Some random thoughts about Sunday's game.
I watched Match of the Day last night having taped it at the weekend and it gave me the chance to assess my first impressions. Obviously we only got a couple of minutes of highlights but I was surprised by how many chances we actually created in the first half. None were clear cut but the evidence is there that we should have done better. The second half was still shocking and confirmed our lack of fight throughout the team. The Davis/Smertin partnership is my biggest concern as we seem to be desperately lacking a midfielder who can win the ball back. They can play some decent football when going forward but it's when we've lost possession they seem to lack any bite. Looking through our squad though and there's not really anyone else who could come in and do the job. I think Sanchez might have jumped the gun in being so keen to offload Michael Brown and Papa Bouba Diop. Brown in particular was able to do a lot of the hard graft and Diop, whilst not as active as Brown, certainly added some muscle to our midfield. Whilst we are still missing Jimmy Bullard and Lee Cook neither player is going to add anything to our resilience.
Our centre back paring of Hughes and Bocanegra is also an issue. I like Bocanegra a lot but I think he may be a bit too similar to Hughes in style. Unfortunately, and again partly due to Sanchez' decisions to let players go, we really don't have many options. Stefanovic is an intelligent player but again not radically different in approach. I would love to see Phillippe Christanval back in the side but I suspect he is another player off the manager's first-team-selection-radar. Having brought in so many players over the summer it's a concern that I am already looking at the positions I think we need to fill come January. My top three priorities would be a hard grafting midfielder, a mobile and dominant centre back and a new first choice goalkeeper.
Kasey Keller had another good game and could not be blamed for either goal. He looked much more confident than Niemi has in recent outings, but at 37+ I don't think we can expect him to maintain that level of performance. I don't want to write off Niemi just yet but he's no spring chicken either and I think we need to find someone who can be the undisputed number one.
Finally it was nice to see Jimmy Hill at the game. He received a very warm reception from the home crowd and Richard has a great picture (taken by Orm of TFi) of Jimmy holding a copy of The Fulham Review. Moritz Volz also did his bit for the Sparks charity by getting in amongst the fans and bringing his bucket round just about every square inch of the Hammy End.