Monday, January 16, 2006

Cottage Dross

Fulham 1 - 0 Newcastle

A grim afternoon in London, on which we once again failed to score away from home and lost to pretty mediocre opposition.

In truth the game had little to recommend it as a spectacle, and to brand such tripe entertainment is quite frankly laughable.

The game itself featured little in the way of quality, with Given the busier of the two keepers without ever really looking stretched and the first half passed by with barely an attempt on goal worthy of the name. From our point of view the most notable occurrence was the loss of Stephen Carr to injury. Quite how serious a problem it is remains to be seen, but Souness certainly seemed pessimistic when later interviewed in front of the TV cameras.

However, by that time he'd also had to endure the second half, which whilst slightly livelier than the first ultimately finished in depressingly familiar fashion when our inability to score away from home was punished by Fulham. The home side swept forward after Boumsong had seen his header cleared from the line, and Collins John found himself with time and space to fire a shot across Given. The Irishman did well to palm the shot away, but was doubtless sickened to see it fall at the feet of recent substitute Steed Malbranque who shot into the empty net.

We nearly forced an equaliser, when Chopra worked his way clear inside the box, only to be foiled by debutant Niemi, whose parry fell nicely at the feet of Bowyer. Unfortunately, Bowyer was unable to beat the keeper, who flung himself to his left and blocked Bowyer’s shot.

I don't propose to dwell any further on the match, because it was pretty awful stuff. We once again failed to create much away from home, and as a result paid the price. A season which promised much more back on 31st August has now been ruined by a combination of bad luck, worse injuries and crap management. Whilst I still have some sympathy with Souness when he says that he'd be fielding a much stronger side if they weren't all injured, the fact remains that he has to do more with the limited resources he has. Of the promoted teams, only the hapless Mackems are below us in the league, and none of them paid 10 million quid for a player who looks like he can't be arsed.

If Souness's judgement can't be trusted to bring in the right players, and he can't get the best from them when they play, what's the point in him being in the job?

Reports (if you really are that masochistic): BBC, Guardian


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