True Detective Season 2 just finished. I loved it. Nobody else seemed to, to the point where it took until mid afternoon on the Tuesday after the last episode before I found a positive review, a review that felt the same as I did. Everyone else just got negative and complained.

Here’s the thing though: it’s very difficult to be extremely good and extremely popular at the same time. If you want something genuinely good, something completely out there, you have to accept that not many people are going to like it. On the other hand, it is entirely possible to put together TV programming that is not at all good, but that lots of people will watch. I’m particularly thinking of X-Factors of the world, but there are hundreds of examples. My sense is that True Detective Season Two just went for it (it being oblivion). It was astonishing TV, prepared to throw out existing conventions in the name of its art, in the name of random, brutal and unfair destruction. And yes, maybe the Vince Vaughan and wife discussion scenes went on a bit, but didn’t Herman Melville dwell that bit too long on the art of whaling sometimes, too? Do the Grateful Dead need to take Dark Star up to 30 minutes? Exactly.

So yeah, it works in music as well. Compare Nirvana’s In Utero and Nevermind albums. The former is, I think, considerably better; the latter, I think, has sold many more copies. Cobain’s trick was to make alternative music very accessible. This at once cheapened his art and opened it up to more people (me included, of course) who wouldn’t have listened to Mudhoney or Tad or whoever. Again: there is a relationship between the number of people who like things and what these things are or do.

This of course applies to football. Take two midfielders. Let’s call one Jimmy, and the other Dickson. Jimmy does lots of things on a pitch. He’s everywhere. He passes here, he passes there, he’s the man! Dickson… not so much. What does he even do?! Except… they have an amazing manager, and he chooses Dickson and sells Jimmy. Oh! Well. What’s that all about then? Bullard is Nevermind, Etuhu is In Utero. One is obvious, but ultimately overrated; the other is hard to appreciate, but ultimately a better option.

And so we find ourselves with Jamie O’Hara getting three man of the match awards in three games. Now, I like Jamie O’Hara. If ever a team needed a veteran midfielder to take the pressure off team-mates, to be the focal point, to run the team, it’s this Fulham team. In this sense O’Hara’s a godsend. And he’s played quite well. But three straight man of the match awards?! Wow.

To have written this much implies that I care much more than I really do. But still – show some imagination, people, eh? I know that praising anyone in defence is a no-no, and that McCormack and Pringle haven’t woken up yet this season, but there’s still Matt Smith! Will nobody think of Matt Smith?! Matt Smith retrieved O’Hara’s Putney End bound hollywood ball for our goal. He headed one chance over and another against the post – could easily have been two goals there. If Fulham were going to score there was a good chance it would be Smith’s doing. He was the most consistent threat for sure. And if you’re stuck for answers, what about the man who walloped in our equalising goal? More or less out of nothing? Cairney. Him. He could have the award. He’s playing well. Bettinelli did okay, too. In a devious move presumably directly aimed at Lonergan’s self-esteem, he actually passed to his teammates when he got the ball. And he made some good saves.

I’m not saying O’Hara wasn’t deserving, but it feels like there’s an element of moths crashing into lightbulbs here.

8 thoughts on “Grumble

  1. You have my full support . Smith is a threat and gets involved regularly where it matters ; is effective; works tirelessly and plays to his limitations – my man of the match on Saturday .

  2. I think this is a case of pick your battles!

    O’Hara has struck me as the only player in those three games who noticeably did their job well in most areas. Perhaps those others who did well were a bit more subtle. Such is life.

    But really, its just a MOTM award and I think it is important players like O’Hara get a bit of love given his recent background. Hopefully will inspire him to really perform this season and will hopefully inspire the rest of the squad to up their games too. Could be a little internal battle in the squad to see who can beat O’Hara to MOTM next game.

  3. I noticed O’Hara was rated a 5 in the Sun. For me this heavily underrates his performance. He provided a cool head, the go to man with invention and a range of passes that mostly reached their targets. Best of all was a cover tackle in the second half, made cleanly when he clearly started as second favorite for the ball. He through himself in and came away with the ball.
    Can he shed a few pounds and sharpen his game further?
    Similarly I thought too many of our players look slow and over weight in the first-half, is Kit to soft on them? I’m not saying they lost weight for second half but they did manage to up their game.
    Another quick Q, Ben Pringle was excellent at controlling the game for Rotheram last year, is Jamie’s presence diluting Ben’s performance? But surely his game will grow?

