Fulham - Keeping Some Perspective
Five League matches into the season, I find myself a terribly frustrated Fulham supporter.
I`m trying to keep some perspective, though. After all, we`re only one season removed from back-to-back relegation dog fights. Last season was great, but I doubt if anyone sincerely expected a repeat performance. I certainly didn`t, and yet I find myself being so disappointed with losing matches - matches that any other season (save last year) I would`ve expected us to lose. It`s frightening how a little >success can so thoroughly change a rationale fan`s expectations. Mea culpa.
It`s far too early to be concerned with table position, but we can certainly be concerned with the way we`ve performed on the pitch. Wins over Pompey and Everton have given us a little breathing room, but we can hardly take solace from either performance. They were far from comprehensive and from my point of view, were it not for two deflected goals we`d be sitting on one point instead of six. I don`t think anyone can be shocked by a 2-0 loss to Chelsea, but it`s the way we lost. We looked awful. No consistency; no inspiration. Likewise, losing (away) to a newly promoted club is not unheard of for Fulham. In fact, we`ve made a tradition of it. Again, it`s the way we lost. No intensity what-so-ever against Wolves! The Aston Villa match is the only one I can excuse. Injuries to key players left us virtually no means to attack. With our normal starters, I think we could`ve at least gained a point from that match.
On the positive side, we`ve performed well enough in the Europa League to progress to the Group Stage. How much further we progress is a point of concern for many fans, with team selection raising some eyebrows. Roy Hodgson has made no bones about the fact that Premier League is still our primary focus. Even so, we earned a credible draw against CSKA Sofia. I suspect our Europa League aspirations will be made clear by team selection for our upcoming home matches with Basel and Roma; as will our chances of progressing further in the competition. My opinion is that Hodgson is focusing the team`s efforts on home wins and accepting draws and losses in the away matches as the only sustainable way of progression, given our League and domestic cup commitments. If this is true, losses to Basel or Roma might signal our exit. I don`t mind the second team selection for the away matches, but anything less than our first team for the home matches would be disappointing, if not shameful. Additionally, if it comes down to an away win for progression, I would expect the best effort put forth. I expect Roy will deliver.
So for now, I will relax. Team performance must improve, but I`m going to be patient with the squad. New signings need time to train. Regulars need time to gel. The manager has to be allowed to manage the team as he sees fit. He`s never given us a reason to doubt him, so let`s give Roy a chance. And most importantly, let`s all remember that it could be worse.
If you don`t believe me, ask the Pompey fans how they`re doing lately!