The headline says it all, really. Fulham opened the Championship season against the odds-on favorite to bounce right back up into the Premier League. And, although the Toon huffed and puffed, they never looked like disrupting the flow of Fulham’s new-look football.
The starting lineup included: (a) four players I’d never seen before, (b) three players I’d seen play before – but not for Fulham, and (c) four players I knew fairly well – three of whom I was thrilled to see in the starting lineup.
There’s a couple of things I noticed right away that made me smile. First of all, Fulham are playing wide – for the first time in a long time. FFC were spreading the opponent’s defense, attacking down the wings, and defending confidently along the touch lines. Second of all, this Fulham have pace – pace to burn really. How fast? When Christensen came on, he looked the slowest...
Yesterday's match was the fourth I've been able to watch this season, and the first since our new gaffer took over.
Oh, what the hell, why bother … sigh … .
Okay, I've gotten that out of my system. Since Slavisa Jokanovic took over, the team has changed in several ways: (1) We're playing a higher line in order to keep the pressure on our opponents, (2) We're dominating each match in terms of possession, (3) We've not been as susceptible to giving up goals on corner kicks, (4) There seems to be a better spirit in the squad, AND (5) Our lineup changes – sometimes drastically – from match to match. Some things haven't changed, however: (1) we're still giving up late goals and losing points from them, (2) We're woefully inconsistent from half to half, (3) We're still being bitten by the injury bug.
So, to be fair, not everything that's wrong is Joka's fault. We dropped points in three consecutive matches as the result of once-in-a-lifetime goals – certainly there wasn't much he...
When Kit Symons signed on, I was pleased. Magath was gone, and we had someone in charge who knew our young players better than anyone. Since our young players were going to be the ones that kept us going until the end of the season, I thought this was probably our best managerial option. After 1 point out of 24, we didn't have the luxury of waiting for a new boss to figure out the squad.
After a brilliant run that ended around Christmas, the same folks that "wanted my Fulham back" now had the knives out for Kit. There was a significantly large group out there who somehow believed that -- despite gutting the squad and letting a maniac screw up the beginning of the season -- we had some sort of divine right to go straight back up. I reacted to this delusional insanity by becoming a strong defender of Kit as the man to stay the course.
When it became obvious that the squad would need to be rebuilt for the second August in a row, it was clear to me that our first chance to get promoted...