Matthew Briggs is the youngest player ever to make an appearance in the Premier League and yet, six years on, we are still left wondering about what role he has to play in Fulham’s future. Earmarked by Mark Hughes and then Martin Jol as one to watch, cited by Aaron Hughes as one of the exciting young talents, courted by Chelsea and United when he was with the U18s, the athletic left back clearly has something about him which has lead to his Premier League and England U21 appearances. However, it seems a case of ‘too much too soon’, a player who thinks he’s made it when really he hasn’t even started, and as a result has not worked nearly as hard at his game as he perhaps should have. I don’t know, but it’s a possibility. We were all hoping – me especially, I don’t doubt his potential – that his latest move, out on loan to Watford, would be the final thing to kickstart his time at Fulham in the same way it worked for Kacaniklic, and having heard him conduct himself well against Cardiff last week felt even a little reassured. But, as Tom Bodell from VitalWatford lays out, it seems to be more of the same.
Suffice to say, he’s done appallingly & is the new scapegoat. Here’s what I can say without it sounding like a vitriolic rant -
I have to admit to being slightly apprehensive when we signed Matthew Briggs. The video that Lorcan linked me to for Vital Watford showed a young defender hopelessly caught out of position by West Brom for Fulham, lacking the concentration or awareness to hold down a defensive berth.
On his first outing against Blackpool he appeared to do OK in defeat, playing down the left-hand side of a back three. That fairly steady start was unfortunately followed up by an awful mistake against Burnley on Good Friday to gift the Clarets a point. If you didn’t see it, Briggs was caught dozing and entirely unaware of the man nipping past him to race onto a routine long-ball and level up at 3-3.
It wasn’t classic defending.
Gianfranco Zola had clearly learned his lesson and by the time we went to Hull at the beginning of April he had been moved to left wing-back, which ought to have suited him with his natural athletic ability and will to get forward. Sadly he was so poor he was hooked at half-time after putting in a very limp display.
Unlike the Udinese & Granada loanees he has thus far failed to show the same level of commitment and desire; the will to put his foot or head in where it hurts and sod the consequences.
His most recent appearance came at home to Cardiff City and although most Hornets’ supporters were slating him for another lacklustre display at left wing-back, I felt it was the best I’d seen him play.
He was keen to get forward and worked hard, but time and time again he wanted to take an extra touch or an extra second to set himself before crossing. As anyone knows, the best players need less time and fewer touches; that is just not the case with Briggs. He was not helped by slow service by centre-back Lloyd Doyley, always directed into feet when he could have done with it in front of him, but nonetheless, he has shown very little so far to suggest he will ever cut it at a level higher than this.