I wish I could be clever enough to write a post match thoughts that really encapsulated a horrible match such as the one I watched today. A match that was unusually cruel to a side that wasn't ours and I feel as though now would be an appropriate time--if there ever was one--to take a shot at our own team with a really dreadful performance by our central defense.
Starting the match West Ham came storming. Fulham turned the ball over inside their own half to West Ham during the kick-off and in the first 5 seconds they turned that possession into a shot against our goal. I feel like in a lot of ways this kind of sums up the Hammers afternoon. We played with incredible dysfunction, despite what 30 shots would infer and yet the Hammers never really capitalized on it, as sure as it seemed that they would.
I suppose that's the funny thing about sports luck comes and goes and sometimes breaks just go your way. God knows we haven't see much of it this year, so maybe I should stop complaining and just take the 3 points and say thank you. Yet, another piece inside of me wants to fly to England to in an offering to David Stockdale to help him find his big boy voice.
A great measure, and probably the majority, of blame that one might divide up would seem Stockdale getting a quite a bit as it seemed he didn't work well with his two centrebacks Philippe Senderos and Fernando Amorebieta. Largely, that belief of mine is his lack of ability to communicate and effectively boss them around. It seemed he lacked instructions and never could decide whether he should come off his line or allow the ball to be played.
Senderos will take a bit of blame too. His problems with balls in the air is some what understandable considering the circumstances however he failed to even make important challenges in awkward defensive situations. This compounded a couple of poor passes and bad defensive positioning in a couple of early attacks.
The problems defensively took a back seat as the attack slowly progressed and finally got started. You could probably attribute some of that to the injury for Mark Noble, who went down as the match reached the 30th minute. Without him it took all of 2 minutes Fulham to level the affair.
Things then got progressively worse for the visitors as Kevin Nolan was then awarded a red card just before half. Just like that the Hammers took a blow to their cause and their attack was largely neutralized through the remainder of the match.
Fulham managed to put together 17 of their 30 chances after Nolan was sent off. Not only that but they managed 23 of their 30 chances after the injury to Noble. To say that those were "turning points", as Cottage Talk host, and contributor to this site, Russ Goldman likes to say, is an understatement.
The two biggest pieces to this match to me was Sascha Reither and Scotty Parker. Reither who placed 4 official crosses into box was brilliant with his service. Unfortunately, Dimitar Berbatov was caught off sides on a few different occasions and while it helped press the opposing line it took away a couple of key scoring opportunities. Reither also managed to put together three passes that lead to shots.
Parker was his usual boss self as he won 4/6 duels, created 4 chances on goal (1 successful) and 88% passing which helped break into the opponents attacking third and let Reither go from there.
It was not the most classy of wins and some may even say it was luck, I'd like to call it... well, luck. So what? 3 points is 3 points and we've now gone from 18th overall in the table and out of the relegation drop-off to 16th without eyes set forward and beating up on the crashing Black cats this weekend.
There was a lot of scary moments on the backline but hopefully some consistency will work out those kinks and if nothing else the return of Maarten Stekelenburg will bring back someone who isn't scared of telling a centreback where to be or to lay off ball. There are a lot of frustrations to be had with his time in the net but the one thing you can say is that he managed the defensive line better than Stockdale.
Here is to less scary moments going forward and more shots. A lot more shots.