Games for mid-week 26/02

Yet another mid-week game, this time we welcome Swansea City to the Cottage.

Fulham v Swansea City

Well a draw away to Derby wasn’t a bad result but with the gap back to 5 points we needed more.
Swansea had a comfortable(?) 3-1 win against Huddersfield and are pressing for the play-offs and with our inconsistent form they’ll be looking forward this game.

Recent results against Swansea include 3 wins, 5 losses and 1 draw.

COYW’s

Games of interest…

Tuesday 25th
Cardiff v Nottm Forest
Huddersfield v Bristol City
Luton v Brentford
QPR v Derby
West Brom v Preston NE

Wednesday 26th
Fulham v Swansea
Middlesborough v Leeds
Millwall v Birmingham City
Sheff Wed v Charlton


come on over to the forum and join in the discussion…
https://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0

Games for the Weekend 21/02

For this game we travel up to Derby County for a Friday evening game.

Derby v Fulham

Well, the game against Barnsley is one to forget.
At the weekend Derby had a 1-1 draw with Huddersfield, so they had a better day than us.

Historically we’re very even against Derby, 4 wins, 5 losses and 5 draws and surely we can’t play as badly two game in a row?

COYWs

Games of Interest…

Friday 21st
Derby v Fulham

Saturday 22nd
Brentford v Blackburn
Bristol City v West Brom
Charlton v Luton
Leeds v Reading
Nottm Forest v QPR
Preston NE v Hull
Wigan v Millwall


come on over to the forum and join in the discussion…
https://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0

BARNSLEY BREAKDOWN – by member Matt10

The Barnsley match was a rough result. Was it really a bad performance though? The 90-minutes are posted, and I thought I’d approach this topic a bit differently. I wanted to break it down in 20 minute increments, with the 5 minutes to end the half and match. The reason is because it is common to come away with a general feeling, but then mistakenly use that general feeling and create a general assessment of not only our team, players, but overall tactics. I have a problem with this because we miss out on the positives and the areas we need to improve. There is already general talk of “should, would, could”, so why not analyze it and see how the “should, would, could” can be contextually applied to those moments.

Here’s my breakdown vs Barnsley. I will provide my overall thoughts after. (Disclaimer: I didn’t put much effort in researching name of the Barnsley players this go around. I know who they are, for the most part, but wanted to focus on Fulham specifically. Will adjust the next time I do one of these.)

Minutes 1-20:

  • Pace of play is fast, as it should be in the first 5 to 10 minutes. We are just a tad out of sync in making good connections. For example, Knockaert slips from a wide pass by Mitro near the top of the box.
  • Onomah slips on a one time pass from Cav. Onomah plays in a perfect through pass to Bryan, but the pitch speed has increased significantly due to the weather conditions.
  • Defensively we struggle via Joe Bryan and KMac. When we get in the attack, Bryan doesn’t drop back fast enough, resulting in exposing Kmac, as Barnsley players get behind our CDM each time.
  • This forces him to stick out a streteched challenge that misses – and results in Barnsley’s first shot on goal.
  • The second shot on goal from Barnsley comes from the same combination, but this time the Woodrow simply bulldozes past Kmac and lets off a shot, that goes just high.
  • The same combo of Bryan not dropping back quick enough happens because the referee doesn’t call a foul on Cav in which the winger gets basically pulled down holding the ball up. Hector cleans up the low ball into the box.

Minutes 20-40:

