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Posted by Phil Mison on 01/28/2011

'King' Kenny gave his honest assessment on the final whistle. "Fulham probably deserved something from the game. They did a good job on us."

© Getty Images
That Anfield hoodoo will have to live on for another year. We're well used to Fulham losing on the road, because let's face it, we do it so often, but defeat in such a manner does hurt.

For the first time this season I failed to see the game nor followed it on TV/internet. I had a long-standing public speaking engagement before the date got rearranged. I would be doing a disservice to come on this blog and start levelling criticism of the performance, though I have caught some video highlights and monitored all today's other forums.

The platform therefore is thrown open to you guys to let me know what you thought of defeat at Liverpool, where it seems we failed to make the most of our opportunities. I have to say, the goal was a real comedy of errors, instigated by Dempsey's foolish back pass, and Dembele might have shown more conviction in front of goal. I certainly appreciated all the pre-match posts we got from Liverpool fans, having dared to criticise their shortcomings. They are the ones with bragging rights today having soared to a lofty 7th in the league, but to my mind they remain a mid-table side. It wasn't the pasting for Fulham some of their more rabid fans predicted and Liverpool were hanging on at the end.

So I'm relying on my army of regular posters to redress the balance and give us some perspective. I guess the bottom line is - and it's been our problem season on season in the Prem - if you don't score away from home you can't win. Where did we go wrong?

I will however elaborate on the issue of Dembele's failings yesterday to put the ball away on a couple of plays. The guy is not an out and out striker, and in the current set-up is probably not playing in his preferred position. Examine his playing record prior to Fulham and he's never been prolific. A goalscoring machine like Gordon Davies in his prime would have won you the game yesterday.

Players such as Owen in his pomp, Fowler, Andy Cole and Shearer all possessed an instinct for finishing that cannot be taught. Our Gordon was also part of that special breed. While modern players have tactics rammed down their throat to 'hold up the ball,' 'track back' or 'work the channels' once Davies was on the pitch football to him could not have been less complicated. He spent the whole 90 minutes looking to beat the keeper. Sometimes from out by the corner flag, at the back post in a goalmouth melee, or letting fly on the run from 25 yards.
He was never afraid to have a pop, even if the fans jeered. "You can't score if you don't shoot," he said to me on countless occasions.

That's why he ended his career as Fulham's all time top scorer, and I count myself lucky to have seen a vast majority of those goals. They went in from everywhere and in any old fashion. I well recall the one that levelled Haynes record at home to Mansfield, as scruffy as you like from a tight angle at the Putney End in front of 4,000 odd people. In our 'so nearly' year of 82/3 under Malcolm McDonald we were scintillating in a 4-1 win at Newcastle early in the season. Davies scored what everyone agreed had to be the BBC's 'Goal of the Season.' Cravenly, Beeb bosses decreed it could not go to a '2nd division side' so Davies effort got politically demoted to runner-up. Supermac, no stranger to banging in the goals himself, turned to his staff on the bench that famous day at St James Park and muttered, "How on earth did he score that?"

So let's not be too harsh on Moussa. I sensed the cogs turning in that congested goalmouth as the bill skipped along the 6 yard line towards him. He stuck out a boot without conviction...the chance was squandered. You can make a comparison with golf here. Stand on the tee looking to crack a drive way down the middle and the more you contemplate all the variables that may be out of alignment, hips, shoulder turn, wrists, weight, stance...the worse the shot will be.
Eradicate all those thoughts, swing sweet and free as the professionals are grooved to do, and watch that ball go. It's instinctive when it's right. As close to Zen as you get in sport.

That's the quality that makes the natural goalscorer such a prized asset. Andy Johnson at his best and untroubled by injury has the quality. Never let self doubt invade your precious inner mental chamber. Do that and genie flies from the bottle in a flash. Ask Owen. Gordon never had any doubts.

So we put the Liverpool result behind us and have lost no real ground in our battle to steer clear of the drop. After the recent round of games I see stormclouds gathering for both Wolves and Wigan, sense West Ham may still have some fight in them, though their defence is woeful, Villa are on the up, Birmingham should be worried, and - for all their plucky displays thus far, I wonder if Blackpool might be in for a tricky final third of the season?

