A culture of failure at Fulham could yet end in relegation
Felix Magath’s men remain in peril following Saturday's defeat to Tottenham, and when he sits down to analyse the difference between winning and losing here, it could well serve as a template for the last eight months of Fulham’s season of struggle.
The inadequate and mismanaged transfer budgets from the last two seasons alongside Martin Jol’s poor judgment, lax organisation and inflated ego created a culture of failure at the Cottage that may yet see them relegated from the Premier League. Despite the accelerated churn of players at the turn of the year, it is clear the club still lack players of real quality. Why was this so poorly handled during the dark days of January?
Opposition managers sense deficiencies inside the first 45 minutes of every match; they change tactics, and games run away from Fulham in the second half. You only have to look at the Everton match at Craven Cottage as a case in point. Roberto Martinez knew he had to change things at half-time, as he could sense joy was to be had in exploring behind the lines -- he promptly shuffled his pack and came up trumps as Fulham had no answer. Again. Time and time again this has happened, and it goes some way in explaining the difficulties of such a disappointing campaign.
There are no game-changers in the current Fulham team. No Wilfried Bony, Christian Eriksen or Jason Puncheon. Meanwhile, with one of the tightest budgets in the top flight, they continue paying Darren Bent 65,000 pounds a week to warm the bench. That is frankly obscene.
There are, of course, plenty of honest triers, and it is clear that effort is being put in from the vast majority. But they are a collection of housepainters, with no van Gogh to light up the room. With the much maligned Dimitar Berbatov in the side, there was always the chance he might conjure up some magic as he did in this fixture 12 months ago. That dimension has gone.
The general mediocrity is only compounded by the folly of breaking the transfer record for an international striker not fit to start over the most critical three months of the campaign. Kostas Mitroglou has turned out to be one of Fulham's most expensive mistakes of all time.
Magath's men are below struggling Cardiff with three more goals underlining how porous the defence has been all season. Brede Hangeland's decline has been sharp, as well -- time is certainly against the big Norwegian. Two free kicks were delivered through a packed penalty area for Spurs players to hit home from close range, with neither player able to get off the ground, despite nine visiting players back defending. How damning is that?
Even when presented with an opportunity to score from 12 yards without any hindrance, Steve Sidwell failed to do so. In a season of strife, you need to make the most of each chance afforded to you, but profligacy and pain rule the day in this part of west London, with perhaps more to come.