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Fulham 0 Middlesbrough 2 Observations

So it’s the age-old question in football: were Middlesbrough that good, or were we that bad? Or were they so good they made us look bad?

Over the course of 90+ minutes, it was painfully clear that Boro were the better side today. They were superbly organized on both ends of the pitch, were stingy in defense, and forced us into one bad pass after another.

For me there were two Men of the Match: Scott Parker and Michael Madl. I didn’t see a performance elsewhere in a white kit that even came close.

First Half Observations:

  • Adomah scored from a free header at 3’. He was so open I could have scored that one.
  • Fredericks should have come off sooner. Injured at the 20’ mark and clearly in pain. Slavisa took too long to sub him out.
  • Leadbitter scored on a penalty at 20’. Baird’s penalty was so very soft – the player looked like a stiff breeze took him over.
  • What formation were we actually playing in the first half? The website said it was a 5-3-2, but they looked disorganized and confused. Was Dan Burn playing on the right? Dan Burn as a central defender? Yes – on the left? Hell no. We learned that under Magath.
  • There were spells of up to five minutes when the ball never crossed into the Boro half.
  • McCormack was forced into a midfield role much of the first half. He was even forced into a defensive position, much like last season with Kit.
  • Dembele with a terrific bicycle kick / shot from Dan Burn’s header that was pushed over the crossbar at 38. That might have changed the game
  • At 40, Madl’s header was cleared off the line for a terrific save. Madl could have become a legend at Fulham if that went in.
  • Tunnicliffe not too impressive. Nor was Stearman. Garbut only so-so.
  • Parker made some phenomenal blocks to keep us in the game. He was all over the pitch.
  • Boro made it difficult to even get it in their half much of the 1st half. They were very well organized and almost impossible to break down.
  • Madl wins more headers than anyone – even though he’s one of the smallest men on the pitch. After 45 minutes, the score should have been 0-4 but for Michael Madl and Parker.
  • It looked cold at the Cottage, but not nearly as chilly as the locker room had to be at the half. Slavisa had to be icy with rage after that first 45 minutes.
Second Half Observations:
  • We were our own worst enemy in the 2nd half – couldn't string passes together.
  • Parker continued to throw himself at players and balls.
  • Labyad showing some spunk and fight as soon as he came on – not counting the very ambitious shot from 25 yards.
  • Dan Burn didn't have a good game, for once. Knocked aside easily, beaten repeatedly, fouling in desperation.
  • Best chance for us form a set piece from Ross at 72’ – Konstantopolis makes the save. He comes away injured, having fallen badly. Not fouled.
  • Our passing has been horrible.
  • One of our best chance falls to O’Hara at 80’, but the flag was up. No way he should have missed that one.
  • Dembele turned and takes it on the volley at 82’ but skies it over the bar. If Fulham finished their chances it could have been 2-2.
  • RED CARD for Stearman for a horrible tackle at 85’. I think his time with Slavisa and the club is numbered after that. I’m not sure he was the last man, but it didn’t matter at this point. No chance now.
  • Amazing stop by Longergan at 87’ on the Boro breakaway! At least there's one Fulham highlight.

Fulham ended the game with 55% possession, a 80% pass success, won 68% of the duels, and were only out shot by one (12-13). Those stats don't look bad, and it may just be that Boro is that much better. They're only giving up about a half goal a game, and trying to break them down with Fulham's short passing game was always going to be a struggle. Fortunately, the schedule is a bit easier the next couple of games. With some luck, Fulham can get some results.