  • I will bring this up in the overall thoughts, but Barnsley double team tactics on our wingers were crucial, and I feel Parker should’ve figured out a way around this. Unfortunately, in this moment, Knockaert tries to beat 3 Barnsley players, falls down, and a long ball over the top is assumed offsides. Unfortunately, it isn’t, and even more unfortunate, the Barnsley player runs into Rodak, but before that slaps the ball with his hand. That is also ignored, and we know the rest – Rodak pulls him down and the penalty is converted. Some wanted to complain about Ream here, but it’s clear as day that Rodak called him off and went for the ball – but mishandled it. Ream put himself between the attacker and the ball, just as any defender would. 1-0 Barnsley.
  • In response, we break their double team not once, but twice. First when they pressured high on Sess, who passes to Cairney, then he goes down the line to Knockaert, who is fouled quite hard.
  • We try to get the ball to Mitro twice, but the first time he doesn’t really put much effort in controlling the ball, and the second he takes a bit too long, but the deflection finds Kmac.
  • We get a free kick in a dangerous position, but Mitro’s strike hits the wall, and his second is scuffed. Cairney forces the ball wide to Cav, who tries to get the ball on his right foot down the side, but is double teamed (again), and Barnsley break right through and down the sidelines themselves, before Bryan cynically fouls to put a stop to the counter.
  • A fortunate bounce in the midfield, allows Cav to release Knockaert, but his left footed strike is deflected. Onomah controls, but just gets out of his grasp before it’s cleared away.
  • We finally get a decent attack that starts from the back where Kmac breaks the double team pressure by sending in a delicate through ball to Onomah, who is then fouled. Onomah plays it quick to Cairney, sends it wide to Bryan, who sends it quickly to Cav. Bryan streaks inside, which drags the defender away from Cav, who gets to strike with his right – but it’s well wild and high.
  • We manage a free kick that eventually sets up a deep throw in. Cairney gets free at the top right of the box and sends in a vicious cross, but it’s just out of Onomah’s reach.
  • We are really zipping the ball well now, especially in finding Knockaert, who is doing well to cut inside and be a threat. He manages to find Cairney, who takes a shot, but it’s well deflected by Barnsley again.

Minutes 40-45:

  • We finish off the couple minutes with Cav switching flanks with Knockaert. He holds off defenders, but again, the theme of the double team on our wingers is prevalent. We have no answer for it unless we can find someone central quick enough. We can’t, and Cav struggles to hold them off.
  • The ball is caught in the wind, but eventually we get control of it. A brilliant little chest pass into the path of Cairney by Mitro allows our captain to get a strike, but not enough conviction and is easily saved. Knockaert visibly upset, but would’ve been a tough pass. However, other teammates, including Kmac, are visibly signaling the pass should’ve gone to Cav who was open on the left. I personally won’t blame our captain for trying to find the back of the net.

First half thoughts:

How anyone can say we are playing poorly is beyond me. How anyone can boo their team is also beyond me. As if the players aren’t going to be hard on themselves already. They know it’s a match that they should be winning.

We are moving the ball at pace. We are building from the back. Yes, it’s risky, but it forces Barnsley to press higher, which in turn gives our  wingers more time. Unfortunately, we do not have enough pace centrally, so the wingers have noone to play off of. This is why many times our wingers are forced to hold onto the ball longer than intended. So not only Mitro is isolated, so are our dangerous wingers. We are creating chances, and we are absolutely not dominating possession in a slow pace. People say it’s boring, but that to me is a general assessment that is unchanged by stubbornness more than what is actually happening on the pitch. As I mentioned above, we are just out of sync at times. When we did start to look in sync, we were quite dangerous. However, the biggest issue to address is the double team from Barnsley. In my opinion, it’s time to change the formation to get more numbers centrally so those double teams look more like a risk to Barnsley versus a benefit.

