Fulham: Time Has Run Out For Survival
The writing is now on the wall it seems. Any flicker of optimism swimming around in my numb head has jumped out of the pool and dried itself off.
Leaving Craven Cottage, not a word was said on the journey home with my dad. After a loss, the usual routine is to ferociously discuss what went wrong, and what needs to be done the following week. However, the dejection produced from the game left me on the verge of tears. I had realised that it looked like our tenure in the top flight was to come to a close, and trust me, it is hard to take.
It was evident what the problems were on Sunday. Despite an encouraging performance, the same outcome appeared at full-time. A positive first period was once again diminished in the early stages of the following 45 minutes, and set the precedence for what looks to have sealed our fate this season.
Everton were more clinical at the key moments of the encounter, and Martinez’s substitutions effectively won him the game. Bringing on Naismith to exploit our somewhat useless back four worked a treat. As the Scotsman stated in an interview after the game, he was able to analyse the pockets of space we were leaving wide open, and he immediately took advantage.
Taking off William Kvist left us ridiculously bare in the middle, and once he was hauled off, a lot of Everton’s best chances came through the middle. They had the time and space to execute killer balls with little threat. The Toffees clearly never really left third gear, and it showed the severe difference in quality between the two sides.
For me, the simple fact of the matter is that we possess weak striking options. When you are forced to start with a lone 17-year-old striker in a season defining fixture, it screams a lack of quality in that position. Whilst this isn’t an attack on either Moussa Dembele or Cauley Woodrow, they aren’t quite ready for the Premier League, particularly in our current predicament. The pair have bright futures ahead of them, but this is not the time, nor place, to nurture their abilities. We simply don’t have that luxury at the minute.
When your record signing, who has been bought to score the goals to keep you up, has been unfit since his arrival and possesses the body of a man with brittle bone disease, it tells you why we find ourselves bottom of the league. With Darren Bent demonstrating the speed of Shefki Kuqi running in quick sand, and Hugo Rodallega seeing as much game time as Owen Hargreaves, we have relied too much upon our midfield for goals.
It has to be said that CEO Alistair Mackintosh has made an almighty cock-up in regards to the Kostas Mitroglou signing. Despite the furore surrounding his acquisition, the fact that he brought the Greek striker to the club, knowing fully well that he was unfit and nursing a knee injury, is inexcusable. The debacle has summed up his inept reign at the club, and he has an obscene amount of interrogation to follow at the end of this dismal season.
Going back to our striking issues. When you have three goals in the Premier League between all your current attacking options at the club, it is clear to see where there is an issue. To put it bluntly, it is all good and well putting in effort and running around everywhere, but when your strikers aren’t doing their job, you will have problems. Despite Dimitar Berbatov’s below par performances and frustrating lack of effort this season, to effectively release and replace him with an unfit striker AND lose £12million is diabolical.
Whilst Mitroglou is a striker of the highest order, we find ourselves in a situation where it is now too late. We have six games to save our sorry season, which is no time for him to come in and save the day. There is also no guarantee that he will be fit to play all six, which gives me no hope we can pull off the most unlikely of miracles. The fact that he will probably get on his bike and cycle off quicker than Chris Hoy to find another club when we go down adds to the pain.
Weirdly enough, in large parts, we dominated. To be truthful, we didn’t deserve to lose that game, which sums up our season. Too many performances showing encouraging signs, but ultimately failing to reap the rewards. To put it bluntly, we are not registering the points that other teams around us are, and time looks to have run out.
How I still manage to have Fulham staying up on the Premier League predictor is beyond me, but maybe I’m tapping into the unconscious when entering my predicted scores. Who knows though? A win at Aston Villa this weekend, and I’ll be back to destroying my brain with ifs and buts, along with possible scenarios.
Why do you do this to me Fulham?
Follow Jaik on Twitter, @JaikBFenton