The bigger picture says Fulham can book their passage into the last 32 by keeping their interest in the Europa League alive with a win over Odense in two weeks time. Home advantage against the weakest team in the group will see us over the line, while Wisla must go for a win home to Twente, so the seven points we already have could be enough.
There really are no positives to pick out of Thursday's narrow defeat at the De Grolsch Veste. It was just all so predictable. What I saw as a vibrant match up when the draw was made, turned into a squib as damp as the Dutch weather. Pity the 1300 odd supporters who shelled out for the latest Fulham instalment of death by boredom.
Maybe it was the financial hit that seemed to provoke a rash of hostile postings to Friday's forums. This blog has been highlighting the impending crisis for some weeks. Others have now woken up to the fact that Jol simply doesn't know how to inspire this group of players. The only one of our summer signings to make any kind of impression has been ruled out for the rest of the season. None of our fringe players have come to the fore, we've heard talk the technical and tactical coaching has fallen away, body language suggests the squad are not enjoying it much. Now some tough December games may see the terraces turn on Jol.
As we saw yet again in Holland, Brede and Mark are playing out of their skins to maintain defensive respectability - despite the gaffer undermining the Hughes-Hangerland axis. Jol will also blindly continue selecting JAR, as it's his signing, despite the Norwegian being a busted flush and past his best. Where did Twente's late winner come from? The left-back flank of course. Twice in the closing minutes as the Whites looked to hang on, Riise banged tired balls up to halfway and straight to a red shirt. Slipping over in the build up to the goal didn't help either. No suprise then when our old guard concede a late goal as for the final ten minutes we simply have nobody upfield capable of holding on to the ball. Kasami wasn't on for long but was awful. As for poor old Andy...has little more to offer than effort.
For the third away game in a row no man in white looks like scoring, and did we even force a corner? BZ poked a golden opportunity past the post from a clever free-kick routine, but was not on the end of anything created in open play. AJ skewed a big chance well wide after a lucky ricochet in the box and, er...that was it. Our only winger lasts half an hour before his suspect calf flares up, the clockwork mouse that is Moussa then also picks up a strain. AJ compounds his average display by stupidly kicking the ball away to draw a needless red card. Thus ends Andy's career in Europe, summed up by his own frustration. Banned for the Odense game and off to QPR in January.
Some extreme reaction was calling for a mass cull by Friday. That rarely happens in football. Our England striker was not spared either, more than a few implying Zamo should be shown the door and the club might as well cash in on anyone foolish enough to pay above £10 million for Dembele. My view? I'd personally drive Moussa anywhere he wants to go - he's a luxury we can't afford. But I think Bobby is putting in a tough old shift for the side for little reward. Criticism of his play this season is wrong. Here's a quote from Steve Kean (of all people) referencing Yakubu after Blackburn's 4-2 win over Swansea. "He's performed fantastically well, but a striker is only as good as his service and that was excellent."
Now apply that to Zamora. Jol's demanding more goals from him. Well if he spent all game in and around the box like Darren Bent, and if we had anyone in the side capable of getting down the wing and crossing the ball, dear old Bobby might be hitting the back of the net more regularly. Don't blame the engine Martin, it's the man at the wheel! No wonder Zamo comes off after 70 fruitless minutes as sole striker, holding the ball up, pulling out to the wing, and tracking back to defend looking ready to chin someone. Reflect on how many of this season's goals BZ has played a crucial part in. The big man has plenty to offer, but in the current Fulham side even Cristiano Ronaldo would struggle to score.
I cannot offer a solution to our current woes, but then I'm not being paid £2million per year to come up with answers. What worries me, I don't think Jol has any better ideas than the rest of us. It's of course tempting to place all our bets on reinforcements arriving in January. That is worrying. It's never the best time to recruit. Is there much talent around? Any big gambles have to provide a fairly rapid payback. No gradual 'bedding in' as has been the case with Ruiz.
The burning question to be asked, is Jol going to hang on to his job? Consider this. Over the next four games, Liverpool (h), Swansea (a), Bolton (h), Man Utd (h) we could very well manage just a point - say, a nervy draw with Bolton, with the rest defeats. That would leave the club on 13 points from 17, and just two wins over the season. Those precise statistics got Lawrie Sanchez the sack in 2007.
Let's put a lighter note into the weekend. "Knife found in Chelsea Dressing Room," screamed the back page of Friday's Daily Mail. Just as the CEO at the Bridge feared yet another unwanted scandal to compound Terry's on-going issues with his potty mouth rant, Fulham rode to the rescue. The knife in question belonged to them. "Yes indeed, confirmed a club spokesman, we knew it had to be one of ours as we've had no cutting edge since going there in the Carling Cup." Case closed.
And the footballing week was not without its highlights. I especially enjoyed Spurs embarrassment at the Lane at the hands of PAOK, even more so than the Palace win at Old Trafford. Heartwarming to see that even these two highflyers have as much dross in their ranks as Fulham when it comes to picking fringe players. There's hope for us yet. Hmm, Liverpool without Lucas for Monday's game...think I'll have to spend all Sunday building up some positivity for my preview.
See my prediction on Bruce's sacking proved spot on. Amused to watch Hughes chasing the job at what he pointedly referred to as an 'ambitious club,' only to lose out to the mad Celt. What are the cards telling me now? Villa about to go into freefall, McLeish out by January, and Mark moved in. You heard it here first.
Keep the comments coming, life's never dull following the Fulham that's for sure. Europa League progress to knockout round and bottom three in the same week?