Minutes 45-65

  • Instantly you can see the aggression by us is there. Bryan shoves Woodrow out of the way, and Mitro holds off two Barnsley players. Eventually a long ball from Hector finds Mitro to feet, which gets defended, but the ball deflects to Onomah. Onomah skillfully cuts back onto his left, and sends in a clever through ball to Mitro, who lets off a low strike that is saved.
  • Shortly after, we get a corner. Safe to say chaos ensured as their keeper makes a mess of it, tries to recover, but takes out Hector (no foul), and Kmac strikes a low one that is blocked before Onomah’s volley goes over. More momentum.
  • Kmac is too tight on a throw in, which prevents him from being able to confront a Barnsley midfielder from releasing their forward over the top of Hector and Ream. It’s a brilliant save by Rodak though as the striker tried a deft touch past him – denied.
  • We go long ball again, and it reaches Cav, but the ball balloons to Mitro, which then is well defended via a diving header by Barnsley. Onomah tries to control the ball that is behind him, but Woodrow dispossess him and sends a long ball over the top. Ream is tucked inside and is expecting to just contain the Barnsley forward down the side, however Rodak has sprinted out of his box for some odd reason – and it’s 2-0 Barnsley. Momentum lost.
  • In response, we change formation, but not before multiple stands of double team by Barnsley again. Kmac coming off is not surprising now after the match because we switched to a 4-2-3-1 and our CDM would be required to chase down counters all over the pitch, which is why Arter was put in. I did not want to see TC go though because he’s a gamechanger and can hold onto the ball in crucial spots. I would’ve more so chosen Onomah to depart instead because he isn’t as creative as Cairney. I think the early through ball that set up Mitro was a point that swayed Parker’s decision to keeping Onomah in vs Cairney.
  • Immediately, my preferences were put to the backburner as Onomah was found by Mitro at the top of the box. Onomah sends in a brilliant through ball to Cairney’s replacement, BDR, who takes a soft first touch, but it’s well defended. He will play a crucial role into us not getting goals back unfortunately. Right place, right time, poor execution.
  • Instantly we are playing 1-2 touches brilliantly in tight spaces, looking quite quality. Barnsley can’t perform their double team because we’ve crowded each side of the pitch that the ball is on. One anchor point such as Reid or Mitro, with the winger in Knockaert or central of Arter or Onomah – fully supporting the attack. Reid’s through ball to Cav is just a bit too hard and is collected by the Barnsley defenders. Momentum is back on.
  • In the 4-2-3-1, Onomah and Arter essentially set up as a pivot two in the central midfield, but when they’re breached, it’s up to Bryan to track back and press high. Woodrow gets his chance because this is exactly what happens. Arter is just late on his challenge, and the midfield is breached as Onomah is forced to cover from the right side all the way over to the left. Bryan doesn’t press and doesn’t drop back, forcing Onomah even further to drop back, which confuses Ream and he’s given Woodrow too much space.
  • Last mention of 4-2-3-1 change is that we now have the numbers both centrally and on the wing. Knockaert and Sess overlapping and underlapping, breaking down the double team pressure again and again. Pair that up with the mobility of BDR, and goodness me, we’re a force to be reckoned with.
  • Against all tactics, ironically, was Barnsley’s next chance where it seemed we were completely surprised by their goal kick that went all the way over our defenders and set them up with a strike just wide.

Minutes 65-85

  • Kamara subs in for Sess, and now we’re at a true 3-5-2, with Arter basically dropping back in front of the defense. If we’re being picky, it’s more of a 3-1-4-2. What I liked especially about this was how we could now put Cav central and Knockaert on the left. This is something quite rarely seen this season, and I hope it’s enough for Parker to consider going forward as I feel Cav is so strong centrally than he is stuck on the wing. It also gives freedom to Knockaert to push out or in, similar to how he did against QPR at home where his movement off the ball set up Kamara’s goals.
  • As expected, the 3-5-2 will have some holes defensively, and it’s no surprise we’re exposed when Barnsley take a quick free kick and send the ball over the top of Hector. Another vicious shot, but just wide.
  • Really nice throw in direct to BDR, who chests it and sends a through ball inside the box to Onomah, who lobs it up for Mitro. Mitro controls it and finds Cav – who’s shot was surely to make it 2-1, but just went wide. BDR is making a huge difference.
  • After a nice run by Arter to suck in the midfield, he sends a nice pass to BDR at the top of the box. He opts to take a touch, but it’s heavy, and defended yet again. As mentioned earlier, BDR’s touch let him down, but more so his decision making when he was the focal point to score. He was exceptional in movement and creating chances for others though. The deflection bumps its way to Kamara, who cuts inside and tries an outside of the foot shot on goal which is well saved.
  • A handball should’ve been called on them as we were on the break via BDR, but eventually Kamara blazes down the side and cuts back inside to pass the ball to Cav central – who unleashes a shot that is unfortuantely right at the keeper, and we are unable to get the deflection before he smothers it.
  • Shortly after we’ve got a free kick at the half via Arter. Ball is sent up to Mitro, his shirt is being pulled by somehow gets to it and finds Hector, who’s left footed shot is off the mark, but it reaches BDR. BDR takes a silky first touch and tries a quick shot from point blank range, but it’s well saved yet again. Another key chance for BDR to score.
  • Terrible moment for us as Rodak makes a clean grab of their corner, but ambitiously tries a drop kick straight to their player. The driect pass is brilliant to Woodrow, who skirts past Hector, before making Rodak look poor beating him near post. All momentum lost. General assessments and assumptions commence.

