Just a week ago, this was 4-1. Just a week ago, it looked like it was 22-on-11, it looked like nobody cared, it looked like 11 players rather than 1 team.
A week after the most boring 4-1 match in history, we had the most exciting 1-0 match in history. 5 posts hit in the first half. 32 shots overall. 49 crosses overall. 13 corners. What a game.
The creativity – I put this here because no one single person stood out to me. At any point, new players stepped up to make fantastic passes or runs. Ashkan Dejagah was a joy to watch, although he needs to improve on his first touch. Bryan Ruiz’s passing was poor in the first half, but he played so much better in the second and was a key player in the crazy charge in the final minutes. Damien Duff also reappeared in the second half. Hugo Rodallega ran things from the front, and made some fantastic cutting passes in the box and just outside it. Sascha Riether played a key role on the right, especially after Rooney scored. Urby Emanuelson came on in the 68th minute and showed his pinpoint long passing. Nobody stood out to me, but everyone certainly contributed. Just ask Sir Alex Ferguson:
“I think it was really determined performance. It wasn’t easy because Fulham played their part”
Sascha Riether – Once again, the man stood out in defense. Many are saying he’s our clear-cut player of the year, and I can’t disagree. A must-buy for Jol after the season.
Chris Baird – Also fantastic defensively in the midfield, with Sidders out Baird filled in admirably. Happy he didn’t go to West Brom, yes? I know I am.
Mark Schwarzer – We’ve said here for a while that this may be Schwarzer’s last season as Fulham’s first choice keeper, and deservedly so. But today, he matched David De Gea in quality, as both were fantastic between the sticks. He made a ridiculous save inside the first 10 minutes, and kept up the performance the whole match.
Philippe Senderos – I honestly don’t have much to put here, so I have to single out the man who made the mistake that led to the goal. Maybe I’ve been too harsh on Senderos this season, but he’s flat out not good. He stayed too long under a header he had no chance of winning, and by the time he realized he’d been beaten, it was too late to recover, and Aaron Hughes was no match for Rooney that close to goal on his own. Brede Hangeland left at halftime, and I hope he’s ok because I don’t know how much more of Senderos I can take. He’s good off corners, that’s about it.
The lights -
Some of the best jokes on Twitter included MAF forgetting to pay the electric bill despite pulling the club out of debt, Peter Odemwingie trying to tunnel into Loftus Road and hitting a main, and blaming David De Gea because everything’s his fault anyways. Well done folks.
Man of the Match: This is tough for me, because like I said before, nobody really stood out to me. I would have gone with Hangeland because he was doing excellent at the back before getting injured. I’m going to go with Sascha Riether because he once again proves how valuable he is on the right, making tackle after tackle and providing lots on the attacking end as well.
What now?: This result was expected, just not in the way it happened. Of course it’s frustrating to not get anything from this match, but after last week, who honestly expected points here? It’s a great match to build from, and Martin Jol’s tactics were spot on. With the added players from the transfer window into the ranks, it’s promising looking ahead. We have Norwich away, Stoke home, Sunderland away in our next 3, and that’s a bit tougher of a stretch than it may sound off the bat given this team’s away record. However, if we can manage at least 5 points from those 3 fixtures and not lose, it will be a successful period to me ahead of back-to-back games against Chelsea and Tottenham.
Remember: No points were earned from this match. So the only way the valiant effort benefits us is if we build on it in the future. If we take a step backwards in the next few games, this effort is all for nothing. If we can build on this, it becomes a stepping stone and possibly a turning point in the season. That all depends on what the club does going forward. COME ON YOU WHITES!
Martin Jol postgame:
“According to Jol, Brede Hangeland’s Achillies tightened up, nothing to play around with. Said it’s not serious, but may miss a few weeks”
UPDATE: Jol also said Brede Hangeland’s achillies tightened up, and although it’s not serious, he may miss a few weeks. That’s a massive blow to a team with just 3 center backs on the roster, although Chris Baird can play back there in an emergency.