Scores on the doors. How the players rated in 2013/14

This is how I saw things. Sometimes my opinions are awful. Sometimes they aren’t.

Goalkeepers

Maarten Stekelenburg – 6/10
David Stockdale – 6/10

I don’t think there was a lot between them. Stekelenburg made that howler against Sunderland but had generally performed well for us. As did Stockdale, who of course came into his own as an ambassadorial type in the run in, becoming the Fulham player best able to connect with fans. Honestly, though, I don’t think it mattered which of the two was on the pitch, the problems were in front of them. This, of course, underscores the absolute idiocy of paying £4m plus big wages for a goalkeeper we didn’t need.

Defenders

Johnny Heitinga – 6.5/10

Arguably our best player in the Magath era. International quality and it showed. If we can hang onto him it would be a huge coup.

Brede Hangeland – 4/10

Hangeland was probably made to look better than he actually was by Roy Hodgson’s approach, but was still a fantastic player for us. This season he had injury problems and a disastrous team in front of him, which made him look worse than he is. The bottom line is that we needed him to step up, to take a stand, to bring about some kind of defensive presence, and he absolutely didn’t do this.

Dan Burn – 6/10

He’s very young but there’s a lot to like here and I hope he’s our first choice CB on opening day next season. Yeah he had a couple of hairy games but so did everyone else who tried to play centre-back in this shambles. The positives outweighed the negatives for sure.

Fernando Amorebieta – 4/10

Seemed to have an uncanny ability to be on the scene of the crime when bad things happened. Magath seemed to have found a decent role for him which might have been interesting to develop had we been safely in mid table, but as things stand we didn’t get what we needed here. Probably a pretty good player but like all defenders in this Fulham side, not given the cover a defence needs, and not able to rise above the chaos. I suspect he’ll be off sharpish.

Philippe Senderos – 5/10

Tried his best. None of the defence played well this year, ill-protected by a team structure that was not geared towards keeping the opposition away from our goal. I imagine he was delighted to get the move he did. I don’t know that Fulham particularly missed him, but at the reincarnation of Bobby Moore would have struggled to perform in this team.

John Arne Riise – 3.5/10

At this juncture it’s not clear what he’s bringing to the side beyond a good CV. He’s not a conventional ‘solid’ full-back and he doesn’t add much going forwards. If he was called Steve Brown and we’d got him from Grimsby we’d all be reasonably sure he wasn’t up to it.

Kieran Richardson – 6/10

One of the pluses. When he got fit he showed pace, desire and an eye for goal we didn’t know he had. Keep.

Sascha Riether – 4/10

I don’t know. I didn’t rate him when he was all the rage, so what do you expect now? When your defence is giving up 25 shots a game and 2/3 goals a game then the last thing you need is a full-back who thinks he’s a right winger. I doubt he’s stupid and in the right hands I’m sure could be a huge asset. I mean, it’s not like we had a lot of width without him so I get that. But at some point surely someone had to say “Look, we’re awful defensively. Absolutely awful. Shall we concentrate on foundations, getting a solid back four?” In addition to the positional issues we had a couple of glaring individual mistakes, which to be fair most defenders made this year, but Riether’s penalty against Liverpool and that crossbar challenge of doom against Hull will stick in the memory. I suspect he’ll want to go back to Germany now, too.

William Kvist – 5/10

Not much in evidence and displayed an alarming ability to confuse a football with a hot potato, but I liked his approach and his ability to do the unselfish defensive midfielder thing that nobody else seemed prepared to do. I’m probably alone in thinking he’d be a good idea for next year.

Mahamadou Diarra – 5/10

Ah, tantalising! You could see the class and you could see why it took until we were basically prepared to try anything before we gave him the call. Absolutely astonishing performances considering, but really he only had about 45 minutes in him didn’t he? I’d keep him around if possible on the off chance he can teach the youngsters something by osmosis, but as a player he looks gone doesn’t he?

Steve Sidwell – 6.5/10

I’ve criticised Sidwell quite a lot and do think that his relative deification has been a bit much. I continue to believe that the midfield’s job is to support defence and attack and I don’t think either group would feel that the midfield did this very well. It could very well be that we just had lots of bad defenders and lots of bad attackers, it certainly is the case that the team didn’t play as a unit until Meulensteen was about to get the heave-ho. But it feels like our midfield this season was a lot of nothing, that it was too slow and undisciplined defensively, too slow and uncreative offensively.

