23 October 2014

Fulham FC - what on earth is going on?

Two words that can describe Fulham's season so far - total shambles. Over a quarter of the way into the season and already Fulham are in a shambles. So, we're going to have a look at where it's all gone wrong so far.

We started by playing Ipswich Town away at Portman Road. This was certainly Felix Magath's best performance of the season. Fulham had most of the possession, but gave the ball away cheaply on more than one occasion. Magath handed out no less than nine Fulham debuts (eight in the starting XI, one in the subs): Jesse Joronen, Tim Hoogland, Nikolay Bodurov, Kostas Stafylidis, Cameron Burgess, Emerson Hyndman, Ross McCormack, and Thomas Eisfeld coming on as a substitute. However, we did score our first goal of the season through Tim Hoogland. Nonetheless, 2-1 was how it finished. Total players used: 14.

Millwall was a mind-boggling bonkers team selection, not for the last time. Felix Magath chose not to start Kostas Mitroglou, Ross McCormack, or Bryan Ruiz, costing £33m between them. An error early on from Scott Parker gave Martyn Woolford one of the easiest goals of his career. When McCormack finally came off the bench Fulham had new impetus. But, sadly, it was not to be. Magath obviously missed the shouting match between Joronen and Parker after the goal. I'm of the opinion that Joronen was at fault. Parker's interference was minimal, and had he not been there the ball would have reached Woolford anyway. Total players used: 17.

I went to Fulham vs Wolverhampton Wanderers. I wish I hadn't. It was an appalling performance, an appalling team selection, and one of the worst Fulham performances I've ever seen. Mark Fotheringham, one of Fulham's worst ever players, dawdles off the post and Bakary Sako doesn't need a second invitation. 0-1. Cameron Burgess then gave away a sloppy penalty, thankfully saved by Jesse Joronen, but "Felix Out" rang around Craven Cottage. Total players used: 21. 

Magath, in a moment of madness, stuck with the generic team who had lost so dismally to Wolves - against promotion favourites Derby County, making just the one change, Ryan Williams in for Mark Fotheringjoke. Scott Parker had brought it back to 1-1, but then Derby upped the anti. It got laughable by the end: Fulham conceded straight from the restart - from 3-1 to 5-1 within the space of two minutes. Total players used: 23. 

After a Capital One Cup win versus Brentford, Fulham move on to a home game against Cardiff City. With both managers severely under pressure, a 1-1 draw was a fair result. Both sides had a fair amount of chances and both sides would have won on another day. Finally, Dan Burn was recalled into the side, a move which delighted me intensely. Marcus Bettinelli and Gabor Király were preferred to Jesse Joronen. Total players used: 26.

Against Reading, starts for Gabor Király and Matt Smith and an appearance off the bench for Elsad Zverotic took the list of Fulham players up to 29. Smith lasted just 18 minutes before being sent off, and Fulham were 1-0 down anyway. Fulham lost dismally. The game finished 3-0. Total players used: 29.

The final straw for Felix Magath was against Nottingham Forest. A comical farce ended 5-3 in a topsy-turvy game. Having gone 2-0, Fulham dragged it back to 2-3, before Forest were able to win 5-3. Fulham played no less than six defenders and still let in five. They also picked up no less than six yellow cards. Magath was sacked the following morning. Total players used: 30. 

Felix Magath was finally sacked and results started to pick up, although not immediately. The first game for caretaker boss Kit Symons was an unlucky 0-1 loss to Blackburn due to an unfortunate rebound into the path of Jordan Rhodes. Bryan Ruiz finally got a game, but the downer was that Shaun Hutchinson was sent off for a horror tackle. Magath had sent Mitroglou on loan, so Symons was now working the money-demanding effectively. Total players used: 31.

Then, finally, Fulham started winning games. A Capital One Cup thrashing of Doncaster Rovers was followed by an amazing league win. Symons was getting the best out of the squad. When Fulham went behind against Birmingham City early on we all thought "oh no, here we go again", but goals from Tim Hoogland and Hugo Rodallega gave Fulham their first win. Total players used: 31.

There was no stopping Fulham now. Bolton Wanderers were next, and were dispatched 4-0 with ease. Goals from Hugo Rodallega, Fernando Amorebieta, Lasse Vigen Christensen, and Tim Hoogland left Dougie Freedman, Bolton manager, clinging onto his job by the seat of his pants. He was later sacked too. 

Middlesbrough were next. A trip to the Riverside Stadium is a difficult one to do successfully. Middlesbrough are promotion favourites. Middlesbrough have a very strong squad. Kit Symons turns up with his Fulham side and we play appallingly in the first half. We're lucky to go in level. We concede, however, straight from the kickoff in the second half. After that, Fulham get their heads screwed on, and should have won, having hit the woodwork three times. Sadly, Middlesbrough bag another. Total players used: 31. 

Next up is Norwich City, another tough test, at Craven Cottage. Bruno Tonioli once referred to someone dressed in yellow as "a lame canary, flapping around but never taking off". Not the case with the Canaries. A topsy-turvy game ends up with Fulham winning it through a Sean Kavanagh worldie, but Fulham get let off the hook when an appalling referee gives a penalty just as Marcus Bettinelli is retrieving the ball which has gone out for a goal kick, for a Dan Burn tap on a player about 3 years ago. Lewis Grabban sets justice straight, though, by smashing it onto Marcus Bettinelli's crossbar. Fulham survive. And Fulham win again. Total players used: 31. 

Rochdale United should, on paper, be an easy game. But fixture congestion is annoying for Fulham, having to play four games in the space of 11 days. Symons takes the Rotherham game as an opportunity to rest some players. But Fulham's performance will give him good selection headaches. An offside goal from Rotherham puts them 1-0 up. Marcus Bettinelli is incensed and lands himself a yellow card for arguing. George Williams wins a penalty, which Ross McCormack dispatches with ease, minutes later. 1-1. In the second half, Clarke-Harris scores, but Cauley Woodrow delivers a wonderstrike almost immediately and it's 2-2. A Nikolay Bodurov own goal four minutes from time causes Fulham hearts to sink, before Ross McCormack swings a corner in... and Dan Burn heads it in in stoppage time! It's 3-3! What a triple comeback! Total players used: 31. 

So it's difficult to answer the question "how are Fulham doing?" - we're still in the drop zone. However, when (not if) Kit Symons is appointed permanently, Fulham should go flying up the table. Don't write us off for the title just yet. 

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