Manchester United teach Fulham a lesson

What can you say about that? According to the Collins English Dictionary, the word ‘contest’ means: a formal match in which two or more people/teams compete and attempt to win. Yesterday’s match didn’t even come close to that definition.

It was more of a footballing masterclass by an unbelievably powerful Manchester United side, that played the entire second half without Rio Ferdinand and didn’t even think it was necessary to bring Berbatov or Ronaldo to London.

They were right. This was about as one-sided as a game could be. Aside from some early forays into the opposing half in the opening 20 minutes – which could have seen Andy Johnson on the score sheet had Vidic not cleared his toe poke off the line – Fulham spent the entire game beating off a marauding red army.

a-rare-sight-us-in-their-half1Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney, ably assisted by the energetic Anderson, simply tore us apart in midfield and consistently tormented our back four. It was surely only a matter of time before our defences were breached…and this came after 20 minutes.

An unmarked Tevez stole in on the back post behind Paul Konchesky and nodded in from close range. A short while later he was allowed to meander through the midfield without being challenged – Dickson Etuhu opting to just watch and marvel at him – and unleash a thunderbolt that gave Mark Schwarzer no chance.

United were now totally in control. Rooney had the ball in the net but it was (thankfully) discounted due to a very dubious offside decision, and then came painfully close to scoring when he hit the post from a few yards out.

The second half started as the first had ended with us totally on the back foot. We huffed and puffed in midfield – Murphy and Dempsey were particularly active – but we simply gave the ball away too many times.

Rooney finally got on the scoresheet with a curving shot from outside the area before Zoltan Gera, who had replaced Bobby Zamora, hit a sloppy cross field ball in his own half which was intercepted by Park who ran through for number four.

It was painful to watch. We didn’t play that badly, but the gulf in class was incredible. It will take something special to stop this side from picking up every trophy going. They are, quite simply, awesome.

It's all over

Fulham beat Portsmouth

“Who the f*** is Jimmy Bullard when the whites go marching on, on, on?” we sang as Erik the Viking slotted home his second to put a hard fought match out of Portsmouth’s reach. The scoreline may have flattered us but these were three vital points that put us back in the Premier League’s top ten.

To be fair it hadn’t started well. With Jermaine Pennant tormenting Paul Konchesky and Armand Traore causing problems for John Pantsil, Tony Adams’ side looked sharp from the off and we struggled to contain them for the first ten minutes.

Our goal, when it came in the 14th minute, was against the run of play. A beautiful pass by Danny Murphy went via Simon Davies and Clint Dempsey before Andy Johnson slotted it past David James from a tight angle. We were on our way.

We settled down well after the goal and finished the half by far the stronger side. However, the second 45 started in much the same way as the first. Pompey looked far more up-for-it and came close to scoring on a number of occasions. A header crashed against the bar and then Schwarzer was forced to tip over a Sean Davies lob.

Then came the masterstroke. Roy replaced Bobby Zamora – whose confidence seems absolutely shot to pieces – with Erik Nevland. His brace put the game out of Pompey’s reach – despite a late David Nugent consolation header – and we had the three points.

Woeful Fulham lose to West Ham

Maybe the sun was in their eyes. Maybe it was the two week break since the last match. Whatever it was that spooked our boys yesterday afternoon, the net result was one of the worst displays witnessed for months.

A catalogue of defensive errors, sloppy passing and woeful finishing (yes, you Bobby) meant we left the Boleyn Ground with exactly what we deserved: nothing. Make no mistake. The home side totally dominated and thorougly deserved the three points.

Very few of our lads emerged with any credit from this encounter which brought to an end the unbeaten run that had stretched back to November. With the exception of the ever-reliable Hangeland, who made a number of fine interventions; Johnson, who ran his heart out; and Murphy who tried – in vain – to control the midfield, everyone was  lethargic and clueless.

When Pantsil half-heartedly cushioned the ball back to Schwarzer in the seventh minute without realising Di Michele was lurking behind him, it should have acted as an alarm bell for our backline but this, as we were to witness in the second half, sadly that wasn’t the case .

Snuggled in between the defensive lapses was Konchesky’s fantastic strike – which was even applauded by the home fans. A thunderbolt from outside the area that swerved into the top left corner, giving keeper Green absolutely no chance.

We started the second half slightly brighter, although we badly missed Bullard’s creative influence in midfield. After all, there’s only so much Murphy can do with everyone around him playing musical statues.

Then poor old Konch went from hero to villain as he dithered on the ball, was robbed by Carlton Cole and then ended up slicing the Hammers’ front man down in the area. Penalty. 2-1. Shortly afterwards Etuhu was guilty of making the sloppiest of passes to let West Ham in for number three, effectively killing the game off with a third of the half still to play.

So all in all it was a very disappointing day at the office. A lacklustre display on the pitch and a fairly muted atmosphere in the stands. Let’s hope the defensive frailties that were so horribly exposed will be sorted in time for our trip to Kettering, let alone the visit of Portsmouth at the end of January.

Phew! Fulham make supporters sweat…again

We certainly don’t make things easy for ourselves. For 80 pulsating minutes we totally dominated against Bolton. It was one of the most one-sided matches I can remember for ages at the Cottage. With Brede Hangeland and John Pantsil marshalling at the back; Danny Murphy and Jimmy Bullard controlling the midfield; and the instantly gelling partnership of Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson up front; aided and abeted by the ultra-efficient Zoltan Gera, the lads systematically took the visitors apart.

It was a typically physical Bolton side, full of muscle and aggression, who were quick to close us down in the early stages. However, as soon as we started getting into our rhythm, with quick inter-passing, we opened up their midfield and defence with ease. It was super stuff…and then it all started to unravel.

Two goals to the good and Roy takes off Andy Johnson. An understandable move given the fact he’s not match fit – even though there was little evidence of that in the way he played – but it turned the game completely on its head…for all the wrong reasons. In his place came Seol Ki-Hyeon and the difference was staggering. Whereas Johnson had spent the entire match running, chasing and causing problems, Seol huffed and puffed, lost the ball and generally looked out of his depth.

Then we conceded a ridiculously sloppy goal and, bizarrely, the pressure was on. Surely the unthinkable couldn’t happen? Even a point for Bolton would have been criminal as they really deserved nothing from this match at all. The outstanding Zamora then made way for Erik Nevland but the action was all at the other end as Bolton were all over us like a rash. Somehow we managed to cling on – thanks, in part, to some excellent goalkeeping by Mark Schwarzer – but it was nail-biting stuff. The relief was palpable around the ground when the whistle finally blew. It was a close call but the three points were in the bag. Phew!

Pompey coverage

Here are links to our coverage of yesterday’s momentous day:

FtF goes to Pompey

Player rankings

Just not good enough…

What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday evening we were experiencing the most unbelievable high after taking all three away to Reading. Tonight we are staring relegation in the face once again. It wasn’t for the lack of trying. We had plenty of chances to get something out of this match but a combination of poor finishing and defensive mistakes (the story of our season) meant we ended up with nothing. The atmosphere in the stadium after Pennant crashed home Liverpool’s opener died instantly and never recovered. To be honest we didn’t do enough to lift the players, but then again we didn’t have a great deal to cheer about. All told a thorougly disappointing afternoon. We now travel to Man City with everything slipping away…

Reading v Fulham: FtF coverage

Here are the links to all our pieces on yesterday’s match

Match report

Player rankings

Post mortem: Anecdotes from the game