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Positives and negatives: Fulham 5-0 Nottingham Forest

Written by Cameron Ramsey on 7th December 2023

If the highlights don’t do it justice, Cam’s write-up on our latest win, one that was secured at a canter, definitely will. Get in there!

Ah, we didn’t win European trophies when football was played by brickies, so this frenzied shagging down by the Thames doesn’t count. That’s what Nottingham Forest’s tearful fan base would snarl at you if you even mentioned the Intertoto, which is far more prestigious, but as we’re living in the real world and not a bygone era, we’ll revel in this triumph because we’re entitled to do so.

I am so glad I crawled in an hour’s traffic on the A3 for this, our 5th W of the season. It was well worth the journey. Steve Cooper’s lost his dressing room, Marco Silva’s is only just warming up to his expectations and it really showed. Cooper resembles a bloke that’s entrapped in a headlock and that stranglehold is getting tighter by the day. Surely, it’s just a matter of when before he gets the heave-ho. Steven Gerrard’s shoulder’s available if he needs something to sob on.

Anyway, what a stunning win under the lights, eh? Prime Video’s always been kind to us. It probably doesn’t get any better than that. We’re back at Craven Cottage on Sunday afternoon, West Ham United are in town and while we never, ever beat the Hammers, I’ve a feeling we’ll give them bloody good go because something’s changed in Silva’s camp and I like it. I like it a lot. See you there, you Whites!

Positives

Swagger, smiles, Silvaball

Straight off the bat, we have to admit that Forest were dogshite, but let’s not allow that to discredit Fulham’s awe-inspiring, breath-taking football. The Whites, from start to finish, were outstanding and the application from each and every participant was astonishing. Nottingham needed a convincing result to spare the axe from Cooper’s neck, a cagey, turbulent affair was billed but Fulham’s evening was relaxed, stress-free, and in all honesty, they’re the worst team, or excuse of, which has rocked up at the Cottage in recent years.

Once we’d settled into our groove, Fulham played with their knobs out, however it was the visitors that were charged with public indecency. Silva’s reimagined strategy exposed Forest’s deficiencies and it wasn’t pretty. Well, unless you’re a Fulham fan, of course. We functioned as a unit throughout, partnerships and understandings blossomed right before our very eyes and it’s amazing to see the lads play the game we all adore with swagger and smiles stitched across faces.

That’s the essence of the beautiful game. Enjoyment. Forest were there for the taking, they didn’t want any part of it and despite our issues which have been laid bare, while we were more or less level pegging with our guests in the standings before kick-off, we made a powerful statement of intent. We’d put teams to the sword in the Championship, whitewashing weaker sides isn’t necessarily an anomaly but victories such as these are few and far between in the top-flight, and it has to stand for something moving forward.

Sending Norwich packing on the opening day of the 2012/13 season springs to mind, as does our unforgettable 6-0er against Queens Park Rangers but this is a new milestone for the Silvaball era. A win of ease and control, an exhibition of our gaffer’s idealistic vision of how the game should be and if that’s what he’s aiming to achieve at this club our ours, we are blessed beyond belief. Having been beaten so cruelly at Anfield, reacting in the right manner was crucial but this was a one-sided drubbing nobody saw coming.

Andreas balls out

This is exactly what happens when Andreas Pereira decides he wants to turn up and ball out for once. Far too often this season, Pereira’s been a passenger in a squad that’s cried out for his dormant services to reawaken but his exploits on Wednesday were exemplary. He was responsive, in the driver’s seat, his sealing stamp of approval produced three goals and like other members of the team which haven’t reached the peak of their powers to date, I hope his hat-trick of assists gives him a enormous boost.

He was incorporative in dangerous positions, two of his assist were simple yet effective slip-ins but sandwiched between them was a direct pinger that was weighted superbly. That’s what Andy P has in his repertoire. He was inches away from twatting a free-kick past an outstretched Odysseas Vlachodimos, too, but the upright had other ideas. Still, the twang of ball and goalpost was a sensual delight, and it sounded an ominous warning to our visitors who fucked around and found out as Andreas dealt the ammo.

Aces with braces

Two of our boys got themselves on the score sheet twice and both of them have impressed recently for differing reasons. Alex Iwobi’s versatility’s been hailed, he’s a marvellously gifted technician and from a wide vantage point, he dive-bombed into inverted areas to get himself on the end of some truly spectacular sequences. Raul Jimenez was written off in the early stages of the campaign but since he broke that pesky duck’s neck at Villa Park, the Mexico international’s been a changed man, a striker that trusts himself in in front of the target and my, he’s giving those shooting boots of his an long overdue spanking.

