I’ll talk about Saturday’s match shortly but will just touch on our previous trip to Goodison Park first. Fulham haven’t got a good record against Everton – it’s a really poor one – but I said in my last piece that they’ve got an outside chance of qualifying for Europe so you’ve got to say that Everton have had a good season. It was always going to be a tough game as they’re quite strong at home so it was a massive ask for Fulham to go there to try and nick something, but it was a decent effort and they only just lost by the one goal.
Now onto the Reading game and, I have to say, it was a terrible result. It was always going to be difficult because Reading had already been relegated so they could go out there and play with a relaxed attitude, and I think we saw that on Saturday. They’ve got a new manager as well so they were playing to impress for next season but, nevertheless, Fulham should have had a bit more in the locker than what they produced and I think that it was a poor, poor result – especially considering it was at home against a team that has had such a bad season. To concede four goals will have had Martin Jol beside himself, I’m sure.
Fulham did have chances to add to the tally, and Hugo Rodallega was unlucky to hit the woodwork twice, but when you’re playing against a team that’s been relegated you can’t really make any excuses. It was a poor, poor result.
Saying that, I think we were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Dimitar Berbatov was chopped down by Stephen Kelly. You’ve seen them given and on another day the referee points to the spot there. The refereeing in the Barclays Premier League can be so inconsistent sometimes – one week you’ll get it and another week you won’t. Maybe the referee didn’t have a clear view of it but he’s got a linesman that side as well.
That was at 1-0 and moments later they countered and scored which just goes to show how fine the margins can be in this game – if that penalty is awarded then we could draw level but, instead, they go up the other end and score. You see it so many times but that’s football, that’s what happens; it’s a fine line between winning a game and losing a game.
One positive from the match, though, was Bryan Ruiz’s goals. He’s been in a bit of a drought of late but we know what he can do. He’s good technically and, although he was playing a bit of a deeper role after the Manager made the change early on, he still found himself getting forward and his performance was pleasing. He scored two good goals and I thought he played really well.
With just two games to go now it’s still not a certainty that we’ll stay up but, although it’s such a crazy league and a lot can happen, I just can’t see us going down. We’ve been on a poor run of late, picking up only one point from our last six matches, and it is a worry if we finish the season like that where we’re not mathematically safe. But, looking at Fulham’s squad and looking at the Manager, we shouldn’t be worried about relegation. You never know until it’s mathematically certain but I’m not worried about it.
It’s Liverpool and Swansea City left now and, as I’ve said this before, there are no easy games in the Premier League, and these are two of the more difficult ones. Liverpool are coming to the Cottage on Sunday so it would be good to finish the last home game with a good, positive performance and a positive result. Then they’ll go away to Wales to face Swansea so it would be nice if they could end the season on a high. I’m sure Martin Jol has been drilling into them that they need to finish the campaign strongly because one draw from the last half a dozen games really isn’t good enough.
We don’t want to have to go to Wales needing a result on the final day. With Wigan Athletic doing their normal winning run at the end of the season, it does tend to bring teams back into it who had thought they were safe and if they win on Tuesday evening against Swansea then that will put them on 38 points, just two behind us on 40. We’ve got a better goal difference but it would be nice to relieve a bit of that pressure with a result against Liverpool so we can go to Wales and play with a relaxed attitude.
Come and see Rufus at the Cottage on Saturday 18th May as he and many other former Whites players represent the Fulham All Stars in a charity match against the Sealand All Stars, with tickets priced at just £10 for adults and £5 for concessions.