What now for Jol? Fulham 1-3 Liverpool

Mike Hewitt

A fifth straight defeat has increased the pressure on a manager who, increasingly, is looking void of ideas

And so it continues. Our decline from the grand old days of mid-table mediocrity into lower-league layabouts. Five straight defeats. No hunger, no desire. Nothing much at all, really.

This was no cataclysmic performance, though - we've played far worse, had far more destructive results - but it isn't just this 3-1 defeat to Liverpool which has set the mood. No, morale is poor because this game was just the culmination of an incredibly dire period of time for Fulham and, for that matter, the fans.

The lack of any genuine motivation for these remaining league games has been saddening, the lack of commitment concerning. And while it's not always fair to make scapegoats, surely Martin Jol should be taking the greatest of the vitriol. His job, after all, is to galvanise his men and to dictate their shape accordingly.

Recently, though, he has been unable to do neither. He is quick to blame the premature gathering of forty points for our loss of fervour, while his tactical ideas have become predictable and thoughtless. We don't seem to adapt to suit our opposition, or adapt to form, or adapt to conditions. We just don't adapt at all.

Hence the stagnation. That word has been thrown around a lot of late but it does sum us up as a club quite perfectly. We have not moved forward or progressed but merely built for the short term, bringing players in on either loans or one-year deals.

Granted, maybe Jol has not had much to work with, but he could at least show imagination - something hardly in abundance at the Cottage on Sunday.

Liverpool were simply better, sharper and bolder. Daniel Sturridge was excellent and Philippe Coutinho was dominant, the latter proving to be just the kind of player Fulham were missing. He was elegant in midfield and passed to wondrous effect. We have craved someone of his caliber since Moussa Dembele and Danny Murphy left last summer.

It was against the run of play that Fulham opened the scoring, as Dimitar Berbatov nodded home a Sascha Riether cross from close range. Jol's men certainly hadn't been bad up to that point, but Liverpool were more adventurous, and it told with the Reds' almost-instantaneous reply.

A swift counter attack saw Sturridge attack the home penalty area and, after a brief attempt to reclaim possession, a flat footed Aaron Hughes was beaten. All that was left was for Sturridge to fire home, which he did so with aplomb.

At half time, then, things were level but the dynamic of the game was certainly working in Brendan Rodgers' favour. His team were just that little more refined, and the second period would prove as much.

Fulham had justified calls for a penalty turned down by referee Mark Halsey as Lucas Leiva handled in the box and, before long, had more reason to condemn the official's decision making. Alexander Kacaniklic was brought down when latching on to a through ball but nothing was given. Liverpool broke, and Sturridge put Liverpool 2-1 up, this time stroking the ball past Mark Schwarzer from close range.

A series of superb saves from our Australian 'keeper kept the scoreline steady but a third goal was almost inevitable. It would of course be Sturridge, claiming his hat-trick, but Coutinho was the real master here. A pinpoint through ball from the Brazilian allowed Sturridge to nonchalantly lob the ball over Schwarzer and put the tie to bed.

It was a game in which you could, to equal effect, bemoan the officials and the team. Had decisions gone our way, there would likely have been an entirely different outcome to this late season tie. But, then again, if Fulham had done things a little differently themselves, maybe Jol's situation wouldn't be so sombre.

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