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Normal Service Resumed: Unfortunately

With twenty minute remaining of the Newcastle game, then tied at 2-2, my friend turned to me and made a very profound statement. "You know", he said, " Now that we have a chance, I feel far more tense than I did at half-time, when I thought all hope of survival had gone."

And he was right, for at the break I, too, had come to terms with the situation and, in doing so, had achieved nirvana, the Buddhist state of complete peace. Enlightened by the two-goal deficit (including a signature Berra gift in the box), I realised the futility of resistance to the inevitable. Exorcising the negativity conjured up by all the dire performances and the farcical managerial selection process, I experienced an immediate release of tension and embraced the prospect of Championship football next season (I'm experiencing the same feeling this evening).

Then, bugger me if the team didn`t pull back from the brink, offering us supporters a chink of light at the end of a very dark tunnel ... which has suddenly gone pitch black again!

Incidentally, the emotional somersaults I have been enduring over the course of the week reveal how quickly we supporters seize on any crumbs of hope that fall from the PL table. And it`s not just WW supporters. In the week before the NU game I spoke to two equally disgruntled fans: one a Chelsea man and the other a Gunner. Would that we had their problems! Of course, when I saw them again a few days ago they had perked up.

Me? I felt worse. By the time that I set out for the match earlier today I was a bag of nerves again. The extra day`s wait only fed my anxiety, as did the impact of our rivals` results on our league position. It looked reasonable until Blackburn equalized late in the game (they should have lost but could AV be dragged into the mire?) and QPR gained a point (and would have won if Buzsáky hadn`t made the miss of the season). We had to do the same against Fulham otherwise we would find ourselves at best joint third bottom with Blackburn ... but now we are four goals worse off than them.

It was a daunting prospect against a good home team ... and they might feel vindictive after the drubbing we gave then at Molineux in August. And so it proved!

I set off at 11.00 a.m. this morning, having paid for my visit to Craven Cottage by accompanying my wife (on more than one occasion) to look for an outfit and matching shoes for our daughter`s wedding in May. Even worse, I had to buy a suit, which I will hardly ever wear again (in the dress shop I could at least read a newspaper). I even put the toilet seat down before leaving.

Getting on the train I noticed a little girl wearing a Fulham shirt, going to the match with her grand-dad, so I sat next to them and introduced myself. Naturally, we mentioned the passwords 'Billy Wright` and 'Johnny Haynes` to prove our credentials and spent a pleasant half-hour reminiscing about the past.

I arrived at The Railway PH opposite Putney Station at 12.15 p.m. in good time to get a pint, find a seat and await my friend, and his friend, a Fulham season-ticket holder. Wrong. While I was watching the door and guarding the table and two spare chairs (and spotting a number of WW supporters), they were on the balcony wondering when I would arrive. Not a good omen.

As we approached the ground, I looked for any signs of a scuffle, one that involved Johnwolf and either AdMant or even Yorkie, hot-footing it to Craven Cottage to settle a score. Personally, I'd like to think that JW is a psychology professor, with a puckish sense of humour, intend on winding us all up, perhaps as an experiment. If so, he is certainly succeeding! As time was pressing we hurried through, pausing at the gents (it was very cold and I had quaffed a couple of pints of Old Hooky) before taking our seats as the game started.

If I had thought that last week`s recovery at St. James`s Park (or whatever it is called now), had marked a change in our fortunes, I was soon to be disillusioned. We didn`t turn up and were lucky not to give away a goal before the 35th. minute. Thereafter, it became a procession, further goals following in the 43rd., 55th., 60th. and 82nd. minutes. Pogrebnyak scored a hat-trick, confirming my friend`s pre-match worries, and Dempsey secured a brace.

It was a reality check, revealing the gulf that exists between our team and a mid-table side like Fulham. Their players were far sharper in everything they did and all round the field. They quickly closed down our men when we had the ball, prompting errors; they ran at us with pace and constantly gave the man on the ball options with the pass.

WW, in contrast, were slow, ponderous and predictable. We do pass the ball around but often sideways or backwards, because, unlike Fulham, the attacking option is all too frequently not on. There`s no fluency, no dynamism and little moving into space. We look like carthorses in comparison to thoroughbreds. Passes continue to go astray and players are caught in possession. Allowance might be made for the heavy pitch and the strong wind, if it were not for the fact that Fulham managed to cope with the conditions. In the stands it was a very miserable experience: my hands shook so much I could hardly write and by the end of the game my notebook was papier maché.

We have little cutting edge up-front, are fragile in midfield and lack solidity in defence. Even WH is failing to keep the goals against down to two or three. I am almost afraid for us to attack because when the move breaks down we are all too often caught on the break. Why can opposing teams counter-attack with pace and threaten our goal, while we have difficulty in moving the ball out of defence, through the midfield and to our front runners? Our midfield was non-existent, especially after Henry had retired injured. And that put too much pressure on our Championship standard defence.

