Still room for improvement at Fulham

rss logoThursday 24th October 2013 12:34

Pajtim Kasami: Wondergoal masked Fulham problems

Pajtim Kasami: Wondergoal masked Fulham problems

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Fulham FanZoner Andy Lye believes that despite his side's four-goal haul against Crystal Palace, there is still room for much improvement.

For 20 minutes on Monday night it looked like it would be business as usual. Our lacklustre team getting overrun by underdogs who simply wanted it more, typified on nine minutes with a deflected looping cross, Brede Hangeland getting out-jumped by Adrian Mariappa, Maarten Stekelenburg nowhere, and 1-0 down.

It didn't even wake us up for another ten minutes either. Then the game changed completely. Pajtim Kasami's goal was more important than simply bringing us level; it completely ruined Crystal Palace.

"Deflated" would be an understatement. The goal itself was sensational. A true wonder goal, and not in the same sense as goals normally branded with that term, which are often rarely more than a hit-and-hope from distance, that nine times in ten would have been off target.

This was the kind of goal, like Dimitar Berbatov's volley against Stoke last season, where it's hard to imagine any of our players will score a better one, especially given the perfectly weighted pass from Sascha Reither that made the whole move all the sweeter.

The same combination of players who inspired the win against Stoke, tellingly (regardless of the headline-praise for Darren Bent for scoring the actual goal in that game).

After that it was clear Palace were not going to offer much opposition, especially after Steve Sidwell's volley just before half-time - surprisingly not skied into row Z as he normally does - finished them off. But apart from our moments of brilliance on Monday, and it would be unfair to go any further without mentioning Berbatov's header, which was superbly taken, and Calamity Senderos - calamity-free this time - showing excellent reactions to score his scissor kick, was there really much to indicate we've turned a corner as a team?

Bent and Bryan Ruiz were again anonymous for most of the game, the former only really emerging from obscurity to screw up the gilt-edged opportunity Berbatov gave him - it was a great save from Julian Speroni, but he should never have been given the chance to make it - and apart from another impressive all-round performance from Kasami, we created very little going forward. Just two other on-target shots besides the four goals in fact, Bent's miss and Kasami's lovely attempt towards the end brilliantly saved by Speroni.

Ruiz features a lot in the stats and match reports (and will be an unexpected goldmine this week for fantasy league teams) because it was his half-cleared free kick that Sid volleyed in, and it was his corners that Berba and Senderos both scored from, but as is so typical for him he did nothing in between set pieces. Certainly with him being so ineffectual elsewhere, we really missed Alexander Kacaniklic on the wing, whose absence after scoring for Sweden last week was very surprising. Presumably he's picked up a slight injury.

On another day when the Senderos shot gets saved instead of squeezing under the 'keeper, and the wonder-volleys don't go in and don't drain Palace of their confidence, what a different game it would have been.

Other times when we've rolled out winners by a wide margin we've actually looked like scoring a lot, and you feel at the end that had certain things not happened the way they did, it wouldn't have mattered because we were playing so well we'd have found the goals somewhere else0.

That's just not the case this time, and as soon as we play a better team, it's still a bit difficult to see where the creativity and goals are going to come from.

Still, those things did go our way this time, making it a great win, with some great goals, and a very important three points.

We should take some heart from that for a week at least, and just hope that scoring those goals has given a team that looked devoid of any confidence at all against Cardiff (no surprise they're being accused of time-wasting by the way, they did the exact same thing against us from the 12th minute onwards three weeks ago) and just as bad against Stoke even though we nicked that one, the kind of belief we're going to need if we ever want to get anything from the better teams. We've got to hope, because the technical performance itself was less than convincing and our tough run of games coming up could see us not take another point from the next four or five matches.

It will be difficult to blame Jol for not beating Southampton, Man U, Swansea and Liverpool though, so the Palace result has saved his job for at least a month, and it's also saved Shahid Kahn, who was at the game ahead of his Jacksonville Jaguars NFL showpiece at Wembley next weekend, from looking the fool in Tuesday's Google+ "Hangout" video chat with fans. Hopefully it will also put at least a temporary end to the arrogant sideswipes we've had to endure from Jol in interviews for the last month too. I could go the rest of the season happily never again hearing him speak about how lucky we are that he's here, because he doesn't make me feel lucky. Thankfully we've still got one or two players who do.

By Andy Lye, FanZone's Fulham blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @jukeboxmetal - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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