Fulham - Roma Notes
I must first acknowledge how disappointed I am to lose such an important fixture, and to lose it at the death as we`ve done so many times before. This could`ve propelled us into the next round of Europa League.
In my opinion, a home win versus CSKA Sofia and at least draw away to Roma or Basel will surely be required if we are to move on in the competition.
I`m not confident that we will put forth the required effort.
I`m terribly disappointed in Roy`s team selection. This was a marquee fixture and he put out the second team midfield. Yes, first team strikers were present and three of four first team defenders were present, but how are Dempsey and Duff not in the starting eleven.
I realize that Greening and Baird were necessary replacements for Murphy and Etuhu, but why were Riise and Gera out there? To be fair, I thought Riise played very well, along with Greening, in the first half. Too bad they could not sustain that display in the second half.
It was an absolutely awful second half performance from the midfield. They could not maintain possession AT ALL and Roma made us look like schoolboys out there. When we did gain possession, we just long-balled it back to Roma so they could come right back at us. It was an amateurish display and not worthy of the occasion. Let`s be honest, when Pizarro, Perrotta and Vucinic came on, we were no match for the Romans. I don`t even know if our regular starters could`ve stood up to them. (And, we`ll never know, will we Roy?)
The defense played great. Hangeland and Hughes were outstanding. Konchesky and Kelly played well, particularly in support of attack. Too bad Konchesky had to leave the match. It did convince me of one thing, though - WE NEED ANOTHER LEFT BACK! Nothing against John Pantsil, but he has no business at left back and should never be used there again. The red card on Kelly was harsh. It was a definite penalty, but should not have seen him sent off.
How good is Mark Schwarzer? His performance tonight was extraordinary. It reminded me of last season when he, on so many occasion, was the difference between winning and losing. Man of the match. No question.
In conclusion, here are a few things I learned tonight.
1) Roy Hodgson is completely serious when he says that the Premier League is his top priority. His team selection proved that, once and for all. If you can`t put out your best eleven for Roma at home, it`s hard to convince anyone that you`re taking the competition seriously.
2) Bjorn Helge Riise might just turn into a good player for us. His gives us a presence on wing that we`ve not had since Simon Davies went down. I don`t think he`s completely ready, but I think soon enough he will be.
3) John Pantsil cannot play left back. Man marking and defending were good as usual, but his passes and crosses from the left side were terrible.
4) We better start looking for a replacement for Danny Murphy, now. Murphy`s
performance this season has not been his best, and I`m fairly certain that it`s not destined to improve as he gets older. It was quite obvious tonight that we need someone who can maintain possession and direct the midfield. In Murphy`s absence, we have no one.
5) Zoltan Gera is completely ineffective on the left wing. He`s much better on the right.
6) Chris Baird, though playing better, is no replacement for Dickson Etuhu.
7) If Bobby Zamora could shoot, he`d be terrific. He looked to be in total control and we were lost once he was substituted. I thought he played great tonight.
8) Mark Schwarzer is the best keeper in the Premier League! No follow-up needed!