To a degree I think I fell into the trap of assuming everything would work itself out. We know that every season someone goes all jetpacked and gets out of a sticky problem, and we’ve seen Fulham do it, and what with Magath, a softish run-in and a general tendency towards optimism this one looked like a home banker.
But Fulham well and truly ballsed it up.
1) Magath went again for his “tight until half-time, then kill it” approach and it seemed to work. Dejagah and Richardson are fine substitutes to be able to bring on after all. Taking off Holtby felt slightly iffy given his ability to take the ball, keep it and perhaps do something with it, but it’s fair to say that he hasn’t been in top form since Magath came in.
2) The fatal mistake seemed to be using up a third sub on Darren Bent when Sidwell got injured. That left us with a willing but only 80% able Diarra and Scott Parker to control the midfield, with Rodallega (having one of his “Oh, I thought he was in good form… what’s this about?” games) and Bent, who I’m sorry, is a waste of space (I am never negative about footballers here but if you were to plot talent v expected impact v impact v apparent desire to do something about this imaginary chart’s unflattering conclusion you see that he has simply not been worth his share of Motspur Park canteen grub, let alone whatever idiotic salary we are paying him.)
3) EVEN WITH THIS SETUP RIETHER WAS BOMBING ON WHEN WE WERE 2-0 UP. HE WAS GOALSIDE IN HIS CROSSBAR INCIDENT.
4) So anyway, we concluded the game with not much up front, not really much in central midfield, and our beloved back four of doom.
5) It was a clever run by Shane Long, that, bending round into a gap at the far post but honestly, how often do you see Premier League teams undone by crosses from there to there? Shambles, it really was.
6) so yes, we screwed that up royally. All this “too deep” nonsense… honestly, you don’t necessarily concede by being too deep. If you keep your shape and sit deep really there’s not enough room on the pitch to get through. The problem comes when you try to be something other than what you need to be, in this case a team holding a two goal lead playing a fkng ridiculous open game. Just sit on it, don’t leave space behind you. Honestly, at this level you can hold a 2-0 lead just by being sensible. You can. Don’t give up all pretense of attacking but don’t take risks, either.
7) sigh. Really we deserve to go down after that. We do.