Being a Fulham fan has never involved expecting to win every week but some of the football we have seen this season has been woeful. And I don’t just mean in terms of skill, but I mean that we have seen a complete lack of desire from the players far too often. We have changed from being a humble club that has players proud to be on the pitch every week, playing for the fans and for the team to becoming a group of players who don’t really look particularly interested. I can’t even bring myself to describe us as a ‘team’ any more. However, I don’t really want to write an article stating everything that I think is wrong with Fulham at the minute. So instead, I’m going to explain my disappointments about what we have seen so far this season and then give you my ‘Fulham wish-list’ for the coming months.
- No heart- One thing I have really had a problem with this season is the lack of heart that has been shown by so many of our players. I know that this isn’t fair on all of them as you have the likes of Parker who will run his socks off every week, but unfortunately he is in the minority. I have been involved with sport for most of my life and one thing that I think I will always remember is an old school coach telling me to “…leave nothing on the pitch. That way you can come off knowing that you did everything that you could.” Too often we have watched some of our players give us only a percentage of what they can really offer and it means that not only are we losing matches, we are losing BADLY and to the teams around us. Losing 6-0 to Hull = case and point.
- Slow football- Many of the games I have watched this season have shown Fulham playing so slowly. We don’t pass the ball fast enough and when we do, we are passing behind the players meaning that we have absolutely no momentum. This means that teams are finding it far too easy to defend against us and we just don’t pose enough of a threat going forward. It is also having an effect on our defence. We are trying to play this over-relaxed style of football so when the opposition are on a fast attack, we just can’t cope. Playing the passes faster and more accurately will mean that we have more chances. More chances will normally mean more goals.
- So wasteful- We have two big name strikers in Bent and Berbatov who have 10 goals between them (all competitions) which really isn’t great at this stage of the season. In general this season we have been incredibly wasteful and have missed so many good opportunities. We have also been wasteful with our chance creation. Our set-plays have too often ended up directly back with the opposition.
- Lack of spending- We got a new owner at the very start of the summer and we have so far had pretty much no investment in the playing squad. Khan sacked Jol and has taken advice to bring in Wilkins and Curbishly to help our manager but he hasn’t gotten the chequebook out yet. Our squad has a very high average age and unfortunately this is very obvious on the pitch with players who are past their best.
- Big name players failing to perform- Berbatov, Bent, Ruiz and Taarabt are four players who have proved that they have talent but we have barely seen it at all this season. Ruiz has now been shipped off and it looks like Taarabt might be going too and, to be honest, we aren’t going to be missing much. I like Taarabt but he is a very individual player who just doesn’t seem to know when to pass the ball. It’s frustrating that he might be off without us getting to see the best of him. I’ve also been disappointed with Berbatov. Last season he would bark orders at his team mates and it was helpful to them- especially the youngsters. However, this season if he doesn’t get his way then he will just look like he doesn’t really want to be there.
1. Structure- One of the things I would like to see most is for the management team to pick a formation and to stick with it. I know that it can be difficult with new coaches coming in, but we need to have a plan that doesn’t change every week! Change can be good, I’m certainly not denying that, but Fulham seem to be changing so much at the minute with tactics and playing styles that we aren’t getting anywhere.
2. Get a clean-sheet- For so many years our defence was very good. Even if we weren’t scoring a lot of goals, we didn’t concede many either making us hard to beat. But this year we haven’t had many clean sheets in the league and we haven’t drawn (not including cup matches) for ages meaning that teams are finding it FAR too easy to score against us. If you could ask any manager in the league right now which team they would like to play next, they would probably say Fulham.
3. Sign someone- Khan, it is now your chance to turn things around. We haven’t signed anyone so far in this window despite us desperately needing some changes. We need to sign someone who is going to have an influence on the team. We need cover in a lot of places, but for now I think the priority is someone who is going to put the ball in the back of the net for us. Three more days left to do something to potentially save the season!
4. Continue to use the youngsters- One positive of the last few games has been the use of some of our talented youngsters. Burn has come back from Birmingham looking like someone who is going to have a bright future ahead of him an he doesn’t seem too over-awed by the occasion! Also seeing the likes of Chris David and Tankovic on the team sheet is exciting. This is our future at the end of the day so let’s see them a bit more. It’s been what we have been crying out for over the past few seasons when we have been hearing some really exciting things about our academy.
5. STAY UP- This one obviously doesn’t need much explaining. We are in trouble, but it is SO tight at the bottom. Keep the faith.