… 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