Martin Jol is turning Fulham into the kings of “We shoulda won…but we didn’t.” Since Fulham’s pretty promising start in the early rounds of the Europa League, Fulham has floundered. Their home form has escaped them. Their goalscoring ability has escaped them. Since the Premier League season started on August 13, Fulham has 1 win, 3 draws, and 3 losses in all competitions. Worst of all, they have 3 draws in their 4 home matches, where they are usually strong. And their 3 away matches since then have all ended in disappointing losses, totaling 1 goal in those 3 matches. It’s been a really rough stretch, filled with uncharacteristic mistakes, disasterous misses, and head-scratching managerial moves. Today was no different. If not for the awful mistake by Tiendalli in the 19th minute that Andy Johnson capitalized on, Fulham may have actually lost 1-0 despite controlling most of the match, including almost all of the 1st half.
Zdenek Grygera – The defender making his Fulham debut showed he’s obviously not the best attacking defender of all-time, but he was very very solid on defense, which is obviously his main job. There were many times that I remember thinking, “wow thank god Grygera’s there or that could have been a lot worse.”
Moussa Dembele – EVERYONE STOP THE PRESSES. HOLD THE PHONES. MOUSSA DEMBELE TOOK A SHOT!! I don’t believe my eyes! It was an awful shot from about 32 meters out on the left side…..but it was a shot! In all seriousness though, Dembele not only showcased his incredible dribbiling skills on multiple occasions, but the important part is he wasn’t as gunshy. There were a few moments where I thought he could have shot, but most of em were scrums that were difficult to really get a good touch anyways. He played very well in place of Ruiz and Zamora.
Mark Schwarzer – The defense was once again off its game tonight, and if it weren’t for Schwarzer, who made a bunch of solid saves (nothing spectacular but he did everything he could this match), Fulham may have conceded more than just one goal. There was nothing Mark could do on the lone goal by Twente, as he was falling one direction off the first header, only to be caught on the 2nd header. It was a central defensive lapse.
Brede Hangeland – Is it just me, or does it seem like Hangeland plays awful when he doesn’t have Aaron Hughes as his CB partner? Baird missed an assignment on the first de Jong header that Schwarzer saved, and Hangeland missed his assignment on the goal. I’m sorry, but when you’re 6 foot a thousand, you should NEVER give an opponent a free header in your zone. Brede has no excuse.
Fulham’s fair play – What’s with all these silly yellows? Danny Murphy picked up a stupid one, so did Dempsey, and finally Senderos, whose yellow came literally 3 minutes after coming on. Speaking of Senderos coming on……
Martin Jol – Are you serious Jol? I was a fan of subbing AJ out, as his good play was quickly disentigrating. I was happy bringing in Duff, even with Kasami having another quality match of his young Fulham career. But then you bring in a defender at the 80th minute of a 1-1 match at home that you should be winning, and you have Orlando Sa, a young striker from Porto on the bench? Do you WANT to win? Or are you playing for a draw? Because that’s what it looks like. One twitter follower tweeted at me and said it seems like Jol scripts his substitutions the night before, and you know what? I can definitely see that. It’s really frustrating. Off the pitch in the transfer window Jol has excelled, making this squad much better. But on the pitch so far in his short stint at Fulham, he has severely disappointed me and a lot of other Fulham fans.
Hats off to: I got two here. First, Twente’s defender Douglas played an outstanding match. It’s funny, I bought him in my Fulham FIFA 10 franchise and he was an absolute beast in the middle, and he showed me today why he’s like that in real life as well. Guy played a great match in a game that a draw for his club is a great result. Also, hats off to Twente manager Co Adriaanse, who managed an impressive draw without bringing all 11 guys back like Steve Kean did on Sunday for the last 20 minutes of the match. In fact, it was Twente who had the best chances to go ahead in the last 10 minutes of the match.
Tonight’s facepalm moment: When Andy Johnson banged the ball into the goalkeeper’s chest from about 3 meters out completely wide open. Need I say more?
Where does Fulham go from here?: You know what? I don’t know. Martin Jol needs to use his club to its strengths, which he hasn’t done in a while. I don’t mind him experimenting a bit with what he has, but when it consistently gives negative results, continuing to make the same mistakes has no excuse. Aaron Hughes is not a right back. We’ve seen examples of this plenty, there is no other reason to put him there. Bringing in a defender in the 80th minute of a tie game at home makes no sense. He needs to play to his club’s strengths, otherwise Fulham is in some deep trouble.
All in all, this result isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be. In fact, they took 1 point from the technically top team in the group. But it’s the accumulation of disappointing results over the past few weeks that’s making me feel this way. Bottom line, Fulham should have won this match. But….they didn’t.
“It was the same story. Again we were the better team, but when you don’t score after that kind of pressure it’s always disappointing. To draw at home again is disappointing – especially when you see the quality of the players we have up front. I feel, especially at home, that we need to take the game to the opposition and score goals, which is what we tried to do. We played good football in the first half, but in the second we tried to force the issue and that left space at the back for them to counter attack.”
This bullcrap isn’t gonna help either:
“I felt that we couldn’t do more than we did the first half. Everything went well, we were pressing at the right times and we scored a goal. We were playing good football though in the second half it was different. We tried to force the issue and we gave them space to hit us on the break, which they did a couple of times. If you don’t score goals easily enough, you have to try and keep your shape.”
“Three home matches and three draws and I have to say that we were the better team every time.”
How about you stop giving us shoulder shrugs and start giving us wins? I hate to be so harsh this early but it’s frustrating.
Final note: the Twente goal was counted as an own goal against Mark Schwarzer, which is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard (aside from Ruiz not being able to play in Europe of course). That was a beautiful header that just happened to tip off of Schwarzer, who was off-balance from the header assist before it. There was nothing Schwarzer could do. For those who didn’t watch the match, it wasn’t an own goal, so don’t be fooled.