HOWEVER, credit where it’s due. He has scored important goals, and appears well respected as a senior figure within the squad. He does a lot of things right and it’s not his fault his teammates weren’t better. I think the latter is the key point: a team where Sidwell is playing a supporting role where his strengths are emphasised can do perfectly well. A team that almost seems to stand or fall by how well Steve Sidwell performs is doomed.

It’s hard to express this without coming over all contrary, and I must be clear: Sidwell is my player of the season. But with reservations. (Which is almost inevitable in a team this bad, eh?).

Georgios Karagounis – 5/10

As you read through the midfield’s names it becomes more and more of a bad joke doesn’t it? 5 years ago we’d have had a midfield to take on all comers. Now we’re about two seconds slow to everything, which is why we’re going down so spectacularly. Karagounis is terrific as far as he goes but it’s pretty clear we went a bit far with this ageing superstar model, didn’t we?

Scott Parker – 4.5/10

See all of the above really. Obviously a good player, felt like a good idea at the time, in retrospect wasn’t a good idea at all and we’d have been better off had he opted for QPR instead. I feel nuts typing this as I’ve a lot of time for Parker, but he was clearly not what we needed and part of the problem rather than the solution.

Damien Duff – 5/10

Well, yeah, again, a good player, just the wrong side of useful. Still capable of contributing (he is still our joint highest assist maker with Ruiz and Holtby) but as with others, at this point you can’t have a team full of people at this stage in their career.

Ashkan Dejagah – 5.5/10

If we had stayed up it would have been on the back of Dejagah’s work, but he couldn’t sustain his purple patch, couldn’t deliver when he was starting, and left us all wondering what really he is all about. There’s clearly something here but how does it work and how do we get at it more often? May be half useful playing through the middle. A keeper for next year, if possible, anyway.

Alexander Kacaniklic – 4.5/10

Well I like him a lot as a player but we can’t pretend he delivered this year. Mucked about by the team’s lack of coherence and by being dropped and reinstated every other week again. With young wingers you either back them or let them be someone else’s project, I suspect. Kacaniklic could be fabulous next season and I really, really hope we keep him, but I wouldn’t blame him at all if he wanted a new start somewhere else. Oddly, always seemed to be the only player on Berbatov’s wavelength, and I’m not sure what that tells us.

Pajtim Kasami – 4.5/10

Oh I don’t know. Sometimes I think his all action style is great. Sometimes I wish he’d contribute something more tangible. Ultimately you’re not going to blame a season like this on a young player so he gets a ‘wait and see’ but he frustrates me. With Kacaniklic I can see the player he might become, but what is Kasami, really? I have no idea.

Bryan Ruiz – 4.5/10

We know he played through a bad back and we know he didn’t do very well (like everyone else). Statistically he was dispossessed 2.6 times a game, which is about once more a game than the norm. On the one hand, not that often really; on the other, he’s therefore starting a counter attack for our opponents 100 times a season, which feels dangerous. I think he’s a gifted player who needed a little less chaos around him. Potentially our best player, he became the player fans turned on most. A watercolour painting of the seaside when the curator had expressedly asked for some gritty urban art.

Lewis Holtby – 5/10

Looked a world beater under Meulensteen, a shadow of this under Magath. You’d like him to stick around, but he’ll be back at Spurs now. Shame. He had the skills we needed, but probably when we needed him to really step up I don’t know if he really did.

Hugo Rodallega – 6/10

Actually had a pretty good season if you look at the time he had on the pitch (not much) and what he did when he was on the pitch (a fair bit). Will probably be an important player next season, which is no bad thing.

Dimitar Berbatov – 4.5/10

Hmmm.

Darren Bent – 3/10

The most disappointing player I can remember. I imagine he tried but rarely has a player been so divorced from everything going on around him. Just never involved in the game. True, he needed some supply, but, well, what can you say? Just no use to us at all.

Konstantinos Mitroglou – not worth of a number

Oh dear. What an absolute shambles. In a multi-million pound industry situations like this can’t occur. You could just go on and on here. I can’t be bothered. What a shambles.

Cauley Woodrow – 6/10

See how a young player gets 6/10 when an old, over the hill equivalent would get 5/10? Right, well there’s a clue for next year, Fulham. Woodrow didn’t seem likely to change the world but played his “dog just let off the lead” role well and was involved in some pretty good moments when he was in the team. I saw a lot to like. Well done, Cauley Woodrow.

