Indeed, much to the chagrin of the travelling fans, with Bobby sitting in the stands, we were transported back to the dismal away days of last autumn as our midget front man chased down aimless long balls all afternoon. Outplayed in midfield, inexplicable errors in team selection, and comprehensively faced down by opponents showing far more hustle and purpose than the Whites. The sum total of Fulham getting it all wrong on the road again…we’ve been here before.
In short, once the medical team decided Zamo should not be risked, any game plan we had of taking something from the fixture was shredded. I’m perturbed by quotes from Jol that our star striker’s ankle is playing up to the extent he’s also a doubt for Thursday’s trip to the Ukraine. It’s six months since Bob returned from his broken ankle. He was hardly rushed back into the first team last spring. The medical attention modern players receive at Fulham is of the highest order. Those of us subject to the vagaries of a cruelly overburdened NHS system would be privileged to receive such attention. And if Bob’s ankle is playing up now, when he’s not taken a whack on it as far as I recall since March, why has he been risked throughout the early rounds of the Europa League? Everyone agrees preserving Premiership status is the overriding priority.
Compounding the above of course was the aberration of repeating the error we saw against Villa of shifting Hughes to full-back and leaving Hangeland to partner Senderos, while Etuhu again started in preference to Sidwell. We accept Jol’s desire to shape the team in his image, but such has been the outcry at selections that defy all logic, we must pray the message gets through quickly to Jol that you do not tinker with what is not broken. Even Hughes made sure the continuity from Roy’s master plan was maintained.
Central to Jol’s strategy going forward undoubtedly has to be his thinking on replacing the current captain and playmaker. At 34 we must surely accept those days where Danny runs the game and unpicks the opposition defence become fewer and farther between. If allowed to play, as we see against less robust opponents, Murphy remains the man who pulls all the strings. Even the greenest manager in the league knows bottling up our skipper puts you well on the road to keeping Fulham quiet. I fear this issue could seriously undermine our season if sentiment gets in the way and Danny is allowed to soldier on. I don’t like the guy, but for two years Scott Parker would do a great job for us.
On the same theme, I hope Jol doesn’t become dogmatic about picking Riise snr. at wing-back just because he signed him. From Thursday’s display at the Cottage I would have kept faith with Briggs. I hope I’m wrong, but I sense a scenario when by next May Riise has ‘done a Konchesky’ and we see him heading off to the Championship or the MLS – a season in the ELP having confirmed that Roma knew what they were doing when they off-loaded him with his career having well and truly peaked.
Since Sunday’s surrender, where the players didn’t seem to know what plan we were playing to, the wake up call has been sounded. Jol has been all over the media with his mantra that the club is working on all fronts to draft in reinforcements. Good – and that’s why there’s no need to reach for the cyanide pills after just two goalless games. The current rumours suggest offers have been made to two Twente players, Ruiz and Chadli (a winger and a striker) and Max Gradel of Leeds. The board are as usual dragging their heels over the size of fees, but the clock is ticking and we are leaving things late to draft in reinforcements. From the evidence of Sunday, we probably need more new blood than Jol bargained for. Yes, I am a broken record, but why no move for Shane Long?
Finally, before I return in the week with – hopefully – more upbeat content (Fulham demolish Dnipro and announce season-long loan for Carlos Tevez) I leave you with this. Despite it being the club’s first game of the season, and at United’s ‘Theatre of Dreams’ no less, Spurs Luka Modric told ‘Arry to leave him out as he was ‘not in the right frame of mind.’ How much money a week is going into Luka’s account??? Now, as a social experiment, I want all my readers to call up their boss this week and inform him they are not turning up for work ‘because they don’t feel like it.’ I promise to forward the best responses to my dear friend Harry Redknapp and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.
Keep the faith! Twitter@fulhamphil
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