Wolves away could not be considered an easy match at the best of times let alone at the end of a week that had yielded two humiliating 3-0 defeats and a social media meltdown triggered by an injudicious Tony Khan tweet…
There are two schools of thought on Shahid Khan’s ownership. On the one hand, he seems a genuine bloke and has demonstrated his belief in our future by committing himself to the new Riverside Stand project. When you see what’s happened at the likes of Wigan, Bolton and Bury then we’re blessed to be in his hands.
On the other, under his stewardship, we’ve been relegated twice and on current evidence don’t appear to be learning from our mistakes. His appointment of son Tony as Director of Football smacks of nepotism. Tony seems desperate to be liked and tweets fulsome praise when we win. He’s been criticised for staying silent when we lose so I guess that’s why he went online after the Villa fiasco. His yoyo comment went down like a lead balloon with the faithful but it was his criticism of the players’ efforts that was far more damaging. Scott Parker rightly defended his players in public and for the moment, oil seems to have been poured on troubled waters. However, it’s going to be hard enough this season without division and turmoil behind the scenes.
I was trying to look for positives before this game. For one thing, we can’t get much worse and for another Parker’s defence of his team should surely deserve at the very least a ‘bust a gut’ attitude from the players. That alone is not enough to win games in the Premier League and with the transfer window about to shut we still seem well short of the quality needed with the key area of central defence most in need of address. Still, as a fan, I can far more readily accept defeat if you can see a team giving its all rather than tamely surrendering as we seemed to do at Brentford once the second goal went in.
Parker made three changes from the Villa line up and although we’ve not quite yet reached the nadir of ‘Felix Bingo’ some stability would be welcome. Having said that it’s much easier to keep a settled side when you’re in form and winning matches. To be fair, the first half was a vast improvement on what we’ve seen so far. We carried the game to Wolves in the opening stages and I almost felt the collective sigh of relief from Fulham households when we survived the first ten minutes intact. In fact, we kept our shape very well and although Wolves grew into the game we had only one heart in mouth moment when Areola reacted well to his spill to make a vital intervention from the second effort.
Wolves maintained momentum on the restart and we survived a couple of close shaves before Neto buried a low strike in the 56th minute. This time though, heads didn’t drop and we retained our coherence. Ola Aina looked much more like it than he did on Thursday and our other changes worked relatively well. Ademola Lookman’s introduction again made a difference and the game shifted back in our favour. Aboubakar Kamara had a gilt-edged chance to equalise but as Parker is one to say, it’s a game of fine margins. Wolves finished their best chance clinically; we didn’t. We huffed and puffed still but never got quite such a clear opening again and slipped to our 4th straight League defeat. The difference between this and the other three though was that this time we looked capable of going toe to toe with what the Premier League can offer. With an International break ahead it’s a good time to regroup and look ahead positively. Signings may arrive before the window shuts tomorrow and with the time afforded to bed in the other new arrivals fully, our first points may not be too far away.
Sheffield United are next up and if we can win that one, the dark shadows that have been hanging over Craven Cottage may start to lift.