Date: 31st January 2007 at 9:12am
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Fulham surrender away-again

Paddy Kenny’s goal-keeping gloves won’t have the slighest stain this morning, after one of the easiest matches he’ll have in his career.

Fulham had barely a chance on goal all match, and this was probably the worst performance by the club in years.

‘From start to finish we were very disappointing. We did not force their keeper into a save and did not deserve anything from the game’, said Chris Coleman after the match.

‘I’ve come to expect a certain level of performance from this team and I did not see this coming.’

‘We have let ourselves down and our fans down. It is a long way to come on a cold night and we did not perform.’

This was an under-statement after an evening of failings in every department. While attention will focus on a frail defence, with Knight and Pearce looking vulnerable throughout, passes went astray in midfiled and the Fulham attack looked toothless, especially after Montella was replaced after 33 minutes.

Helguson came on as a substitute but once again made no impression, and even McBride struggled in the air against Sheffield Utd’s solid central defence.

The only possible excuse for Fulham’s performance was the state of the pitch, which was as much mud as grass, but the home team coped with the conditions without too much difficulty.

Fulham go into the final stages of the Premiership season knowing that the weaknesses of Watford, Charlton and West Ham could ensure safety, but this kind of showing does not inspire confidence.

It is especially disappointing after the impetus created by a successful transfer window. The lack of a signing in defence, however, may prove telling. In theory, with the Knight/Pearce combination and the Christanval/Bocanegra pairing (or combinations thereof), these positions are covered but Fulham’s defensive record is the worst in the League, and Chris Coleman will have to take action in the close season to revamp his back line.

Meanwhile, the match against Newcastle on Saturday takes on added significance following this result. Fulham won’t want to play like this in front of the home crowd, and Chris will want to see his players perform on Saturday.

It’ll be a nail-biter.

 

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