For 88 minutes it was a poor game which threatened to get become intriguing once in a while but those threats were just empty. Then Fulham managed to impressively disintigrate, firstly by switching off and allowing Janko to steal in at the far post, secondly with Andy Johnson inexplicably getting himself sent off.
How much blame can be attributed to Jol? Well had we stayed at 0-0, as we should have done, we would have been saying job done. And actually, looking at the game, we were relatively comfortable defensively despite all their play. We weren’t particuarly making last ditch blocks, and Schwarzer didn’t have to stretch himself once and that is no exaggurating. Both sides had two clear chances all game (Janko and De Jong for Twente, AJ and Zamora for us), so analysing the game like that and it would seem that it was a game that deserved a 0-0. However, alot of weight is given to intent in games like that, and we showed nothing in possession, asides from two or three passages of play, that demonstrated an intention of taking the game to Twente. Compare that with how we played against Arsenal, when our passing was progressive, and that makes the game very disappointing. Alot of credit must go to Twente who closed down our back four superbly, and very high up the pitch, so we couldn’t really pass out of our half with ease and when we lost the ball we were deep in our half. With a bit more invention, with our midfield dropping deeper or moving more intelligently, we could have perhaps played better.
Schwarzer – 6, wasn’t trouble one bit, not a save to make, not a difficult cross to claim. Communicated with defenders well, and had to kick long under pressure fairly frequently; when he did they were long and effective.
Kelly – 5, got burnt by Chadli twice fairly early on, and from then I thought that we were going to be in for a difficult game against him. However, Kelly seemed to pick up the pace of the game… until John came on in the second half and started causing all sorts of trouble down that side. Maybe needed Johnson or Etuhu to help cover a bit more but still, was beaten quite easily. Then he switched off totally for the goal. Disappointing display after what had been a good season so far for him.
Hangeland – 7, had to deal with alot of balls into the box because Twente were struggling to create opportunities and made a load of defensive clearances with his head. Also came across and intercepted well, didn’t need to go to ground much because we were never really that desperate. Also seemed like the only Fulham defender interested in playing the ball out of defence. Not sure how much blame can be given to him for the goal, not sure if he should have stopped but not sure if he would have made it, and anyway it was Kelly’s ball to deal with.
Hughes – 6, like Hangeland got his head to the ball well from crosses. Maybe could have given Kelly more assistance, but most of his problems were quite far out wide.
Riise – 6, his performance wasn’t great but I have sympathy for him. Up until Duff went off we were comfortable down that side but Frei does not cover like Duff does, and so Riise was left isolated. For the goal, the winger had all the time in the world on Riise’s side to cross the ball in but Riise had to come across to cover Hangeland who pressed the ball (and when the cross went in you could see how out of position Hangeland was, he and Hughes were in each others areas of the defence). Pitiful going forward though, offered little.
Etuhu – 6.5, again a good showing from Etuhu. The cliched wastefulness in possession wasn’t evident, he used the ball well overall when he had it which you can’t say for most of the team, and when we were defending he won the ball back often, and covered the defence well. I expect Sidwell will come back into the team when he recovers from injury. and so does Etuhu, but I hope he’s gone some way to proving the detractors wrong.
Murphy – 5.5, in a game where we are struggling on the ball and denied space Murphy was always going to struggle. Not to the extent that he was a liability, infact two of our brightest moments came from him with the through ball to AJ and the freekick to Zamora, but asides from that he really couldn’t get into the game. He wasn’t helped by our shocking movement.
Johnson – 4, I never, ever, ever want to see AJ at right mid ever. He offers us literally nothing. It just doesn’t make sense. His awareness of space to take the ball into and his ability to beat a man just doesn’t suit it at all. He won’t come short, take the ball, pass, move, he’ll just push up on the left back. His two best moments came when he found himself upfront; one when Murphy almost found him with a through ball and the second when the ball was palmed out to him and he should have scored from 8 yards. I can’t blame him really, and surely Jol must see that. Our best performance of the season came with AJ and Zamora upfront with Dembele on the right. If Jol was worried about being exposed defensively then that doesn’t make sense either, since AJ under Roy dropped deep without the ball and protected the midfield and Dembele works really hard and effectively when we defend too. If he wanted a 4-4-1-1 with Dembele up top then play Kasami, just don’t play Johnson out there. And then there’s the sending off which is so nonsensical I don’t really want to write about it. As far as I’m concerned, AJ can go in January.
Duff – 6, kinda involved, saw a fair amount of the ball anyway, before his calf injury reappeared.
Dembele – 6, worked quite hard and sometimes threatened to create. Problem was when he did create space there was no one ahead of him to pass to.
Zamora – 5.5, his layoffs were poor all game and why he didn’t run infront of his defender when Frei cut the ball back from the byline I don’t know (something that AJ perhaps would have done…). When we struggled to hold the ball we needed Zamora to play well and he didn’t.
Frei – 6, if there was one bright point out of the game at Twente it was Frei. He demonstrated why calls for him to start were still very premature, he’s naive defensively and his movement off the ball isn’t great, but he at least offered us some sort of ‘cutting edge’. When he ran at defenders we managed to creat stuff, and if we were more offensive perhaps we could have reaped rewards. I was pleased when he came on for Duff because I thought Frei more than anyone on our bench could give us the outlet we were sorely lacking. A really good sub for now, and as he matures he’ll be a very exciting player.
Kasami – N/A, came on late for the injured Dembele, and like Frei showed some offensive enthusiasm at least.
Sa – N/A, a token sub for Zamora. Put the defenders under pressure when closing down at least. Suprised to see him after he played for the reserves but good to see him back. Hopefully he’ll play against Odense.