Our beloved Whites have now managed just two wins from their last fourteen competitive matches. At the weekend mid-table Championship side Blackpool comfortably contained a strong Fulham XI in FA Cup third round action, held a lead until ten minutes from time, and deserved to force a replay. The Tangerines played as a cohesive unit, disciplined, organised and resolute throughout. Fulham meanwhile continue to play in fits and starts, looking too often for individuals to conjure a moment of magic. I watch the players for any signs of a game plan, but with no master strategist to orchestrate things, I am still wondering just what goes in to building Fulham up for games.
My plea for 2013 is for our good friends in the media, principally Simon Peach of the PA and Jacob from the Chronicle, to start asking some direct questions of the manager. Here's one to kick off with: 'Why did the club reject the offer to sign Michu?' I lead off with that one because we are now into the muddy waters of the winter transfer window. The side badly needs reinforcements of quality, able to hit the ground running – but who is in the frame? I've consulted my crystal ball, and the Mayan calendar, both stubbornly remain murkier than the swollen, muddy Thames.
Twenty-four hours before the Cup tie I was strolling the Grand Palais exhibition halls on the Champs Elysees in Paris. The current show features a history of gypsy life and customs in Europe, and how that lifestyle in turn gave rise to Bohemianism. "It is vain to seek to penetrate the mysteries of destiny." Indeed. There you have it, a quote from the Renaissance and the age of reason negating obscurantism. In fact, it is a quotation by the Establishment aimed specifically at the practice of fortune telling.
But that is what we try to do on this blog all the time. The fourth estate becomes a whirling dervish attempting to forecast the future path of our clubs. And it's all for the sake of vanity, to turn round come May with a smirk of satisfaction and say, "I told you so. Here's a columnist who knows his stuff."
Well in this first week of January, I am still unsure if the win at West Brom marks a turning point, or if the coming weeks are going to stretch our nerves further in the quest for 40 points. Blackpool if anything appeared to be a step backwards. In light of the draw for the fourth round, I am more than happy for the Whites to have a long trek north for another go. At present, our squad can't get enough games under their belt before we see the semblance of a balanced side good enough to move into mid-table. Blackpool is another 90 minutes of experimentation where the result is largely immaterial.
Along with many supporters, I came off the cup tie sensing Berbatov continues to drop too deep, Ruiz should never be sent out on the wing, that we badly need a conventional striker, speed of play and thought from back to front must improve dramatically, defensively we remain far too casual (two defenders had the chance to throw their bodies in the way of Silvestre’s shot for the first goal from the 'D' – neither did). With half the season gone Fulham remains only a half-decent team. Patience is beginning to wear thin waiting for the likes of Dejagah, Richardson and Rodallega to come good. Derek Boateng is on the verge of signing having been up for his work permit, but won't be back from the African Nations Cup for four weeks – like Chris David then from Twente, one for 'the future'. What about the here and now?
I'm underwhelmed by the two trades to date I have to say. Go back to Jol's first three trades for Fulham in 2011 and look for their impact on the side now. Gecov's been and gone, Kasami we can't even loan out, Riise, a failure: combined cost to the club of those three? £5.7 million.
If it is vanity to wish to interpret the future, then we must accept Fulham's destiny will always be, as we well know, to frustrate and disappoint, that ultimately we must live only for those occasional rainbows when the likes of Spurs, United, Liverpool or Rangers are given a drubbing at home. I briefly hoped back in August this season might be different. But it was not to be. Anyone care to recall the day Martin told a beaming press conference he had four strikers all capable of scoring goals? "It's a nice problem to have," he told the press back in September.
The true picture in fact is, in 2013 those familiar Fulham companions, a swift end to any Cup run and flirting with relegation remain to haunt the fans and puncture our dreams.
Follow Philip on Twitter @fulhamphil