Monday, October 08, 2007

Fulham 0 Portsmouth 2 - Match Post Mortem

There comes a point where you have to consider that maybe instead of trying to defend your team against the media perception that you're likely to struggle this season and accept that maybe they're right. Most of the non-Fulham people I talk to about football see us as a team that's full of Championship quality players with a Manager that hasn't really got experience at the highest level. They try to say nice things to me but generally most of them reckon we're going down this season. I've tried to explain that we've got a good game plan, that Sanchez has a lot of good qualities that could see him succeed in the Premier League, that generally player for player we look better than we did last season. On Sunday, for the first time, I felt they were all right and I was wrong.

Portsmouth are a team in form. Before the game I was worried they might tear us apart with their pace and dominate the midfield. In the end they looked decidedly average but still had more than enough to beat us. We were very poor in the second half and having conceded two goals in two minutes so soon after the restart, never looked like we were capable of breaking down an experienced defence who did not want a repeat of the previous weeks comedy of errors. The first goal came from nowhere as somehow our entire team deserted the middle of the pitch to allow a through ball to reach Benjani. In a one on one against Bocanegra there was really no contest, Boca let himself get dragged out to the right before Benjani swivelled back in side and was past him in a flash. Boca did recover to slightly deflect the shot, but if anything that just made it harder for Keller to save. Ninety seconds later and we were two down. Chris Baird was horribly exposed on the right wing, where he found himself against two players. Hreidarsson out muscled him to win the ball, leaving Baird completely out of the game, and then powered on into the open space to fire home the second. Baird could have done better but my first thought was where was his support. No one reacted quickly enough to help get him out of trouble. Sanchez made three substitutions on the hour mark bringing on Seol, Murphy and Kamara for Baird, Smertin & Healy and we moved to a 3-5-2 formation. It made little difference and to be honest I reckon I switched off for about 20 minutes.

It had all looked so much more positive in the first half. There were chances for both sides but we looked pretty good going forward. Steven Davis looked lively and was combining well with Smertin. Bouazza was having a great day down the left wing and put in several decent crosses. Dempsey worked really hard and won a lot of ball under pressure from Campbell and Distin. The Pompey fans weren't as numerous or as noisy as they had been on previous visits, but they had succeeded in winning the toss and making us attack the Hammy End in the first half. The only other game we've been made to switch ends was against Middlesbrough and we lost that game too. The atmosphere this season has been really good, though that might just be down to a change of seat position, but on Sunday everything went flat. We've got a couple of weeks off now until the Derby game on the 20th. I think we need it. A bit of time to take stock and re-evaluate our position. The next three games are massive.

I met Rich from CCN before the game, which was nice, and we parked for free on the main road. That's about as positive as I can get right now.

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