Minutes 85-End

  • Hard to focus on the match after that killer. Mitro got a shot off that went wide. Onomah hits the crossbar. At this point, the match is over, and supporters are leaving early – don’t blame them of course.

Final thoughts

Contextually speaking, and reading through the breakdown, does it really sound like we played bad? When I was watching live, I definitely felt that we weren’t quite right, but once I was able to find the source of the issues being us not able to handle their double team – it all came together. I think the scoreline heavily favors Barnsley, and doesn’t give our effort justice. I think it’s unfortunate that there is a linear mindset of scoreline = degree of effort. Our keeper made 3 crucial mistakes, and we paid the price in the scoreline. Tactically we were beat in the stalling of our attacks because of their double team pressure. We answered with the change in formation and bringing on BDR to help Mitro. We further answered with the change to the 3-5-2 that allowed Cav and Knockaert to play close to eachother, but more importantly having Cav play centrally as more of a threat. We broke their double team pressure tactic as a result, and Kamara coming on created a freedom down the sides we did not have before.

I think my thoughts are going to be wildly unpopular, but we simply didn’t find the back of the net, and conceded when our momentum was gaining. To be fair, Barnsley had their chances to add onto the score, but they failed just as much.

Overall, this leads me to think about the consistent argument of results vs how we’re playing. There is a camp that is so focused on how we’re playing, and thus downplaying results. Whereas there are those who are happy with the results, such as 7 unbeaten before this, but understand we’re not playing to our potential. Does that mean Parker In or Out? Hard to say, isn’t it? From a tactical perspective, he didn’t address the double team pressure until after halftime, and after we had conceded already. However, when he did address it, it proved the right move, but has been overshadowed by elements that noone can prepare for – which is not one individual error by one of our best players, but 3 total. I am not sure where I stand. If I was forced to choose, I’d say Parker in, but he’s on very thin ice – especially because his inability to address the opponent’s defensive tactics against us has hurt momentum. I think he’d be a fool not to utilize the 3-5-2 more often, but I have that luxury to say so because I only get to judge the end product. 

Anyway, I hope this was worth a read, if anything to pass the time until the next match. I believe that context is everything, and I personally dislike general assessments that aren’t validated without a bit more digging. As mentioned, I have the luxury to judge the end product, so I don’t go out of my lane and judge the elements I’m not privvy to such as office meetings, team drillings, etc. Note: I would’ve put this in a video highlight package if it were allowed, but unfortunately any match footage gets flagged.

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It’s time to grab your parka, Parker

It’s very rare that I take to blogging, my forte is running Forums, however, after that pathetic performance against Barnsley today, I thought I’d give it go.

When Parker was appointed full time coach, I was slightly sceptical, and after our car-crash of a season in the Premier League, I honestly thought we’d go for a bit more experience.

Don’t get me wrong, experience doesn’t always gain you success, especially in football, but, when the owners stated that promotion was the target this season, I was once again very sceptical.

I’ve nothing personal against Parker, I’m sure he will make a good coach someday, but, with such high expectations form the owners, was it really a good idea to place this responsibility in his hands?

If Fulham were planning on spending a couple of season in the Championship, and harbouring Parker whilst he learnt his trade, then fair enough, but that isn’t the case.

I can see what the owners have tried to do, they’ve tried to build a strong team around Parker, by keeping the likes of Mitrovic, Cairney, and adding the like Cavalerio, Knockhaert, Reid etc, in the hope that quality would see us though, but, it’s not panning out that way.

