One of the best things about football is that it leads to discussion, and divides opinion. Just like the finest art, football is at it’s best when not simply serving to entertain, but to provoke and make the observer think.
A few different discussions on man-of-the-match, and player performance levels, over the past few weeks has brought this concept to the forefront of my mind. Why is it that, in the match against Wigan, votes for MoTM can vary almost across One to Eleven? Why is it that opinion on our full backs, centre midfielders and strike force can vary so much?
There are obviously many reasons. Different people look for different qualities in players, have differing levels of benchmark performance or simply have a different outlook on life. However, something that strikes me as fairly significant is your viewing platform for the game. It gives you a different perspective.
By perspective, I’m not talking glass half full or half empty (although that will definitely matter), but how you actually view the match. For most of us, there are three main views from which to watch Fulham on a regular basis; behind the goal (in either the Hammersmith or Putney Ends), side on (in either the Johnny Haynes or Riverside Stands) or on television/online. There is a fourth viewing point, but frankly, I’d be impressed if anyone with access to the corner view from The Cottage balcony reads this.
Each one of the three main views has its own merits as you can see different things. Sitting behind the goal allows you to see the whole field so to speak; formations and tactics and player movement can all be seen building up before they happen. Side on; closer detail, and action at both ends. TV, while making it impossible to watch anything off the ball, you can usually see exactly what happens, and then see it again on replays just to make sure.
As someone who has a season ticket along the side of the pitch, my opinions and musings will come from a different perspective than those of you who watch our games primarily from behind the goal or on a TV. We all get the chance to watch on TV, or (at least if you’re like me), you search out every highlight of the game you’ve just got home from watching live and in person.
The players whom I feel I know more intimately than others (due to my seating position) are the right back and right midfielder when they’re attacking, and the left back and left midfielder when they’re defending. This might explain why I am such a harsh critic of Damian Duff and Stephen Kelly at times. Not due to any bias or ill will against them, but that they fall in my closest gaze more often than anyone else. It also partially explains my fondness for Chris Baird (to the extent that I own a Green and Gold third shirt with ‘Bairdinho 6’ on the back.
Stephen Kelly has been an unfortunate victim of my perspective. Where I sit is perfect position to see the right back overlap and attack. This is not Kelly’s strongest attribute, despite some marked improvements in recent weeks, and has, as such, fallen focus of my attention. Kelly’s, at times, sterling defending is not usually right in front of my eyes, so perhaps it falls, to an extent, out of sight, out of mind.
My perspective on John Pantsil was perhaps the opposite; he often attacked with verve and could sometimes cross the ball quite well. Defensively, he was (at times) a flight of fancy, and sometimes dangerously casual with the ball, especially in front of Mark Schwarzer’s goal. He was the North to Stephen Kelly’s South.
I will discuss who, in my opinion, is our player of the season once the season has actually ended, but perhaps it is perspective that led George Cohen to proclaim Moussa Dembele his choice, ahead of Clint Dempsey in a recent matchday programme column. Like me, Cohen attends every match at the Cottage with a viewpoint from the side of the pitch, and towards the middle of the park. The exact area in which Moussa has excelled since his Boxing Day position switch to central midfield.
The added dimension of a change of angle makes every away trip just that bit more interesting for me. Whether it’s the corner at White Hart Lane, behind the goal in the Shed at Chelsea or the matchbox upper tier at Loftus Road, every new view lets you see something else.