Five Thoughts: Burnley 1-1 Fulham

Cameron Ramsey 18th February 2021

Fulham hadn’t won a single meeting against Burnley at Turf Moor since 1951, which is a madness, and that archaic record still stands today after Scott Parker’s Whites held Sean Dyche’s Clarets to a rather boring 1-1 draw. We’ll briefly address the obvious observations of the game: we weren’t good enough, not by a long chalk, and we were clearly knackered following Sunday’s exploits. Nothing drastic, we just weren’t 100% and that’s fine by me if we bounce back immediately.

A point, so they say, was much better value for the hosts, who are slowly but surely pulling away from the relegation rabble and with Saturday evening’s bottom-feeding clash with Sheffield United in sight, a show of genuine force couldn’t be more appropriate. 6 points off safety, instead of 4, but Lancashire’s a very tough place to frequent, scrounging even shot on target was an ordeal, so we’ll count our blessings until the very last kick of the campaign, because each singular points, as we know, can and will make all the difference.

Contrasts In Effort

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Spot the difference between Sunday night’s victory and Wednesday evening’s application. At Goodison Park, Fulham were focused, absorbed by the occasion and obsessed by the prospect of three invaluable points. In Lancashire, though, the Whites’ expansive effort diverged, the fizz and pop of the weekend’s dub resembled three-day-old Lilt, left on the kitchen counter, and we couldn’t remedy a cogent solution in order to rouse and awaken our subdued offensive approach. Both sides, incidentally, registered the same amount of shots on and off target, although Burnley, as unimaginative as they may be, were actually the more persuasive, aesthetically pleasing outfit. Aerial Bombardment FC’s hoisted long balls unsettled our back line, they scooped up loose balls that ensued from said rugby tactics and their goal was simply sublime. Jay Rodriguez’s deception, the cutting-edge assist, it was very much out of character for a side that can’t play football, but that is a rich, unsavoury statement coming from a fan that witnessed his own team botch simple sequences and hesitate with open space to exploit.

For the record, because you can’t justly bad mouth on a player that’s still integrating, Josh Maja bust a gut, alone, up top and was deprived of any credible service. The 22-year-old, much like Aleksandar Mitrovic, cannot influence the game on his own, a degree of support is imperative and he was stranded, chasing shadows against two sturdy centre-halves. We didn’t recognise the magnitude of the game, we were evidently content with safeguarding a point, but is that a bad thing? We have to be realistic, Turf Moor’s a barren wasteland, after all, Fulham never catch a break when we’re in town and our last successful trip there was back in 2009, another 1-1 draw. It’s easy to be dispirited, the Whites were electric on Merseyside and couldn’t really care less against the Clarets, however this will jolt us back into gear. We held firm defensively for the most part, we distributed possession sensibly, albeit without risk and going forward, we were spectatorial as Burnley rebuffed our detectability. It’s not about reinvention, we simply have to recharge before Saturday.

Let-Down By Loftus

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This is a man that’s suffered scathing criticism of late and some believe his treatment may be a tad unfair. If you’re someone that sympathises with Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s consistently woeful outings, give your head a violent wobble. With chest and charmless honesty, Loftus-Cheek is not very good at what he’s paid to do and I am sick to death with his half-baked, frosty performances. He doesn’t use possession constructively, he overestimates his eye for a simple switch and in routine, ordinary scenarios, he is lamentably uninspired. Supposedly revered for his explosiveness on the ball, RLC’s a prize phoney, an imposter, we’ve been waiting patiently for him to unearth his form, to impose himself upon proceedings for longer than 15 seconds but we’re constantly disdained by his underwhelming donations. How he remained on that pitch is beyond us all.

In custody, RLC pretends to burst into full stride, the motion’s there, but his movement’s hilariously illusory. He runs like a tugboat, dragging an aircraft carrier through golden syrup. The former England man couldn’t keep up with the relatively mundane pace in the middle, his reckless yellow rubber stamped his individual lag and he deserved to be ejected. We’ve been conned by Chelsea, and it just goes to show how much their fans know about football. If they really think Loftus-Cheek’s a pioneering, box-to-box sensation, they’re playing too much Fifa. RLC was brought in to be the catalyst, the turbo charging our progressive phases but his impact’s been minimal and in Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood’s company, he was wildly subservient. Bench him against the Blades and hand Josh Onomah a return to the fold, at keast then we can see where the let-down loanee’s really at.