  4. I thought Cairney was a stand out – excellent in possession, struck a wonderful goal and constantly worked well with the overlapping Richards in the 2nd half, where it looked a matter of time before that flank would pay off & create our winning goal. He took responsibility, moved into space, looked to combine with other midfielders and was a real shining light as the game went on. He definitely looked like a player headed towards the Premier League, so hopefully that can be with us over the next couple of seasons.

    O’Hara became more involved, coinciding with our side having a better control of the game and is definitely a good addition to the first XI, albeit your Bullard analogy is a fun one! I found it tricky to see which of Christensen & O’Hara were doing more/less things right, but they clearly worked together better after we conceded, when they stopped sitting off the Brighton midfield.

    Smith was a real presence and likely to be involved in any ‘winner’ we were trying to create. On the balance of the play it really should’ve been McCormack to make way for Dembele – but likely to be a call the manager would’ve naturally shied away from this early in the season given just how big a player/personality he’s likely to be at the club.

    I left our home ‘thumping’ by Bournemouth last season thinking “I don’t even know where to start” with the Fulham squad by that point… I have to say they’ve done a decent job in rejuvenating the squad, and we should all be pleased with the potential now in the team. We’re competitive again, and there’s some talent in the side now to inspire a belief that this can still be a good season, albeit the midweek tie looks tough which will put real pressure on Saturdays tie against Huddersfield I’d imagine.

    Clearly though, the centre halves need ‘upgraded’ – whilst the team has looked arguably more solid so far this season, none of Hutchison, Bodrov or Burn inspire enough confidence that they’ll keep many clean sheets and you can’t get away from the fact that when they play they look like a ‘howler’ is close at hand – typified by Hutchison’s ineptness in the final minute of the game….he seems to take 1 step forward and 2 back. I suspect there will be 2 new centre halves come 1st September, and with them in place we really should have a strong basis for the rest of the season…..Symons should be judged accordingly when this piece of the puzzle is added. I would be staggered if his report at the end of the last season to the board suggested that any of his centre-halves were quite at the level needed.

    Fingers crossed, if Dwight Gayle is persuaded to join in addition, then I should think we’ll be in a very good place, as for all Smith has worked hard, Gayle will provide the kind of pacey, over-the-top threat that can change games & bring fear to the opposition defence. There was a degree to which the first half was all too comfortable for Brighton until Fulham stepped up the pace in closing the space down & pushing defence into midfield, midfield into attack and actually got players forward to support the front two. I doubt we can get through a Championship season with just Smith & McCormack really providing enough goals for Top 6 which is our ultimate ambition – and for all Woodrow & Dembele have bags of enthusiasm, it’s still too early for us to be relying on them.

  5. O’Hara has been fantastic. But as the more defensive-minded of our centre midfielders, I wonder if he’s been really doing his job – lots of opposition chances have come from players in loads of space in the middle of the pitch. Stick Matilla the Finn next to him, and then we can give O’Hara MOTM for his attacking performances.

  6. Havent seen a second of FFC yet this season but True Detective Season 2 was pretty darn bad. Most of the negative reviews were just piling on, but it was amazingly mediocre without becoming later-seasons-of-Dexter/Weeds/TrueBlood-god-awful. Only the final season of Boardwalk left me feeling like I had either totally missed something, or possibly just wasted my time.

    1. It took me a while to realize what they were doing that last season of Boardwalk Empire, but once I did I thought it was magnificent.

  7. It’s entirely subjective of course, but I agree Rich, I really enjoyed TD Season 2 – for what it was, not what it wasn’t. Season 1 was better, but that didn’t make the follow up bad – I thought it was very well shot, acted – yes some of the dialogue scenes as you say were patchy, and in parts the overlapping story lines overly complex – however the feel/vibe of it was captured very well. Out of all the main actors, Taylor Kitsch was probably the weakest, but then they casr him, so what did they expect.
    So a thumbs up from me.
    You are not alone in heaping praise on this!

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