Build up to the big Cup tie with Spurs on Sunday to follow this week. Will be a cracker! I think some of our American friends are heading over soon for upcoming games. Let me know.

COYW - here's to a memorable end of season. Twitter@fulhamphil

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Comments

Posted by Nick on 01/27/2011

Good stuff Phil...after Dembele scored the brace early on in the season I thought we may have hit the lottery with a goal scorer (obviously not being familiar with his past goal scoring production) but after watching his two attempts yesterday I think u may be right that he doesn't have that poucher instinct. That's not to say he won't score some just not as many as we need.

Also, I'll be over mid April for the Bolton match...still need tickets...it'll be my third visit to the cottage so I'm looking forward to it

Posted by brianmcbride on 01/27/2011

i am of course bitterly dissapointed with the result, but left encouraged with the performance. we dominated large parts of the game and prior to the goal, looked the most likley to take all 3. and despite liverpools current struggles, to go to their house and be good value for a draw if not 3 points is a very good sign. however, the goal was vastly unfortunate and missed chances see us go home empty handed.

i will not be harsh on dembele, because he had a good game and brings something to this team that no one else does, he can drive at the defense and make them uncomfortable. he can maintain possesion. i am very surprised hughes doesnt drop him back to midfield or behind a striker to set up goals instead of score goals.

overall a very good performance. this is one of those times where you wish their next game was this afternoon; they are playing well and will get results very soon.

Posted by fulham1979 on 01/27/2011

Great commentary, Phil. As usual.....

Our Cottagers will take the next step when we take the 3 points from the Reds. Simple as that.
I love watching Dembele in space. He's always searching and looking to give it a go.
VERY excited about Kakuta. Will he play? Or will it be a Okaka-Chuka all over again?

Posted by Jessica on 01/27/2011

The OG was an absolute mess, but I'm not upset because Torres should have had the one that was called off-sides in the 6th minute. It was karmic justice for them to get a goal.

To address the previous post, Hughes can't drop Dembele back behind a striker because we don't have one even though Andy has been great at creating opportunities for others since returning. His quickness in the box can consistently get him around the corner and ready to pass. People just need to make runs- ala Clint v the Potters. I have high hopes for Kakuta. Phil, what are your thoughts on his signing?

Stockdale was amazing again. I hate to say it, but the OG was created by Clint and Stockdale could do nothing about it. Schwarzer has a real fight on his hands once he returns.

I think Sunday can be a good day and I am looking forward to it. I'm interested to see the line-up for Spurs. I'm sure we'll put our best out there and go for it.

Blog Central: I was discussing Kakuta today with a colleague. All parties to the deal will want Kakuta to get some meaningful action. I'm excited by him. He's come from a good academy at Lens, will be hungry to impress, has represented France at U-17 and U-20 level. Hughes will integrate him into the 1st team squad then utilise him as an impact sub. It's up to Gael. If he impresses he'll be hard to leave out. A signing that shows ambition, and preferable to SWP in every way.


Posted by dave lynch on 01/27/2011

with regard to dembele. i think he's a top class player, and should not be blamed for this result. he missed a couple sitters, but they were coming at him quickly and he was off balance on both. he kept them both low and on goal, and made decent contact. i'd say unlucky more than anything.

i'm more than willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. esp when you see his comfort on the ball in all other instances. plus i love the way he tracks back and defends even in the 85th minute.

That said I agree that he's not really an outright striker, but only because i'd like to see the ball at his feet in the midfield on every possession. his technical skills more valuable there.

once we get Bobby back, I'd like to see us use MD like arsenal use cesc or nasri. let BZ be the target. lay off to moussa, and have him create going forward with dmpsy,duff or gera on the wings. (or kakuta from what i read)

either way, the boys are looking much better of late. about damn time.