Tete’s Fierce Security

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He lasted 78 minutes, making way for Antonee Robinson, although positives shone brightly from Kenny Tete’s backside, and that’s for the second matchday running, too. I’m won over by the Dutchman’s positional awareness, the manner in which he lulls his prey into a false sense of security before sinking himself into meaty challenges because as a fullback, he’s a classic derivative with modern, multi-faceted undertones. There’s always room for improvement, he hasn’t been his productive self on the break since nestling himself back into contention but that’s hardly corruptive of his qualities. His core duty’s to serve as an assured defensive despot and he kept an energetic Dwight McNeil under lock and key.

He intervened fiercely, fearlessly, he’s a warrior in 50/50 scenarios and in straight foot races, he’s limitless. His flank was fairly quiet under his discretion, I was personally worried about McNeil although our functional right-back diluted the young winger’s production to a manageable capacity. We could harp on about Ola Aina on the opposite side, he’s our goal scorer, even if he knew nothing about it, but from our fullbacks, we want security and discipline and Tete vigorously shook that flag. He was tidy on the ball, ruthless in challenges, and while he was conserved in higher reaches, the Flying Dutchman applied himself responsibly with a palpable double measure of reliable courage.

Cav’s Refreshing Input

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An extension of Fulham’s lifeless offensive approach, a gust of fresh air was needed, drastically, moving forward and Ivan Cavaleiro was that rejuvenating element. Coming on as a sub in the 67th minute for an expended Bobby Decordova-Reid, Cav’ surged into action with a series of incorporative passes, line-splitting bursts and box-piercing crosses from the right channel. Time on the ball was at a serious premium, Burnley pressed in packs in order to counteract the Whites’ disjointed transitions but Cav’, retrieving possession under duress, engaged and initiated fluent counter attacks at the drop of a hat, with the greatest sense of urgency.

As a matchday starter, he’s almost shoehorned into nonsensical positions, a lost cause, however as a fresh pair of legs in the closing stages, Cav’s certainly a beneficial addition. Out wide, once RLC shuffled into a more central role, the Whites were purposeful with Cav’ mediation, and perhaps that’s because he’s no longer viewed as a shoo-in. His reputation isn’t necessarily glowing, although with Maja filling a gap up top, he has to restore some credibility and if that means giving absolutely everything for 15-20 minutes, he has to make a lasting statement. It’s not very often the extortionate winger’s commended for his input, usually because his outings are marred by unqualified, inapt inadequacies, but we’ll roll out the red carpet just this once, if it keeps the peace. He injected an objective in possession and for that, I toast thee, Ivan.

Mean Streak Adopted

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Dyche’s gravelly, fingernail on chalkboard grizzle, James Tarkowski’s hard-hitting antics, Ashley Barnes’ snarling, limb-flailing final third presence. These are just a few contributing factors towards Burnley’s so-called hostile ethic but from what I saw, amid soil biting and whinging profusely, the Clarets’ full-blooded nature was quelled, comfortably, by Fulham’s insistence to lure and snag. We gave away countless set-pieces and even at 40-yards out, it was more than risky enough, given Burnley’s aerial prowess but in order to make the hosts’ evening as uncomfortable as possible, the visitors had to adopt and practice the dark arts of professional fouling and good ol’ fashioned shithousery. There was an unholy amount of playacting and simulation on Burnley’s behalf but you can’t discount the Whites’ proneness to hustle and harass.

When big men fall, the aftermath’s devastatingly pathetic. Fulham gave as good as they got with shoulder-to-shoulder, eyeball-to-eyeball confrontations and Burnley’s composure and mentality was evidently dented. Tarkowski plunged under minimal pressure in the only way a heaped sack of shit could, Barnes came off worse in the heat of the moment with Joachim Andersen and Rodriguez couldn’t stand up straight for being clamped torturously. Maja’s at least a foot smaller than Burnley’s centre-half pairing and even he dished out a pasting or two. It was all a little soft from the hosts, but the Whites’ mettle and bottle slowly whittled them down to mere school boys, sobbing at grazed kneecaps and name calling. There’s no time like the present, Fulham have to embrace a stinky, ugly, repulsive temperament. It may contradict our methodical, rational bias but we’re in a relegation scrap, dainty, non-combative football will get us swirlied in the bogs if we’re not careful, so I’d appreciate more of the same in future games, because I love a side with a mean streak more than I do a team with a chronic drawing habit.