Well, That Was More Like It -- The View From South Texas -- FFC v. WBA

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by HatterDon, Sep 14, 2013.

  1. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Location:
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    Both Martin Jol and Steve Clarke described today’s match as “must win.” So, naturally, it wound up a draw. Both sides worked hard and, although Fulham were certainly the more unlucky in front of goal, a draw was a fair result over the run of play.

    Fulham fielded a side filled with potential scapegoats: Richardson, Ruiz, Berbatov, Sidwell, and Arch Scapegoat Senderos. West Brom decided to keep their main danger man on the sub’s bench and so the answer to the big question in the run-up to the match, “Who will have to mark Sinclair?” turned out to be “Clarke” – for at least the first hour or so. Victor Anichebe did feature and, for the first half, engaged in a very entertaining duel with Philippe Senderos.

    Last season, Steve Clarke was the only manager in the Premier League who didn’t know that the way to stifle Fulham was to pressure our slow attackers and stop us from turning. As a result, we got six points from them that a better organized Albion might have kept for themselves. Today, Clarke’s side looked a bit more proactive, and there was a right battle up and down the pitch for 90+ minutes.

    Fulham featured a starting XI that included Kacaniklic and Kasami, with both Ruiz and Berbatov in “creative attacking roles.” In other words, Fulham fielded a 4-6-0 at home. Unlike previous weeks however, Berbatov spent most of his time closer to the opposing keeper than to his own, and his presence, along with Kasami’s strength and aggression made Fulham a difficult side to contain. Special K was either thrilling or invisible throughout the match, but he was involved in most of the good things Fulham did in attack. In the 22nd minute, Fulham won a corner after a neat overlap by Richardson. Kacaniklic took the corner and with a leaping, twisting header, Senderos put the ball in Steve Sidwell’s reach, and the English midfielder’s poise in front of goal rewarded Fulham’s desperate supporters. 1-0 was a fair result, and it was heartening seeing the club immediately go for a second. Berbatov put the ball in the net twice more but was ruled offside on each occasion – one of them as close a call as you’re likely to see.

    In the second half, Anichebe’s all out wrestling match with Senderos was interrupted when the Nigerian giant moved over to confront Hangeland. He easily rolled Fulham’s captain but fired a weak strike that Stockdale handled somewhat less than comfortably. That was the closest West Brom had come to a convincing chance. Everything changed, though, when West Brom brought on Sinclair and McAuley in the 63rd minute. Jol had just taken off a tiring Richardson for Amorebieta [the first ever Venezuelan in the Premier League according to the International Feed’s announcers], when Sinclair came on and immediately pressured our left back playing centre half.

    From this point on, West Brom looked the team most likely. And so it was a surprise, really, when – on a top quality counter attack – several Fulham players contrived to get the ball to Bryan Ruiz’s feet inside the Albion penalty area. Ruiz collected himself and lofted a gorgeous ball that rebounded off the cross bar and out. Two seconds later, Fulham had the ball in the net courtesy of Rodallega [who had come in for Berbatov] but AGAIN the goal was disallowed for offside. I saw the replay three times; perhaps a fourth will convince me that SOMEBODY in Fulham colors was offside on that play. Never mind. Stockdale, after an uncertain performance, delivered a spectacular save and, after a scary looking injury for Fulham’s Costa Rican creator, the 90 minutes were well up.

    Then came extra time – six minutes of it. West Brom were pouring it on and, after Fulham conceded a corner, Brunt found Gareth McAuley haring into the penalty area. The Albion sub beat Hangeland to the ball and headed past the Fulham defense into the net. The increased quality and creativity that West Brom showed after the double substitution of Sinclair and McAuley was rewarded.

    Interestingly, after West Brom’s first goal of the season – two minutes into injury time of their FOURTH match – the visitors were the hungrier to get the decider. But that never came. Points shared, and it’s hard to argue that it’s an unfair result – even with the three disallowed Fulham “goals.”

