Brentford 0-1 Fulham…

… or the art of writing a match report for a game you haven’t seen.

Rewind back to last March. The squad is running laps of Motspur Park.

Ashkan Dejagah – who is slightly injured – sits in a director’s chair by the car park, ticking off each player’s name each time that player goes by.

Brede Hangeland is causing Dejagah problems, having now been lapped – twice – by the entire field. John-Arne Riise appears to be missing.

Confused by this, Dejagah’s accounting is awry, his paperwork a mess. He puts his head in his hands. But his paperwork is still a mess when he looks up again. He has lost count of who has run what. And now he checks, he realises hasn’t ticked off Scott Parker at all, but there is Parker chugging slowly around the corner. And who the fck are these young players anyway? They all look the same. He sighs. Why him?

Felix Magath, the new manager. Arms folded, he wanders silently behind Dejagah’s chair. Taps him on the right shoulder. SHOUTS in his left ear. “GET OUT!” Magath points not at the changing rooms, but at the entrance to the car park. Dejagah gets in his car and leaves, stopping at the Tesco Superstore in Raynes Park for a ploughman’s sandwich and a six pack of (two bar) kitkats on the way.

Dejagah would start only one more game for Fulham.

Stories like these are becoming increasingly common, but what if Magath’s attention to detail is a good thing? What if all our criticisms are unfounded? What if he has simply been chopping things around, trying to get a handle on what will work and what won’t? What if his eye for these things is much better than ours, and that he has now made some big decisions? What if we start winning now?

Against Brentford last night Fulham were victorious in what sounds like a good win. We’ve said that in the previous games, early goals have made all the difference, and this time we didn’t concede. I think that was crucial.

The other angle that resonates is that Magath generally stayed away from teenagers, save for Cauley Woodrow, far the most experienced of the young’ins anyway. It might be nothing but a few people have been murmuring about the missed generation, how Fulham seemed to have skipped a perfectly reasonable U21 group and plucked players straight from the U18s.

chart

So the central defensive pairing of Hutchinson and Burn, both in their early 20s, is perhaps a better balance than a defence that contains the 18 year old Burgess. A midfield with Hoogland and Parker at its base probably has a bit going for it as some kind of organising engine room (a mainframe?).

All of this feels more like it. Magath’s crime has not just been to lose games, but to lose games while doing things the fans don’t agree with or particularly understand. It’s a dangerous combination and honestly probably something he could only do if he felt very safe in his job.

Beating Brentford away from home is not nothing. A clean sheet is not nothing. The performances of Burn – proven at this level, remember – and David, and probably of Woodrow and McCormack, too, leave plenty of scope for optimism. It will take a bit of time for the fans to trust Magath again, but it’s amazing what a few good results can do, and let’s face it, the team needed a boost. That win gave it to them (and what a nice goal it was, too.  McCormack looked like Ian Rush slotting that one away).

The Cardiff game might go horribly wrong but it feels as if perhaps a team is evolving. As some fans have pointed out, it is a long season, and if heads aren’t lost early on then pretty much anything can happen between now and the end of the season.

13 thoughts on “Brentford 0-1 Fulham…

  1. One swallow doesn’t make a summer and I don’t think a relatively even match resulting in a one nil win against a team newly promoted and more focussed on staying in the Championship than the glory of the Capital One Cup is anything that gives us more than a glimmer of hope .

    When Magath threw out the baby with the bathwater – in fact all the family – we naturally assumed there would be replacements who might provide us with sufficient experience to give the club a chance of getting back to the Premiership quickly . Instead we have recruited a handful of unknown and by all accounts unwanted players who wont keep us up , let alone get us up !

    I have no idea who is in the driving seat – Magath , Macintosh or Khan but they are hurtling towards a brick wall with no airbag on board !

  2. I’m hoping you’re right rich. The best thing for the club is for Felix to turn out to be a tough competent manager. Yet another change of manager now will be very hard to recover from. I like the story from McCormack that he has lost a stone under the Felix training regime. There is a big upside to hard training and maybe it is going to pay dividends in this long season. Felix just needs to settle on the best players in their best positions and get some stability. A few wins in the meantime will go a long way.