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “Scores on the doors. How the players rated in 2013/14

  1. Can’t disagree with any of that. Maybe I would give Stockdale a bit more as he made some pretty crucial saves at the time and no howlers. Would be interesting to see your points for the 3 managers? Mine..

    Jol 2/10 based on this season alone I thought he actually had some kind of emotional breakdown at some point. Interesting to see that he hasn’t emerged anywhere, I suspect he is still recovering. Simply he did not know what to do anymore. He suddenly seemed part of the conservative old guard (like Harry down the road) where the only players he trusted is ones he knew about. The older ones. Must be like listening to music, at some point you want to only listen to the one that was made at certain time in your life and can’t move forward anymore.

    Rene 3/10 learning on the hoof is not what the club needed, the Hull and Sheffield game were an absolute disaster for him and the club but he came out fighting after that and took some chances. Could he have saved us? With the players available doubt it.

    Felix 5/10 before the weekend he would have got 6 but the choice of Dan Burn at left back spooked me to be honest. Otherwise he managed to turn the sinking ship for a while. Pretty sure that if he would have taken over from Jol and had a transfer window we would be safe. History shows that he is the right man to break things up and start again. I don’t think he rates anyone in the team particularly, hence why Sidwell hasn’t been given a new contract yet..

  2. I was going to suggest a rating for our three managers but Bruno has done an excellent job of it. Felix the best of a poor trio. I like him, but his team selection and substitutions have often been baffling. Can’t say he fills me with confidence for next season.

  3. Fantastic Rich. Humour in the face of adversity and very accurate.

    “Bryan Ruiz – A watercolour painting of the seaside when the curator had expressedly asked for some gritty urban art.”

  4. Some other names:

    Hughes: 3/10. Somehow made 11 league starts before quietly exiting in January Looked slow and past it; plus was on the side of some bad defeats. His legacy will not be forgotten, but his impact on the side this season was.

    Taarabt: 4/10. Not what we needed, hardly featured, hardly missed. You know it’s bad when you complain a player wasted one of your “loan” spots.

    Boateng: 1/10. (Who?) Was supposed to be the answer in CDM but was a ghost all season. After a while it became clear his absence wasn’t coincidental or managerial malfeasance. He must have been awful in practice.

    Dempsey: 2/10. Came in at possibly the worst time, but what the hell was the point of that? Has thankfully regained some form for Seattle, as I was quite worried about Brazil next month. Still waiting to hear what went down in the summer of 2012…

    Tunnecliffe & Cole: 4/10. More was written about these two than their impact on the field.

    1. I think Taarabt was a missed opportunity. I’ve caught a bit of Milan since he went over and he starts frequently and shines. He didn’t make an impression with Fulham, I’d say, because he was rarely given a chance. The few times he started I thought he looked fantastic, really threatening moving forward, and then he’d disappear from the lineup the following game. I found it frustrating and wondered if there was something going on behind the scenes. Now it looks like he may be off to Milan permanently. He’s a player I like watching, I hope he succeeds in Italy.

    1. …..that helped to keep Jol in the job for a while longer.

      Not disagreeing though, nor with the verdicts in general. Specifically on Kasami, his was really a season of three thirds: the first as one of our best players (OK, not the highest accolade), the second fading, the third marginal. It must be especially hard for younger players not to be overwhelmed by circumstances. His attitude throughout was sound, though, and he was one of those for whom one felt a bit sorry as opposed to just annoyed by.

  5. A few thoughts…

    I can’t make too much of Duff being the team’s joint leader in assists. All three were corners, and if he’s not any good in open play (which, unfortunately, he isn’t at this point) then you can’t really justify having him on the field because he takes a good corner. I’ve read speculation linking him with a move to MLS this summer, and I think that’s his level at this point, though maybe not a league that will necessarily suit him because it’s a very fast, direct league and he’s not very fast anymore. Or, to put it another way, like I’ve said about Sidwell leading the team in goals, I think it says more about the team’s ineptitude than it necessarily does about him as an individual.

    I think we have to stick with the young guys (meaning the K’s in particular, though Burn and Woodrow as well) next year, assuming they want to stick with us. They were inconsistent but looked at times on the verge of being useful or even good Premier League players, and perhaps getting pitch time week in and week out will be what gets them there.

