Misery on Merseyside

Posted by Phil Mison

Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesThere was a noticeable difference in sideline demeanour between Everton's David Moyes, left, and Fulham's Martin Jol in the Toffees' 1-0 victory Saturday.

Entirely predictable. Everton full value for their 1-0 win Saturday. Nothing positive whatsoever to be taken from yet another spluttering, limp away performance by a wheezing, broken unit that is so clearly dysfunctional it seems bordering on madness to keep persisting with it. Even the manager's post-match ramblings are as predictable as the play. How much more of this must we take?

This blog comes in two parts. I shall dispense with the match facts, then get on to the longer-term implications for the Fulham board going forward.

It may have only needed one goal from the Toffees, but Fulham’s 20th successive league trip to Goodison without gaining so much as a point was never in doubt. Not for the first time this season the opposition's goalkeeper was not called upon to make one single save. The Everton back four could have played in carpet slippers. The press reports are uniform in reporting the yawning gulf in class and attitude between the teams.

A fast aggressive opening 25 minutes from David Moyes’ boys was enough to craft an excellent finish from Steven Pienaar and suggest Everton had far too many tricks up their sleeve for the Whites.

The early departure of top scorer Dimitar Berbatov on 30 minutes (torn calf muscle) only highlighted the lack of a Plan B in Martin Jol's armoury. While Moyes actively engaged with his side from the touchline, barking instructions, cajoling his troops and urging them on, Martin mutely watched proceedings arms-folded with the grimace of a man enduring a root canal.

Fulham's current problems with team selection are manifold so let's deal just with the most glaring issues. The form of 10.5 million-pound signing Bryan Ruiz has -- incredibly -- gone backwards since his last injury before Christmas. His contribution and ability to influence games has all but dropped off the graph. He was crying out to be subbed off.

Any criticism of Ruiz from this quarter was routinely rebuffed by many up till spring. There are still a few blinkered acolytes of Bryan's among posters, but they are rapidly falling silent by the week. I'm sorry, but I am finished with the guy. It’s pointless expending any more words on him.

Mladen Petric plays as if his boot-laces are tied together. His first touch is appalling. He is too small to threaten defences and his runs off the ball offer up nothing to the side. Fulham did have a big guy who filled this role so impressively it won him an England call-up, but we all know what Jol did to him.

Damien Duff is on his last legs. Yet the club have already seen fit to reward him with another year. Doh! If similar deals are offered to Petric and Giorgos Karagounis Fulham can start preparing for life in the Championship now. John Arne Riise is finished at Fulham, but with Kieran Richardson seemingly injury-prone they are seriously in need of a decent left-back.

One of my more perceptive followers tweeted at half-time for Hugo Rodallega to be on for the second half in place of the Greek veteran. It took Martin until the 77th minute to see if that might be worth a try.

One final observation. Urby Emanuelson is surely heading back to Milan? And if so, why is he playing? (Loved the PR blurb from the team website on eve of the game: “Urby loves London and our stadium.” He loves our corrugated iron rabbit hatch ahead of the San Siro??? Yeah, right.).

All I’ve seen from Urby to date is a head -down dribbler, and yet another lightweight. He should have hit the target with the one big chance that came his way Saturday, and he sure as hell is no makeshift left-back! I would have done better.

Who emerged from the mind-numbing display with reputations intact? Mark Schwartzer. He made three fantastic saves and not for the first time this season kept Fulham in it. Very unsettling that Mark should quite understandably be sitting on his new contract while Jol so blatantly courts alternatives in the market.

Both Fulham centre backs kept their heads and worked manfully to repel the Everton forwards. Marouane Fellaini was kept relatively quiet. And in midfield Alex Kacaniklic showed up better than anyone else around him in white.

Now here comes the rub for those guiding the fortunes of Fulham FC. Examine the four names mentioned above. They were all signed to the club before Jol arrived. If we include the three who came in off the bench, of the 14 men who saw match action Saturday at Everton, nine were Jol additions to the squad -- be they loans, free transfers, or players Fulham paid fees on. This is pretty close now to being a side Martin Jol has fashioned. And it is a poor one.

Memo to the board. Do you really think after his two years in the hot seat this shows progress?

Draw your own conclusions. Should the board continue with the current strategy, if substantial funds are not made available for major new signings, Fulham are heading for the Championship. I sense supporters' pain from posts here and elsewhere. Time to take note, Mr. Chairman.


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