Debunking the Myth - Strongest Fulham Side

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by AggieMatt, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Alamo City, Texas
    If you read the various blogs and forums across the Fulham universe, you'll see "this is the strongest Fulham side we've had" quite often. Much like in politics, sometimes a statement is made over and over enough that it begins to take root as fact. I submit that's the case here. On paper, yeah, it probably should be. However, upon closer inspection, when you factor in age and production, maybe it really isn't. While the differences in approach to offense muddies the comparison, I submit that Mark Hughes' 2010-2011 side was the better one. Lets take a look at it position by position.

    GK - Schwarzer (Stockdale) v Stekelenburg (Stockdale) - Despite his distribution issues, I give the edge to Schwarzer. Mark posted 11 clean sheets and 94 saves in 31 starts. Due to injury, we only have one game from Stekelenburg to draw an opinion. His highest clean sheet total at Roma was 7 in 29 starts. ADV - Schwarzer

    RB - Paintsil/Baird v Riether - Baird had 25 starts in various positions, but mostly at rb. Paintsil started 10 matches. Regardless, I don't think this one is close. ADV - Riether

    CB - Hangeland/Hughes v Hangeland/Hughes/Amorebieta - I don't think any combination of cb's from the current squad can trump the Thames Barrier in their prime. In their prime, many argued they were better than some of the big 4's cb pairings. ADV - H&H 2010/11

    LB - Salcido v Riise/Richardson/Briggs - This one is interesting. If you want to call it a wash, I could accept that. Salcido was slated for his defense and inability to get back quickly. When you look at this group, maybe Richardson is better defensively? But he can't stay healthy. Offensively, Salcido had one of the best crosses I've ever seen from a Fulham fb. So for me, it's: ADV - Salcido

    RM - Duff/Davies v Dejagah/Ruiz/Duff - I'm going to include Bryan at rm since that's where he's playing when Bent and Berba both start. Dejagah has gotten a lot of praise for his ability to link with Riether and push the attack. However, for all his effort, he's got 0 goals and 1 assist to show for it. Ruiz has been awol when deployed on the right. Duff has offered little other than defensive cover of late. 2010/11 Damien Duff still had a little pace and was effective cutting in. In 22 starts, he had 4 goals and 2 assists. While Simon's 25 starts demonstrate that he didn't only play on the right, he made most of his appearances there and added 4 goals and 4 assists. Both had a far superior cross to Dejagah, both were better passers and Duff had a cannon for a shot. ADV - Duff/Davies

    LM - Dempsey v Taarabt/Kacaniklic - Dempsey's 12 goals and 3 assists in 35 starts make this a no contest. I think both Taarabt and Kaca have the potential to offer something similar to what Dempsey provided if given the same free role, in time. But there's nothing to suggest they are there yet. Taarabt has 7 goals in 51 Prem starts. ADV - Dempsey

    CM - Murphy/Etuhu v Parker/Sidwell/Boateng - This one is tough b/c it's early days for judging Parker and Boateng. From what I've seen, Boateng is no better at busting up the opposition attack than Etuhu. Whether he contributes more offensively remains to be seen. Dickson did notch 2 goals and 2 assists that year. Parker and Murphy are both expected to qb the offense and provide leadership. Murphy did it by spraying passes all over the park while Parker is more of an engine and will push the ball forward through runs and shorter passing. I thought Parker would be the better defender & more mobile, but so far that hasn't been the case. There are too many unknowns to make a solid call, imo, but due to Murphy's invaluable leadership, I'm going with: ADV - Murphy/Etuhu. If you didn't want to lump the cm's together, I wouldn't argue a split decision.

    ST - Dembele/AJ/Zamora/Gera v Berbatov/Bent/Ruiz - On paper this should be a no-brainer. Bent and Berbatov have scored more goals than the other collection by a wide margin at other stops and Berbatov tallied 15 for us last season. Bent already has 1 in 3 appearances. Our inability to get the ball forward will likely hamper their totals this year though. Ruiz has been at this best for Fulham as a #10, but has struggled when partnering Berbatov at times. He did manage 5 goals and 7 assists last year though. The question for the current strike force is how Jol is going to deploy them. As for the other group, Dembele had yet to be converted to a cm and as a cf he scored 3 goals with 3 assists in 22 starts. AJ had 15 starts and came on 12 times as a sub as he recovered from injury. He added another 3 goals and 3 assists. Zoltan was better known for his successes in Europe and the cups, but he added another goal and assist. The interesting part of this is Zamora. Bobby entered 2010/11 in excellent form but saw his season derailed by injury. In just 9 starts and 5 subs, he notched an impressive 5 goals and 5 assists. His holdup play was vital for Fulham when he was in form. Had he stayed healthy that season, this could have been a much more compelling comparison. We don't know if Berbatov or Bent will have injury issues and even though I think perceptions of both live on past laurels to a point, I'm still going with: ADV- Berbatov/Bent.

    So that's 8-3 in favor of Hughes' 2010-11 team. I feel it was the better one, not only from an individual talent perspective, but moreso from a team perspective. It certainly benefitted from a better style of play.
  2. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2006
    Walnut, CA
    Great stuff Matt, hard to argue any of those.

    Personally I thought Salcido was a helluva lot better than given credit for. On the pitch he was adjusting to the Prem, and kept getting better. It's too bad that off the pitch his english experience was awful (multiple house break-ins most notably).

    The midfield combo is an interesting one. The captain was brilliant at the Cottage, but his legs started showing their age away from home. I would give the advantage to both Sidders and Boateng over Dickson. Let's see how it plays out w/Parker & whoever.

    One thing indisputable was the style of play was infinitely better than what we've seen so far
  3. BarryWhite

    BarryWhite Well-Known Member

    Sep 24, 2011
    Newburgh, IN
    My one and only quibble is it may be a bit early for such comparisons but I do agree with your line of thinking. Until they are unseated I will continue to believe that Hughes team was as good as I have seen.
  4. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Alamo City, Texas
    Completely agree with you Barry. I only brought it up b/c I've seen it so many times it got me to thinking. I have a bad habit of that...questioning things I hear. But it was a fun exercise and a chance to take a trip down memory lane to better times for FFC.

    While I'm at it, I'd submit that Jol's 2011-12 team was probably better as well. But again, too early to call.

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