Fulham downed by Saints

If we weren’t sure before we are now. Fulham are done.

The folly of appointing a skills coach in a team that can’t defend becomes more and more apparent. As Tony Pulis is showing at Palace, getting a team organised doesn’t take that long. But here Fulham were getting torn apart, again, and clearly it isn’t happening. Meulensteen may have improved things slightly but in many areas he appears to be just hoping for the best, and it isn’t working.

Sascha Riether’s area was the source of much of the damage, and if we forgive him for being an attacking fullback we can’t forgive a system that doesn’t fill in for him. Whatever happened to covering? Is this team above that kind of work? Or does it simply not have the legs?

The rot goes on. The online scapegoats have all gone (to Milan, Valencia, Monaco and PSV, from the bottom of the table premier league club – hmmmm!!! – maybe, just maybe, the wrong players have left) but stil we lose badly. It doesn’t really matter who plays, they all fall down in the usual fashion.

No centre-back pairing can survive not having full-backs or having an iffy midfield in front of it, so for Senderos and Amorebieta read Burn and Hangeland or Hughes and Senderos or whatever other combination you want (welcome, John Heitinga!). Doesn’t make any difference. The constants in this team are Riether, Parker and Sidwell, which either makes them the only three good players we have or the only constants in a historically awful Fulham team, and draw your own conclusions from that.

On the plus side, new man William Kvist (Zonal Marking tweeted after the game that he had expected Kvist to replace Sidwell or Parker, not to join them) played well and was demonstrably organising those around him, trying to cajole Parker and Sidwell into the right areas even if it took a number of arms-out shouts to get them to pay attention. Lewis Holtby took a while to get into the game but soon impressed with his energy, invention and ability. If the other new signings can add similar vim then who knows? But it’s unlikely, isn’t it?

Two young lads from United are valuable in giving the team half a shot at getting younger. A record signing from the Greek league sounds like another disaster waiting to happen, but we must reserve judgement and content ourselves that even if he is awful, he will be better than Darren Bent (who missed the game’s pivotal chances, and if Bent isn’t putting away chances – he clearly isn’t – he has no business being on the pitch).

Onwards and downwards.

11 thoughts on “Fulham downed by Saints

  1. I didn’t watch it, but clearly something is still seriously wrong. Whether the team selection is Rene’s or it’s a committee process, there’s little logic in it. Bent is clearly off form and / or unfit, so why pick him. Is Dejagah injured – there was no word of it – he’s been one of our best players so why not even on the bench. Duff is an honest toiler, past his best – why pick him over they younger, more energetic Kasami? So many questions, and by the middle of Feb we will probably be so far adrift as to be beyond hope.

    1. I think Duff is only picked to add extra defensive cover. Hopefully Richardson’s good performances the last two games will give Rene confidence to play Kaca there from now on.

  2. Thanks Rich. The last two games were crucial and we lost both. We can only assume we are going to lose the next three and get cut adrift. I really didn’t think we were going to get anything from this game, but was praying for a nil-nil. And a narrow loss – despite the fact that we need points over performances – would have been so much better. But the game was even in first half and we all will be spending the rest of the week wondering in hope what Mitroglue will accomplish when put in the positions Bent was. I am secretly optimistic he will clinical. If it will be enough to keep us up, I don’t know. The bookies certainly don’t think so.

  3. We played, as I think we should with this team, with three central midfielders and two wide attackers. It is shocking in the extreme for a team set up like that not to have anyone able to cover for the attacking fullback. Once is a problem. But three times!? Really poor.

    Kvist and Holtby looked good and the team will certain improve with them in it (particularly if Dejegah comes back in on the right and one of Sidwell or Parker make was for Holtby to play in the middle). But it’s probably too late. We should have fired Jol sooner and brought in new players sooner because February is a horrible month and we’ll likely to be set adrift by month’s end.

    I’m reserving judgement on Rene. Jol bought players and set us up to play the type of expressive football that a team of our size and wealth just cannot afford. See Ruiz’s very interesting comments from the other day, basically agreeing that Fulham need discipline, organization and energy, but that that’s not what he can provide. And if Fulham cannot play with one Brian Ruiz, we certainly couldn’t play with three of them, no matter how romantic a notion that was. So, at least, it seems that we’ve recognized the problem and attempted to resolve it, albeit too late.

    I’m hoping that when we go down, we won’t lose the best of our youth team talent. Because if there’s going to be any bright side to relegation, its going to come from the fact that the squad will be almost exclusively made up of them once the loanees, 6 month contractees, and players of value have left.

  4. We could and should have scored early and might easily have gone in at half time a goal or two to the good. We were certainly the better team.

    At half time I actually wondered aloud whether for the first time this season we’d follow a good first half with a good second.

    From the off Southampton took control. Quite simply they were quicker and sharper than us and the inevitable happened.

    Things might yet improve. New players learning team patterns (or creating them when none currently exist) incisive finishing, a bit of luck.

    If only we’d have been able to replicate the first half I’d have been satisfied – even impressed. No idea how that’s put right but younger legs and players who haven’t slaved through the Jol decline might help.

  5. I can see that playing more than one of Taraabt, Ruiz and Berba together might not have been a brilliant idea for the team with the worst defense in the UK. But something’s been terribly mishandled for us to lose all three of our ‘lazy’ geniuses and keep Darren Bent.

    1. We didn’t lose them – clearly we worked hard to find teams willing to take them. I’m guessing that we’d have got rid of Bent if we could have found a taker.

        1. I don’t imagine that Dempsey would be much better a choice since he’s not in great form either, and also doesn’t have too much pace at this point. The younger Dembele is carrying a minor injury, I think I read; he hasn’t played for the U21s or U18s in their recent matches either. Personally, I’d give Rodallega a shot. He can’t be any worse. If Bent isn’t finishing one-on-one chances that other players are creating for him, he brings nothing of value.

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