Fulham and their away woes
There are two very different Fulham teams that compete in the Premier League. The sides that turn out at Craven Cottage and the teams that perform away from their home are usually two very different tasks for their opponents.
October 9th, 2012
At their small, tight home, Fulham can be a blot on the records of the biggest teams. Last week, Manchester City were very fortunate to leave the Cottage with all three points. A goal from Edin Dzeko in the final five minutes helped secure what could prove to be a vital away win for the defending Champions. Last season, they only managed a 2-2 draw after battling through increasing pressure from the home side in the second half. Their city rivals won for the first time in four seasons at Craven Cottage last December.
However, when Fulham teams have travelled away from their stadium based on the banks of the River Thames they have struggled. They have not managed results they would probably expect. Away from Craven Cottage, Fulham are solid in possession, defensively organised or swift in attack. Their three main strengths seem to almost always abandon them.
Against Southampton on Sunday, they were found out just when it appeared a rare away victory had been secured. Kieran Richardson had scored Fulham’s second goal of the game with just two minutes remaining. The London side were arguably the poorer side throughout the match at St. Mary’s but having kept the score line tight after conceding in the fourth minute, it appeared as though their Premier League experience was going to show. Nigel Adkins’ charges had failed to kill off their visitors and so, he had elected to employ a tactic of clinging on to the narrow lead.
It didn’t work.
John Arne Riise’s drive was turned in by Southampton’s defender Jos Hooiveld with twenty minutes to go before Richardson struck for the first time for his new club. Having seemingly “got away” with a poor away performance and still bagged an away win, Fulham reverted to type.
Jose Fonte scored his second goal of the game, capitalising on an inexpliciable mistake, and the Lilywhites were made to once again pay for letting an opportunity slip. Last term, Martin Jol masterminded four away wins for Fulham in the Premier League. Their best return from a season was in 2003/04 when they recorded five wins on the road.
The players and staff have changed over the seasons but the problem continues to exist. Fulham have never been able to work out a plan that makes them successful when they travel. As a club, they don’t know how to take on teams in their own backyards.
A solid home record has got the Lilywhites to where they are today. Without blinking, fans, pundits and commentators put them in the top half of the table. Resolute displays have helped Fulham in recent seasons.
They have finished comfortably high in the table thanks to making Craven Cottage something of a fortress. If Martin Jol can work out a master plan for away trips, the incredible might just be possible.