Unfortunately, we all know, that you can buy a Ferrari, but if you can’t drive it properly, then you’re not going to get the best out of it, and that is the case this season.

I look at our current squad, and I see an abundance talent there, enough to be challenging for the top two spots, and blowing some teams away whilst we do it.

Frustratingly, and even though we do go on a run of unbeaten games, the team always looks disjointed, and for the quality we have up front, we always lack a cutting edge.

If it wasn’t for Mitrovic and his 20 goals so far, I’d hate to think where we’d actually be in the league, certainly not where we are today.

For me, Parker doesn’t get the best out the squad he has, we always look disjointed, players seem to play out of their preferred positions, and we play a system where Mitrovic is constantly isolated.

On top of this, we don’t press teams enough, we play the short pass all the time, knocking it around the back, and inviting pressure on to us, which leads to mistakes.

When we do attack, the process seems so slow, we don’t utilise the channels very well, opting for inverted wingers, and by the time we do attack, other teams have nullified us.

Parkers ability to also change games also frustrates me, his subs seem odd, and we have an inability to use a plan B if teams come and work us out early.

All in all, this seems a carbon copy of what WBA went through with Darren Moore, and, although we sit third in the Championship, I feel it’s a very false position, and if we are not careful with our up and coming run of games, we could find ourselves slipping out of the playoff positions.

I was never a fan of Parker when he was appointed, nor do I have any emotional attachment to him as a player, or a coach, but I do find his style of football boring, drab, slow, uncreative, and something that doesn’t excite me like it did with Jokanovic.

The Millwall and Barnsley games were a reflection of this, with Fulham not even testing the Millwall goalkeeper after Mitrovic’s 3rd minute goal, and Barnsley today, bottom of the Championship, totally outplaying us at home.

Will the owners dare sack Parker whilst we’re sitting in 3rd position? Highly unlikely, however, I don’t see Parker getting us promoted automatically, or through the playoffs, so I’d take a gamble on someone else, in the hope they can improve things over the final stretch of 13 games.

With the likes of Derby, Forest, Leeds, WBA, Brentford all to come, we could do with all the experience we can get.

Verdict: It’s time for Parker to grab his parka.

Games for the Weekend 15/02

This Saturday we invite Barnsley to the Cottage

Fulham v Barnsley

Well the mid-week game didn’t go quite as planned, at least we didn’t loose and Mitro scored his 21st, so not all bad?

I worry that not taking the chance to gain the automatic promotion place will come back to haunt us, it’s so close at the top of the league and it would have been boost for us and a dent to Leeds’ confidence slipping out of the top two, still there’s always the next game!

“in theory” we should be comfortable this game however, thats what I thought the first game of the season when Barnsley scored their only win over us, we’ve won the 4 other games against them.

COYWs

Games of Interest…

Saturday 15th
West Brom v Nottm Forest
Charlton v Blackburn
Fulham v Barnsley
Leeds v Bristol City
Preston NE v Millwall
QPR v Stoke


come on over to the forum and join in the discussion…
https://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0

Games for mid-week 02/02

We make the short across South London to the New Den to take on Millwall at their place.

Millwall v Fulham

We enjoyed our trip to Blackburn, wasn’t that the first time we’ve won there since the early eighties? Isn’t good that Mitro’s back, that was number 20 in the league, he must be a good bet for 30 for the season?
So we’re currently only outside the automatic promotion positions on goal difference, who’d have guessed that back in November?
It’s funny if results go “our way” we could be in 2nd, if they don’t we could be 5th, Tuesday evenings Brentford v Leeds and Forest v Charlton will be results to keep an eye on!

Millwall’s gave West Brom a good game on Sunday even though they lost, by all accounts the pitch wasn’t very good so that might be a leveller?

We’ve a reasonable record against Millwall, the game earlier this season we played the best football I’ve seen in quite some time, with 4 wins and a loss and a draw. If we come close to replicating the form we had in the earlier game and/or of the game in our promotion season then we should have an enjoyable evening, regardless of the result I’m sure it’ll be a good game.

