Well, football is back. In a whirlwind few months we’ve been tortured with bad news on what feels like a daily basis. Admittedly, my mental health is imbalanced at best, periods of deep depression, hating my own existence and then disappearing to take time to myself (you’ll notice I have a new Twitter account). I’m trying to surround myself with more positivity, more things that make me happy and the return of football was to help. Although Fulham’s result today was more bad news to add to the list, as a lover of the game in general, it’s been great to spend 90 minutes not thinking about life, just enjoying the game, analysing where they’re won and lost. That’s what makes me happy. So I’m not going to talk about the game negatively today, but I’m going to swoon over the return of ginger haired midfielder Harrison Reed.
Having not played a competitive game since New Years Day, Harrison Reed came into the base of midfield today and put in a phenomenal performance. He patrolled in front of the back four with excellent energy, recovered the ball in an inspired manner and not only was tidy on the ball (highest passing accuracy of the 22 starters), he threaded through an excellent ball to Bobby Decordova-Reid for the biggest opening for Fulham in the 90 that the Jamaican forward crashed against the post.
It was the most impressive individual performance in the middle of the park for Fulham I’ve seen for a while (although perhaps my memory is dazed by the break). Reed put in the kind of performance that should’ve had Tony Khan scrambling for the phone to work out how to make the loan permanent. The 25 year old former England youth international showed everything that’s required to play the holding role for Fulham, he was quick along the floor to break up play, intercept passes or divert second balls to a teammate. Whilst others were anonymous, Harrison Reed was undoubtedly the man of the match despite Sky’s award to eventual match winner Emiliano Marcondes.
A youth teammate of Matt Targett at Southampton, Fulham cannot allow this loanee to get away. There was some debate leading to kick off about who should start at the base of midfield with alternatives being Kevin McDonald or Harry Arter, but Reed not only took that position with both hands today, it was the kind of performance that made you think he’s absolutely undroppable for future fixtures.
I also felt Bobby Decordova-Reid showed more promise in that deeper position today. While Fulham were unable to get a real hold of midfield and create chances with much frequency, Bobby buzzed around midfield making a few ball recoveries but more notably looked to combine with Anthony Knockaert down the right hand side and offer some running in behind the opposition defence. Though his shot hit the bar early on in the tie, those positions running beyond Aleksandar Mitrovic as a ‘free’ player is how I see Bobby affecting games, more shots in the box and see him as a real option to help Aleksandar Mitrovic carry the load of scoring goals for Fulham.
Lastly, a congratulations to academy graduate Sylvester Jasper. He had already made his competitive debut earlier in the season at the Etihad but his fine performances for the U18s this season were rewarded with his first league game and he actually topped the Fulham side for successful dribbles despite few minutes on the pitch. Another milestone for the academy and it won’t be the last we hear of 18 year old Sylvester Jasper.
So there we have it, I’m sure many of you will understandably be disappointed following today’s results but a positive spin on today. Reed was absolutely marvellous.