Whites on life support

Posted by Phil Mison

The crisis at Fulham deepens after the club lurched closer to the precipice following another disappointing performance at Swansea.

Goals conceded for the season to date now stand at 50(!), while Swansea dominated play and had no trouble dealing with what little pressure the Whites managed to exert. This was a very damaging show where skills, cohesion and tactical nous from our boys were largely absent.

The game followed an all too familiar pattern and the team are effectively back to where we were at the start of December. This early into his tenure, if Rene Meulensteen can’t find the motivation or produce a system to rejuvenate the troops, Fulham are in serious trouble.

- Swans see off Fulham

Nobody should have been fooled into thinking a midweek trip to the Liberty Stadium in the depths of winter would be a stroll in the park but here was a game that should have been approached like a cup final.

Swansea were on a run of form even worse than that of Fulham and yet, as Michael Laudrup savoured a confidence-boosting win, he labelled the Cottagers a side "who came to play for a draw," adding "we stepped it up in the second half and got the result."

Why was there such a negative approach, from what was in essence the first eleven? Or are Fulham really now such an ordinary side that the Championship is actually where the club belongs? For a Fulham manager to call up Damien Duff from the bench thinking that he’s the man to transform a game ... that is a judgement which depresses me.

With this current set-up, relegation is where Fulham are heading. Even the bookies think so. Except, with 15 games still to contest, history tells us there’s time to turn this around. Nobody knows that better than a Fulham follower!

However, over time the writing has been on the wall and this latest surrender only served to underline where changes must happen. Indicative of Fulham's current woes was seeing both forwards withdrawn in the second half.

Dimitar Berbatov has no more interest in donning the white shirt while Clint Dempsey, who is anything but a quitter, simply looks a man past his peak.

We might have seen flashes of the buccaneering Texan of yore had he come back into a half-decent team. Previous managers needed time to bed Dempsey into their system, simply because he’s a one-off, but there’s not going to be a fairy-tale ending this time around before he flies the coop back to the United States.

In the final days of this transfer window, I pray for Berbatov to be off-loaded, along with Darren Bent and Adel Taarabt. These three are drawing a king’s ransom in wages for negligible return.

Nor can Fulham make further domestic loans while Bent and Taarabt remain on the books. If neither has a break clause in their contracts, here is further evidence of shocking management strategies last summer.

This remains a seminal week in Fulham history and while it is not yet over, only decisive moves in the transfer window can right the ship. Spending 20 million pounds now could prevent the loss of 50 million over the next two years, should Fulham drop into the Championship.

Does Shad Khan recognise this? I believe he does, if the strong rumours suggesting Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou is to be signed are genuine.

I am certain Meulensteen will be working right up to the deadline to push through further deals. Ravel Morrison continues to be linked and a quality left-back, a position in which Kieran Richardson turned in another abject performance on Tuesday, is needed.

If Sunday comes round and none of the above has happened, the Fulham faithful can begin preparing for harder times. Dropping a division while ‘Arry Redknapp leads his boys in a promotion jig round Shepherds Bush market does not make for an edifying proposition.

Fulham is a team in serious trouble, make no mistake and there will be casualties if relegation follows. Those that go will at least have the consolation of a generous pay out.

Those that remain will simply put away our replica shirts and quietly weep.

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