With Chelsea coming up tomorrow, loyal Fulham’s Finest reader Nick Macnee takes a peek over Fulham’s shoulder at the results of the young season so far, and how it will affect the squad going forward.
After a disappointing late draw with Steve Clark’s West Bromwich Albion, boo’s were heard around the Cottage as Martin Jol’s Fulham walked back into the dressing rooms. Jol stated that he would like to confront the supporters who booed if he could. Were the boo boys right to do their act of chanting against their own team? Yes and No. Why yes, you say? Well, who wouldn’t be disappointed when your team concedes a later goal in a game you dominate in? Its how people keep their emotions in that defines us. However, while the late goal by Gareth Macauley may have been disappointing, as a whole it was not a bad performance…for the first half. Steve Sidwell improvised to score a half volley, lucky as it may have been, and we had 3 goals all ruled out for offside (correctly) unfortunately. Fulham haven’t been as productive as they were this stage last season, scoring 10 goals in their first 4 matches, compared to, well, 3 this season. Admittedly, there are many reasons why we scored so many last season and many why we haven’t this year.
Lets take a look at the positives so far from this start to the season. But before you say “what positives?” take a step back. Firstly, Pajtim Kasami. Kasami scored his first goal in Fulham colours in our scrappy win against Sunderland. His game has clearly stepped up, with his physical strength doing wonders for us so far. His versatility has also been key, playing behind the striker in the win against Sunderland and the right wing against Arsenal and West Brom, though this does give us the question of where the heck is Ashkan Dejagah, who has disappeared altogether it seems. Secondly… is there a secondly? I certainly don’t see one. Last season, one would say that Dimitar Berbatov was a positive. Certainly not this year, with no goals to his name yet. The big question still remains of why exactly was Bryan Ruiz signed, with only 7 goals and 14 assists going into his third year as a Fulham player, with loanee Adel Taarabt so far being a lot more impressive than Ruiz.
Performances have been poor. Very poor. There is just no other way to put it. The win against Sunderland was fortunate, with our only shot being Kasami’s header into the back of the net. The ever counter attacking machine of Arsenal made quick work of our slow defence, resulting in a very easy win for the Gunners. Lets not even get onto the beyond dreadful performance against Newcastle, where we were easily beaten by a dreadful team. And then came the international break and back to Craven Cottage, with us playing West Brom. While the performance against West Brom was certainly much improved, questions are still to be asked on why exactly we couldn’t kill an easy game off. Yes, we had three goals disallowed. But we had numerous chances to get that 2nd goal and win the game. The absence of Darren Bent can certainly be used as an excuse, and one I will accept, for the time being. Plenty of positives can be taken out of the game, like the fact that Philippe Senderos had a sort of good game for us and that Fernando Amorebieta got his debut looking very impressive at left back, despite his natural position being at the centre. Kasami was again, industrial as ever. Scott Parker was fighting as he always does. But there are also the negatives, and at this current time, the negatives certainly loom over the positives after the poor performances of the first couple of games.
Jol can be thankful that Shahid Khan wasn’t there, I don’t think that Mr Khan would have appreciated the boo’s at the end. Jol certainly knows that he is in the final year of his contract with Fulham and that if he wants to stay in his job, then he must deliver a top 10 finish or at the very least, as Mr Khan cited, “Improvement”. At the moment, that’s not looking too well for him so far. The property nowadays is young managers with lots of potential, with the rewards being reaped by teams such as Tottenham and Swansea, with Andre Villas Boas and Michael Laudrup respectively. Gus Poyet, free after his incorrect sacking at Brighton, is available. Jol knows that with a new owner, there is unlikely to be that much patience, with Khan quickly getting rid of the head coach of his NFL team after a horrible first season for his NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jol has to step it up quickly, or he could find himself wondering where it all went wrong for him at Fulham. The perfect way to do that? A win or draw at Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. But is that likely, especially after their loss to Everton? No. So it all comes down to Cardiff at the Cottage on the 27th. A loss there could certainly condemn Martin Jol to the job centre. Good luck, Martin. You’re going to need it.
And now we watch the vultures of Poyet, Rangnick and Murphy circle around Jol, waiting for a bite…