be worrying is our new owner Mr.Khan. If we end up going down this season, he’s looking at a long way back to make money on his ‘investment’ and his Jaguars team having no PL team to link up with when they start their London residency next season.

    My only hope for this season is that the grinding negativity that has been a feature of Fulham fans over the last few yeas disappears, but of all the things I want, I get the feeling that is asking too much.

  4. God I love this blog, so much more mature and thought out than any other. Pleasure to have your level headed and insightful commentary back Rich, I’ll take it for as long as I can get it.

  5. “I appreciate that we’re not that team anymore, but as Jose Mourinho is pointing out whenever asked about Juan Mata, no team is too good for hard work in defence. Fulham certainly aren’t.”

    I thought the team really did work hard in defense on Saturday, especially in the first half. Even Bent tracked back from time to time. I mean… Chelsea are good. They were on a bad run of form, sure, but they’re still loaded with talent. But for all that talent I don’t think they created many really good chances in open play, none as good as the one Bent didn’t put away; that’s Cech for you. I don’t know what will happen against Everton (without Moyes and Fellaini maybe we’ll be able to solve them) but I think we’ve got at least six points coming from the next three league fixtures and then we’ll all be able to take a deep breath and stop freaking out.

  6. Interestingly enough, as I watched this match I kept thinking about the last entry where Rich discussed the time it takes to get off a shot. Then saw that we were out shot 24 to 4, and only had 36% of the possession. More of the same.

  7. Rich – another thoughtful blog entry, thank you!

    I would agree with your recommendation to add an extra defensively minded player like Boateng, but only for away games against top competition like Chelsea, Arsenal, Man U, Man City, etc. At home we need to somehow impose ourselves and go for the win with a more attacking unit.

    For these tough away games, if you insert Boateng into the equation, the formation would have to shift to something more like 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1. And the wide midfielders also need to be capable of tracking back and doing some defending. However, a balance should be achieved so that the lone striker still gets some creativity and service, which Bent did not get (other than the Kasami pass) during last Saturday’s game.

    Possible formations include:

    Riether Hangeland Amorebieta Richardson
    Sidwell Boateng
    Kasami/Duff Parker Kaca

    Riether Hangeland Amorebieta Richardson
    Kasami/Duff Sidwell Parker Kaca

    Bent would be best suited as long striker due to his pace, as this would be a counterattacking formation, but Jol would have a tough time leaving Berba on the bench

    Tough equation to balance!

  8. I cannot see Jol lasting to the next transfer window. He’s had three years to implement a style of play and has established nothing. On the pitch the players have no understanding between them and look lost.

    I’m sure the next manager to come in will shore up the defense and put the wealth of talent in this side to good use.

  9. The question is, as you mention in the post below, how do you fit our three main attacking players into the team. Looking at the squad I’m starting to believe that its time to go 3-5-2. Parker and Boateng allow Ruiz/Taatabt to be free behind Berbatov and Bent. The extra centre half allows Reither and Richardson to play as the wing backs that they are. And our defensive three can be Amorebeita (left) Hangeland (centre) and Hughes (right) meaning that there are two ball players and players who can shift to full backs as needed.

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