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Fulham 3 - Burnley 0

Craven Cottage

Tuesday 9th February 2010 @8pm Kick-Off

Attendance: 23,005

New Lows in Fulham Debacle

A few weeks ago we went down to Manchester United at Old Trafford 3-0. This was Brian Laws first game in charge and despite the defeat there were a number of positives to take from the match and we received a number of plaudits. The criticism was that we didn`t take our chances and Laws admitted himself that at times we were a little 'Gung-Ho` and had to tighten up in defence.

Well against Fulham at Craven Cottage last night we lost 3-0 again and the problem this time was that we didn`t create ANY chances and were in fact more 'dung-ho` than 'gung-ho` This match would be my candidate by far as our worst performance on the road in the Premier League this season even beating the recent frustrating game at the Reebok against Susan Boyle`s Bolton. We were woeful in defence, clueless in midfield and may as well have played 4-6-0 such was the ineffectiveness of both Fletcher and Nugent. This is simply not good enough and was so disappointing after the highs against West Ham on Saturday. We simply can`t string two good games together and you have to go back to August before we had back-to-back League wins (against Manchester United and Everton at Turf Moor). Disappointing is just one word but there are numerous other D words you could take from this mauling. Dross, dire, dreadful, diabolical, disaster...but you get the idea with that!

If this was a battle of tactical wits, Roy Hodgson had done his homework better than Laws. He certainly got his side to stifle any chances we tried to create with everything it seemed snuffed out by their defence. It looked like our only option was to shoot from distance and those attempts were few and far between and I don`t recall their keeper being properly tested all night. Things were not much better at the other end with Edgar in particular looking exposed at left back and Jensen having a poor night. The Beast seemed at fault with all the goals and had problems communicating with the back-four at times. It probably didn`t help also losing Cort to injury in the first half after just 32 minutes although that did allow Fox to go back into his more familiar left back position with Edgar now playing in the centre of defence. Eagles came on to replace Cort but again he seemed subdued and ineffective.

Our best spell if that`s what you can call it was probably the opening few minutes of the match when we seemed to have most of the possession but could not make any of it tell. Two Fulham goals in eight minutes virtually killed off our chances though when first Murphy put the Cottagers ahead on 23 minutes before Elm doubled their lead on 31 minutes. There was a suspicion of offside for both goals but Fulham deserved to be ahead based on our lacklustre performance.

In the second-half Fulham killed off the game when pesky Zamora scored their third goal from a direct free kick after 54 minutes

The defeat at Fulham means we drop one place to 16th but we could find ourselves back in the relegation zone tonight with Bolton and Portsmouth if both West Ham and Wolves win their home games against Birmingham and Spurs respectively. We now have a break until the 21st February with the FA Cup fifth round ties being played next Saturday and Laws is taking his squad to sunny climes for some team-bonding and training in Portugal. He will certainly need to shake them up after this very poor performance considering our next game is against Aston Villa at Villa Park. Villa currently in 7th spot are chasing a Top 4 finish and make no mistake about it, if we play against them like we did against Fulham we will be absolutely massacred.

The Clarets Team Sheet

Brian Laws according to Owls fans had a reputation at Sheffield Wednesday for selecting players out of their normal positions; he seems to be continuing that tradition with the Clarets! Danny Fox had been brought in we thought to tighten up our defence at left-back whereas David Edgar is more renown for being a centre back. It was perhaps surprising therefore that Laws decided to play Edgar at left-back a role he has played a couple of the times for the Clarets recently but play Fox in front of him on the left side of midfield. This was the only change Laws made to the eighteen he selected for our previous game against West Ham at Turf Moor last Saturday. Robbie Blake was the unfortunate casualty of the change and was dropped back to the bench. Chelsea loan midfielder, Jack Cork also had to be content with a place on the bench for his second game since arriving in the January window.

The line-up in summary was as follows:

Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Edgar, Bikey, Elliott. McDonald, Fox, Nugent, Fletcher.

Subs: Weaver, Duff, Eagles, Cork, Blake, Thompson, Paterson

The Full Match Report

A cold night on the banks of the Thames was about to get even more bitter for Clarets fans as the match got underway. Steve Bennett was in charge of this match despite Chris Foy being the referee scheduled to referee the game. In the early stages of this match, the Clarets had most of the possession and looked most likely to score with Kevin McDonald in particular aided by Andre Bikey trying to get the engine room stoked-up to keep all Clarets fans warm and toasty. There were no real chances though and a familiar pattern on the road then began to develop as Fulham came back into the game. . A routing save by Jensen from a tame shot by Elms fell to Mears who under no real danger conceded a corner. The scene for nervousness and panic in the back four was now set and Fulham could sense things were swinging their way. All the pressure was now in our half and on 23 minutes the inevitable happened with the Cottagers taking the lead helped by some poor decisions by the linesman and referee. As a ball came over from Shorey, Elms looked to be in an offside position before heading down to Danny Murphy. Play continued though and Murphy tucked the ball home from six yards out to put Fulham 1-0 up.

