While the early season honeymoon is truly over, Fulham now have to reassess and rediscover their confidence with a tough set of fixtures awaiting them.
Even though we’ve had some goals chalked off and missed penalties, with the amount of possession we’ve had, we really should be creating more clear cut chances rather than rueing the missed opportunities. As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, it’s all good having the ball, but if you don’t make that count, the most you can take from the game is just a single point. There’s no doubting the talent within this squad and if Fulham can become more efficient in the final third, then there’s no reason why we can’t beat anyone in this league.
On paper, most fans would have seen the Nottingham Forest fixture as a must win game. Forest were a side that had struggled for form, and to only take a point from that fixture is gutting. Yes, we had goals disallowed, but considering the level of quality we now have, this should have been another 3 points on the tally. Even though I was a big fan of Pajtim Kasami when he was at the Cottage, sadly he didn’t get me off my seat when watching the Nottingham Forest game back. I really want him to succeed because I thought he had some decent qualities during his time here, but in that Forest side he should be the leading man, but he failed to deliver. On the up side, I guess that makes his departure a little easier to take.
What has become apparent in the last few fixtures is the importance of Scott Parker. Despite the former England midfielder coming to the end of his career, his leadership, passion and drive is on another level. He marshals our side and when he’s not on the pitch, it’s no coincidence that the organisation seems to fade.
Against QPR, Parker truly ran that midfield and not only did he do his defensive duties, he picked the ball up and drove at the QPR defence. He moved the ball about in the final third and his overall play was of the highest standard. Although Parker’s not getting any younger, in my eyes, his performances this season have made him the first name on the team-sheet when he’s available.
The QPR fixture was disappointing for a number of reasons, and sadly we didn’t get the bragging rights over our neighbours too. We made a number of chances and once again we failed to take them. With our forwards desperate for goals, I’m surprised neither of them jumped at the opportunity to take the penalty. While, Tom Cairney and Sone Aluko are very decent players at this level, Cairney’s penalty was incredibly choreographed, making it easy for Smithies to predict which side he was going to strike. Considering Chris Martin used to take penalties at Derby I really felt he should have been the designated taker.
Considering Martin’s performances over recent seasons, I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping for him to open his account for us sooner rather than later. Once he has that first goal and breaks his drought, I have a strong feeling he’ll be the man to rely upon for the rest of the season. A forward that is capable of scoring 20 goals a season is something that we need, and considering Martin’s previous seasons, he is more than capable of delivering that.
Even though there has been some improvement at the back this season, there is still more to work on. Although goalkeeping is a very tough position to play week in, week out I personally feel that David Button could have done better in certain situations. There’s no doubting his shot stopping ability, but goalkeepers have to offer much more than that on a regular basis. There’s been too many times that we have relied on the keeper to come and collect crosses and be more demanding, and while his shot stopping is impressive, he needs to add that commanding presence to his game.
A lot has changed over the last month, but I guess it’s good to have these moments – it allows experimentation, and the realisation that everything isn’t wonderful. In those times, people focus more, competition for places can grow and trying to learn another way of playing can generally add another dimension to our game. But, I do have complete faith in this squad, we have a proven bunch of players in this division and once they settle and begin to gel, they should get us out of our seats – hopefully cheering after scoring so many!
Things take time, and form will fluctuate. There’s no doubting that but I still think we have the right manager and set of players to achieve our expectations this season.
Thank you ever so much for reading – The Craven Corner will feature in the match day programme for our home game against Norwich City.
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