COYW’s

Games of Interest…

Tuesday 11th
Brentford v Leeds
Nottm Forest v Charlton
Swansea v QPR

Wednesday 12th
Bristol City v Derby
Millwall v Fulham
Reading v West Brom
Stoke v Preston NE


come on over to the forum and join in the discussion…
https://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0

Games for the Weekend 08/02

We’re on our travels again, this weekend were off to Blackburn Rovers.

Blackburn Rovers v Fulham

Well we hung-on after a fantastic start on Saturday, those first 30-35 minutes were some of the best I’ve seen at the Cottage this season, the second half we managed to hang-on, at some points in this season we wouldn’t have.
Really good news that both Mitro and AK47 were back for the game and with Bobby Decordova-Reid scoring one of the best goals I’ve seen for some time, things look better on the attacking front.
As for defence the addition of Michael Hector has made a “chalk and cheese” difference to the back four, if only he could have started at the beginning of the season.

Blackburn are on a bit of a run themselves, they drew with Middlesborough at the weekend, beat QPR at home, beat Wednesday 0-5 away and drew with Preston NE.
Our results against Rovers is quite even with 5 wins, 8 loses and 6 draws so if history is anything to go by it’ll be a close game.

COYW’s

Games of Interest…

Friday 7th
Bristol City v Birmingham City

Saturday 8th
Wigan v Preston NE
Blackburn v Fulham
Brentford v Middlesbrough
Huddersfield v QPR
Stoke v Charlton
Nottm Forest v Leeds

Sunday 9th
Millwall v West Brom


come on over to the forum and join in the discussion…
https://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0

Games for the Weekend 01/02

Back to the Cottage this weekend when we welcome Huddersfield Town.

Fulham v Huddersfield

So now that our FA Cup adventure came to a shuddering halt last weekend we’re back to concentrating on the league.
apparently there’s an outside chance that either of Mitro’ and AK47 could be back in contention for this game, fingers crossed.

Tuesday evening Huddersfield had a 1-2 away injury time win against Hull and a creditable 0-0 home draw against our neighbours Brentford, so they’re in a reasonable run of form.

The good news for us is that we have a good history against Huddersfield with having lost only once against six wins and 2 draws.

COYWs

Games of Interest…

Friday 31st
Cardiff v Reading
Derby v Stoke

Saturday 1st
Hull v Brentford
Birmingham City v Nottm Forest
Charlton v Barnsley
Fulham v Huddersfield
Leeds v Wigan
Preston NE v Swansea
QPR v Bristol City
Sheff Wed v Millwall
West Brom v Luton


come on over to the forum and join in the discussion…
https://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0

Games for the Weekend (FA Cup) 25/01

Our FA Cup adventure continues at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City.

Man City v Fulham (FA Cup)

well this weekend we get to play Man City at their place, unfortunately we’ll be without Mitro, AK47 and Knockaert, still its the cup, 11 v 11 and anything can happen, just ask Sutton Utd, Shrewsbury Town, Hereford or Luton.

COYWs


come on over to the forum and join in the discussion…
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Games for mid-week 22/01

Our rearranged game away to Charlton takes place on Wednesday evening over at the Valley

Charlton v Fulham

Although Charlton lost away to Preston NE at the weekend they had a very creditable draw against the league leaders, West Brom, the game before. They’ve also got a young manager in Lee Bowyer, it should be an interesting game “tactically” between these two managers.
Charlton have lost a couple of their loan signings, Beram Kayal went back to his parent club Brighton and Conor Gallagher switched to Swansea for the rest of the season.

Unfortunately we’ll still be without Mitro, and AK47?, so the attack will have something of a makeshift look about it, having said that Knockaert, De Cordova-Reid and Cavaleiro isn’t too bad of a front three is it.
Hector has slotted into the back four really well, I wonder what position we’d be if he’d been able to start at the beginning of the season?

We have a reasonable record against Charlton, 5 wins, 4 draws and 1 loss.

COYW’s

Games of Interest…

Tuesday 21st
Barnsley v Preston NE

Wednesday 22nd
Charlton v Fulham
Nottm Forest v Reading


come on over to the forum and join in the discussion…
https://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0