Heather I wish had that power, but had I picked Fulham I'd have just been wrong like everyone else.
As for the match, poor, poor, poor, poor, poor.
For the 2nd consecutive match, despite no bust-up with the manager
, we were back in our old 4-4-2 with the wingers inverted. Stoke played a high line and were aggressive in closing down the man on the ball and we had no answers. The break clearly had an effect, as most of our passes were off and first touches were clumsy. That just played into Stoke's hands and they dominated possession. Despite that, I thought we had a slight edge on the chances in the first half. However only two looked remotely close to scoring; Zamora's header and Pennant's give-n-go with Crouch.
The second half saw more of the same from Fulham with Dempsey getting our first and only shot on target in stoppage time. We had a bit of a run where Dempsey earned a number of free kicks, but outside of Riise's post rattler, the shots and deliveries from those were poor. As the match wore on, it seemed we resorted to more and more long balls. Stoke meanwhile, menaced from corners, free kicks and Delap throw-ins. Schwarzer got away with some blunders early, but paid for being out of position on the first goal. Baird and Riise combined to lose their focus on back to back plays to concede the second.
All in all, Stoke outplayed us, out-hustled us, and Pulis out-coached Jol. Ironically we out-Stoked Stoke. We were carelessly physical and hoofed pointless off-target balls over the top ad nauseam.
A couple of thoughts:
Martin Atkinson handed out yellow cards like it was Christmas. I don't think they were all necessary, but it's a judgement call and you could argue he was trying to keep us from getting out of control with it (that didn't work, btw).
If Zamora didn't play for Fulham, I'd probably despise him. When he isn't flying high with confidence (which isn't all that often), he whines and complains far too much. His little counting gesture is bush and he's devoid of mental toughness. He essentially checked out in the 2nd half after he didn't get a few calls his way in the first. I have no clue what Jol was thinking subbing AJ for Sa. Zamora should have been the one lifted...and much earlier.
I also thought the Murphy sub was a bit late. He was laboring to keep up defensively once Stoke had us under consistant pressure and there were gaping holes in the middle as a result. He did bail Mark out on the one set piece, but anyone staying home in near post defense would have made that stop. I'd have to look at the match reports, but it seems like Danny loses the plot a couple of times a game and has earned a yellow in most of them and today was no different. Usually, the problem with subbing Murph is the vital role he plays in the offense. Today, he looked as off as everyone else in that capacity, so getting him out for better defense in the hopes of nicking a point on the road probably should have been the priority.
While he's pacy, caused us plenty of trouble and earned some of the fouls, Jermanine Pennant is softer than a cloud.
Football is not
that complicated a game. The tactics and strategies that we've employed the last few years are effective and fit our squad. Yet we seem to be getting away from those more often than not under Jol. Hopefully we get that sorted.
MotM: Delap. He caused all sorts of problems on throw-ins, scored the 2nd goal and took a number of chances from the middle. Fulham MotM: Dempsey. However, no one in black had a particularly good match.
Is it just me, or does anyone else hate Fox's new pop-up stat boxes? They're too big, they're poorly located and they put them up at the most inopportune times. During the replay? Really Fox?
Hope that one was just rust and we get our form back Thursday. COYW!