I always like to think of myself as a positive thinker, a forward thinker and this past weekend was evidence of this as my views on Fulham’s 2-1 loss against Swansea was different against the majority of supporters. I like to think what will happen in two weeks time, or a months time and so on, and I think this vision I have may be the reason I have never been Jol out, or never worried about our position. I can feel the looks of the negative, without use of a better word, flaming through your computer screen thinking “Who is this idiot, and why is he still backing that idiot?”
Without meaning to be disrespectful, we’ve got to look at taking baby steps, and I think the result on Saturday clouded the positives of which was an improved Fulham performance on the majority. Take the first 20 minutes for instance, Fulham had 6 shots whilst maintaining 60% possession; Fulham were looking fluid, adopting different systems and shape going from the intended diamond in midfield, to the Christmas tree, to the clubs favoured 4-2-3-1. The midfield was controlling the play and not allowing a very good Swansea side to get into the game. Within this 20 minute period, Fulham could have been 2-0 up through Darren Bent, which on another day or with more luck in our favour, he puts those chances in and it all looks rosy and we’re talking about how we’ve turned it around thanks to new head coach, Rene Meulensteen; not now still discussing Martin Jol’s departure, which by the way, is quite unlikely to happen so booing and crying Jol out will change nothing.
Before I go onto to further discuss Fulham positives, I will discuss the Swansea goals. Firstly, we did fall asleep for the free kick, but you can take nothing away from that delivery from Alejandro Pozuelo, it was inch perfect, although there was a bit of fortune with Aaron Hughes getting his legs in a bit of a twist and putting the ball in his own net. The second, you simply cannot afford to give a player of Jonjo Shelvey’s shooting ability that amount of space on the edge of the area, and you feel should he had been on the pitch, Derek Boateng would have been there to protect the back four, something we’ve lacked all season. I will discuss Boateng later on in the article but that’s my view on Swansea’s goals.
After the 20 minute mark, Swansea grew into the game and showed the importance of the circulation of possession, something Rene Meulensteen, according to Adel Taarabt has attempted to drill into the squad in his first week at Craven Cottage, “the sessions he puts on are amazing. He understands the Premier League and how important it is to keep possession of the ball.” He also commented on the need to control games, pressing the opponents and defending as a team. It appears that new head coach Rene Meulensteen has impressed the players so far and I really do believe that as his influence grows on the training ground, the players would subsequently impress us.
I have an idea that many would perhaps call me an absolute muppet for; Can we, as supporters, have the mentality that our season starts now? By the sounds of it, we’ve spent all summer and the first 3 months of the season with a poor quality of coaching, and now we’ve appointed a top quality coach in Rene Meulensteen, we can begin to see improvement in the clubs fortune. We must also remember, we’ve been poor; that’s something we can all agree on, and we’re still only 5 points from 10th, we have enough time to turn it around, and I would bank on us to do it.
Now that I’ve discussed the positives of the last game, I thought I look towards our next game, a visit to historical bogey side West Ham United. If we give the unorthodox 6 man midfield of the Hammers space in between our midfield and our defence, they have the quality to cause us so many problems, and have chances like the Shelvey goal, this is why I am plugging for Derek Boateng to start again in midfield for us. Although he may be a tad over zealous at times, he’s happy to protect the back four, something Parker or Sidwell has failed to do, providing the opponents space in the final third and leaves us open for the counter attack. I also believe that Parker and Boateng is, at the current time, our best central midfield partnership as it allows Parker more freedom to influence the game further forward and show some of the qualities which saw him named FWA Footballer of the year just two years ago.
Another call fellow supporters may disagree with is the inclusion of Adel Taarabt behind Dimitar Berbatov. Some will point out his “greedy” nature, but personally, that’s what I like about him. His decision making may not be as good as former hero Clint Dempsey, but his willing to beat a man and take a shot is something we have not had since the American jumped ship to join Tottenham. I believe we have had the fewest shots in the Premier League this season, but although we have one of the highest shots on target to goal ratios in the league, we need to test the opposition keeper more, something our on-loan Moroccan is happy to do; his previous record shows he has a decent record of it as well. He has an aggression going forward that we don’t have in any other player, and something that can make a difference to our side.
My side for next week would be to keep Maarten Stekelenburg in goal, we’re forced to keep Elsad Zverotic at right back for one more game. I would also reunite the Thames Barrier of Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland should our Norweigian be fit, moving Fernando Amorebieta at left back. As you would probably have guessed, I am going to have a central midfield partnership of Derek Boateng and Scott Parker; and the three behind Dimitar Berbatov would be Ashkan Dejagah, Adel Taarabt and Pajtim Kasami, I felt we lacked width and pace outwide this past weekend so I would bring Dejagah in to be give an actual test to West Ham’s Joey O’Brien.
So a final point from me, let’s give Rene Meulensteen some time for his practices to really instill into the players and start afresh. Let’s forget our form this season and look forward to hopefully a fruitful winter period. The positives were visible after just a week of training with our new head coach, so let’s see how it goes next week, and the week after.