Ryan Babel of Fulham

With Fulham you only get one good season in 10. Discuss...

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Ryan Babel of Fulham (centre) is tackled by Davidson Sanchez of Tottenham. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Morgan Phillips
Morgan Phillips

By Morgan Phillips

As I walked along the riverside after Sunday’s match against Spurs I overheard a comment that caught my attention.

“Last season was great. With Fulham you only get one good season in 10.”

That was an alarming thought for someone of my advanced years. True, 2018-19 has been problematic so far and Sunday brought further affliction as well as some encouragement.

Aware that Tottenham would be without Harry Kane and Son Heung-min the home supporters ventured to dream of a surprise victory that would help the team towards safety.

After a nervous start Fulham really did dominate the first half even if the vital goal in the 17th minute resulted from a fortunate deflection.

Ryan Babel, the crimson topped newcomer, constantly threatened to open his account. He also provided a perfect opening for an Andre Schurrle special, which keeper Hugo Lloris could only push out towards Aleks Mitrovic.

The Serb headed triumphantly into the net, only to be judged offside. A goal would have been a just reward for Mitrovic, who fought a Titanic battle throughout the match with the Spurs defence.

Mauricio Pochettino must have demanded more of his players, for they equalised shortly after the interval when John-Michael Seri misheaded and Tim Ream (of all people) air-kicked a straightforward clearance.

With Babel visibly tiring, Mitrovic redoubled his efforts and might well have won a penalty when Lloris dived at his feet. Both teams had been guilty of simulation, so Mr Pawson was unmoved.

Despite some nervous moments the score was still level after 90 minutes and the Fulham players scented an added-time winner like the one achieved against Huddersfield. Had they succeeded they would have been heroes and the recovery under way. Instead an aimless forward pass allowed Harry Winks to initiate a seven man movement that ended in Winks himself sprinting into the area and scoring with a header – a fine goal but against a static defence.

Claudio Ranieri praised his team’s performance, especially in the first half, but regretted their lack of Premier League experience.

This is an undeniable fact but surely at most levels of football there comes a time when it is better to settle for a point.

Or to misquote Andre Schurrle: if you’re in deep, deep, deep trouble, stop digging.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

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