Seeking some objectivity after our less than stellar start to the season, I cast an eye along some other big summer signings amongst our rivals to see how they match up to our own new recruits. Under the microscope, three players all linked to Fulham in the past year.
Two were in opposition at Loftus Road. Charles N'Zogbia was instrumental in ensuring Wigan again dodged the executioner last term. But Villa's new gaffer was bemoaning his slow start to the new season this week and Charles didn't last the 90 minutes against Rangers, barely figuring in the game. For the Hoops Jay Bothroyd looks every inch a Championship player, although the whole Rangers side looked that after their day one trouncing by Bolton (now bottom!). Warnock's done well to get them organised from the flood of new recruits. Next week's derby will not be the walkover we were all predicting in August, but Bothroyd's not someone I'm going to lose any sleep over against our great defence.
Talking of the Championship, I was expecting more from Shane Long yesterday at the Hawthorns, though he was on a hiding to nothing with Roy's 4-5-1 starting formation. Luckily we kept him at arms length. I guess unless your name is Aguero and genius is already in the genes, making an early impact with any new side, however big the fee, may not be that easy after all. Imagine the outcry on our own message boards had we shelled out big time for Germany's top defender (75 caps) only to then ship 12 goals in two games?
Despite the five draws from our last five competitive matches, and failure to nail that first win against a very average Albion side, the signs are there. We just have to tough it out and wait for that magic formula. I've said it countless times, and Saturday was proof again, no BZ as the focal point to our attack and this current side will struggle. Through no fault of Martin's Gignac should be in the ranks - he isn't - and with that deal blowing up in our faces at the last minute, we remain one striker short for half the season. The team, just as it did for much of last year, continues to play too narrow. If I was to take issue with anyone - underlined by Duff's absence to compound our predictability, it would be with JAR's underwhelming impact to date. Yesterday he showed no inclination to bomb down the flank and I'm yet to be convinced Riise's still got what it takes for the Prem.
Despite the promise shown from our fringe players and new boys in the last two games, we've really lacked a big return from some of the senior pros in the first month. We are playing parks football in the final third. You can see it on any Sunday morning. Far too much aimless dribbling with optimistic shots from distance missing by a mile. Recall the one truly incisive pass from the whole game Saturday. It came from Mulumbu on halfway. On the ground and straight down the middle between the centre backs. Odemwingie was clean through. Now I cannot recall a single Fulham goal in two seasons where we've played a man through, seen him round the keeper and score. AJ used to do that for fun at Palace and Brum, but he's never done it at Fulham.
Returning to my theme of new signings needing time to settle, Grygera looks great, Kasami at 19 can only get better with experience, and Ruiz with his scoring record has to start putting them away soon. So here's to the future, a little bit more luck with decisions, and some accurate shooting please. Dempsey remains a class act, and defensively we're still a solid unit.
And while the boys in white struggle to get the ball between those two bits of wood, just remember how hopeless Dzeko looked last season, and how little return both Carroll and 'Nando have given their clubs in the past 9 months. It aint as easy as it looks.
Odense later this week, and odds on yet another draw I fancy, but the one that really does call for a big performance comes along Sunday. We may have got used to banging our heads against Chelsea, Arsenal and West Ham for little reward down the years, but QPR...Per-lease.
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