It’s now been just over 15 hours since the 3-3 draw at the Cottage with Spurs. A classic comeback and a stunning, last minute, goal from Dio Kamara. I can’t, however, feel as upbeat that one normally do after having seen his team comeback from behind and equalise in the dying minutes. The reason you may ask? Well, I’m still so disappointed with our over all performance so I have yet to feel really pleased about getting something from this game after all.
Being that it is quite some time after the game now I won’t write a normally structured match report, I’ll rather focus on what bugs me the most (and some positives too).
Why in the world did LS chose to play Niemi over Keller. Neimi hasn’t played a competitive game since last season and Keller did the job for us at Villa a week ago. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that the Finn is our obvious number one, but after having recovered quicker than anticipated I think he should have been on the bench for this game and regained match fitness in the reserves for a few games. He did look a bit rusty, didn’t he? At least we can only blame him for one of the goals, Warner still has the upper hand in that department.
All in all Niemi was just a shadow of his old self, had poor positioning and it sure didn’t help that there was only one defender he’s played with before in front of him. You could see that their two-way communication was poor.
Oh dear! I tried to remember when I last was so upset with Fulhams defending. I didn’t really come to any conclusion about this, but we were abysmal for the main parts of the game. Not only the back four, this was the defending all over the pitch, we just didn’t want to know.
There was some debating going on at halftime on the FFC Sweden-forum about our poor defence. One guy, who was a lot less upset than me, pointed out that it was only Berbatov and Keane causing the troubles for us. In a sense it was, but that just proves my point. Given that they had some class deliveries from their midfield and then their pace and movement was something we couldn’t cope with. Having said this, it is even more shocking that two players can cause so much damage. What would have happened if their midfielders would add in to the equation by overlapping with their forwards?
I’m unsure what orders were given defensively before the game but I really hope that LS isn’t this naïve when it comes to the opponents in the premiership. We gave Spurs way too much time on the ball which gave them many more options than necessary going forward. Most of the time they had 3-4 options as to where to pass the ball forward. Furthermore we really need to learn to adopt when we face a team that doesn’t play the way we have planned for. Why in the world did we continue to try the offside traps when their pace took them away from our defence every time anyway?
I can’t for the life of me understand how LS can’t see what most of the rest of us sees. Chris Baird ISN’T a good enough right back at this time. He shows many qualities such as good passing, commitment, leadership skills etc. But on the right hand side he finds himself out of position way too often and he doesn’t have the pace to compensate for that. I’d love to see him have a go at central defence but Volzy or Omozusi has to be the better options at RB.
Fortunately we didn’t get caught out in midfield since Spurs mainly played the ball pass, or over our midfield targeting their forwards. We had four excellent midfielders on yesterday, when it comes to go forward. Not one of them is a defensive midfielder and that will come and haunt us if we’re not careful. Granted, Smertin is brilliant in the way that he reads the play and manages to close down or intercept the ball quite often, but he’s a quite poor tackler in my eyes. We need some balance in midfield, but just like LS, I can’t figure out how. Maybe this is the reason Murphy was brought in.
It feels a bit odd that the part of play that we have been best at this season is the attacking part. Even though Big-Brian is greatly missed we are looking good up front. New players have been brought in and they are adding pace and hunger in the box. Dempsey seem to, finally, have found his confidence and looks far more dangerous when he gets to play up front in a central role than he did playing wide in midfield.
As mentioned above we have a very attacking minded midfield which gives great support to the forwards, and with wingers like Davies and Bouazza we’ll get quality crosses into the box that we haven’t seen for along time down at the Cottage.
If Dempsey can keep his current form I don’t think we’ll miss Brian as much as I was afraid of, and I think both Healey and Kamara will work well alongside him. We just need to adjust our style of play a bit since we won’t have pure target player up front.
I know some people think I’m a bit harsh and that a team who has brought in 15 new faces needs time to gel. Fair enough, but the way I see it it is up to LS to deliver a performing team. He has been in charge (and had the money to spend) for months so I think it is up to him to make sure that he fields a team who can play together. Competitive games are just not right for this kind of exercise, that’s what the pre-season games are for (and to some extent the reserves).
All in all we performed well below par as a team, but due to individual skill, great heart and commitment we robbed Spurs off a point. Now let’s use this as a platform to build from and hopefully the team will use the two week break to gel a bit more. I’m looking forward to LS getting his first away win in the premiership on the 15th.
Finally; at least Sanchez showed a sense of humour when describing the game:
“It’s like a James Bond film where you think, why doesn’t the villain kill him and then eventually he comes back to bite them,” said Sanchez.
Referee: Mike Riley
Fulham (4-4-2): Niemi; Baird, Stefanovic, Bocanegra (Capt.), Konchesky; Davies, Smertin (sub John, 78), Davis, Bouazza (sub Healey, 69); Dempsey, Kamara
Subs not used: Keller; Volz, Omozusi
Spurs (4-4-2): Robinson; Chimbonda, Kaboul, Rocha, Lee; Malbranque (sub Dawson, 83), Jenas, Huddlestone, Bale; Berbatov, Keane (Capt.) (sub Defoe, 67) Armband to Robinson Subs not used: Cerny; Zokora, Taarabt