    I have a suspicion that Dejagah’s failure to deliver when starting had more to do with his carrying an injury and subsequent lack of fitness than anything else, though maybe he just isn’t effective when defenders aren’t tired. In any case I think he’ll probably get sold this summer; honestly he’s one of the few marketable assets we have at senior level.

  6. Really agree with everything here, Rich. It’s funny, when you see the names laid out and go down one by one, they seem alright – certainly good enough to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

    Yet when you go to actually writing them down into a team that you REALLY feel comfortable with, it becomes more tricky. That is perhaps hindsight playing tricks, but it’s hard to come up with something that has a bit of pace and creativity in it while still retaining defensive solidity and the stamina to last 90 minutes.

    On the earlier point about managers: a work colleague lives on the same street as Martin Jol. He sees him every now and again. A year ago he looked like a normal human – he saw him about a month ago and he apparently looked a broken shell of a man. I imagine he enjoyed his time this season about as much as we did – hope he bounces back somewhere, perhaps in Holland again, and gets his career back on track.

    One last point. I was at the FA Youth Cup Final (both legs, in fact). The second leg, in particular, was the most fun I’ve had attending a football match involving Fulham in at least 18 months, I’d say – even though we lost. The team played with freedom, they looked like they were enjoying themselves, and the fans were HAPPY rather than just dreading a potential collapse (although, of course, it did still come!).

    Roberts and Dembele catch the eye, but there’s a small centre-midfielder called Sambou who was just superb in both legs. He plays the ‘Enforcer’ role (the programme says that’s actually his nickname, too) – sits at the back of midfield, nips about, breaks up play and intercepts balls when he has no right to. But he can also play a bit. He’s got good vision for a bass, a bit of pace and capped it all off by banging in a 25-yarder in the second leg to put Fulham 3-2 up before half time, and 6-4 on aggregate.

    If we can integrate those three into the team next year, and ship out some of these players who just look way past their best, the future is bright indeed.

  7. Thank you very much for this – it’s a really excellent summing-up of our shambles of a season. I don’t disagree with any of this. Although I might add that one and a half seasons of Berbatov’s corrosive influence can’t be under-estimated. When a player thinks he’s too good for the team, it must completely undermine the whole team ethic – exacerbated by him scarpering at the first sign of trouble instead of rolling his sleeves up. Your relative ratings of the execrable Bent and the promising Woodrow sum up the season as a whole. Bent raised my blood presure to dangerous levels every time he pretended to play, culminating in his shameful non-display at Stoke – whereas Woodrow vs Newcastle reminded me what it was like when you had a striker who actually tried – he was a breath of fresh air, and put Berba and Bent to shame. The fact that he wasn’t guranteed a game at Southend perhaps tells us that the Championsip will be no picnic.

  8. Can’t disagree with any of the comments. The one thing I would add with the managers was a total failure to find our best 11 (however bad it might have been) and just stick with it, which would surely have helped us a bit.

    My scores might give the defence a slightly lower rating and the attack a bit more. We did actually score just about enough to stay up. We just conceded enough to relegate us twice,and I don’t think we can really pin too much of the blame for that on Kaca, Bent, Berba, Ruiz, etc. however toothless they might have looked.

    1. I think we were set up to attack, which is why the defence looked so bad, but because we just tried to freestyle our attacking play we weren’t much good at it.

      1. All of which kind of comes back to what you said all season about central midfield, which is where the problems come together. I wonder how we would have fared if we’d spent that £12m for Mitrogol on a really good defensive midfielder.

  9. Can’t disagree with the above, but team context is everything. Imagine doing the same exercise for Crystal Palace – the scores before and after Tony Pulis became manager would differ enormously. So too for Fulham 2007/8. Danny Murphy hardly figured under Sanchez while Hughes and Konchesky were regulars in a very leaky defence. After Roy Hodgson took over all three shone.

    The signing of Dimitar Berbatov was a pivotal moment for the club. True, the departure of Dembele and Dempsey was what really weakened us, but for Jol to think that Berbatov’s sheer class could make up for the industry, effectiveness and ability of the other two was a huge error of judgement. It symbolized the decline which continued from that point.

  10. Not only is Kacaniklic on Berbatov’s wavelength, he seems to have a pretty productive rapport with Zlatan on the national team as well. I find this mystifying and fascinating, since he doesn’t seem to have unusual chemistry with most mortals.

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