For the sake of my sanity, I’m going to skip over the Burton game, we got through, let’s move on. Instead, I’m going to look at the tactical issues our team face, and Martin Jol’s situation.
Amongst the typically awful punditry of Alan Hansen on Match of the Day, which included him explaining how to kick a football (it turns out you have to bend your leg, who knew?), QPR boss Harry Redknapp made a valid point about Fulham, which was that the team looked unbalanced.
You can’t have eight players bombing forward like headless chickens, especially when some such as Taarabt and Ruiz are less than willing to track back. This was showed in the Arsenal game, as all three of their goals were scored on the break.
I think Berbatov messes up the entire balance of the team. He plays as a lone striker, yet he doesn’t, he walks around on the wing, which is why I’d like to see Bent play instead of him, a striker who will stay up front, and hopefully make decent runs as we’ve seen from him over the years. Taarabt, Ruiz and Dejagah in behind is a no brainer, with Kacaniklic coming off the bench.
I think we can kiss goodbye to our hopes of signing a creative centre midfielder, so we’ll just have to do with Parker and Sidwell. Neither are very creative, but both can surely pass it 10 yards to a more creative player like Ruiz or Taarabt. I suspect the two will drop quite deep in order to receive the ball, so having two defensive midfielders in front of the defence may not be the worst thing.
In their title winning season, Man City played with a similar philosophy, with two defensive midfielders, and then four very creative players given license to roam further up the pitch. I think this is something we can look to emulate; Taarabt, Berbatov and Ruiz like to wonder out of position to get the ball.
With the transfer window drawing to a close, I think we can be fairly happy with what we’ve done, and I’ll tell you why.
The goal of this summer’s transfer window was to build a squad capable of staying up without spending a lot of money. Martin Jol will not be our manager next year, and this has been proven by the board not backing him this summer, despite the new mega rich owner coming in (hence all the loans in the last couple of years). He made it pretty clear last season that the club had taken the option to extend his contract for a further year and that to be honest, he’d rather be back at a club with European football and a bit of a budget, such as he has become accustomed to over the years.
I think next summer will see big change at the club. I’m hoping that we bring in a young manager, such as what Southampton and Swansea have done with Pochettino and Laudrup, who has a reputation to build and who has a philosophy. Hopefully the board will back this manager with a decent budget, we must have the money, TV revenue has rocketed, we must still have most of the Dembele money and Khan should have a few pounds to spend.
This weekend we face another trip up to the North East to face Newcastle, a team who’ve got off to a fairly dodgy start. I think it will be a fairly similar game to the Sunderland one, with us probably not having a lot of possession, or creating a lot of chances. My Fulham predictions this season have been very poor so far, so don’t put any money on this, but I expect it to be a 0-0 draw, or for it to be decided by the single goal.