Tag Archives: Cairney

The View from South Texas — FFC v. Birmingham City [a bit late]

Mama Told Me Not to Bother …

… watching the replay of Fulham v. Birmingham City, but I just couldn’t resist the temptation to see the players we’ve acquired and fielded after the Newcastle match.

When I listened to the match on Saturday, I noted that Fulham dominated possession throughout – 67% of the first 45 minutes plus and 64% overall. Imagine my surprise then when I actually watched the match. By the first five minutes, City had established the pace of the match, gained control of it, and never really relinquished that control. With the exception of Cairney and McDonald, I thought each of our starters was outplayed by his opposite number. As a matter of fact, considering what I saw this afternoon [stateside afternoon], the most amazing thing is that we lost only 0-1.

Many of my fellow Fulham supporters will hate to hear this, but we really missed two players on Saturday – Scott Parker in the starting XI and Lasse Vigan Christensen off the bench. Parker’s absence allowed Brum to take control of the midfield, and without LVC we had no late pace to inject.

A plus side, for me, was Kebano who replaced Smith [our sacrificial lamb], taken off at half-time to help shore up the defense. Kebano looks fast, sharp, and nippy. He might have made a difference, but City has strength and assertiveness to accompany their discipline and skill.

Who disappointed for me? Well, Smith, for one. He is excellent as set pieces in the box, but really at nothing else, and I only remember him winning one header during his 45 minutes in any case. He clogs up the middle, doesn’t create space for his fellow attackers, and makes it easy for opposing defenders to cover him by basically not running. He continues to be a handy L1-level striker. I really hope I see Martin and Woodrow leading the attack against Burton Albion.

The major disappointment, of course, was Kalas. He was easily manhandled and provided the hospital ball that caused Madl to get his red card as the first half was dying. And then there was Button. After watching the match, I can’t understand how so many supporters thought he was our best player on the day. He was woefully slow in distribution, and his footwork [if you can call it that] almost cost us a couple of goals. Yes, he saved a penalty, but I thought he was substandard overall.

The bright side? We were playing a better side, had no control over the match, and still only lost by a single goal – a goal resulting from a penalty I think was unfairly assessed. If we turn this around on Tuesday, I won’t be all that concerned. I’ll feel better if Parker, Woodrow, and LVC are in the match day squad.

My MotM – Tom Cairney, the class of his class

My view of the Cardiff game

by dannyboi-ffc

I always thought Smith was the donkey but at least even he has a purpose. We become very one dimensional with the long ball but as a sub he’s a weapon to be used in times of desperation with 10mins to go. Woodrow on the other hand with 10 minutes to go would influence absolutely nothing.

He’s slow, weak, makes dreadful runs if at all, isn’t an outlet, never scores simple goals because he’s not intelligent enough to be in the right place to score them. I used to think he was hard done by when it was always Dembele and Ross because Woodrow seems to do well when given a chance. But he’s had two starts now and I saw them both, Leyton Orient and today. He was easily the weak link and the reason we were forced to play everything in front of Cardiff as there was no penetration. No ability to hold onto the ball with his back to goal and lay it off for the midfield runners. Come to think of it there’s only one word to describe Woodrow’s performance today, non-existent (or is that two words lol)

Apologies to those who rate him and to the young man himself. Its certainly not for the want of trying but imo he shows no potential that his game can improve or change. I think physically he is what he is and its just not enough. We lost 40 goals this season and whilst I expect everyone to chip in with goals I expect my centre forward to give more of an overall contribution to our attacks.

This is just born out of pure frustration that the club have taken so long to sign a striker. I was the first to say Ross needs to go and well done to the club for receiving a good fee. If truth be told I wasn’t even that bothered about Dembele either other than the fact we allowed his situation to cost us a potential big transfer fee. But I expected a top quality striker who was more suited to Joka’s style to come in by now. Imo we have dropped 4 points in less than a week simply because our strikers aren’t good enough. You cant expect to win by one goal every week.

Woodrow isn’t the only culprit tonight, Cairney was very quiet although I can certainly forgive him of that. But this is life in the limelight TC, you are the new McCormack and he needs to learn how to cope with teams focusing on stopping him from playing. But what today proved is that when Cairney is quiet and when we get just one injury to Ayite we are literally down to the bare bones and depending on some magic from Aluko. We need more attacking options, a winger and 2 strikers.

