I’m not even going to do my normal postgame wrapup here. Clint Dempsey was awful and the defense was really freakin good. That’s all you need to know from the good and bad standpoint. There are more important things to get to here.
First of all, this was an awful game. One of the most boring, sloppy, just overall bad soccer matches I’ve ever watched. Fulham was bad and West Brom was even worse. It ended at midnight here, and I was falling asleep on multiple occasions.
Now that that’s out of the way, this is my thought process now that it’s over: there are two totally different schools of thought you can process this game in. And I don’t think either is wrong.
Reaction number 1: You can take this match completely by itself, apart from the rest of Fulham’s season, and taking into account the fact that Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson were sick, Damien Duff was out for “personal reasons,” and Fulham were playing away at a tough Hawthornes. If you look at the match that way, a 0-0 draw is a pretty good result. Were the Baggies beatable? Of course they were. They literally played like a League 2 side for the first half. But before the match, given the “injuries,” 0-0 is perfectly acceptable.
Reaction number 2: You can take this match in the context of the entire season, in which Fulham have failed to record a victory and are close to the bottom of the table. The form so far on the short season is 2 losses and 3 draws (3 losses and 5 draws since August 21 if you count the Europa League and Wednesday’s Carling Cup match), and Fulham have struggled scoring the ball all season long. If you look at the match this way, the first thought that should be running through your head is, “if we can’t score against a West Brom side that played like a high school team in the first half, who can we score against?” And that’s a very, very scary thought. In addition, given the comeback against Manchester City and the well-played match against Chelsea midweek, you would have thought Fulham would have exuded much more confidence in this match, but it appeared they had absolutely no cutting edge in the attacking third. Given all this, 0-0 is basically a failure of a result.
No matter how you look at it, the outlook isn’t very good. Fulham have scored 5 goals in their last 8 matches overall, including being shut out 4 times. They’ve lacked confidence in front of goal. More than that, I personally think the club as a whole completely lacks creativity in front of net. There is absolutely no creativity to speak of. And it doesn’t get any easier from here. The Cottagers are back home for only 2 of their next 6 matches, including those against an in-form QPR, and at a Stoke City team with one of the better defenses in the Premiership.
If you’re looking for a bright side from this West Brom fixture, there certainly was one. The defense was absolutely rock solid. Couldn’t have been any better. Mark Schwarzer capped it off with a few sparkling saves, but for the most part Zdenek Grygera continues to impress in his one-on-one skills, Brede Hangeland was once again, at least for one match, himself, Chris Baird looked like a natural center-back, and John Arne Riise was also solid. In that sense, Fulham was very very good.
But we knew they had a good defense. There are other options like Matthew Briggs and Stephen Kelly and Aaron Hughes that could have performed equally as well. The issue is scoring, and if you can’t score you can’t win, bottom line.
Finally, here’s my last rant of the day: if someone can explain to me why Martin Jol took out our captain, pitch leader, and most experienced player with 3 minutes to go in a winnable 0-0 match, maybe I’ll step down. But right now, what in hell is he thinking???? Just a disastrous move that may have sealed the draw for us in the end. It’s a “draws are ok” mindset that is killing this team. It continued to his postmatch presser:
“I think in the first half, you can’t play better than we did. With our possession, it looked like a home game for us to be honest. That was new for us. We controlled the game, and we had to. They had their first opportunity in probably the 64th minute, that says it all. We had all the possession. But you need to finish them off. I think we looked the better team.”
How many times have we heard that last sentence in the last few weeks? Apparently Martin Jol still hasn’t learned that “looking the better team” doesn’t get the team points. Wins do. And Fulham have zero of those things they call wins. I’m getting tired of his nonchalant attitude. The manager’s attitude is passed on to his team, and right now he’s passing on an attitude which is leading to a lack of a will to win in front of goal.
Hats off to: I’d like to take this moment to personally thank Peter Odemwingie, who was possibly the worst player on the pitch. He certainly assisted Fulham in getting at least a point out of this match. He gave the ball away over and over again, his crosses were just dreadful, and when he did take the time to shoot, they sailed over the bar.
Where does Fulham go from here?: Geez I don’t even know. Hopefully somewhere up. Maybe the Europa League fixture this week can give them some more confidence. Although if they didn’t have confidence from the last 2 matches, I don’t know where they’re gonna get it from.
I know this club will turn things around. I know it. There’s too much talent on the team, and quite frankly, Fulham are at the moment the most unlucky team in the Premier League without a doubt. They can’t catch a break. But it’s really, really, really frustrating to watch. I know this is basically the worst thing I can say, but at times, they’re resembling the 07-08 team.