The View from South Texas -- FFC v. Wolves

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by HatterDon, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    Of Febreze and Mariano Duncan

    There I was, all staked out in front of my computer, six minutes into the match when the other half of the now-defunct Tim and Bob Show arrived with food and good companionship designed to help me recover from my latest medical adventure. Having finally watched this season’s iteration of Fulham enough to be able to write a coherent View, I was saddened to pass up the opportunity to write MY first match report of the season. About three hours later I remembered that ESPN3 has a replay option. There it was, waiting for me like a faithful four-legged friend, the match from the beginning!

    And what a match. It didn’t take me more than a few minutes to recognize that this is NOT Mick McCarthy’s Wolverhampton Wanderers. This is a footballing side with disciplined and committed players executing a brilliant game plan. Two things are required to beat Fulham in the mood we’re now in: recognition of opportunities to counter-attack with speed, and a disciplined front line to execute those attacks. Wolves had an abundance of the former and, for the entire first half, a complete absence of the latter. Each time they counter-attacked there was either an offsides call, a failure to anticipate a pass, or a clumsy turn in possession. Tim Ream and the rest of the back four were hardly troubled in the first 45 minutes.

    The second half gave us all a glimpse at the brilliant attacking side that is this season’s Wolves. The Putney End was under coherent, coordinated attack for the last 45. Of course, Fulham still were on the pitch, and Wolves excellent football gained them nothing.

    Fulham were solid from the beginning, attacking with the width that they missed so much early in the season. Targett, Kalas, Ream, and Fredericks handled everything that came their way, ably assisted by McDonald at the front and Bettinelli at the rear. The midfield worked well with both the attack and the defense – something I’d been missing earlier in the season when Fulham often looked like 11 very talented individuals who had only met that morning. Those days are gone. Jokanovic has the squad he wants now, and they’re all playing his style of football.

    The two goals were an absolute joy. The first was a typical goal for our teenaged predator Ryan Sessegnon. Aleksander Mitrovic outmuscled his defender and fired low at Ruddy’s feet. The Wolves keeper pushed it a foot or so away, and Sess came roaring in to put it in the net. 1-0 at the half, and a great relief for me. Too often we’ve seen Fulham dominate a first half and get nothing from it.

    The second goal was a Mitrovic special, and it caused me to rise to my feet and cheer. Once again, dominating his marker physically, he turned and fired low into the right corner of the goal. 2-0 and the game was basically over. Later, in minute 89, Mitrovic found himself in front of goal with players on either side who could have taken his pass and run to the corner. Not gonna happen. Again he shifted the ball to his right foot and hammered toward goal. I yelled at my computer, “He’s a shooter; let him shoot!”

    Given a total of 18 inches to the left, the score could easily have been 2-0 at half time and 4-0 at the final whistle as the result of Johanson’s probing shots from outside the box. It would have left me with a dilemma had either gone it, though. I thought Johanson was our least effective player overall, but a goal or two from him and he might have been HatterDon’s Man of the Match.

    Who was? Well, I gave a lot of thought to Tim Ream who broke up attack after attack and seldom put a foot wrong, but he was overshadowed by a complete performance from Ryan Fredericks. And then there was our teenagers 8th goal of 2018 – a number only excelled in all of England’s four top leagues by Sergio Aguero. Finally, I decided to give the award to Mitrovich. He showed me the #9 leadership, strength, will, and execution we haven’t seen at Craven Cottage since Bobby Zamora was sent packing. Well done, good sir, and well done everyone.

    We have several tough matches to come, but I believe that in the end we’ll be promoted along with Wolves. I also believe that the first purchase they will make will be a goalkeeper.

    And then there’s the shirt. Today, I donned my Cauley Woodrow top for the 8th match running. I swore from the start that I’d not wash it until we lost. My other Fulham shirts are disgusted every time Cauley returns to the closet, and my Febreze supply is dwindling as I write this.

    What’s next? Well, to quote former New York Yankee Mariano Duncan, “We play tomorrow, we win tomorrow, no problem.” After all, we got the team, the boss, and THE SHIRT.
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