A few thoughts on the game

Well, a win at last.

One of those games that could have gone either way but which probably went the right way. Fulham scraped it 1-0 but had the ball in the net twice beforehand, both for quite tight offside decisions, so this felt like 3 points well earned.

1 – how amazing is it to have young players involved? It’s a great way for the manager to buy some goodwill. Cauley Woodrow gave everything and his ‘goal’ showed great awareness, balance and determination, slightly Linekeresque in type. He wanted to be involved, wasn’t intimidated by the reputations of those around him, and can be proud of what he did. Just having him there and playing like that seems to give everyone a lift.

2 – except the expensive strikers he was picked in place of. Presumably Magath wanted a skillset and decided Woodrow was his best option, but how should the likes of Darren Bent (yes I’m singling him out) feel watching a young kid playing so well? Ashamed.

3 – lost in all the excitement was another (I think) really promising performance from Kacaniklic. No, he’s not the finished article, but nor is he supposed to be. A lot of the tentativeness that has dogged his game seemed to have gone.

4 – Kvist was rightly criticised for a few bizarrely careless passes, but again we looked a better side *overall* with him in that role. People will latch onto the handful of obvious mistakes but I still like what he offers.

5 – Lewis Holtby is a star. Even when he’s not doing star things he’s just really good. I remember a tweet in January from someone saying “Holtby? Not good enough!” and wondering what planet this person was on, but Holtby has exceeded expectations. The fact that he’s come into a demoralised team that’s struggling and shone so brightly is hugely impressive. We will need a few more tangible results from him if we’re to stay up but Holtby’s pretty clearly the best player we’ve had since Dembele left.

6 – John Heitinga had another good game. I’ve been suspicious of Riether for ages and I thought that having a right back who can defend made a big difference. I expected Heitinga to bring a presence to the side but had no idea how good he was. The clue was in his selection for the last World Cup Final, but even so, there was a suspicion that he had somehow lost something. Not so, he looks a terrific player.

7 – A word for Stockdale at the back. Again, people will remember the odd bad moment but given all the needless setbacks in his Fulham career I think we can give him those. He’s been a good goalkeeper and always done pretty well. His save in the second half was one of those that looked good and actually was: he raced off his line and made it difficult for the forward, but I liked the save in the first better, as the ball had been deflected en route to person who ultimately took the shot so Stockdale would have had trouble setting himself early. It was a fine save.

8 – Amorebieta has pedigree, so it’s strange that he’s played so badly this year. But this was one of his best games for the club. We can’t know how much the poor management of the squad has affected different players, but I’ll say this: if you’re moving to a new league, and walk into Fulham 13/14 vintage, well, my goodness, that’s a shock to the system isn’t it? Let’s not write him off yet.

9 – Sidwell gave 150% again. I don’t know what to make of the bloke any more but at this point he’s doing the things presumably that need doing in there.

10 – I’m quite annoyed by the Heitinga/Woodrow goals. A) if the technology shows the ball a millimetre not over the line then honestly, is that legitimate? We watch the cricket and it’s acknowledge that there’s a margin of error at play. Here the ball’s just canoned off the bar, probably isn’t round at this point, and bounces over the line. Except it wasn’t over the line because the outer skin of the ball, had it been fully round, kissed the outer edge of the goalline. I don’t want to be deliberately obtuse because clearly “the whole of the ball” means “the whole of the ball” but deary me. It feels like you’re working to a false precision. I don’t necessarily know that the right answer was for a goal to be given but it’s pretty hard to stomach that it wasn’t. Dunno. Then Woodrow bundles it in. Are we saying he was offside when the ball was struck? Is that what happened? Was he? I’m not sure about that. Was he interfering? Maybe he was but, well, thank goodness Dejagah scored, eh? Would have been an absolutely killer way to lose.

 

11 thoughts on “A few thoughts on the game

  1. Yes thank god he did. I thought it was great to see Woodrow, it seems like the new wave of young cult heroes could come through this latter part of the season in him and maybe Patrick Roberts and let’s not forget Dan Burn’s contribution so far. It seems like Magath has now actually worked what he can do and who to do it with and yes it took him 3 games to realise that the people that got us in this mess are not the ones to be relied on anymore. So, well done him. Motspur Park must be a very strange environment to think clearly in with all those old big egos kicking around but it feels like his one track mind and self-belief is starting to wade through the muck. Whether he has enough time who knows but he feels more and more like the right man for the job.

  2. From the replays it looked like Woodrow was pretty clearly offside when Heitinga took that shot, not to take anything away from the effort he showed in subsequently putting the ball in the net of course. Sure did look like the ball was over the line on the initial shot, though, infinitesimal overlap notwithstanding. Solid team performance and a needed and, I think, deserved win.

  3. Maybe it’s the dark cloud of the season hanging over everything, but I thought this was the best we’ve looked all season. I couldn’t recall a better performance. I thought almost everybody looked sharp and in particular thought Kacaniklic, Kasami, and Woodrow stood out. As a single game removed from the context, it was a pleasure to watch and anything other than the 3 points would’ve felt like an injustice.

    1. Yep, I can’t disagree. I don’t generally put too much stock in body language or the like, but I did think we looked like we were playing with confidence and belief for the first time in a while. Rough timing to have to go the Etihad now, rather than having an easier fixture to build some momentum, but that’s what happens when you leave needing points for this late.

  4. Never understood footy and it’s adherence to the “must fully cross the line” law. Would be so much simpler to adjust the rule to whenever any part of the ball–not it entirely–crosses the line it is considered out-of-bounds or a goal. You know, like mostly every other sport has it.

    1. Whatever the rule, you’d get marginal decisions like this going the wrong side of the line (boom boom!).

      All that really matters, even if this really should have been a goal, is that the technology is consistent.

  5. Great to see the young lad performing, but don’t you think Trotta should be the young lad out there??? All he ever does is score goals & get shipped out. What are we waiting for???

    1. Interesting that Woodrow didn’t do too well at Southend but looked the business on Saturday. Really good awareness and ample energy but perhaps that wasn’t what was needed in League 2 where a more physical, direct approach with more route 1 football is the norm.

      Trotta’s a different type of striker – a taker of chances rather than an enabler for other players.

      Self evidently most players who score plenty in the lower leagues don’t have the same success when up against better more organised defences. Obviously some, like Lambert, do but they are the exceptions.

      Trotta will no doubt be assessed in preseason by whoever is our manager and may well progress with us. I’d leave him at Brentford for now.

      1. Sort of apropos your point, Lambert took five years in the lower leagues to start to be become a prolific goalscorer, whereas he took to the Championship and Prem immediately. Reports on Trotta are that he’s someone Berba-like in his approach to movement, with skills that compensate less than the Monaco maestro’s. Youth team watchers meanwhile tend to say that Dembele looks better than Trotta did at a similar stage and that he has a particularly good understanding with…..Woodrow.

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