Ipswich 2-1 Fulham

Before the game we all agreed we had no idea what to expect, but really that went exactly as we’d have expected, had we had any expectations.

The home team and favourites looked pretty good.  Someone said ‘functional’, which does Ipswich a disservice, but this was a fully realised team in a way that Fulham aren’t.  Ipswich won’t have worried at all that Fulham had almost all the ball for much of the first half, Fulham’s play being too far from goal and lacking a bit of something.  The front two of Dembele and McCormack looked nifty on occasion but was really too far away from a midfield that flickered in and out. For all the good possession there wasn’t much of a killer instinct.

There didn’t need to be, of course.  As the away side, enjoying most of the ball, Fulham will have felt okay about the world until they went behind.  I’ve spoken of Glenn Hoddle’s multiple mistake theory of goal concessions before, but here was a good example.  Some untidiness around a bouncing ball in midfield, Scott Parker erred in waiting for the ball to settle of its own accord, which it didn’t, and suddenly Ipswich had turned on the jets and Fulham were in trouble. A quick pass to Murphy, who had it all to do, but then he burst forward past a bemused Hutchinson.  The latter presumably felt he was about to slow Murphy down while help arrived, but Murphy had other ideas and charged in on goal.  Joronen was probably down a bit early and Murphy finished well.  Four mistakes of varying seriousness and Fulham were losing.

The whites’ best chance came when Chris David stung the hands of Gerken, the Ipswich ‘keeper. The ball popped loose and Dembele reacted quickly, but Gerken redeemed himself with a smart block.

David was withdrawn at half time.  Eisfeld replaced him, like-for-like.

Fulham didn’t offer much in the second half until Patrick Roberts came on.  At that point they were two down, Hutchinson capping a day he won’t want to remember by being shouldered off the ball near the corner flag. Town swept the ball infield and McGoldrick powered home the loose ball.

With 15 minutes left Fulham brought Roberts on and suddenly the game was transformed.  Roberts was by some distance the best player on the pitch and managed to transcend the mediocrity around him.  He slipped Eisfeld through with one good ball, and his play brought a directness and intelligence heretofore missing.  It was he who slipped Hoogland through down the right for what would become the Fulham consolation, Hoogland overlapping, cutting in, then shooting home via a deflection.  And it was he who had half an opening late on, the ball not quite going where it needed to go.  He’ll do a lot of damage cutting in from the right.  Sooner rather than later Fulham need to take off the cotton wool and let him play from the start.

So yeah, probably the right result.  One team knew itself, the other finding its way.  Understandable: this is a new team full of new combinations. It really will take time for this team to get going.

Setup, players, etc

Joronen got the start in goal and did okay. Not at fault for either goal and made a couple of nice saves.  6/10

Hoogland played as an energetic right-back and appeared capable of playing the role well. He was up and down and didn’t appear to be caught upfield at all.  I didn’t really get a sense of his defensive prowess, nor of his crossing, but he scored and had a couple of other dangerous runs so gets 7/10 for now.

Bodurov had a good debut as best I could tell.  One tackle in the second half impressed particularly.  Bears watching but so far so good. 6/10.

Hutchinson will be better than this. He’ll hate how his debut went but made a couple of decent interventions and it wasn’t all bad by any means.  A thrown-together team is probably hardest for the defence and they’ll need a while to get a sense of what’s happening and where.  I hope Magath’s style isn’t to throw players in and out with every iffy performance. 4/10.

Stafylidis did what it says on the tin with some good bursts forward and some robust defending.  Like everyone else, it seems, I like the look of him. 6/10.

[it must at this point be noted, somewhere, that both of our full-backs had ponytails and beards – a first?]

Parker – I don’t want to seem like I’m picking on him but as the squad’s senior man I expected more.  It’s like he was trying to be “the man” a bit, but I got cross with him eschewing the obvious pass time and again, overlooking teammates who could have taken the ball, and twirling around before passing somewhere no better than option 1.  The result was a general slowing of Fulham’s approach work to no obvious advantage.  Scott Parker knows more about passing than I do, but he wouldn’t be the first 33 year old to completely lose the ability to play football and I’m more inclined to think that he’ll do a Danny Murphy in the championship than not. The Premiership exposed his lack of range and waning physicality and perhaps we simply saw a continuation of it today.  Put another way, when Fulham needed an equaliser did you want Parker anywhere near the ball?  4/10

Burgess was used in a sort of Busquets role in which he dropped deep out of possession but moved up with it.  Now it’s true that we’ve been desperate for that unselfish Etuhu role since Dickson last donned a Fulham shirt, but it didn’t really feel as if Burgess was the answer.  I mean, he did what he did well enough, particularly as an 18 year old playing his first game in a tricky away match with a completely new team in a completely new position, but… no, there can’t really be a but can there?  5/10.

