The View from South Texas – Fulham FC v. Hull City

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by HatterDon, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    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 could do about that. And the injury thing, I mean, really.

    Hull City is riding high. They've been unbeatable at home and dangerous on the road. And, like us, they like to score goals. Going into the match they were the highest scoring team in the league and we were second. Naturally, the game featured only one goal – and that one from the penalty spot. This was not going to be an easy match to get a result from – and we didn't – but it did help those of us stuck on the other side of the water to get a better assessment of how we're looking and what the future may hold.

    From the beginning, the Tigers seemed more than willing to play the entire match in their half. Our latest CB pairing – Ream and Burn [sounds a bit like torturing instructions] spend much more time close to the center circle than they did near their own keeper. Indeed, at one point, Burn tore up field with the ball and provided a fairly decent cross near the touch line. At first I was a bit distracted by a center back pairing of two left footers. Then I realized that I'd seen probably a thousand matches with two right-footed CBs, so I let it go. I thought they did a decent job during the match – which was primarily due to the fact that they had little one-on-one defending to do. Garbutt and Richards also seldom saw their own half, but they were not nearly so effective as their defensive partners. Of the midfield crew, it seemed clear that Joka has chosen Tom Cairney as his attacking force, and I thought Cairney did well in this role. Joka also loves width – as do I – and so I was pleased to see Kacaniklic and Christensen in the lineup. I was less enraptured with Parker's and O'Hara's inclusion, although I understood the reasoning. In a match where you really think you might get something steady veteran hands at the wheel are always a great idea.

    The five-man midfield was in support of Moussa Dembele. With Ross ill – as we were informed – it was Moussa's job to muscle people, run the channels, split defenders with attacking runs to open space for the three attacking mids, and make himself available. The problem was that Fulham spent about 85% of the match in the positions they would normally be happy to progress to. And so Fulham's attacking mids and foraging FBs couldn't open gaps in a defense on the retreat. Worse than that, running to and fro trying to make something happen is NOT in Dembele's locker. Yesterday was a day for Cauley Woodrow, but then there's that injury bug. So, I think I'm fairly safe in saying that we only created a single clear chance in the run of play, young Special K fluffing it. We did cause some concern, but those were from set pieces. By the end of the first half, I was certain we would not score. Hull was simply too good to concede when not under relentless pressure.

    For the longest time it looked like we might have two teams that can't stop scoring “fighting” to a 0-0 draw, but then something happened in the 71st minute that filled me with dread. It was then that Tom Huddlestone came on as a sub. Yes, he had nothing to do with our downfall, I'm just convinced he's an evil talisman for us. Seven minutes later, LVC found himself the last line of defense against a rare Hull attack, brought down Moses Udubajo in the box. A stone dead penalty resulted and, although Lonergan almost saved Abel Hernandez's shot, it was 0-1, and that's the way that it ended.

    Joka replaced Kaca and LVC with Hyndman and Williams, and even took off game but ineffective Scott Parker for Matt Smith, but it made little difference. Fulham managed to find Smith's forehead, but none of his knockdowns were near enough an open White to cause Hull any problems. So, 0-1, and it seems as if we haven't secured three points since Adam Sandler last made a decent movie.

    Likes/dislikes? I liked Cairney in this role a lot. If we have a 4-3-1-2, I'd like him as the “1.” He looked the man most likely throughout the match. I though Kaca played well. LVC did also, but his trump card is turning defense into attack, and the half-court game that Hull allowed us to play didn't suit him. His very good free kick – that was repelled by the most routine of saves – aside, O'Hara is looking very average, and is showing us why he was so available this past summer. The only player I thought was consistently bad was Jazz Richards. He seemed a half step slow and a foot out of position all match. It's no secret that I am not enamored of Moussa Dembele. He needs somebody to do his work for him, and when they do, the lad scores. But the man who has been setting him up all season was not on the pitch yesterday, and so he was pretty useless out there. I don't think Smith is the answer either. I think he's good at coming on with 10-15 minutes to go and muscling tired defenders. The problem yesterday is that the defenders had no reason to be tired, really. We needed Cauley, but we likely won't have him until the English spring is full upon us – with a hey nonny nonny and a hot cha cha.

    On the other hand, we controlled the ball for at least 80% of the first half and 67% overall. We maintained discipline, and made ourselves available for passes throughout. Our defense never looked vulnerable against the league's top scorers, and our subs looked strong and lively. With Ross back and partnering Dembele, I think we'll string some good results together shortly and likely finish closer to the playoffs than the relegation zone – at least points wise. This coming summer – free from transfer restrictions – I think Joka will be able to improve our squad.

    HatterDon's Man of the Match – Tom Cairney
  2. dneville80

    dneville80 Member

    May 7, 2012
    I also agree that if Ross was there the result may have been different. Getting ball control was easy, but from what I watched (the first half as I had been outside shoveling snow) there was just no finisher out there. Hopefully Ross will stay this season and you turn out to be correct in getting closer to the top then the bottom.
  3. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2006
    Walnut, CA
    Thanks for the 'View' HD, the stretch the club has been on since getting rid of Kit (1-7-5) has been tough to take, so hope that the boys can scratch out a win despite a pretty tough schedule the next 3 matches (home v Derby, and away to QPR & Blackburn).
  4. nevzter

    nevzter Well-Known Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    A City by a Bay
    Thank you for the View, sir. The next three matches, as stated by SCJ, are a tough run. Let's see if the points arrive
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