Surely, they won’t abandon him again. Iwobi’s first, the game’s opener, was coolly prodded past Odysseas following a dangerous Willian in-swinger, and Raul’s was rifled into the roof of the net with pure conviction. They were alive to their surroundings, Alex peeled off as he anticipated the cross, Raul let rip instantaneously as he was freed in the penalty area.

The duo’s shoot-on-sight policy didn’t stop there, either. Jimenez added a third for the Whites in the style of, dare I say, Aleksandar Mitrovic. The chest control whilst holding off Ola Aina and Felipe, regaining advantage as he gathered the loose ball, the poise to sell the ‘keeper and the audacity the back-heel it into an open net. Chingón. Gary Neville groans were at large, he’s riding high on new-found confidence and this personal performance of his should kickstart his career in black and white for good. It simply has to.

Iwobi’s second skimmed off the surface, the ball skipped towards him at an awkward height but he set himself expertly, at pace, to slam our fourth of the night in some style. Alex and Raul now have three Premier League goals to their credit and their individual braces against Forest are significant because the hard work that’s evidently happening at Motspur Park is coming to the fore. Their goals were instinctive, ruthless and quite clearly, they’re a result of tireless practice and dedication.

We may still purchase a striker in January, we need to, but if Raul can hit form and maintain his thirst for blood, he will push any new recruit to the limit and he’ll also prove to be a decent mentor. Iwobi is indispensable within our set-up, he’s a tidy operator that also has a keen eye for goal, and at 27, he can still improve. That’s scary, and with Silva’s guidance, he could develop into a mean monster in the final third and indeed in the midfield in various capacities.

Tom’s sensational showmanship

They say he can’t do it for more than half an hour. They say his legs will give up on him. People say a lot of things about Tom Cairney and judging by his sensational midweek showing, some claims may be false. Cairney was the mastermind behind the Whites’ domination, he was ready to receive, he was willing to give and in situations where he should’ve been robbed of possession, he made a mockery of the Garibaldis’ passiveness.

TC was involved in pretty much everything we did well, he didn’t fade as we suckered the visitors in, he actively sought possession and with his head up, scanning and examining, moments of sheer genius were crafted. That left peg of his is a joystick. It introduced nailed-on goal scoring opportunities, which were tucked away, it presided over the game’s tempo, business as usual, and in front of the target, it ripped the piss out of a visibly fucked off Odysseas.

Getting on the end of a sharp give and go which he devised himself, Tom was confronted by Forest’s Greek stopper – if he can be referred to as such – and with a faint and a shimmy, he’d a simple finish before him as the ‘keeper stuck the kettle on. Brains and improvisation in tandem. Panto season’s also upon us, he had the masses hanging on his theatrical cues and his showmanship in both celebration and action was worthy of the biggest stage football could possibly offer. He’s integral and I’d say that even at this period of his career, he is better than ever before.

Defensive solidity defined

What a huge, telling difference it made to have an actual right-sided centre-back in contention and a left-sided defender fielded on his correct side. After months in the shadows, blighted by injury and other mitigating circumstances, Tosin Adarabioyo partnered Calvin Bassey and Forest’s feeble attack couldn’t get a look-in edgeways. It really was that easy for them.

Antonee Robinson and Timothy Castagne had the measure of their men out wide, João Palhinha policed an entire midfield department as a one-man stinger service, the entire fold cooperated to employ a defensive solidity that was almost impenetrable, and while scoring multiple goals is obviously pleasing, Premier League clean sheets cannot be understated.

Forest were dire, disjointed, but we still had to remain composed. Building from solid foundations is paramount at this level, and as Silva dictates, we have to be brave on the ball and we have to remain vigilant at all times. It’s been a strenuous work in progress, we haven’t been water-tight this season but and on Wednesday evening, it all stemmed from Bassey and Tosin’s intuition.

Out wide we were superior, our energy sapped Forest’s limited enthusiasm and our central defenders dished out hard knocks, they administered productive passes to feet and the diags, those ridiculously accurate switches to either flank, were magnificent. Calvin was assertive, his recoveries were bustling, and his turn of pace was terrifying. Tosin’s approach was slightly more reserved but no less authoritative.

He watched the game unfold before him and cut out the shite when he had to do so, and his positioning was planned and practiced. First balls were won consistently, second balls were stamped out entirely, strong tackles were wielded. We just looked so, so good at the back and in terms of the future, Bassey and Tosin will become a formidable, cohesive pair. All we need is for Tosin to sign the damn ting, and then we’re safe, sound and secure for the foreseeable and who could say no to a defensive alliance consisting of the Naija Whites.

Negatives

Notting’ to report

If you’ve a reason to be upset or concerned, leave a comment on whatever app you’re viewing this article on or better yet, pop it where the sun doesn’t shine. Thanks then!

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