I supposed I should have known the day wasn’t going to end well when we had to pay £5.80 for a pint of beer (albeit an imported American craft ale) in the riverside pub near Craven Cottage before the game. I’m no stranger to London beer prices but that was a tad unreasonable.
The footy? Let’s face it, we were pretty awful, in a game we should have been able to cope with & secure a result. Fulham’s league position suggested a stuggling club, we were on a decent run, top of the league & have already put ten goals past them this season. An easy 3 points for us then..
Team news? Well. The big news was that Thorne was out for at least a couple of weeks. The Returning Messiah has proved how important he is to this team in the last 2 games but surely we have enough ability in the squad to compete in this league without him? At least Albentosa was on the bench but are we ever going to see him start? He was our great hope for sorting out the defence. A commanding centre half at last. And then he left his insoles in Madrid.
Let’s start with some positives. The aforementioned £5.80 beer was top quality. E, Spicy Kev & the Witch had a nice little stroll along the river before the game. The atmosphere in the away end (before the game at least) was electric. We had a good first 5 minutes, attacking fluidly. Bent screwed a shot wide. A good start.
That was it. Fulham, massively up for this game, were quicker than us to every ball. They harried & pressed, played some great football and were basically better than us in every way. Ruiz &, in particular, Scott Parker, bossed the midfield & our lightweight central threesome just couldn’t cope.
Mascarell tried his best, at least. But despite knocking the ball around well at times, he was wayward in a lot of his passing & bypassed or knocked off the ball too often. Hendrick returned to those anonymous performances we’d been used too before his recent resurgence. Hughes? Was this a game too far for him? Parker just brushed him aside for that 2nd goal.
Our defence? As hesitant & as fragile as usual, seemingly all at sea due to the lack of a shield in front of them. Yes, Christie had a shocker in the 1st half but was sticking Bucko in central defence & moving Shotton out to right back really going to help us recover from 2 nil down?
There are problems too with our wide forwards. Clearly one footed, both Ince & Lingard were found out by the Fulham defence within minutes. Stick a couple of defenders on them & shepherd them inside where even more defenders are waiting for them. Easy. I don’t recall either of them trying to beat their full back & get to the byline all game.
Up front? Yes, we’re missing Martin. But that doesn’t explain the colossal lack of professionalism from the whole team in this game. Bent contributed little & limped of with what was clearly a hamstring strain. We went all continental with Russell plowing a lone furrow up front. Not particularly effective.
Anyway, near the end, things perked up slightly in the away end as we came to the realisation that Boro had lost & plucky little Bournemouth were drawing. We were still top. Not sure I can see that lasting long if we have many more games like this.
£5.80 for a pint. Seriously.