It’s that numbness again isn’t it?
Anger, no, because that fizzled out a long time ago.
Hope, no, because every time we think we’re turning a corner – not that we think that anymore – but every time it feels like okay, maybe, just maybe… we just see more of the same.
You keep trying to puzzle out what’s wrong and ultimately you come to the conclusion that if we’re having trouble keeping positive then the poor players must be finding it even harder.
We all know how confidence can affect us. I played sport for years and you really are a different player when you’re in a groove and when you’re not. There is no confidence in this team.
One reason this is a problem is the coaching experience of 2013/14. I’m still trying to write this Roy Hodgson book and spoke to Martin Dahlin a couple of weeks ago. Dahlin, who played for Sweden, mentioned that he had been schooled by Hodgson and Tord Grip from a young age and they really worked hard on his basics, his fundamentals. He said that throughout his career he knew that if form was deserting him he just had to keep doing the basics, keep with the fundamentals. He liked having that available to him; it gave him confidence.
This team has nothing to fall back on. There is no underlying ethos, no underlying plan. It’s XI representatives of Fulham FC trying desperately to do what XI representatives of Fulham FC have not managed to do for a very long time. They are probably at the point where they’re trying too hard, or probably reached that point a long time ago.
This is why they can be rolled over by a more than ordinary Cardiff team.
It’s a horrible situation: on the one hand, we all know we can’t judge Felix Magath on what he has inherited. On the other Rene Meulensteen was judged on what he inherited and Magath’s Fulham look no better than anyone else’s. But it’s too early for him. But there isn’t time for a bedding in period. Results had to come instantly.
You look through the team and see problems.
In goal David Stockdale watches from the bench as a goalkeeper who has performed no better than he allows one of the softest goals of the season. We paid £4m+ for this upgrade, the equivalent of 100,000 replica shirts sold in the club shop.
At right back we have the ever willing Sascha Riether. I remember the old Stoor v Paintsil debate and for all the world Stoor looked a better player to me, but Hodgson went with the player who could be counted on to defend.
At left back we are still fidgeting around with either Richardson, who looks a player sometimes and appeared to have found a niche on the left flank, but who is now back at the back while… John Arne Riise does the left midfield gig. Seriously, what?
Heitinga and Hangeland are probably our best centre-back pairing of the season.
Sidwell continues to draw the plaudits, but again, central midfield is the most important area of the pitch and given that we’ve ceded control of the game basically every match this season, failed to support our defence, failed to support our attack, I can’t help feeling that he must be culpable. I can very well believe that he’s played well and been let down by the rest of the team, but I think there’s more too it than that. Scott Parker seems to have physically broken down, which is a shame as we have awarded him a long and lucrative contract. Ashkan Dejagah is another fan favourite but I think he lacks quality.
Lewis Holtby doesn’t lack quality but if you’re picking him and Sidwell and Dejagah and two forwards you’re alread unbalanced.
Mitroglou is a debacle. He might turn into an outstanding signing for the club but it’s hard to see how.
Cauley Woodrow made sense: if you want a certain type of forward in the team you play the best of that type available. If that’s Woodrow then so be it. Better to have an approach that’s slightly compromised by the personnel available to it than to just throw 11 people onto the pitch and see what the gods of football allow us this time.
As Danny Murphy noted, we had a proven goalscorer in Darren Bent on the bench, but who knows what to do with Bent at the moment? He still has that knack of scoring goals, but… but… he sums it all up.
It’s frustrating. EVery season a club like Fulham is always theoretically at risk. It’s within the scope of any mid-table team to play badly for a series of games just by luck alone, then the ever decreasing circles of pessimism and lost confidence kick in and before you know it the mess is worse than anyone ever dreamed it would be. What now?