In the end it was disappointing to only come away with a draw from the game at Southampton. It’s an away point, which is never a bad thing, but to throw away a lead in the dying seconds is a horrible feeling.
We got off to a bad start with the early goal and you thought ‘here we go again’ but we came back strongly in the second half and deservedly led with only minutes to go. So to lose a goal in the last few seconds felt a bit like a defeat.
This weekend, it’s Aston Villa at the Cottage. They’ve had a tough start to the season. They’ve got a good manager in Paul Lambert but it’s going to take a while for him to get his ideas across and it’s a nice time to be playing Villa. They’ve got a lot of young players in their side and Craven Cottage is a difficult ground for anyone to come to. If we can put them under pressure early on, then it should be a good day for Fulham. If we stick to our game plan, I fully expect us to get a result.
I’m surprised that Darren Bent has been on the Villa bench in recent weeks. He’s a proven goalscorer and always a threat to the opposition with his ability to sniff out a chance. Obviously something has gone on at Villa for a player of his calibre to be left out and that will be to our advantage if he doesn’t start on Saturday.
Hopefully Dimitar Berbatov will be back for the game. That would be a massive boost for Fulham. He’s come in and played really well so he’ll be as frustrated as anyone to get injured so soon after arriving. If he does return on Saturday, I expect him to carry on from where he left off.
Martin Jol could be spoilt for choice on the left wing. Alexander Kačaniklić has impressed this season and also scored his first goal for Sweden on Friday, while Kieran Richardson notched at Southampton and Kerim Frei is back from injury. It’s a nice headache for the Manager to have. Normally left-sided players are hard to find and Fulham have three very good ones there. You could throw Bryan Ruiz into the mix as well, although I feel he plays better just off the frontman. I’m sure they’ll all be looking to impress in training and Martin will pick the right man for the job.
Mark Schwarzer turned 40 a couple of weeks ago. Goalkeepers do tend to play on a bit longer than outfield players but to still be going in top-level football at his age is fantastic. He’s still very athletic and an excellent goalkeeper and he can go on for at least another two or three years. Your body will tell you when it’s time to hang up your boots. All the aches and pains start to catch up with you, it takes you longer to get over injuries and you just know it’s time. Either that, or you can’t find another club!
We added another midfielder to the ranks earlier this month in Mickael Tavares. I can’t pretend to know too much about him, but he played for Martin at Hamburg and the Manager has shown to be a good judge of character when it comes to signings. It’s only a short-term deal so both parties can suss each other out and see if it’s a good fit.
After Villa, it’s an away trip to Reading. I expect it to be a similar match to the one at Southampton. I’ve seen Reading play a couple of times this season. They’re very organised, there’s nothing fancy about them and everyone knows their job. It will be another difficult game, but it’s one I feel we can get something from.