In a rare attack Burnley responded almost immediately after McDonald linked well to set up Fletcher but the striker put his shot wide. If Clarets fans were hoping that was the start of a fight back we would be sadly mistaken with Fulham once more taking over the reins in complete control. Jensen prevented Etuhu from doubling the lead but it was only a matter of time before we went further behind such was the dominance by Roy Hodgson`s men.

On 31 minutes, Zamora was allowed to run on despite clearly being behind the back four in an offside position. He got in a low shot which Jensen partially saved. The Beast could not hold onto the ball though and it fell to Elms who scored with a simple tap-in. We were now 2-0 down thanks to two poor refereeing decisions but even so we cannot really use that as an excuse in view of Fulham`s total dominance and possession up to that point.

It got worse for the Clarets when Cort limped off with an injury a minute later. Laws had to make some readjustments with Eagles coming on in midfield, Edgar taking over from Cort in the centre of defence and Fox dropping back to his more familiar left-back role.

Our only real chance in the whole game came from a set-piece towards the end of the first half after being awarded a direct free kick 25 yards out. Up stepped Mears to thump a curling shot which grazed the crossbar. Danny Fox also hit a set-piece straight at Mark Schwarzer, a far cry from his superb effort and goal in the previous game against West Ham at Turf Moor.

Laws made no further changes at half-time and the second half resumed more or less as the first one had finished with Fulham in complete control and the Clarets looking clueless. It only took them nine minutes of the second half to put this game beyond our reach.

Zamora had been causing the Clarets all sorts of problems and he almost added a third goal when the ball fell kindly to him the area. Jensen though got down well to palm his low strike around the post. Our defence could not cope with his pace and strength though and during one attack Edgar was culpable in bringing him down on the edge of the penalty area with 54 minutes played.

Communication problems between Jensen and the wall opened up a gap which Zamora spotted and he thumped a low left-footed curler into the bottom corner of the net with Jensen diving too late to save it.

Job done, Zamora and Duff were substituted but the relentless Fulham pressure continued with Clarets fans fearing that a tonking was on the cards. It was Jensen who denied them a fourth goal after Okaka was put through by Murphy who was now running towards goal. The Beast in a good position got his legs into action to halt progress.

There was one final chance to rub salt in the Clarets fans wounds when in the dying few seconds of the match, a volley by Okaka went thankfully wide.

This is certainly one match that Clarets fans will want to instantly forget and the only cheerful news on the night was the fact that at least Manchester City had beaten Bolton 2-0 at Eastlands which meant Susan Boyle`s mob would still be below us!

Match Detail

Fulham: Schwarzer, Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Shorey, Duff (Riise 77), Murphy, Etuhu, Davies (Greening 62), Elm, Zamora (Okaka 71.

Subs Not Used: Kelly, Nevland, Smalling, Zuberbuhler.

Goals: Murphy 23 Elm 31 Zamora 54

Booked: Yellow Card for Etuhu

Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Cort (Eagles 32), Edgar, Bikey, Elliott (Cork 56). McDonald, Fox, Nugent (Paterson 76), Fletcher.

Subs Not Used: Subs: Weaver, Duff, Blake, Thompson

Booked: 0

Possession: Fulham 54% Burnley 46% (Source: BBC Sport)

Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent)

Star Player

There were definitely no stars in this game. A very poor performance in all departments makes it difficult to pick out the best player.

Just as nobody was rated below 7 in our last game, in this match nobody would be rated above 6 in my opinion

Andre Bikey had his moments but then faded and the only bright spark was really Jack Cork, our new loan midfielder from Chelsea. He came on from the bench to make his Clarets debut in the 56th minute to replace a woeful Elliott and looked both lively and determined. He was not on the pitch long enough really to give a full assessment but in the absence of anybody else shining enough to deserve our star player award, we give the honour to Jack!

There was only one star performer on the night and that was our away support. Only Clarets fans could shout 'Brian Laws Claret & Blue Army` continually for almost 50 minutes in the second half just before and after going 3-0 down. The din was immense. I had to leave a few minutes early to catch a train back and I could hear the resonant Clarets fans for a full three minutes at least walking away from the ground. Proud to be a Claret but these away defeats have to stop.