Posted by Virginia Cottager on 01/27/2011

Jessica is right - the OG was just karma for the offside call on Torres from the 1st half. But, the entire sequence was a disaster: Clint's poor pass, Hughes backing off Torres to allow him to shoot, and then Baird, Stockdale, and Pantsil all fumbling over the ball.
Frustrating match to watch yesterday but there were positives. I thought we were the better team and deserved at the very least a point (Phil thanks for mentioning King Kenny's quote after the game). AJ looks to have regained his form. Murphy and Sidwell more than held their own against Meireles, Gerrard, and Poulsen in the middle. Clint was always threatening and Dembele was superb. True, he missed two wonderful opportunities, but he's still only getting back to match fitness and speed after injury. Dembele will drill those chances into the back of the net soon enough. His distribution, on-ball skills, and work-rate were fantastic last night!
Also, Roy must be smiling - LFC's MOTM was Meireles in my opinion.

Posted by JCRochester on 01/28/2011

Stockdale has been a rock! I feel very confident when he's between the woodwork. Let's hope for a magical Sunday against Spurs. COYW!

Posted by David on 01/28/2011

I am one of Clint's biggest fans but have to admit he was due for a poor giveaway in a dangerous position. That is going to happen with Clint. He tries to play out of a lot of tight situations and it can lead to good things sometimes and he is prone to bad giveaways because of it as well. Happens with Fulham and with the US. It has been awhile because he has been playing so far forward on the pitch. But I still think besides Stockdale, Clint had the best game of any player in a White Shirt on the pitch. He always looked dangerous in attack and except for that pass and one other time allowing a cross in looked good defending as well.

I am sure Dembele will come good in front of goal soon. The team seems more dynamic with him on the pitch despite the misses and AJ is really looking good. He is actually getting in behind the defense and causing problems as well.

I was disappointed they lost but felt it was a good performance non the less.

Posted by Ben Stanwright on 01/28/2011

Dembele is providing something we have not seen since BZ's injury -- the ability to get and maintain control of the ball in the midfield and then create something. His strength and ability to dribble in tight spaces while closely marked is amazing, and his playing sense is top class. The goals will come, just as they did with Bobby.
Re the now notorious offside call: at the risk of sounding Pollyanish (and of causing an avalanche of comments from those Liverpool fans who relentlessly track down anything negative said or written about their team), I invite anyone with a DVR to rewatch the call without the benefit of commentary. I have done so several times. In the FSC freeze-frame, the line of the cut grass makes it easy to see that Torres' foot is on or over the line, while Pantsil, the last Fulham defender, is a body width from the line. Tight call? Unlucky call? Perhaps. But clearly wrong? No way. I invite anyone with technical skills better than mine to put the image up.

Posted by zonth on 01/28/2011

Good game, albeit frustrating. Clint's giveaway and the fumbling whiff of Panstil was hard to watch replay slow motion. Although Stockdale got a piece of it that threw Panstil off on the clear. Demblee seemed a bit invisible to me. Kept waiting for a long run weaving through people but never materialized. Clint was also guilty of a couple of bad decisions (a long shanked attempt at goal instead of finding AJ)

Did indeed like Sidewel tackel on Stevie G. Well earned yellow, let Gerrard know he was around.

Posted by zapzap on 01/28/2011

Hopefully will get to see Lauri Dalla Valle more often in the future. He's a great finisher, no idea why RH gave him up when buying Konchesky.

Posted by Tom the Yank on 01/28/2011

While I was hopeful for a week that included a Chavski loss at Bolton and 3 points at Anfield, I'm still optimistic about our chances vs Spurs, based on the performance at Liverpool. While we were unlucky not to have scored twice, we were fortunate not to be down 2-0 at HT, with the disallowed Torres goal that looked to be onsides and the great save by Stockdale.

My real concern, at this point, is the possible opportunity lost if we don't sign a striker and it's not looking likely, this late in the game. If Dempsey, Dembele and/or AJ go down to injury, we are in trouble. As much as everyone dreams of a big name signing, I'd be satisfied with someone like Jason Roberts, who would be a solid insurance policy.

Looking forward to coming back over, next week, for Toon and Villa away and will bring over the Fulham Exiles flag on it's debut trip to London.

COYW's!

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