    Who looked good? Well, most everybody in white. Senderos had an excellent match in the main and mastered Anichebe. Riether did very well in defense and in attack. Ruiz was 75% wonderful and 25% rubbish. I still would like to see him in the role he plays for Costa Rica – a classic #10 pulling the strings – but that’s not going to happen. I thought Berbatov had his best match for us, and despite his tendency to wander into irrelevant positions, Kacaniklic gives us a dimension we have lacked without Dejagah in the side – someone who will turn upfield with pace and menace. Kasami was somewhat uneven, but with an attack that is as languid and passive as Fulham’s, he really needs to be up there – especially if we’re not going to play Taarabt. For Albion, the guy that caught my eye was Morgan Amalfitano. His play on the right nicely balances Brunt’s on the left. Once he’s gotten his Premiership legs, West Brom could give a lot of sides a lot of trouble.

    Yes, Fulham dropped two points in injury time. Yes, we gave up the first goal Albion scored this season. Yes we still give up more shots on goal than any other Premier League side. But I still think today’s performance was “more like it.” We defended the fortress for the most part; we attacked early and often. We played with conviction and, occasionally, some pace. I was pleased to see the way we played the damn game, okay?

    HatterDon’s Man of the Match is Scott Parker. I believe we have our Danny Murphy replacement, and – if we play in the manner we played today – I think he’ll be good enough to keep us out of trouble this year.

    Who’s next? Who cares? Our home losing streak is over!

    Link to article
     
    #1
  2. BarryWhite

    BarryWhite Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2011
    Location:
    Newburgh, IN
    Re: Well, That Was More Like It -- The View From South Texas

    Fulham had two shots on goal at home against West Brom and at least one of those was from a corner. West Brom gave us more room and time on the ball but in the end what did Fulham really do with it? Nothing truly effective. I saw the same problems in a prettier package.
     
    #2
  3. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Location:
    Alamo City, Texas
    Re: Well, That Was More Like It -- The View From South Texas

    When you're starving to death, a can of spam can look pretty dang good. It's not, but that's what perspective does to you. So either Don really likes spam (he is a former military man of the canned meat era) or he's just so desperate for something positive that this effort looked good.

    I can't disagree with that too much. Spam is crap, but I found myself enjoying this effort quite a bit more...but only by comparison to everything we've seen recently. It still wasn't good though and we will get relegated playing this way. You can't split points at home with the bottom teams in the league. Not unless you can take scalps off the big boys and there's no indication we can do that. And for all of our increased attack, it didn't generate more actual chances. We managed more shots off target and that's not a bad thing, but 2 on target isn't good enough.

    We started off ok on offense. We were in a 4-2-3-1 and had some good rotation between the 3 attack mids (Kaca, Kasami & Ruiz). That and movement from the striker are what you need with that offense to confuse the marking assignments and generate a good attack. But it didn't take long for the movement to slow, the rotation to cease, and the 4-2-3-1 to turn into a less aggressive 4-4-1-1. You can always tell when our attack is going to crap out. Instead of forward runs, you'll see the front 4 attackers slowly jogging side to side in a sweeping motion following the side to side movement of the ball between the cm's (Parker & Sid). When Kasami started retreating we were in a 4-5-1 and trying to get back ahead of the WBA counters.

    I agree with Don that Kasami and Kaca had some good moments in attack. But they produce very little in the final 3rd and offered little creativity. Part of that is on them, but part of that is on Berbatov.

    Disagree about this being his best match. No goals, no assists, his offsides erased 2 efforts and he mustered a paltry 1 shot on target (from 3). On the first offside, the back line was about 6 yds from the goal...and he was 3 yds offside. He didn't make many runs for them and didn't show for the ball well either. And he slowed a number of our attacks with poor passes behind runners that they had to reach back to stop and then take a couple of touches to get going again. If they'd played balls to him like that, he'd have been flailing his arms about so much you'd think he might lift off the ground and take flight. He rec'd a beautiful pass from Ruiz, attempted a very difficult shot and put it over and he played a nice one touch pass to an oncharging Kaca at one point. He did stay forward more and he was only offside twice. Guess we should give him a cookie for that.

