COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
This game was set up for the long bore as early as the second minute when Cahill had an air shot when well placed. Highlights of the first half?-well on the tenth minute mark Arteta for once found space and delivered a decent cross only for Pienaar to head without conviction straight into the arms of the keeper.
Pienaar whose passing had been off beam did produce one over the top for the Yak to run on to but he run out of ideas and it came to nought. Bullard was doing well in midfield and produced the odd opportunities for both AJ and Zamora but they looked off the pace.
Then near the hour mark we were lifted from our slumbers and raised a roar as Arteta fed Fellaini who hit a post and with the Yak closing in on the rebound,shot, only for it to be hacked away. At the other end with Bullard still dangerous he put in a cross that caused Howard and Zamora to clash and the loose ball was offered to AJ but he was crowded out. The half ended and as a spectacle it left those present non-plussed.
If the first period had been devoid of fight,flair or any hint of creativity then the second started in the same vein. First Cahill should have put away a good stand up cross from Arteta but his header mirrored his poor form of the present when he failed to hit the target when the Cahill of old would have been wheeling away in delight.
Fulham let us know they were about when Gera hit the bar with a header that should have been buried but we scrambled the rebound away. With about thirty minutes remaining the game was sturgid and cried out for something,the manager decided on a change and replaced Fellaini for Saha and put the out of sorts Cahill to mid-field.
We did press with more urgency but again our concentration and passing allowed Fulham a free-kick a few yards out of the area,Bullard a freekick specialist curled a beauty that Howard could only palm out and Zamora was first onto it and hit a post. The managers football brain must have been working overtime on what could be done to snatch a winner. His deliberations firstly saw the inconsistant and misfiring Pienaar replaced with Big Vic to play wide right,not much changed so Vaughan replaced the Yak and again not much changed.
Then with within the last five minutes it was deja-vu from Bolton. We built up down the right with for once a bit of concentration and keep-ball,Osman put in a cross of real quality and found the alert Saha rising high and his strike nestled before the keeper moved. Although the faithful roared it was a touch muted as I think relief and 'would you believe it' took over. The final whistle and the walk from the ground I got the impression most were happy with three points but highly critical of the performance.
Man of the match? Well I could only offer either Jags or Osman and playing Fulham at home with the worst away record in the premiership makes you wonder. There again we had the worst home record so perhaps we should have expected the fare on view.
This seems to be turning into an odd season where anyone can beat anyone,our case being percieved to have been poor yet we are only one point down from this point of last season when we finished fifth.
The attendance today was well down and credit crunch and poor football don't whet peoples appetites, we cannot do much about the credit crunch but I am sure something can be done about our method of playing football. So far this season I have witnessed sloppy play, lack of concentration, hoofball at the wrong times and also been titilated with some fine on the deck moves leading to goals, unfortunately all ills in each game so maybe the hard work all the players and manager talk about should be channelled into a set method of play that will surely lead to consistancy rather than the staccatto approach now being witnessed.
Although today was mostly as entertaining as watching paint dry, we did get three points (the aim of the game) moved to seventh in the league so it gives me some anticipation of another high finish I also know it can go pear shaped with just a few injuries, a little illness, suspension,loss of form etc when we have such a small unbalanced squad.
With the rest being hit and miss I feel its over to you Dave and Bill come January where just three inspired signings could see us qualify for Europe and give us the extra bit of strength of depth to have a good go in the FA cup not to mention some much needed competition throughout the team.
With the league as it is I am not over optimistic or pessimistic but rather bemused and inquisitive as to what might happen league wise come May.
The Hammers next and who knows. I wont be visiting the bookies... See you there. UP THE BLUES
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