Hyndman looked terrific to me, absolutely terrific.  Bold, busy, intelligent, technically able.  Very impressed.  Brendan Rodgers will buy him. 7.5/10.

David/Eisfeld played the central attacking role the team needs to knit together what might become quite a broken team when Roberts isn’t playing.  They both showed glimpses of class and both seem perfectly able.  Mad as it might seem, giving them half a game each for the rest of the season wouldn’t be the worst thing that’s ever happened, but on this evidence, if you were choosing one of them it might be Eisfeld, who looked more polished and intelligent in his 45 minutes.  As with everyone, their play will improve as they get to know their teammates. 6/10.

Dembele – I’ll be honest, I have no idea what all the fuss is about.  I’m conscious that he’s only young and that in time he could be a beast, but to me he just looks clumsy and out of his depth. Against that I guess he had the one big chance, which speaks of an ability to be where he’s meant to be, but letting the ball run under his boot as time ran down kind of summed him up for me.  I’ll look ridiculous when he’s hitting 30 a season for AC Milan in 5 years but there we are.  4.5/10.

McCormack has apparently not been 100%, which is a big shame as you can see the class in his work and how he will score the goals.  6/10.

Subs: Woodrow does have that terrific energy, doesn’t he?  It does presumably make him nice to play with as he’s always trying to show for the ball.  I don’t doubt that in time Dembele will be the better player but I think Woodrow’s more useful to us now.  (6/10).

Roberts I thought was terrific.  A different game with him on the pitch.  The hype will swirl around and he’ll go large sooner rather than later, but let’s maximise his time on the pitch while we have him. 7.5/10.


Wind: 10mph SW

Temp: 21C

Ipswich Town: Gerken, Chambers, Berra, Smith, Mings, Hewitt, Hyam (Bru 82), Skuse (Wordsworth 70), Tabb, Bajner (McGoldrick 44), Murphy.
Subs: Bialkowski, Henshall, Marriott, Nouble.

Goals: Murphy 32, McGoldrick 61.

Booked: Hyam, Mings, Berra.

Fulham: Joronen, Hoogland, Hutchinson (Roberts 74), Bodurov, Burgess, Stafylidis, David (Eisfeld 46), Parker, Hyndman, Dembele, McCormack (Woodrow 57).
Subs: Bettinelli, Rodallega, Fotheringham, Burn.

Goal: Hoogland 86.

Referee: Stephen Martin

15 thoughts on “Ipswich 2-1 Fulham

  1. About right. Ipswich clearly had the advantage of having played together: everyone knew each other, the center-backs knew how they played, the midfield could see the forwards and the runs they were likely to be making. And we knew they would be big and physical and they were, but ruthlessly organised and disciplined in their pressing, which really was fantastic.

    I thought Burgess in that holding role was strange: yes, Ipswich were always going to play long ball and make it big, so having him in the “mixer” was going to be useful physically. But his lack of ability in possession, at least to the quality that you need in that role, was evident, and this isn’t a spite on him: he’s not used to that role at all. It was noticeable how much more a base our midfield resembled once Parker came into that middle.

    Hutchinson looked nervous, you’re right. Bodurov magnificent. Really nice tidy defender, who does his job well and sees passes quickly.

    But totally right in saying that it all felt good, but we didn’t really have a good go at poking Ipswich until the second half. The first half was all a bit build up and no penetration. None of the precise technical balls that Eisfeld, Roberts and Hyndman started playing later (which would have suited Ross McCormack much better).

    Flashes of what we become, but as a team, that teamness (I’m making that a word) will only come with time as you said. A few more players here, a bit of tweaking here. Interesting start, and can’t really say how this season will go any better than we could a few days ago.

  2. I was also impressed with Hyndman – very comfortable in possession and often picking good, positive options with his passes. Who knew. Woodrow too can be proud of his positive impact.

    I can pay Roberts no greater or dafter compliment than to say he reminds me of Messi.

    With any luck Parker’s long term role will be more, er, advisory – not a bad man to have around as club captain with such a young team, one suspects, but also not one you want playing 90 minutes every week for the reasons stated above. Maybe Felix wants him on the pitch for now whilst the youngsters all settle (perhaps wise) but will ease him out as things progress. Do we need another DM though?

    I think it’s all very exciting. I’m already looking forward to seeing what happens next week.

  3. I agree with the writer and the comments from Will and Jamie above. Watching on TV (from Singapore) doesn’t give the same all-round view you get from being at the match but I thought Fulham did OK considering we were up against one of the above average teams in the Division, away from home and with Fulham a nascent team whohave not played together before competitively. Ipswich are very physical and Championship referees don’t give the same level of protection to players as they do in the Premiership. Note the two-footed challenge on Stafylidis which went unpunished. Fulham, as a team, will have to learn how to man-up in order to make an impact.

