Back in one piece, Cam studies our Sunday afternoon defeat in Geeza Land.
The scoreline doesn’t reflect Fulham’s overall performance, neither is it indicative of West Ham’s showing. Yesterday’s game was marred by contentious officiating and now the inquest is well underway. Hammers fans can’t admit they were lucky, and if David Moyes’s bulging eyeballs can’t see two blatant handballs, we’re all doomed.
Marco Silva’s right to be gigantically hacked off, as are we, however it all falls on deaf ears. This is the harsh reality of the Premier League, it’s rife with controversy, riddled with dissension and it is absolutely infuriating. We’re 9th, we’ve 11 points, but were we conned out of at least another point? Yes, yes we were and now, we’re conducting a detailed autopsy of our own and it isn’t for the fainthearted.
Bernd deserved better
Two massive reflex stops in the first half kept Fulham in the game, and Bernd Leno did not deserve to be on the losing side come full-time. West Ham’s goals were contentious; Leno wasn’t at fault for any of them, and before the Hammers eventually pegged us back, he was our saving grace. Without him, the result may well have been a lot worse.
Fulham are going to come up against it more often that not this season and if we’re to steer clear of the drop zone, Leno is going to be a huge factor. His quality’s extensive; he’s an adept stopper and his presence has breathed confidence into those directly in front of him, and that’s crucial to building string defensive foundations. Both sets of fans applauded Leno’s exploits, and though he may never have been caught up in a potential relegation battle, he’s clearly geared for the slog ahead.
Pereira’s smashing opener
Hopefully there’ll be plenty more where that bolt from the blue came from. I don’t want to dwell on the Hammers’ penalty fiasco; we all know Craig Dawson baited the scenario, but what I will focus on is Andreas Pereira’s first goal for the club because it was an unexpected pile driver that demands appreciation. The Brazilian really had no right to open the scoring from where he let rip, especially with Łukasz Fabiański to beat, but from an almost impossible angle his strike rifled into the top right-hand corner and an already subdued London Stadium was muted as Fulham’s following erupted.
From where I was standing – which was well over two miles away in the upper tier – Pereira appeared to have smashed the side netting. But it was, in fact, a corker from the 27-year-old; I can only hope that now he’s got the taste for goals, he’ll embark on a mini scoring rampage. His workrate’s incessant, he’s making runs that dissect defences and if he continues to refine his final product, his bark on the offensive will have a bite at long last and that is all his personal game requires.
Kebano never quits
On the break, Fulham lacked worthwhile outlets; full-backs were reluctant to overlap although one player was constant to our offensive charge and for that, Neeskens Kebano should be recognised. He slipped Pereira into action moments before the game’s opener, he was sharp under immense pressure and despite being recognised as a secondary option once casualties such as Harry Wilson come back into full fitness, the DR Congo international was far from subordinate and he never, ever quits.
The opponent, the magnitude of the occasion, these aspects don’t faze Kebano because no matter where he’s entrusted to roam the channels, the 30-year-old always applies himself. Thilo Kehrer’s afternoon wasn’t comfortable – Neeskens made sure of that. Jinking through traffic, spinning from danger on a sixpence, Kebano was unpredictable from a defensive standpoint and that caused conundrums. Whether we’re controlling games or chasing them, Keba is always a willing competitor and in the east end, he was a highly beneficial component.
Ream’s dependable themeEmbed from Getty Images
Big blocks and commanding clearances, Tim Ream held his personal performance together as Fulham waned and no matter who he’s paired with, Tosin Adarabioyo or otherwise, the 35-year-old always proves to be the Whites’ dependable defensive despot. Ream threw himself into the firing line to relinquish the Irons’ opportunities, he extinguished threatening sequences and as it has been throughout the season thus far, his dedication under adversity was distinguished.
