Fulham gave another spirited performance at the Cottage against Liverpool on St. Patrick’s Day, but ultimately fell to another defeat as our Premier League lives slowly ebb away. With Cam Ramsey on a short term loan deal in the academies of Thailand, Jack Collins steps into the breach to give his five thoughts on the Liverpool game.
Scotty Restoring Some Pride
It’s not been the points that we were perhaps hoping for, and we failed to take the opportunity to have our say in the title race, but Fulham under Scott Parker, especially at the Cottage, have been vastly improved in almost every sense. Something feels a little different with Parker at the wheel, and although his tactics were somewhat questionable at points (4-1-5 anyone!) it was refreshing to see a manager going for it when Fulham were still within touching distance.
Scotty’s not done anywhere near enough to secure the job on a permanent basis at this moment in time, but he’s restored some semblance of the connection between the fans and the club, he’s freed the players to play their natural game and everyone around Fulham seems so much happier and more comfortable with his style of football. It’s a start, and I believe in starts.
Rico’s Recurring Errors
I haven’t really felt it was right to apportion too much blame to Sergio Rico this season for the amount of goals that we’ve conceded, because the defences that have been shielding him have been so flimsy they may as well have been made out of paper, but at the end of the day, it was his error against Liverpool that has cost Fulham when the game was level again.
Rico’s been one of Fulham’s better players for most of this season, but recent form has seen costly errors against both West Ham and now Liverpool, and he needs to be held to account for those. The Spaniard’s decision-making has become somewhat questionable, and his flapping at crosses does little to raise confidence. This mess is by no means his fault, but we really need him to find some semblance of form for the run in.
Big Frank Shines
As a big-money signing, finding your feet in the Premier League is rarely easy; but no-one needs to tell that to Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa. Not only did things not go to plan for him to begin with, but an injury has kept him out over the period where Fulham really started to languish at the bottom of the table. Against Liverpool, however, he finally started to show some of the form and ability that convinced Fulham to bring him to SW6 from Marseille.
He finally started to show composure on the ball, he motored around the midfield confidently and he drew a smart stop from Alisson with a clever volley. It wasn’t perfect yet, but there was enough in there to suggest that there’s a player worth finding out more from – and Scotty’s words after the game suggest that he’s got faith in the Cameroonian to become the player we hoped he could be.
Bryan Finding Form
Another person that’s finding a show of form late is Joe Bryan, who’s had back-to-back excellent performances. Against Leicester, he was Fulham’s main creative outlet as well as being defensively sound, but he stepped up another gear, comfortably dealing with (an albeit out-of-form) Mo Salah. An inspired moment came in the first half when Bryan took the ball off Salah in the Fulham box, dropped a shoulder and sold the dummy to the Egyptian before pinging the ball down the line.
It’s not just a mark of someone freed from the shackles of Ranieri’s catenaccio, but also someone who’s rediscovered confidence in his own ability. If he continues playing like this, Fulham will have the best left-back in the Championship next year – and with the delivery that we know he possesses, that will be some asset to have for a side that is supposed to dominate through the use of its fullbacks.
There’s been a lot said about the matter, but there’s a few underlying rules. I don’t personally think that it’s completely wrong to sit in an opposing home end – as long as you show some respect, and respect the protocol. You don’t wear colours, you don’t cheer when your team scores and you basically just go chameleon and blend in as best you can – sit on your hands if you need to.
The club have questions to answer about the entire ‘selling tickets to members without any booking history’ debacle, but there are plenty of Fulham fans who have their own crosses to bear on this one. If you bring a mate who’s a Liverpool fan, I can live with that, but selling off season tickets for profit to people that aren’t going to respect the idea of blending in doesn’t sit well with me at all. It’s done, and we need to all draw a line under it, but seeing people bouncing out of the Hammersmith End at the end beaming away was unbelievably frustrating. Bring on the Championship, bring back proper football.