Make-or-break! Last chance saloon! Sh*t or bust! Whichever way you put it, a result against Wolves was vital in the fight against a 3rd relegation in 3 Premier League seasons of the Khan era. Whilst the maths says Fulham are still very much in the race to survive, the psychological effects of a 4th defeat on the bounce could be devastating, especially with games at Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United making up 3 of the Whites’ remaining 4 away trips.
We all know the result, we all know it was a baby-oiled Adama Traore who ended his 16 month scoring drought with a rasping drive past Areola at his near post with a few seconds left on the clock, and I think we’re all pretty sure we’re going to be playing Stoke next season. But it’s not over yet. The fat lady may be going through her warm-up routine, but she’s not on stage. There’s still a chance we could be swearing (both positively and negatively) at VAR next season, but at this point a minor miracle isn’t going to cut it.
The showing against Portugal B was not one of a team bound for the Championship unless they came away with all 3 points. Whilst certain performances showed there were still fires in the bellies, the overall intensity had all that of an end of season battle for 11th place. Andersen appeared to be backing up his Instagram posts with a captain’s performance, some of his passing more akin to a quarterback than a centre-back. Terence Kongolo, making his first Premier League appearance in a white shirt, acquitted himself very well, which was somewhat surprising for someone who will probably have a treatment room named after him one day.
Following the dismal defeat against Villa, it was probably the correct move to freshen it up at the back, reverting to a more solid back 3/5. Tosin has had a fantastic debut season but we have to remember he’s still young and will make mistakes, but hopefully he’ll be a mainstay again next season alongside a more experienced head (assuming that it won’t be Joa). Whether Kongolo can remain fit enough to fill that role remains to be seen.
Going forward, again it was a story of some tidy play with no end product. Now 32 games into the season, you have to wonder what has been going on at Motspur Park that has not fixed this, or even look like it’s been attempted to be fixed. Yes, I’m sure they work on attacking drills, but at this point it’s nothing short of infuriating. 7 league goals at home all season is, simply put, pitiful. The Cottage, which has so often been our saviour when away form has been less than exemplary, has become about as threatening as a new-born puppy. And this can’t be purely down to lack of fans.
There are clearly some talented players in this group, but this has been a season of what ifs. Who would’ve thought beating the champions at Anfield would then lead to a winless run that will likely (and let’s face it, probably should) lead to our relegation – unless Newcastle can keep matching us in our lack of results (and Big Sam doesn’t pull off some gravy-soaked magic).
When that ball hit the net, you could tell numerous spirits were broken – none more than Parker’s, whose grimace said all it needed to. Whatever he’d sent the players out to do had not worked. Pre-match, he spoke of it being a must-win, but very little in the performance suggested he’d passed the message on. A draw wouldn’t have been satisfactory either given the run of games coming up, but it all looked far too safe especially against a Wolves side who’ve struggled this season to live up to previous seasons’ form.
Where do they go from here? It’s hard to not fall down a rabbit hole of negativity at this point, but now it’s up to Scott and his team to drum home that it’s not over yet. Fingers crossed that Burnley will get a result against Steve Bruce’s side, but we can’t keep relying on this; Newcastle will pick up some points before the end of the season, so if we’re going to be within reach of them on May 23rd then we need to pull a couple of Anfield-esque performances out of somewhere.
A rerun of the 2008 Great Escape is now needed, but it’s currently feeling far more like 2014 and/or 2019…obviously this will all change when we beat Arsenal next Sunday. Still Believe n’ all that!