    Overall I wasn’t as disappointed with the result as I thought I would be. I am glad I watched the game because there were some encouraging signs and individual performances which belied the result. The Ipswich goal came after a series of mistakes by Parker et al and almost looked inevitable. Same old Fulham, you could say. When we went 2-0 it looked game over. Roberts is a gem and needs as much game time as he can handle. Dembele for me was very disappointing as I really fancied him as a player from the U21 accounts last season. I picked out Stafylidis as a key player who could become very important for us this season with his advanced runs and willingness to get back to defend.

    Overall not gutted (yet). This should be a very entertaining season with many twists and turns. It surely can only get better. I admit I harboured faint dreams of 2000/2001, 11 straight wins wasn’t it? On yesterday’s showing, a top six finish would be a good achievement. It is obviously going to take some time for the payers to gel as a team.

  4. A good summary. The Hyndman surprise absolutely paid off and until shortly before the first goal, I thought the Burgess one might too. I was thinking, my goodness, nice one Felix, that kid may have the attributes for that position, this is potentially a coup. And what I’m about to say doesn’t negate that possibility.

    After a quarter hour or so, I noticed that he was starting to get a bit carried away and storming upfield at times when he should have been holding back. And before long that proved fatal leading to their first goal. Yes, Parker shouldn’t have lost it, but there are always going to be losses of possession, what matters is how you are geared up to dealing with them. And we weren’t. Hutchinson was exposed one on one and made to look a mug (which he may or may not prove to be on further sighting), but he should not have been left in that position. So young Cameron does not so much need a set of additional attributes as coaching in the positional requirements and in not getting too gung-ho. But meanwhile we need a Championship-hardened, or equivalent, specialist in that position to enter the club immediately please. It’s a must.

    McCormack was literally our only starter with experience of this division and that showed. Ipswich looked pretty average, but still did enough to warrant a narrow win, and that’s a pattern that may repeat unless we alter the experience v potential mix a bit. Doesn’t need to be all over the pitch, but the Burgess position as just mentioned, and Rod for Moussa especially spring to mind after yesterday.

    As for Parker, he did OK-ish, and I can see the value of having him in the dressing-room, but would not be averse to a tactical thigh-strain that limits his appearances. To put it another way, with Hyndman, David and Eisfeld in the frame (Christensen too) would you be importing him for neatness and tidiness if he wasn’t here already?

  5. An incredibly young team who did well in the first half, but fell apart in the second until a late revival. I went from happy to pissed off to encouraged.

    I don’t see the value of playing parker as a box-to-box CM. He is too old for that role. He has to be a DM or on the bench. Put Christensen, Eisfeld, David and Hyndman in those roles. Ideally we will buy a proper DM who keeps it simple and can feed the very talented players ahead of him and help shield the defence. I was very impressed by the confidence if Burgess, but as b+w geezer points out, he is a work in progress and obviously not an established DM. He’s a talent though and to make your debut out of position in an already inexperienced team and do well, I think it really impressive.

    Up front Rodellega should be staring alongside McCormack. He was excellent in the run in last season and is more of a target man who can help McCormack flourish a la matt smith at Leeds. I still think Dembele is a real talent, but he is not ready to be first choice, especially when we have a striker of the calibre of Rodellga on the bench. I also think Woodrow should be ahead of him too.

    There is work to be done, but this was an outrageously young team, many making their debuts. The ridiculous thing is, the kids played better than the inexperienced heads around them. Parker’s time before I label him one of Fulham’s all time worst buys is running very short.

  6. Hoogland’s ponytail and beard is more hip organic farmer as opposed to Stafylidis’ barista/bartender ponytail and beard.

    This match felt like a preseason game, considering the lack of continuity and myself and everyone watching it consistently saying “wait, who’s THAT guy?!?”. That said Magath’s penchant for perplexing starters and subs continues. I was willing to shrug it off last season but I’d hope things would be streamlined by now. Oh well, the fella is a little bit nuts.

    Lastly a proper CDM and CL-level experienced GK is what we need come September. As much as I like the idea of Joronen, I don’t feel great about throwing a young, green GK in there. Someone like a Marcus Hahnemann of 3-4 years ago would be ideal.

  7. The whole thing was much better than watching the Fulham of last season. I feel positive about our prospects.

    Magath was pretty scathing about McCormack’s performance and lack of fitness. If he is to be dropped until he gets up to speed we will be the Championship club with £30 million of talent (McC, Mitroglou and Ruiz) on the sidelines.

    Patrick Roberts is great news. Look at his picture on the FFC website player profiles and compare with photos of a young Johnny Haynes. Anyone else see a similarity?

    1. Pat Roberts is great news, no question, but he’s some growing to do if he’s to resemble the eventual Haynes……5ft 9 and a half inches, 12 stone 4 lbs, says Fulham Football Club Official Handbook 1966-67.

