The Tony Gale Column

Tuesday 9 October 2018 10:00

Everything seemed rosy at around 1 o’clock on Sunday. We’d got a deserved equaliser against Arsenal through a fine André Schürrle goal, and we were looking forward to what was to come in the second half. Sadly, things didn’t unfold as we would have liked. I saw some mates of mine who are Fulham fans at half-time and they fancied us to go on and win. There were a lot of positives to take from the first half so their confidence was justified, but we just got picked off unfortunately.

I watched the game from the gantry, and I had a perfect view up there. We got out-fought, at the end of the day, and we’ve got to become a lot harder to beat. It’s so difficult to go toe to toe with the top teams. There was far too much space for Arsenal at times, which is the case for a lot of sides who come up against them because their movement is just so good. We got well and truly beat in the end, but let’s not forget who we were up against. Arsenal are on fire at the minute, and the fact they were able to bring someone of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s calibre off the bench tells you everything you need to know about how strong they are.

It was brilliant to see Craven Cottage sold out, and it did generate a great atmosphere for the most part. I went to see Les Strong in his lounge before and after the game and I was saying how nice it was for us to be back in the Premier League and for every fixture to be buzzing. It’s a shame we didn’t get the result we were after, but let’s not get carried away. There’s a hell of a lot of football still to be played.

The way the second half panned out was almost like a role reversal from last season, when teams were holding out against us for the first half and we were picking them off when games opened up because we had the better players. It’s not enough to just play good football in this division. It’s a harsh league. But we’re learning with every game, don’t you worry about that.

The international break now gives the group some time to reflect and clear their heads. We’ve had plenty of lads called up to represent their country, including six for England at various levels, from the Under-17s all the way to Marcus Bettinelli in the senior squad, and that’s brilliant. It’s great for the football club that we’ve got so many involved in the England setup, and it’s a credit to our Academy, too. Gareth Southgate is giving more chances to younger guys which bodes well for those lads, and I think it gives everyone a good feeling about the future.

Speaking of international football, if you’re not doing anything then you should definitely get down to Craven Cottage for the England Lionesses match against Australia. Tickets are very cheap and the women’s game is on the rise, so I’m sure it’ll be an entertaining evening. We’ve got a few women’s teams down at my football club, Walton Casuals, and I love watching them play. We’ve recently had three teams established, and what a great vibe they bring with them. It’s a great opportunity on Tuesday night to go and see the Lionesses, and hopefully we get a decent crowd down there.