Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The New Coventry?

Coleman was right when he moaned about the Premiership schedule the other day. The two weeks between the bore-draw at Wigan and Saturday's forthcoming fixture have really dragged. There's a feeling of unfinished business in the air, and yet no chance of a resolution before the weekend. In particular it will be interesting to see how Liam responds to the criticism he received. I really like him, so I hope it will motivate him to really show how good he can be.

The long running Coleman In/Coleman Out debate on TFi really comes down, in my opinion, to one question. Are we content with just staying in the Premiership or do we think we should be achieving much more than that? I think it's pretty clear that, at the moment, the chairman and the board are content with just staying up and gradually increasing the profitability of the club. I have, so far, felt that way to some extent too and I still believe that the longer Fulham remain in the top division, the stronger we will become as a team and the greater our opportunity for winning a cup or playing in Europe. However, there does need to be some level of entertainment to make it all worthwhile, and that's the big thing we seem to be missing at the moment.

I remember "back in the day" as we began another, ultimately fruitless, attempt to escape the third division, having a particular dislike for Coventry City. Every year they would avoid relegation without too much anxiety, yet never have a season when they even looked like achieving anything exciting. OK they won the F.A.Cup one year, but that was a fluke, right? I think Fulham are in danger of becoming the new Coventry City and to be honest, I really don't think that's something I want to aspire to. Maybe being in the Premiership is something you only really appreciate when you're not in it anymore, but right now I think I'd rather see a heroic Fulham team playing a bit of football and going down, than a dour one achieve another 13th place finish.

I'm hoping for a stirring performance against Pompey on Saturday, I reckon we owe them a bit of a thumping after last season, and a chance for a flair players (particularly Routledge & Montella) to show us what they can do. Come on Chris give us what we want, a few goals and a proper game of football.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Game 30 – Wigan 0 FFC 0

Well it really is looking like the last few games of the season are going to be a bit of a drag. By all accounts a woeful game of football in which Fulham managed to create very little up front. A blast over the bar by Diop in the first and a shot that was always sliding wide of the post from Captain Browny in the 2nd. We do clearly need to pick up some points to ensure we don’t get dragged into to the drop zone, and on a wet and windy day you can understand Coleman picking a conservative team, but still some strange choices made. Pearce & Boca continued at centre back, yet neither Christanval (who played midweek for Europe) nor Knight even made the bench. No place in the 15 for Moritz Volz either, which really is perplexing, as he does not appear to be injured and has shown this season that he can fill in a number of roles. We continue to play the narrow four man midfield, with no natural left footer, and seem reluctant to let our flair players any where near the pitch; Dempsey, Routledge, and John all on the bench (with only John getting any time on the park – a massive 8 minutes), and no sign of Claus at all. We need 6 points to reach the "magic" 40 point mark, maybe when we get there we’ll try and play some football again.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Game 29 – FFC 1 Aston Villa 1

A big game this one, and one, which I think, may be indicative of our whole season. Villa had an almost identical record to us going into the match, and with a more or less full squad to choose from we really needed to win it. I certainly don’t think there’s much danger of us getting sucked into the relegation zone, but if we want to show how good we are these are the games we need to win. Maybe if the threat of relegation was greater we might have found that extra notch in performance to win the game, but it just wasn’t there. We continued with the same formation as we played against United (spot my mistake in the previous post!), a 4-4-2 with Davies and Diop playing the "wide" roles. It really does highlight the often bizarre selection policy of Coleman/Keen as, however well Diop has done (and it’s not that well!) since climbing out of the Coleman doghouse, he is by no stretch of the imagination a left midfielder. Having sold Boa the left wing role is very much up for grabs, but surely the prime contenders in the current squad are Radzinski, Routledge or Dempsey. Clearly "the management" are concerned about having a "lightweight" player on the wing if we only have a four-man midfield.

I can see their dilemma, but hope they have realised that Diop is not the answer. Personally I’d like to see Routledge given a run, but Radz could stake a claim too having performed well above expectations this season. With Montella out for at least one more game though, Radz could well continue up front. Our options are beginning to look pretty bleak here with no one really setting the world alight. I think Brian and Monty should be first choice, and Radz is probably our best bet to cover Monty’s absence. Much as I admire H’s workrate, I only really see him as back up to Brian, and CJ really has blown his last chance.

The defence has taken a bit of a hammering this season, so it was good to see Boca and Pearce doing a reasonable job. I think Boca’s a decent defender who definitely adds depth to our squad, Pearcey’s done OK at times this year, but I doubt he’ll make another season. Fingers crossed the long hoped for "quality centre back" arrives in the summer. I hope Christanval will be back for the Wigan game, he is essential to our defensive line. I also think Zat deserves another go, it’s been another up and down season for him, but he did start so well. Before the stupid broken jaw injury he was playing well, and I reckon he may have been named Captain instead of Brown if he hadn’t been out for 6 weeks. Since then he’s not really had a decent run of games, and that shows in some poor concentration levels. I really hope we do keep him, I think he is good enough to play regularly in the Premiership and we cannot afford to lose too many players. The Rosenior/Voltz conundrum I’ll leave for another post as I’ve gone on enough already.

My team for Wigan would be;

NiemiRosenior, Knight, Christanval, Queudrue – Davies, Smertin, Brown, Routledge – McBride Radzinski.

Wigan will be looking for the points (and the chance of a double), but there’s no point going up there to try and contain them, let’s have a go and try and take all three points.