Ream is not a hindrance to Fulham’s defensive solidity, in fact, he’s the antithesis. We’ve watched him evolve from a peripheral top-flight failure into an all-important Premier League mainstay and he isn’t running on bravado, either. This change of fortune and mentality has been meticulously formulated by Silva, and there isn’t a striker in existence that won’t be examined by Ream, even Gianluca Scamacca was pushed to the brink, and our veteran centre-back’s rebirth in recent months has exceeded expectation.
VARd done by
Not one, not two, but all three of West Ham’s goals were subject to VAR scrutiny and each time technology was referred to, common sense disappeared. Each time a lengthy stoppage in play materialised, the uglier the overriding decisions became and nobody will admit their mistakes because the buffoons at Stockley Park and indeed at the London Stadium are cowards. Chris Kavanagh’s a snivelling twerp, he was the ref that allowed Preston’s double-handball goal to stand last season, so he has previous and when there’s monitors to consult, when he has all the necessary tools at his disposal, why isn’t he following procedure by the book?
Read the bloody room. Scamacca convinced himself that his lob was going to be disallowed and after the final whistle, taking to social media, Michael Antonio even scoffed that he got away with his definite slap of the ball and that’s an indictment of the Premier League’s pussyfooted prestige. It stinks of favouritism, it reeks of instability, and as long as it’s Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola being wanked off, clubs like Fulham are going to be disregarded without a second glance.
These people that masquerade as referees and officials are pilfering cushy livings as well as vital, hard-earned points from teams that are nothing more than victims to their sheer incompetence. Somebody has to be held accountable; Peter Walton basically implied that West Ham’s second and third goals should have been scrubbed off because a similar contravention occurred during Manchester United’s game against Everton, so why weren’t Scamacca’s and Antonio’s goals reviewed?
Vastly underwhelming Vinicius
This man, Carlos Vinicius, is not a competent back-up option to Aleksandar Mitrovic. Mitro was omitted from Fulham matchday squad with a suspected knock and Vinicius was fielded, a rare start for the summer signing, but instead of grabbing the bull by the horns, he pinched it by the tail and he was trampled into the turf. This is a player that has Champions League minutes – and he was once valued at £20m. His first touch was incredibly heavy, his movement was docile and while he’s a physical, well-built striker he was manipulated and outfought routinely.
This may be harsh on the surface but it really signifies the gulf in ability between Mitrovic and his understudy. We have to be realistic: Mitrovic is the real deal and Vinicius was underwhelming. We’ve seen enough of the 27-year-old to form an initial opinion and we have to cast aspersions. He isn’t cut out for Premier League football, inviting crosses did enter the Hammers penalty area and yet, the former SL Benfica man was inactive, immobile, and if he’s to redeem himself, if he’s to succeed at this club, he has some serious work to do and it won’t be easy. He was completely containable, and he did next to nothing to impact proceedings in Mitro’s absence and while Jay Stansfield is bagging braces, albeit in League One, we’re doubting our remaining depth in the scoring department and that really shouldn’t be so.
Dan’s sluggish outing
Nobody really knows what Daniel James is even good for anymore. He’s meant to be built for speed, on the turn he’s supposed to be unstoppable but throughout the game, when clear opportunities to exploit the Hammers surfaced, the Leeds United loanee was rooted and I’m beginning to think his whole career’s been one big, elaborate sham. Again, like Vinicius, this isn’t a player plucked from nowhere, it’s a well-known name that’s walked out at Old Trafford, he’s a fully-fledged Wales international but damagingly, James has fallen from the heights of his Red Devils days and he’s languished. The World Cup Finals are weeks away and given James’s form, he’s surely in jeopardy of being left out of Rob Page’s final draft.
Cracking the crossbar isn’t classed as a shot on target, by the way, so the winger’s afternoon was mirthless. It was sluggish, and for somebody who’s held in such high regard by his national set-up, James has been disenchanting. There’s a reason why Leeds allowed him to depart for the campaign and it’s transparent: James is out of touch with his capabilities, he’s predictable in his approach and his downcast attitude’s infected his confidence. He was passive against the Hammers, hesitant to break into his stride, and I think there’s genuine cause for concern and it has to be addressed by Silva and his coaching staff.