    I think 75% wonderful for Ruiz is probably a little high, but then I'm probably letting the fact that he played every single corner he took right to the first guy in red & black skew my opinion. Or maybe it's the use of the word wonderful. He did have more shots (4), but missing the target on all of them, especially the one inside the box, takes the shine off of that a bit. He turned it over less, particularly in our own end and he was an asset defensively. Certainly not a bad effort from Ruiz, especially after a midweek match in CR. Hopefully the injury from rolling his ankle isn't too severe.

    Sidwell and Parker are still an accident waiting to happen. The Ginga Ninja had 3 shots and got the goal, putting him into a share of the lead for FFC top scorer, and Parker looked more in control of the offense. He played more balls into the final 3rd than anyone on the team. However, they played far too much sideways football and that negated the extra forward balls b/c the defense were back and set. There's also the problem of them both getting forward and as a result, they expose the back. Kasami had 5 tackles. Ruiz had 4. Sid and Parker...combined for 3. Kasami won the ball back 12 times. Ruiz 10. Sid and Parker...combined for 9. Don't ask about Kaca, you can count all of his defensive contributions combined on one hand and have fingers to spare. The point is, if we were defending aggressively high up the pitch, that might account for the disparity. But we aren't. And if we're going to judge a pair of cm's (or cdm's) then defense and protecting the back four has to come into account. Jol isn't doing either player any favors in his selections, but regardless, they have to team up to provide more resistance. We are too soft in the middle and better teams than WBA (who sported a very defensive pairing in Mulumbu and Yacob) will make us pay. Once WBA put Morrison on for Yacob, you saw how the match turned. Is Parker MotM? Not in my book and not unless you think Sidwell should have been the stay at home guy or you think defense is optional.

    When I saw WBA start Anichebe, I was actually happy to see Senderos out there and I agree with Don, he gave a good account of himself. He struggled more with Anelka, but you'll give up shots in the Prem (unless you play Fulham) and Stockdale cleaned them up. He also won the aerial ball from Kaca's corner (getting him an assist) which Sidwell then fired into the back of the net. If you're looking for MotM, Phil would be my choice.

    Stockdale would be another contender. He made 2 key saves that kept this from going the wrong way and his distribution was fine. Wish he'd target Ruiz a little less as Bryan loses more aerial battles than he wins, but that failure isn't on the keeper. There aren't many good aerial options in our midfield.

    Riether would be another candidate. He defended his flank well and he played almost as much of a qb role on offense as Parker (9 balls into the final 3rd and 7 crosses).

    Kasami would have been my 4th candidate, and with a more inspired Berbatov or another striker, like a healthy Bent, he might have won it going away. The kid was good on the defensive end. On the offensive end, he's a bit like Ruiz. How much of his shortcomings are his own and how much is it the system and his cohorts? You really can argue it either way. The only thing stopping me saying he's MotM is that he didn't directly affect the outcome either way.

    Richardson defended well prior to limping off. Hopefully the recovering hamstring was starting to bother him and he was taken off before re-injuring it. He was a definite upgrade over Riise.

    While some fingers have pointed Hangeland's way, I don't think it's merited. He got turned by Anichebe and Stockdale made the save, no big deal. We can point to him on the corner, but think about this. We watched the US v Mexico the other night. The US had Dempsey and EJ, two ball winners who can get up in the air in addition to our cb's to defend corners. Plus we had Jones who isn't bad in the air either. Fulham has....Hangeland and whoever partners him at cb. Maybe Sidwell. I won't be mistaking Steve in the air for Clint or EJ though. Point is, sure, it's easy to scapegoat the tallest guy, especially when he isn't overly mobile. But he's isn't being put in a good situation for success either, is he? You can point all over the pitch and find examples of guys not being put in a position to succeed.

    And that's the rub. Attacked more, yes. Created more chances, no. Had more possession, yes. Did anything useful with it, not really. Ended our home losing streak, yes. Ended our winless streak at the Cottage, nope. Even when we do improve, we don't. That's life under Jol. But hey, it looked better and that is an improvement. Kinda.

