I didn’t go to Fulham last night, so was reliant on an amalgam of Chris Goreham, Paul McVeigh, Sky Sports and Twitter for my Craven Cottage news. So if anything that follows is inaccurate feel free to blame them.
Unsurprisingly, it was the usual 90 plus minutes of roller-coastering that contained the now obligatory mix of ecstasy, despair and over-reaction; the agony doubled by being solely reliant on said sources for news and views.
That City came up a little short on the banks of the Thames came as no surprise whatsoever; what was surprising was that they came so close to busting the hoodoo.
The coin a phrase – one that was trotted out endlessly at full-time – yes, we undoubtedly would have taken a point if it were offered to us prior to kick-off, but having been leading 2-0 – and according to Macca, ‘cruising’ – it seems perfectly reasonable to question why we were again so susceptible when taking a two goal lead.
City are still second, have won six of the last eight, have a points per game ratio that will do very nicely thank-you in the final reckoning, but still there is clearly an Achilles heel that needs to be addressed.
Fulham, by the sound of it, played very well in the second-half and had Tony Gale, Sky Sports pundit extraordinaire, positively salivating, yet were given a sniff when a sniff was not even on the table.
That Chris Martin was able to bully and torment Timm Klose and Russell Martin was a disappointment – albeit an inevitable one – but it was the way City’s midfield appeared to get overrun and dominated by Scott Parker and co that ultimately paved the way for the Fulham comeback.
It was a City midfield that, despite Graham Dorrans’ brace of penalties, failed to function as it has done of late and in Wes, Jacob Murphy and Robbie Brady, reportedly had personnel whose form dipped below the required and expected level. On that score it’s unsurprising that the second-half was not for the faint-hearted.
On the face of it, Brady for Alex Pritchard made sense – to play with Wes and the latter on any given day represents a risk if it turns into a physical battle; especially so when playing away from home – but offered the benefit of hindsight it was tough on Pritchard. Brady, in a yellow shirt, is struggling.
Wes too failed to hit the heights of Saturday and Jacob M, not for the first time, is looking in desperate need of a refresh or a rest. Perhaps a simple Josh for Jacob is the answer.
Question marks still remain over our back-four, no question, and it’s something that will hopefully be addressed in January – part of which may entail hanging on to Klose – because a defence that doesn’t look remotely close to earning itself a clean sheet, despite being second in the table, represents just a little bit of a problem.
It’s fine to organise, shout, cajole and point, but we just need ‘defenders’ to do exactly what it says on the tin.
Sometimes it can be done by the aforementioned organisation by and ensuring there is a shape without any obvious gaps but sometimes it just needs good old fashioned one-on-one defending with no messing – the latter of which I’m not convinced City are good enough at.
But it was a point… at Craven Cottage… and, in truth, I’d prepared myself for not witnessing another City point there for the remainder of my days. So, on that basis, whatever happened between minutes one and 94, it was one that deserved a very modest celebration.
And, despite Sky Sports celebrating Newcastle’s rightful place at the top of the Championship like it was April 30, I’m not sure being tucked in second, third or even fourth at this stage of the season is such a bad thing.
Now, bring on Preston.
“Never mind the danger…”