Fulham: Not Good Enough Against Chelsea But There's Still Hope
Second-half capitulation has become a worrying trait upon the banks of the Thames. Once again, a positive first 45 minutes was followed by a tired, lacklustre second 45 which mirrored the efforts of Peter Kay on a treadmill.
Weirdly enough, we had gone into the break looking an attractive prospect, with only our frequent inability to convert opportunities restricting us from having a slender lead to show for our efforts. Nevertheless, we had matched a Chelsea side who were still feeling the effects of Wednesday night, but the worry was that our current pattern would follow suit.
To no surprise, we were treated to just that, with three goals conceded in the space of 15 minutes, completely sucking the life out of the game. The body language from the boys resembled a kid being told his dog had been sent to a farm, which lead to the din falling silent instantaneously.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect anything out of this game, and felt walking away with something to show would have me brimming with elation. However, I left with a heavy feeling of dejection due to the manner of our defeat. Chelsea’s quality prevailed, but we were once again undone by our inability to maintain the high standards of our first half showing.
Our lack of killer instinct upfront was painfully evident, with Darren Bent gambling about like a gazelle on ice and timing jumps to the vicinity of a gap year student on acid. It was clear to see our outlet for goals was about as reliable as Harry Redknapp’s transfer policy. Whilst our £12million star studded striker was struggling to obtain match fitness at Motspur Park, we were treated to a masterclass in hoofing the ball up to a striker who thrives on service on the floor. Puzzling doesn’t half describe it.
Clint Dempsey’s contribution was borderline damaging, in that had he of left midway to relieve himself in the Cottage toilets, we would of been none the wiser. His performance pretty much described his dreadful second spell in SW6, with the American looking like his abilities had aged a few decades, such is the current quality in the MLS. Fulham fans were hopeful of a farewell that would be remembered for years to come, but that was about as likely as Leonardo DiCaprio winning an Oscar (too soon?).
Brede Hangeland’s early departure due to concussion was a key point, with his replacement, a young Dan Burn, enduring his first notably poor performance. He looked like he was on another planet, and it would be fair to say he played a part in the conceding of all three goals. Burn seemed horrifically out of place, and would have been more suited to his previous job pushing trolleys at Asda. I’m being harsh on the man, but that is due to the high standards he has set himself upon his return from spell at Birmingham City. He gave the impression that he wasn’t mentally prepared for the encounter, having been named a substitute, and that is one thing you cannot afford to risk as a professional footballer.
One incident which is still fresh in mind was that of Ashkan Dejagah tangling his legs together and slipping over at the crucial moment. Those around me sighed and broke into hysterics, as it was the perfect act to sum up our luck this season. All it needed was Darren Bent to lose footing whilst through on goal, and Giorgios Karagounis to fall over after touching the ball to complete the scarily accurate portrayal.
If we are to focus on the positives, it’s fair to say that most results this weekend swung in our favour, and we still only find ourselves four points adrift. My nerves surrounding the Cardiff game this Saturday are already beginning to brew, and it’s fair to say it is do or die for Fulham. A loss, and our tenure in the top flight will slowly begin to fizzle out.
Crunch time begins now, and with a stretch of winnable games facing us in the next few weeks, we need to start picking up maximum points. No win since New Year’s Day is more than concerning, and we don’t want to end this season contemplating on what ifs. I must be the only sane person to still have faith in the boys, and hopefully my toxic mixture of bias and hope is rewarded come May.
Follow Jaik on Twitter, @JaikBFenton