  3. Interesting this one Rich. I was at the game last night and yes it was great to get a win, yes it was a better performance but haven’t for one minute felt any more empathy with Felix. I think once you find out someone is a bully and a manipulator you don’t ever forgive him for it. Al the stories coming out of the club are too many to ignore so the question is, would you take success at any cost? I definitely don’t, I believe that a level headed manager would have put that kind of team a lot earlier and without causing so much disruption. By supporting Fulham I have bought into some kind of values of how a club behaves on and off the pitch and how it engages with the outside world. All these values have all but disappeared over the last 6 months so I still want him out, it’s not a results based opinion I just don’t want people like that being successful.

  4. Nice story Rich. I always enjoy your well-written, clearly thought-out pieces. I kind of side with Bruno on this. I am a long time supporter and one of the reasons I fell in love with Fulham was it’s collective warmth, humility and the wry acceptance of the fans. We went for the sheer enjoyment of it all. The word Fulhamish sums us up perfectly. The only thing Fulhamish about Fuham right now are the results. If we are to believe the stories about Magath (and there must be a fair bit of truth) then we are heading in a direction I don’t want us to go. There is nothing wrong with discipline and fitness. Remember how the players initially railed against Tigana’s strict training and eating rules, but he showed respect and even affection for the players. I met him personally and there was warmth, humility and humour. And we went on to blow the Championship away. I don’t see any of that from Magath. I don’t want success at a club where the players and fans despise the manager and where our little club by the river has lost its soul.

  5. I suppose you have to experience Magath to really know what to make of him so I prefer to ignore that side of things.

    Joey Barton is everyone’s idea of a ****** but he recently performed an act of great kindness, unpublicised and completely voluntarily, for someone I know so it may be that we should accept that most people are multi dimensional.

    Most of last season’s squad needed a rocket up their backsides so I’m not showing them any sympathy.

    Giving kids a chance was clearly welcome and necessary but the big thing missing for me was any indication that he was learning from performances. Keeping essentially the same team for Cardiff would be a big indicator for me that things might be turned round by Magath. I’ll despair if there are mega changes.

    I thought he’d be sacked this last weekend. As he hasn’t I guess he’s ours until failure is obvious to all. I hope therefore that he does know what he’s doing although I have yet to be convinced.

  6. Fair point Tony but I am not sure I agree with you on it. Accepting that people are all multi-dimensional can be an excuse for a whole load of things. You are right in saying that we don’t know enough but basing an opinion on just the results and not how the result was achieved is a short term view. It doesn’t let you deal with the long term problems. Football is first and foremost a team game and a big part of that is trust and a belief that you are being looked after and protected and admittedly although I don’t know all the facts it sounds like a climate of fear and uncertainty is spreading through our club undermining this. As I said I believe an experienced level headed manager would have a put that side out last night or even earlier, it didn’t need all the drama.

    1. Putting it simply management has to combine carrot with stick and good managers know how to get the best out of people and one size doesn’t fit all.

      If the team plays well we get results and not only are we happy but you have to assume the players are too. Bad results leave everyone looking for excuses and scapegoats. If we’re still not getting results in 10 or so games time Magath will surely be sacked and it tends to be Cavaliers and Roundheads. The soft Jol and Muelensteen were replaced by hardman Magath. If he fails someone a little more people friendly will no doubt take his place.

      Making the players train hard and putting the fear of God into them doesn’t bother me so long as it gets results.

  7. This is exactly the kind of well reasoned argument that should be on FOF, instead of all the hysteria that is usually posted there.
    I find it hard to relate to Magath. I tend to agree with Touchjudge in that I don’t see a lot of warmth from FM, but then, if the results were going our way, would we really care?
    He is clearly, as Tony says, the hardman – which was probably needed. But maybe this has gone a touch too far? Also, I can’t fathom some of his tactical or selection choices.
    But I am not there in training, I don’t see the restraints he might be placed under in terms of who he is allowed to play (players due to leave maybe, that he has been told not to pick), so it’s hard to get a truly accurate view on these matters.
    The fact is, all the signs point to FM being on good terms with Khan so in all likelihood we are where we are until at least 10-15 games in. Maybe even Xmas. Let’s hope he has his first team roughly sorted out now and a bit of consistency and good morale can follow.

  8. bees fan here. played charlton birmingham and bournemouth along with us expected to be in a relegation battle, they will all cause you problems this season says it all really.close game but well played last night no sour grapes from me

  9. I’m thinking I might pen something about Khan and the “American” way of coaching vis-a-vis what he walked into, which to me explains Magath. And how it relates to Buck Showalter.

    Here’s hoping I find time…

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