I think the general view from the stands of Fulham’s start to the season is fairly negative having seen three fairly poor performances from the team, but when you look at who we’ve played, I don’t think we should be too displeased with the start we’ve made.
Losses to Arsenal at home, and Newcastle away at any other point of the season wouldn’t raise any eyebrows, but put the two together in the first few weeks of the season and some people will start saying we’re already relegated. If you’d offered me a win and two losses from the first three games on August 13 I probably would have taken it, because none were easy wins, and all three were losable.
Our team has seen a fair amount of change this summer, and (excuse the overused term) it may take us a while to gel, and start playing well as a team. We seem to have lacked any fluidity, and the team has looked fairly disjointed. I say every week how I think this is down to Dimitar Berbatov, so I won’t go into it again as I’m getting tired of saying it, and Martin Jol is clearly not going to drop him.
I imagine Jol will be feeling a bit of pressure this week, if we lose then an average start turns into a pretty poor one and the pressure begins to mount. This will probably come back to haunt me, but in West Brom this weekend we face the perfect opposition. We beat them twice last season and with them sitting bottom at this early stage of the season it’s a game we really should be winning.
The biggest selection issue is who you play in attacking midfield and up front with an abundance of talented, experienced players in these positions. This week we’ve seen one of our brightest young talents in recent years leave the club partly because of this, and to be honest, I’m gutted about it. When Kerim Frei put in a man-of-the-match performance against Chelsea in the 1-1 draw two seasons ago, few would have predicted we’d be selling him a year and a half later for a pretty meagre fee of around £3million.
His career really hasn’t kicked on since then, which is why it is perhaps no surprise so many Fulham fans aren’t too bothered about him leaving. Since that game against Chelsea, he’s suffered a couple of injuries, spent a very unsuccessful loan spell at Cardiff and been overtaken by Alex Kacaniklic in the pecking order.
Only those at the club will know why it never really happened for him at the club, perhaps due to a lack of effort, perhaps due to him wanting to go back to Turkey, it’s not really for me to speculate as I have no idea, but I am disappointed to see him leave, as I still believe he’s a very exciting young player.
My team for Saturday, would be Stekelenburg (if fit), Riether, Hangeland, Amorebieta (who presumably is fit having been on international duty this week), Riise, Parker, Sidwell, Dejagah, Ruiz, Taarabt, Bent.
Like I said earlier, this will not be the team, as Berbatov will be playing, but that team just looks so much nicer than if it had Berbatov in it!
It’ll be interesting to see how the team does line up, because we have a fair few options.
My prediction last week was pretty good, having said it would be a draw, or if not it would be decided by a single goal, this week I think we’ll win 3-1, with Berbatov no doubt getting on the scoresheet!