Never underestimate the predictabilty of our unpredictability, this is something I have come to realise as a Fulham fan. Even in the good old days of mid-table Premier League obscurity, there was always as much chance of our boys turning up after one good performance and following it up with a show devoid of any passion, cohesion or desire.
Following Saturday’s triumphant performance against QPR (we beat them every year to be fair) came a defeat at Ewood park on Tuesday night that clearly left Slavisa perplexed. The former Watford boss is perhaps realising that the issues within the club extend far beyond organising what is a squad with tremendous potential, and instead the need to get to the bottom of how we can be so inconsistent.
Immediately after the match Slavisa was quoted as saying: “We played without spirit, without desire and this is very important to win the game.” Given the only change from the team that finished against QPR was the missing Scott Parker, are we really to believe that his absence was the defining reason in such an abject performance? Admittedly, as captain he is far and away the stand out leader on the pitch, which is something we all are aware that we lack elsewhere, but yesterday night only highlighted the need for a better mentality throughout the team with certain individuals really needing to stand up and be counted, regardless of whether the captain is on the pitch or not.
Like many others, I was once again lulled in to a false sense of optimism that the QPR game would be the turning point in the season. The 3-5-2 that seemed to be so effective just a few days beforehand saw what had to be the worst 45 minutes under our new manager so far against Blackburn in the first half. Luke Garrett, having already given away a penalty, was hauled off after 35 minutes and, eventually, halfway through the second half we abandoned the formation completely in favour of a 4-4-2 with Labyad and Kacaniklic providing the width.
Whether Saturday’s home game against Charlton will see us try the wing backs again remains to be seen, especially as I can’t see Garbutt starting again any time soon. As depressing as it sounds, we haven’t had a decent option at left-back since Paul Konchesky and that really is saying something. I would hope that come the summer this becomes a priorty for the club in the transfer market.
There is no doubt that we possess a squad with a level of quality that should be performing way above where we currently find ourselves. It could however be this very attitude that leads to such dire performances when it comes to “a cold Tuesday night” at Blackburn. Perhaps buoyed by the weekend’s results, Slavisa took it upon himself to praise the players and reenforce the message that we have the quality within the team to succeed, only for it to result in widespread complacency and a loss of focus.
Despite the fact that the remainder of this season will likely continue to be about as predictable as a Felix Magath starting line-up, I think it is important that we as fans don’t lose perspective that Jokanovic should only be judged once he has had time to implement his changes throughout the summer and into next season. A few more performances like that of the QPR game will be in the pipeline and I have no doubt some more of the Blackburn ilk as well. We will however do enough to stay up and can hopefully use the remainder of the season to come to terms with a formation which will hopefully serve us better once we have the players to be able to achieve it effectively. We may even choose to defend a set piece or two!