Crazy Italians came to the Cottage yesterday. There could only have been a couple of hundred of them, but they made enough noise for a couple of thousand. It was heartwarming to see that in a country where football and corruption have gone together like chalk and cheese over the last few years that the fans (or the ultras, as they prefer) are far from the cynical so-and-sos that English football seems to be breeding nowadays.
The game was largely irrelevant. Not because it wasn’t any good, but because it didn’t matter. Players seemed to be using it for match fitness. Fulham’s leisurely defending seemed to render it merely a training session. And the fans sitting around me were more content to catch up on their summer gossip than offer more than the merest of encouragement to their side.
Two things struck me during this game. Zoltan Gera was once again impressive, this time in an out-of-position left of midfield role. Does this hint at his future role or was Roy just trying something? Could it be that he’s comfortable with Gera on the left and that’s why he let Bouazza and Cook drift away?
And the re-emergence of Seoul prompted another thought. He dazzled on debut against Manchester City and then flattered to deceive. I thought he was taken to Korea for marketing purposes and have yet to meet anyone else who thought otherwise. But he did deliver a decent performance today. He set up both the goals and looked more enthusiastic than I have seen him for a while in a Fulham shirt. Playing as a second striker seemed to suit him. So, why did he get so much grief when he made the odd mistake? And why were the Fulham fans so pleased to see him replaced that they cheered the appearance of his number on the fourth official’s board? Is this purely a Fulham disease, this scapegoating? It certainly left me unhappy.
Just to cheer up: there was one person who took it seriously. Roy Hodgson looked furious once we conceded that second goal and could have permanently damaged the dugout had he been kicking with any more power. Nice to know he’s so invested in pre-season. Can’t wait for the big kick off now.