I like Sessengon and congrats on becoming Fulham’s youngest ever goalscorer and possibly our youngest ever player at the Cottage? Only Briggs betters it but that was away to Boro. He looks very good going forward but there was a spell in the second half where I thought he looked out of his depth and lost the ball several times. But he has a bright future and belongs with the first team squad.

I can now see why Cardiff fans celebrated the Malone swap. Although definitely better than Richards and defensively pretty decent but going forward I thought he was shocking. Still think we really missed out on Husband even though he’s injured at the minute. But I think in games like Newcastle where its more about defending then he’s a good squad player. But games like today where teams know we are better than them and sit back waiting for us to break them down, he’s doesn’t add much.

It’s a shame Parker is so old as a couple of years younger and McDonald/ Parker would be the best partnership in this division. They ran the game and were both outstanding. But we need another Parker to share the burden as Tunnicliffe isn’t of the same standard and we are weaker without Parker who cant play every game.

Overall I’m disappointed to have dropped 2 points because I believed we deserved the win and were so capable of running away with it. Cardiff bar 2 wonder goals, and even then the second I question the keeper but haven’t seen a replay, Cardiff did sweet FA and showed no intention of wanting to score until they had to. And we were naive to allow them back into the game. But that disappointment is fuelled by what’s been an amazing start to the season and when the players have defied all of our expectations and raised the bar I think its harsh to be too hard on them at this stage of the season when they rescued a point. I see a massive positive contrast in our mentality. Last season that equaliser makes us crumble and go onto lose 3-1. But there was only one team in it once they were winning and that was us. It showed the kind of hunger, fight and character needed from a team that wants promotion. And I loved the fact we didn’t celebrate the goal, we picked the ball up and ran back to the kickoff as we could smell blood. Thats clearly come from the manager and I’m so optimistic with him at the helm.

I said it before a few weeks back and i’ll say it again. There’s something about Jokanovic that not even the great Hodgson or Tigana had. Something about his presence on the touchline and his attitude. That’s not to say he will achieve what they did or even close to it but if the club can sort out the transfer/ kline issues and make Joka happy, then I believe he has something about him to become our greatest ever manager. Or I should say the best in my lifetime as I’m not in a position to judge past greats before my time.

We are still joint second, goal difference means nothing at the stage and we should beat Blackburn. I know the old cliche’s of this is Fulham so you cant treat anything as guaranteed but something about this team and what could be with a few quality additions that gives me the confidence to believe we will win.

Onwards and upwards

COME ON YOU WHITES!!!!!!!!!

The View from South Texas — Fulham v. Blackburn Rovers

by HatterDon

Another Weekend, Another Mixed Bag

For most of the first half, I told myself that if today’s lineup was Fulham’s default starting XI for the rest of the season, I’d be happy with it. Fulham started brightly, striking deep and quick into Blackburn’s unsettled defense with a great example of – dare I say it – direct, long-ball strikes. With Cairney and Pringle playing as out-and-out wingers and with McCormack and Dembele an actual strike pair, quick counters looked to be on all day. When O’Hara and Tunnicliffe got into the mix with excellent short passing, Fulham looked to be a very good side indeed.

And so it was as early as the 4th minute, when Dembele shook off his defender a few yards into the Rovers’ half and headed straight for the goal line. A quick stop and a blind pass to his left was all it took for Fulham’s captain to be one-on-one with Blackburn’s keeper. Ross doesn’t miss these and it was 1-0. From then on throughout most of the first half, Fulham treated the crowd with a great exhibition of passing – short, long, diagonal, flicks, the lot. Especially noteworthy were Jazz Richards’ cross-field inch-perfect arcing deliveries to Ben Pringle. During this portion of the first half, Tunnicliffe gave a great demonstration of the art of box-to-box midfield play.

On the 30th minute, Fulham got the goal they deserved. McCormack was the recipient of another delivery on the left wing and provided a cross that Tom Cairney fired on. It was then deflected to Tunnicliffe who blistered the palms of the very busy Steele. The rebound fell to Dembele who made no mistake burying the ball into the roof of the net for his first Championship goal.