    Oh, and please, for the love of all things holy, can someone, anyone, make a f'g back post run?!? Left another 2 goals on the table yesterday b/c no one will do this at Fulham anymore.
     
    #3
  4. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Location:
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    Re: Well, That Was More Like It -- The View From South Texas

    So, which match this season WAS Berbatov's best so far, Matt?
     
    #4
  5. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Location:
    Alamo City, Texas
    Re: Well, That Was More Like It -- The View From South Texas

    Burton Albion? You didn't say this season. I guess I should have assumed that.

    With where he's set the bar to date (this season) you can probably cut and paste that best game statement into the next several VFST's.
     
    #5
  6. BarryWhite

    BarryWhite Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2011
    Location:
    Newburgh, IN
    Re: Well, That Was More Like It -- The View From South Texas

    Does the Celtic charity match count?
     
    #6
  7. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2006
    Location:
    Walnut, CA
    Re: Well, That Was More Like It -- The View From South Texas

    Watched it unusual circumstances; which included pints at 7 am, conversation w/Fulham faithful (so not 100% glued to the TV), and most importantly watching the match, but with the volume of the Arse-Sunderland game. The 2 shots on goal is a little bit misleading. The Berba miss over the bar, his offside (the second half one) goal was questionable, and the disallowed goal by Hugo all don't count as shots on target. The ref should of overruled the lineman who didn't have the proper angle on where Sidders' was in relation to the play. That counts and it's 2-0, done and dusted.
     
    #7
  8. Clevelandmo

    Clevelandmo Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Re: Well, That Was More Like It -- The View From South Texas

    Thanks for the reports. I had no way of watching this match so the accounts from you all are much appreciated. My husband seemed to think Hangeland should've done on the WBA goal. Next week I should be able to watch.
     
    #8
  9. BarryWhite

    BarryWhite Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2011
    Location:
    Newburgh, IN
    Re: Well, That Was More Like It -- The View From South Texas

    I don't mean to bust your bubble but Hugo's goal was properly disallowed. Sidwell was in an offside position when Ruiz struck his shot which rebounded directly to him for the headed pass to Hugo. Since no other player touched the ball Sidwell remained offside regardless of the number of defenders that tracked back between him and the goal after Ruiz hit the ball. It is the equivalent of returning from an offside position to play the ball.

    Berba's second offside call may have been close but on another day Senderos earns a PK and perhaps red card for his foul on Anelka. A draw was a fair result on the day as Fulham was better side in the first half and WBA were better in the second. WBA's goal was a long time in coming but the final score was not unfair to either side.
     
    #9
  10. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Location:
    Alamo City, Texas
    Re: Well, That Was More Like It -- The View From South Texas

    When Fulham decide to field a competitive horseshoes or handgrenades team we should be in good shape then. :)

    I don't think the shots on target are misleading at all. Does it matter if you miss the net by 1" or 10'? Neither count as a goal. Disagree on both offside calls as well. I think the official got both calls correct. The 2nd was very close, but that's going to happen in every match to every team. We have to do better, especially at home, especially against a team with a lower payroll and quite arguably less talent than we have.

    I'm tiring quickly of "we were unlucky". Then let's quit leaving our decisions to luck every match, yeah?

    Glad you boys had a good time out. I love the chat room and every match being on tv, but there's nothing like getting together with other Fulham fans for a match or to just talk football. I'm glad I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do that regularly.
     
    #10
  11. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2006
    Location:
    Walnut, CA
    Re: Well, That Was More Like It -- The View From South Texas


    Thanks for the explanation Barry, I didn't think it was Sidwell who headed it (thought it was Kasami, didn't have the commentary for the match). An inch lower and Ruiz' shot would have rebounded over the line instead of on it. You're right Senderos could have easily been called for a pk. While it was far from a dominating performance, and not an unfair result, when the team concedes a goal in second half stoppage (especially at home) I'm going to feel it was 2 point throw away.
     
    #11
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