Fulham: Is It Me Or Could We Nick A Result Off Man City?
It’s funny what a week does to the mind. It was only a few days back where I wrote about our players and their atrocious commitment, and we proceeded to pull a win out of the bag. My optimism had completely disintegrated after our loss at Cardiff, but now I feel we can take on the world.
I think most Fulham fans would admit that we faced a Newcastle side who clearly weren’t at the races. Without the lethal Loic Remy, they looked about as useful as a solar powered torch going forward, with Luuk De Jong taking more air shots than a pub player in his mid-50s. Our back four must have thought it was Christmas Day, with the visitors being restricted to few chances.
Sitting on the bus to Craven Cottage, reading our starting line-up, I sighed and thought to myself, “at least it’s a sunny day.” This somewhat positive deliberation was hampered by the knowledge that I will be partially blind all afternoon, with the sun beaming down on the Johnny Haynes stand. My unpredictable wave of emotion came to a standstill when it occurred to me that my temporary loss of vision would mean not having to see the tosh on the pitch. I was to be nicely surprised.
Having seen our rather expensive record signing, Kostas Mitrgolou, fail to even make the bench and the inexperienced Cauley Woodrow make his home debut, I honestly wasn’t expecting much. Despite my continued negativity, the 19-year-old proved me wrong. Woodrow showcased the commitment, drive, energy and desire that I have been crying out for all season. He chased everything, put pressure on defenders, and oozed the composure and awareness of a top pro.
However, if I am to nitpick, these are attributes you would expect to see in a young and enthusiastic player looking to make an impression. He seems a little on the weak side, and if he is to hold down a place in the side, he will need build his strength a little to compete with the big defenders of the league. On the whole, it’s what he demonstrated on Saturday which will give the squad and fans a big boost. Such determination gets the crowd going, and helps to create some sort of momentum.
Another player’s inclusion I was heavily skeptical about was that of David Stockdale. In the past I have been worried about the way he commands the area, and he can lose his concentration at pivotal moments. Once again, I was to be proved wrong, with his save seconds before our winner likely to be season defining. I don’t even want to fathom what could have occurred had Cisse tucked that opportunity away. Stockdale seemed relaxed, composed and dealt with crosses more calmly than Ghandi on sedatives. He also demonstrated his evident top class ability of shot stopping, with two big saves. I for one feel he merits the number one jersey after his performance on Saturday.
I feel as if Magath had put my article from last week up on a big screen for the players to see, as everything I had moaned about seemed to disappear. I don’t know if it was the good weather or the German having a pit bull on a leash by the dugout, but it seemed to work. I’ve been critical of his appointment, but his wacky ways are starting to warm to me. It’s hard to see the positives when your vision is more cloudy than the Chinese atmosphere, but now I’ve been temporarily cleared of my pessimism, it looks as if he could give us a chance of survival.
The most surprising thing of all was seeing us keep a clean sheet. It was our first since early December and I started to question whether I had started to develop delusions of grandeur. I must say the last twenty minutes were a risk to blood pressure levels, but it was nice to have that feeling back again. For too long I had become accustomed to the relief of conceding first as it gave us nothing to lose. Whilst protecting a lead is a borderline crime against humanity, the full time whistle sounded like the bell at school.
A special mention goes to a certain Lewis Holtby, of whom I have developed a worrying man crush towards. Not only has he produced performances of a top quality on a weekly basis, he has shown unrivalled dedication of which you would fail to see from loan players. Despite the fact he is here on a temporary basis, his attitude has indicated that he will have a very successful career. This is coupled with his evident down to earth personality. Instead of the flashy cars, he opts to take the train to training and was pictured taking the tube back from the Newcastle game. Humble doesn’t half describe it.
They say a week in football can change everything, and trust me it’s true. Having felt lower than a football fan can feel last week, I now go into next week’s gruelling encounter at Manchester City feeling we can nick something. Not to worry, I’m sure the man in a white coat will be quick to whisk me away again. 'Til next week.
Follow Jaik on Twitter, @JaikBFenton