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The Journalist

Writer: turfmanphil Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday February 10 2010

Time: 11:00AM

Your Comments

Have briefly skim read that article Phil and agree with almost all of it. The chanting from the away end was brilliant and we could hear it well away from the stadium ( we also made an early dart for the tube). Fulham were well organised ( again) and we simply did not have the quality to do anything about it.
Claretdale
Simply awful, just can't understand how we can blow so hot and cold after West Ham and Chelsea. Laws needs to get on top of this, he still has to prove his worth to Clarets fans and I am not sure how many more defeats like this we will be able to endure before an element of the crowd begin to turn on the new gaffer. He has promised to keep the passing game but tighten up defence, in so doing we seem to have lost the plot. Maybe 'gung-ho' was better afterall at least it was exciting and you felt we might score. That was certainly not the case last night
turfmanphil
I wasn't at the game, but to add to what CD said about the chanting from the away end on 2BR, they commented on this saying"the supporters were fantastic and everyone should be proud of them even 3-0 down and they were still singing and cheering the team on". So a big crongratulations to all who were there you did us proud.
sheclaret
I didnt think we were very good against WHU to be honest. The first 20 we were the better team but other than that I thought WHU deserved a point at the very least. As for our 'less gung-ho style', What I will say is that the last 3 away games ( Reading, Bolton, Leeds) are probably our 3 of our 4 worst away performances of the season - Wolves being the other. Is this down to the revised approach from Laws - or have our boys simply lost belief?
Claretdale
A depressing night. Even the lads on ClaretsPlayer became subdued. I couldn't stand it after the third goal went in and slunk off for an early bath. First time I've done that this season.
jjokocha
Hard to take any positives from the game apart from the crowd, Let us hope a bit of bonding in Portugal will refresh us in time time for Villa.
8clarets8
Elliott has to be dropped, he has been woeful for most of this year! I would start Cork in midfield.
turfmanphil
I think I agree about Wade Phil, he looks to be lacking confidence now and at times I thought he was hiding last night. However, If you replace him with Cork, would this not make us very narrow?
Claretdale
For a moment tmp, I thought you'd written that you'd put a large cork in midfield :-)
jjokocha
You may have a point CD,what has Guerrero done so wrong to not even be in contention now? Elliott though has played inside midfield on a few occasions and we have coped but we can't keep carryng him if hes not performing. Perhaps we could have a five man midfield with one up front-Bikey, Eagles, Cork, McCann or McDonald, Blake, Fletcher?. Having said that Eagles has not been too impressive either recently! Oh woe is me!!
turfmanphil
I just hope Cork doesn't bottle it!! :-)
turfmanphil
Hmmm - I dont really know what to say. I was so keen to have Big Kev in the side, but now he is - he isnt really performing ( Pompey aside). Blake, unfortunately, I dont think can do it consistently anymore. Mccann and Alexander I assume will both start when fit. But who plays in the rest of the midfield, I really dont know. Maybe Fox will play one side with Eagles on the other? Or Maybe we will see Pato play on one side of a 4-5-1? I feel very sorry for Fernando - It cannot be easy for a young lad this far from home and he isnt even playing! ( This is more down to Owen than Laws). I just cannot see that he will now get his chance with Laws already saying he feels we are too gung ho and FG would only increase this.
Claretdale
New players gave me hope, sadly we seem to have gone backwards. Sticking my neck out, what about Jenson: Fox, Cort, Carlisle, Mears: Blake, McDonald, Alexander, Bikey, Eagles: Nugent.
cornwallclaret
CD's perceptive analysis of the situation Guerrero finds himself in suggests that we are now struggling to fix problems Laws inherited, rather than ones he has created. The psychological impact last night of being coached to keep it tight, then lose two goals to dodgy decisions and your big new defender to injury... it must have been huge. So, for reasons to be cheerful this week, we have to look at the financial mess in Portsmouth, the internal squabbling over the looming financial mess in West Ham, and the arrival in Bolton of the man who brought Guerrero to East Lancs for no apparent squad-related logic.
Couch Potato
We deserved the win on the whole, but the officials did you no favors by blowing those offside calls. My condolences. You'll survive. You work too hard not to. Good luck with the rest of the campaign.
Teddy_KGB
Cheers Teddy thats very sporting of you. Every report I have read says the same I only say the match through a computer link but 2 of the goals were offside still Fulham were better than us.
Grimsby Claret
Nice to get a comment from a good sport, you are absolutely right Teddy we deserved to lose. Sadly, we have also lost when we deserved to win. We certainly do not seem to be getting our share of luck or debatable decisions , perhaps that will change soon, we need it to.
cornwallclaret
I do agree Cornwall - Luck doesnt seem to be with us on a number of occasions - although I would argue we did have some on Saturday against WHU. Is it a case of you make your own luck? Why do lose balls always seem to drop to the opposition?
