Back to the bread and butter for an early season six-pointer at the Hawthorns. Too early maybe to call this a relegation battle, but for sure Woy has inked this one onto his wall chart where he'll have calculated the Baggies can take points from fragile Fulham. Why not? When it comes to our phobia of being any kind of force on the road, Uncle Roy should know - he wrote the manual. Although Jol might pay lip service to turning us into a more vibrant force eventually, there's been no sign of it so far. Zero points to date from trips to Newcastle and Wolves, and an all too predictable timid approach in both games. QPR's wonderful win at Wolves last week putting our own pitiful performance there firmly in perspective.
West Brom themselves have hit the skids after a bright start and have their fans well worried. They were toothless at Swansea last time out and just like us, don't look to be brimming over with attacking ideas. Both sides lost narrowly this week in the Carling Cup, making it five defeats already this season for West Brom...and losing can quickly become a habit. Though we have clawed our three points from three draws, just one lucky break in both the Villa and Blackburn games would see us in the top half of the table.
But you can't argue with the stats. We need a win, we need to score more than one, and we need to start seeing progress and positivity from Jol's new tactical plan. Man for man we have the ability to best Albion, my biggest fear is that they beat us on attitude and approach rather than ability. It really is time to lose this tag of being 'Southern softies.' Encouraging though it was to see the kids doing well at the Bridge, we lacked that psychological edge and maturity to boss the game and nail the win. Look at the way our three senior pros put away their pens compared to Kasami, Dembele and Ruiz? It was all so typically Fulham to throw away the advantage. For the second time in 7 months penalty misses saw an opportunity to stick it to our bitterest rivals spurned. Believe me, chances to put one over on Chelsea only come along about once a decade. It may only be the Carling Cup but...
There's been some lazy press today in London papers about Carling Cup teams looking to the old guard for progress. Gerrard, Bellamy, Lampard, Terry, while from across the water I hear a groundswell of opinion that Beckham's now past it and can't quit the MLS scene quickly enough. Such a shame the local journos here in the Smoke haven't yet got round to eulogising some of the terrific young talent coming through at FFC. There was real excitement Wednesday to see the potential from Frei in particular. No player can deny the march of time and this has to be the season Jol considers a cull of sorts with our ageing squad.
Assuming Ruiz is going to come good sooner rather than later, it has to be a straight fight between Moussa and Duff for that third position up behind Bobby. Although Zamo himself is nearing 31, we still have no ready-made successor to BZ in the ranks. As I said this week on L.A. worldfootballdaily's podcast, with Bobby absent, as he was at Wolves and Newcastle, our potency in attack is down 40%. This, along with our ageing midfield playmaker, are the two major issues Jol has to address. Should he not do so, and we continue to struggle, the gaffer may well be having his collar felt by our owner come Christmas.
Could it come to that? The Deuce has affirmed the side are anxious to nail that first win, but that the table is irrelevant until 10-15 games in. Knowing it is an away game Saturday, and despite the stirring comeback against Man City, it would be all too Fulhamish for us to curl up at the feet of Shane Long (due a goal!). I confess to being nervous about this one. It's a nightmare for the punter, because all three results are quite possible.
It all depends on what Fulham team turns up. Most senior pros sat Wednesday out. Just because Hughes is fit again that does NOT mean Martin you should be sticking him back in at RB. He plays centre-half for his country and Fulham FC. Is that clear! AJ is still out with an ankle, Etuhu thigh strain, but these are both players facing a future on the bench methinks. Would be a nice statement of intent to see both Sa and Frei named among the subs too. We'll see.
Sorry I had only two hours notice of my slot on U.S. radio but there'll be more in the future. You can catch the podcast via this link: copy and paste the following in your browser to retrieve file. The link will expire on September 29, 2011 19:20 PDT.
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