To put it mildly, the international breaks are not the highlight of the footballing calendar. Rather, they are loathed by habitual football fans everywhere who all have a very set routine at weekends. Not only following your own team, but seeing the drama unfold across the leagues is every football fans dream. International breaks on the other hand, especially ones that are restricted to friendlies only, can be very flat. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching my national side play and seeing Northern Ireland get oh-so-close to another tournament was nail-biting. But despite these breaks being a necessity, I don’t think I know any football fans who gets excited when they think about having a single England match to look forward to rather than a feast of Premier League and English Football League.
However, the break has come at the right time for Fulham. Last weekend’s second half against QPR was torrid. After the blistering form that we had shown for the games before it, the West London Derby certainly brought us back down to earth with a bit of a bang. At the end of the day we were going to drop points somewhere, and I guess it is a bit typical of us to drop them at home to QPR after being 2-0 in the lead and looking comfortable. ‘Fulhamish’, some might say…
The team looked tired. The magnitude of every game we play now alongside Jokanovic’s desire to only use a core group of players where possible has taken its toll on the team. It’s not a problem, but it does highlight that maybe getting away for a week with the national sides or taking it easy at home was exactly what the doctor ordered. Dropping points in the way that we did was massively disappointing, and has the potential to affect the team mentally as well as physically.
But let’s not exaggerate our current predicament. We have been flying, and this could have just been a slight wobble on the tracks rather than us de-railing altogether. We are still quite comfortably in the play-off positions and managed to move up to third in the table after sharing the points on Saturday, albeit this was partly thanks to Villa’s defeat to Championship strugglers Bolton. The second automatic promotion spot should still be on the minds of the boys, but it must also come with the acceptance that it is out of our hands now. All we can do if focus on our own business and then we will be in position to capitalise on any mistakes made by Cardiff. Unfortunately for Cardiff they have a very heavy fixture list coming up thanks to the trip to Derby being called off because of the snow. Warnock had a lot to say about the cancellation, and I reckon that if they do go through a bad spell in the next few weeks, that will be their ready made excuse. On the other hand, Cardiff are a big, strong side, and although they may drop some points here and there, I can’t see them dropping seven easily.
Nowhere better than Motspur Park to get the best out of the team in these two weeks. pic.twitter.com/T9kwPheNcz
— Slavisa Jokanovic (@Jokanovic) March 22, 2018
It’s good to see our coach so focused on the task ahead based on his recent twitter post, but for now we can just hope and pray that those out on international duty come back unscathed and ready for the run in. Every game is a cup final.