Claretdale
There is the saying about football you make your own luck in this game. Down to us ?
Grimsby Claret
Luck can be a feature if you play well or badly. When you play badly, you maybe don't deserve the luck and that was certainly the case last night! Fulham also had us sussed especially in defence
turfmanphil
I agree Phil, Luck can be a feature if you play well or badly - but earlier this season we did put in a number of good performances - but the loose ball always seemed to fall away from a claret shirt. What is this down too? positional sense?
Claretdale
Yes, I think positional sense or intelligent anticipation definitely is appropriate but what about dodgy decisions by the officials, I think we are definitely down on that one.
cornwallclaret
From my vantage point we were clearly second best in most, if not all departments last night. Leaving the ground we struggled to think which of our lads had had a good game and agreed that Mears, Cork and Fox had done least wrong. I thought we were woeful up front and in midfield just not sharp enough. We didn't close down quickly, allowed Danny Murphy far too much time on the ball and there was very little shielding in front of the back four. Think Kevin Mc will be a good player but for me he has a lot to learn tactically. Bikey blows hot and cold but his lack of concentration lets him down and he can often be five yards behind the game. Not too many positives for me last night, other than avoiding the lamb, mint and rosemary pie at 3.50 !!
RickersTwickers
Every team has it's bad day and this was one of ours. I think they might be suffering from the innevitable Coyle/Laws transition and the introduction of new players not to mention the support team. I had no objection to Laws targeting the defence as a cause for concern, but hoped that he wouldn't stifle the entertaining attacking football too much. When we create chances, there's always a possibility of a goal. Clearly there's a balance here somewhere and hopefully Laws will find it sooner rather than later. This is the same team that played magnificently against United and Chelsea so let's hope they find that form again at Villa. I was talking to dyed in the wool United fans in the Manchester pubs on Sat night and they all thought that we were 'too good to go down'. My milkman is a Swans fan and he says the same. What are we worrying about?
WelshClaret
When WHU went down a few years ago they were to good to go down - Carrick, Di Canio, Kanoute, Cole etc. As RT stated, we were second best in most departments to a well drilled Fulham side. I agree regarding Mears and Cork and also thought Andre had a good game. I thought Fox defensively looked just a little suspect!
Claretdale
New to site so hello to everybody. Interesting to read the comments about Guerrero. It seems to me that he hasn't been given a fair chance despite some good reviews for reserve and Carling Cup performances. I think we've struggled on the left and having someone with Guerrero's pace there would make the opposition think twice about pressing up too much. It's all well and good sorting out the defence as BL seems to be doing but there has to be a counter-attach threat - and that's where Guerrero's pace would be invaluable as I think that's what we've lacked. It would be nice to see a Fox/Guerrero combination given a chance on the left. Any thoughts?
swalesclaret
I still think the midfield is the problem - I have all the games recorded (although I did delete the Bolton game and just got rid of the Fulham game!) as well as watching them all live and a vast majority of opposition goals are from their defence or midfield players getting forward without our midfield players going with them. Thus the defence is left trying to mark about six people. Bikey is the worst at this - numerous times he has left his player and then stands looking bemused when they score or set up a goal. McDonald runs back but never tackles and just follows his player back a couple of feet behind. Neither Bikey or Elliott are midfield players and we desperately need a good hard working, good passing player to link the defence and the attack. I think we have played best with 5 in midfield quickly supporting our one up front. We were lucky against WHU as again we failed to create chances - we lack width and everyone seems to drift inside instead of getting around the back. Blake, Elliott and Eagles are best when they get the ball across from the wings. We need Alexander back asap. I have critised Elliott but looking at the games, he is one of the few that comes back and works hard in defence and quietly puts a lot of good balls through, especially to an overlapping Mears. Maybe he just needs a rest as he has played nearly every minute. I would drop Bikey until he learns to mark and play a proper midfield player in there - Cork or even Gudjonssen. The most depressing thing about Fulham was that we seemed to drop our heads after the first goal and be resigned to defeat. We will never stay up without the Burnley fight - another reason we need Alexander back. We need to start closing their players down and that is why we play better against the top clubs - they give you more space. Less gifted teams like Fulham know they have to run and hassle to get a result and we have to do the same as we are playing as if we are Chelsea or Man U when we don't have their skill. Finally well done to the fans, the tv kept showing them singing and the commentators commented on their fantastic support. Up the Clarets!