At this point, Fulham could have run rampant, and a third goal didn’t seem out of the question, but some profligate passes and hesitancy in front of goal deprived them of the goal that could have ended the contest before half-time. Most notable was another gorgeous McCormack cross – this time from the right wing – that Dembele met almost on the goal-line. All it needed was a gentle flick, and that’s exactly what Dembele gave it. Unfortunately, it turned out to be too gentle and the result was nothing but hand wringing and disbelief.

It was also at this point that the Rovers began to play. And a funny thing happened on the way to a clean sheet: Blackburn Rovers are NOT a bottom-three team. A series of blistering attacks from both wings resulted in Andy Lonergan being called upon to make some very nice saves and clearances. Still, on the half-time whistle, Fulham were very much in charge.

The second half was, of course, a totally different slice of sausage. It wasn’t so much that Fulham came out hesitant and over-protective of their lead; it was more that Rovers made a tactical substitution that irrevocably turned the match around. Off came the speedy, but serially disappointing Nathan Delfouneso to be replaced by Bengaly Fode-Koita. From that point on, Rovers got more physical. I’m not saying that they played dirty or even negative. Far from it. I’m saying that they made it clear that every Fulham possession was going to be robustly challenged, and each Rovers possession was going to result in an assault on Lonergan’s goal.

This change showed me a lot about Gary Bowyer, Rovers coach. Going from quickness to strength was exactly what was needed on the day. Fulham was always going to “out-football” Rovers, but had little chance in beating them in commitment. Blackburn has a lot of tall, strong defenders and midfielders, and Jordan Rhodes is no Andy Johnson either. Throughout the second half they kept the ball in the air and won almost every challenge. They were very effective at dead-ball situations, not because Fulham defended them poorly, but because they were able to deliver consistently into an area where an aerial contest would result in their favor. And so, for most of the half, they hammered Fulham. Jordan Rhodes had the devil’s own luck, hitting the post more often than a half-drunk corgi. When James Husband was adjudged to have taken him down in the six-yard box, I was doubtful. The replays confirmed what I should have realized all along: only a foul was going to keep Rhodes from heading in that cross.

Once Rhodes converted the penalty, the game got to be lots of fun. Dembele finally demonstrated the fine art of meshing pace and strength, winning several one-on-one battles and nearly tacking on another goal. At the other end, yet another goal-mouth scramble that featured woodwork contact ended when O’Hara provided what television replays showed to be an ACROSS the goal-line clearance. The battle continued until the final whistle – which I actually got to see since I got up at 0600 to watch it live. Had I slept in and watched the recording, I’d have missed the last four or five minutes of activity.

And so Fulham won and moved to 11th in the league table. The new boys were blooded and the fans went home happy – I’m assuming. The Blackburn following must be even more convinced than ever that they don’t deserve their current league position. They are very good in all aspects of the game and, in Rhodes, have a game-changer deluxe.

Fulham? We’ll we’re significantly better than we were at any point last season, and I like our attack more than I have since Jol screwed it up. We played wide, the fullbacks got into the attack, we had two goal poachers up front and O’Hara and Tunnicliffe marshaled the middle nicely. Stearman and Ream looked sound, and Jazz Richards was marvelous all day long. What was disturbing was Mr Hyde replacing Dr. Jekyll in goal about 55 minutes in. Twice Lonergan hit a hard pass upfield directly to a Rovers player, the last time hitting Rhodes in the back so hard that the rebound went into the stand. It could have easily bulged the back of the net. He also punched a clearance directly to Koita which really should have led to a goal.

Over all, though, I am still upbeat about the future. If these guys can play this well in such a short time together, the future looks good for me.

HatterDon’s Man of the Match: Well, with all due respect to Dembele, Cairney, Richards, and McCormack, I’m giving the award to Richard Stearman. He played a quality center half all match and, when we looked as if we were going to be out-muscled in the second half, he was a rock out there. One thing is for sure, if I’m in a crowd and it all kicks off, I was Stearman to be on my side. Welcome to Craven Cottage, Richard!