Fulham Ruthlessly Manhandled, Mauled, Murdered, Mashed, Masticated, and Mangled by Hull City

Matthew Lewis

Why the Christmas program is like Christmas morning and why you shouldn't freak out just yet.

Let me get this out there right off the blocks just so there's no misunderstanding of what I'm trying to say.

*ahem*

That was bloody awful, embarrassing, and indefensible.

Now that we're on the same page, let's all take a short break from gnashing our teeth, rending our garments, and cutting up that Rene Meulensteen picture we put in the heart shaped frame a few weeks ago. You know, the one we keep under our pillows and gaze at just before we go to sleep every night. Well, every night but tonight.

There's a lot of noise out there right now about the team selection. Too much rotation, not enough consistency, this is a relegation scrap, best XI every time, and on and on and on. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Fulham are a relegation candidate, and there's nothing you or I can do about it.

Fulham are in the position they're in quite simply because the players are not good enough, the squad is not deep enough, and the side isn't balanced enough to be in another position. Managers make some difference, yes, but statistically, that difference is negligible when compared to the effects of the wage bill on league table position.

On Christmas Day, Rene Meulensteen was staring at a run of four league matches in which the club could likely win priceless points. My guess is that six points was probably the low figure Meulensteen had in mind. Seven would have been heaven.

Supporters, God love us, live and die with every match and want the team and manager to go for it in every match. This is true in all sports with all teams and is completely understandable, but also utterly insane. To play the side's best XI in every match through the holiday season, especially given that Fulham has the oldest side in the Premier League, would be foolhardy at best and criminally irresponsible at worst. The squad simply must be rotated and, given that Fulham also has one of shallowest sides in the Premier League, performances inevitably suffer.

Meulensteen rotated his squad for the Norwich City match and I'd venture a guess he was delighted and maybe even a little surprised to wind up with all three points. With West Ham United and Sunderland likely the matches Meulensteen marked previous to the Norwich match as those fixtures in which the club had the best chance to gain all three points in this run of four games, rotation and maybe a cheeky draw were clearly the order of the day at Hull City. At half time, everything seemed to be on track.

Then the second half happened.

Talking tactics and pointing fingers after a 6-0 drubbing in which Steve Bruce voluntarily withdrew Tom Huddlestone (Remember when Fulham were linked with him?!) and played the last few minutes a man down is probably not going to accomplish much. This side was selected as a placeholder; a bridge to the West Ham match at Craven Cottage. No one played well. Many played poorly. Some were even worse than that.

I understand Meulensteen's approach to the match and even applaud it. It was the sensible approach, it just backfired in a horrible, violent, spectacularly soul-sapping sort of way.

My advice? Try to think of the Christmas fixture list as Christmas morning. Your first present was a bottle of Glenlivet 21-year-old Archive. The second was a pair of socks from your grandmother. She forgot you lost both of your legs earlier this year in a car accident. That's a bad gift, but Christmas isn't over yet!

Buck up and pour yourself a glass of the good stuff, you've got two more presents still to open.

COYW!

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