ozjean
i agree with you there TMP Elliott has been somewhat woeful last few games very rarly has his pass got to a claret shirt.
ruane
Hi swalesclaret, welcome to Vital Burnley! I think I agree with you about Guerrero. He can be an exciting player with his pace and I would like to see him being given a chance with a starting eleven spot. Don't think I have seen enough of him in the few cameo appearances he has made coming off the bench to be certain. He is possibly a little naiave and raw up front at times but let's give him a chance to shine. I think our team looks a little stale at the moment and it needs freshening up. I would like to see Fox,Guerrero and Nimani in the side.
turfmanphil
Bloody results went against us last night and we are back in the drop zone after both Wolves and West Ham won at home! If only we could string one or two results together and get a couple of back to back wins. It's purgatory at the moment. Ozjean also makes some fair points. I am not sure about Grezza though although who would take a penalty if he's not playing?
turfmanphil
Ozjean - can you play your tapes of the last 20 against Stoke and Pompey and tell us how much you see from Guerrero in terms of tackling, tracking back, seeking to get involved rather than waiting, and passing. Looked to me like he needs a lot of coaching to get up to standard, and all the reseve game postponements mena that time is running out on him. Playing him for is (unproven) attacking skills would be a huge risk in a team whose midfiled problems have been laid bare on this thread.
Couch Potato
Don't agree CP, Elliott is having a torrid time at moment, I would have him on the bench,try Guerrero and if he consistently fails to deliver then bring on Elliott. If Guerrero needs a lot of coaching that should have been done by now or we have wasted a hell of a lot of money?
turfmanphil
A long journey for such a disappointing performance. And I broke my glasses when they fell onto the terraces! tmp-I DO need to go to specsavers!
boltonclaret
Hiya BC, good to see you on Tuesday night! Pity about the result and your glasses!! :-(
turfmanphil
Not sure how much money we will have wasted on Fernando TMP - Wouldnt imagine his wages are huge?
Claretdale
Just want him to be given a proper chance to show what he (FG) can do. We've missed pace on the counter-attack on left side all season and it's given the opposition more freedom to exploit our defensive weaknesses on that side. I also think our strikers would benefit greatly by us having that threat on the left. I'd also hate to see us let someone with real potential slip through our fingers at the end of the season just for the lack of giving him the opportunity. But now is the time to try something new - not later on, when the pressure's even worse. Oh well, I live in hope :)
swalesclaret
Had a look at Guerrero for you CP, and it's a bit unfair to comment on such short appearances but he didn't do any defending much. However he appeared to be trying really hard (too hard I suspect) and the one thing he has got is directness and speed. Most of the assessment of players is on the training ground I suspect and he must not be up to the mark. I supect the lad is too much like Eagles, who will get the nod on experience. I would like to see him given a go myself or at least sent out on loan to give him some game time, I wonder if the new signing from Monaco (forgotten his name) will suffer the same fate? Laws says they talked about what was wrong after the Fulham game and came up with some answers - let's hope they are the right ones! Bloody Spurs are a pain, giving Wolves 6 points and our only good result was Hull losing to the B****rds which is a bit of a sad thing.
ozjean
If Laws thought that Guerrero was ready for the first team, I think we'd have seen more of him by now, much the same as Nimani who we all hoped would be an instant saviour. The reality of the premier league is much harsher than any 'Roy of the Rovers' scenario, and if he introduces them too soon it could do more harm than good. I'm sure they'll play a part once he thinks the time is right, even if it's off the bench. Meanwhile lets look forward to the return of McCann and hopefully Alexander who shouldn't be too far behind. News of Caldwell seems to have completely dried up ?
WelshClaret
Lets Face it Steven Caldwell is not in the frame now, Not good enough for the premiership. i think the best he can hope for now is a place onthe bench, I like Steven caldwell and i belive he still has a few seasons left at division 1 level no higher
Albmaleaf claret
Tend to agree AC!
turfmanphil
Welcome to the injustice of the prem league.....For many years certain clubs get all the decisions and if you are new boys you get proper dumped on.....may times fulham have lost out, so I feel your pain, but we have been there....and it makes it worse when you are fighting for prem survival. many times I have wished we were down in championship as the stress is less on each and every game.....you can go on a bad run and still be ok. I REALLY WANT YOU BOYS TO STAY UP....GOT MASSIVE RESPECT!!!
Leonestar
Nice one Leonestar, Hodgson has done well for you glad Blackburn got rid of him (a rival thing) ;-) we would love to be in your shoes or would that be boots? yep we are not beaten yet! it could come till the last game but we will be fighting, respect for your comment :-)
8clarets8
 

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