      (Price two shillings and full of gems: `The Way Ahead’, by Manager Vic Buckingham, `Sweeping Fulham into the 1970s’ by Graham Hortop, Secretary. `The Great Escape’ (narrative and Ken Coton pics of the 9 wins in our final 13 games). George Cohen on the World Cup victory. Bobby Robson on past world cups. Fulham’s Far East tour. Articles about all the directors (retired butcher Jack Walsh never misses a match, home or away…) Profiles and photos of all the players…. and, as they say, much, much more. Ten pence in today’s money and a momento I’m glad I never threw away.)

      Oh yes, Haynes. Sizeable thighs. Get growing, Pat!

    1. In months to come we’ll have Venn diagrams, spread sheets,, flow charts, astrological projections and God knows what else correlating our performances according to the wind chill factor.

  8. Thanks Rich. Great report(s) (was on holiday last week and was such pleasure to read all your articles on standard deviations, our need to rebuild, and new players…) I have to point out though, that I think you got your assessment of Parker is totally wrong. I say this after watching the recorded game deliberately looking at everything Parker did, after reading your report, after being at the match.

    In the same way we get overly excited watching our youth players play well as we begin to dream how good they are going to be in the future, watching players that are past their prime seems to have the exact opposite effect. Although I think Hyndmann had an unbelievable debut, I will go as far as saying that I think Parker had a better game than him. I think its harsh to give blame him for first goal. His passing was good all game round. And his drive forward led to half chance Eisfeld had.

    I feel particularly compelled to write this as I suspect many people read your reports and are like myself usually swayed by your opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were the first person at cc to notice Riether’s defensive weakness and I almost suspected that he became less popular once you started writing about this – a suspicion I soon rubbished without ever putting into words. But now I am reading all this very similar (unfounded) criticism of Parker on tiff. Please don’t get me wrong, if there is constructive criticism anywhere about the club it is on here, but just felt obliged to point out my observation about Parker as I think he will be vital for us – not least as he is only senior British player aside from McCormack left in team.

    Am with you about tying him to rope from pole of penalty spot and was very frustrated to see burgess play out of position in precisely the role Parker should be limited to or Tunnicliffe would surely be more suited for. I have been very optimistic about Magath from the start as he is such a top coach. But I think he will make himself very unpopular quickly by making ridiculous decisions like this or not playing Burn. I mean if he so extreme about playing youth that he leaves out Amorbieta, Ruiz and Mitroglue although they are all getting paid hefty wages and their transfer value would surely be helped by the odd game, or selling both senior keepers, it is one thing. But if he refusing to play Burn ahead of two older players from the scottish and bulgarian leagues (!!!) then I put this down to Magath’s stubbornness and tendency to fall out with players or need to prove his authority in this way. I find this very frustrating. Just as frustrating as watching Burn play as full back in seemingly vital game against stoke when Riether had suddenly fallen out of favour. Unfortunately I am beginning to think these cases are not one offs but something we are going to have to get accustomed to.

    1. Ah, thanks for the long post. Interesting. Parker’s definitely subject to higher standards and I’ll be writing about this later on. But I was still disappointed with some of his decision making on the ball and the extra touches he seemed to take.

      I think people will come to their own conclusions based on what they see. I was very critical of Reither but nobody was influenced by this. In time he made a number of high profile mistakes and that swayed opinion, but my concern was as much with his choices and how he was used: an overlapping full-back in a team which couldn’t defend. I didn’t (and don’t) think his attacknig play was nearly good enough to justify the way he played the game and I didn’t think his defensive work was particularly strong either (and I think the number crunchers have since supported this view in spades). Then people wanted him as player of the year, which doesn’t feel right to me if player of the year is “best player”, which I concede it perhaps isn’t. But as best I can tell the general sentiment is that he was great in his first year and bad in his second. I’d say he did okayish in the first year and not okay in the second. I used to try to make my point on the message boards but football’s so subjective, everyone has an opinion, and really why should mine be treated any more seriously than yours? (So I look for evidence to back up opinions, which leads us down roads we don’t always emerge from unscathed.) In any case, if Parker’s getting criticism it’s nothing to do with me!

      In any case, more on Parker later if I remember.


  9. Thanks for reply Rich. Obviously pretty far fetched to argue that you were making players less popular. I certainly was not implying that you shouldn’t be criticising. On the contrary; I think you were absolutely right about Riether, but this was far, far from obvious. In fact I think it could have done Riether and Jol the world of good to have been reading those posts on here.
    However, as you pointed out many times, throughout last season, the team was lacking in every department. No better proof of this than the standard deviation goal scores you posted the other week, which really surprised me as I had no idea that we had been really THAT bad.

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