At the back our two central defenders were once more found wanting, incapable of performing the basics adequately. I was sorry that Bassong did not play; he might be rusty but he is solid in defence, is composed in possession and capable of distributing the ball effectively. None of our other CDs can do that. He must play next Saturday against Blackburn, which really is a must-win game. We were carved open so often it could have been double figures.

It`s not that we didn`t have our chances but because we have so few of them we have to convert them into goals. Doyle had a header blocked on the line in the 24th. minute and Milijas and Fletcher, among others , could have scored. Even so, Schwarzer in the Fulham goal was hardly troubled. Jarvis and Kightly were ineffective, though MJ did managed to wriggle through on the by-line on one occasion but to no avail.

If this result acts as a reality check and shows TC what he has to do to save us, I will put it down to experience. But we have to defeat Blackburn next week or we really are going down. As the Fulham supporters said on the train between Putney and Clapham Junction, WW were a very poor team. We need a miracle.

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The Journalist

Writer: southbank60 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday March 4 2012

Time: 7:36PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
SB6O it was embarrasing to watch are CD might have well sat in the stand beside you for they were not much good on the pitch.It is a championship defence against PL strikers and we come of second best week in week out we had five men in midfield but no one seemed to know what to do.Ward has been made captain and we look a bigger shambles now than we we before can any one tell me what Foley is their for because unless i blinked and missed it he did not put one tackle in but then again nor did many others.And if TC our new leader can anwser why are we still hoofing the ball upto Doyle at five foot eight when they have two CD six foot five and six foot three what chance does he have.Next week we need Bassong and Johnson back also Fletcher i would also play a three man CD bring in Craddock we must beat Blackburn. Keane was watching in the stands he must be thinking this is going to be easy and if we play like we did today it will be and dont forget last season with three of the defenders that played the last game of the season against Blackburn played today and we were thee nil down before half time.
Report Abuse
04/03/2012 20:17:00

For got to mention Berra got his fifth booking so suspended for one match there is a god.
Report Abuse
04/03/2012 20:29:00

It is simply turning into one of the longest running jokes. We are experiencing this. Imagine looking in from the outside. We would be saying 'well they are a disaster, they are definitely down.' We are down. 12 goals in 3 games. Are you kidding me? You could not make it up. Disgusting. He should have gone last day of last season and this fool does not have a clue. They have lost the plot in spectacular fashion. I just don't know what else to bother writing
New York City Wolf
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05/03/2012 01:23:00

It's now not a case of,tactics,form,coaching,players,its a glimmer of hope tht in this season of struggle there are three teams who are worse than us!.You know it just may be possible that there are?.I also think one more team may come down and join the mix,thought it may be Swansea but that Wigan result was massive for them and well done to them I say,no it looks now like it may be Villa if anyone who may start to freefall.We dont however rely on that there are five teams there and two safe places available,we need one of those!pure and simple!.UTW.
Crete Wolf
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05/03/2012 07:44:00

Well, that's what the Fulham supporters on the train were telling me, Yorkie. Ironically, they also wondered why we had sacked MM because, like other outsiders, they had based their opinions not on results but solely on his quips in interviews.
Report Abuse
05/03/2012 07:51:00

If that was a team playing for their manager then God help the next guy. Doyle may as well have sat in the stand because he got absolutely no service whatsoever. The poor lad was fighting for scraps in a bear pit. Our 5 man midfield was woeful. Foley was invisible.......not a midfielder. O'hara is being asked to do too much on his own. At the back we are sunk. Regardless of what is going on behind the scenes......RJ & Bassong in the middle. We now need a miracle because we look lost. For the second time in three games we literally gave up. They might as well of just waved a white flag and walked off the pitch. On the bright side.............at least we will see a few more winning games next season in the Championship all be it minus some of our better players.
Report Abuse
05/03/2012 09:10:00

Partially right, RM: it was diabolical. If we continue to play like that, we are not only doomed but are likely to drop right through the Championship division as well.
Report Abuse
05/03/2012 09:44:00

Partially right, RM: it was diabolical. If we continue to play like that, we are not only doomed but are likely to drop right through the Championship division as well.
Report Abuse
05/03/2012 09:44:00

We have to live with all the disgraceful performances brought on by complete incompetence by the board. We are the ones who are left with the legacy after Morgan *****es off after exhausting all the building projects his tenure at WW will allow, and we will be here once fat moxey has finally been run out of town... We will still be here, mucking about in the Championship, or lower... which - lets face it - with the kind of self-serving parasites we have running our club, is all we deserve. Pushing on for Mid-table my arse.
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05/03/2012 10:39:00

Admant yes you can blame Morgan but Mick Mcartney must take alot of the blame he bought these players and as i have said for two seasons they were not good enough.Then to buy one CD in the transfer window was a disgrace we needed four or five new signings that is why were in the mess were in we need to get rid off two thirds of this squad and rebuild.Hopefully we might still be in the PL and start from scratch in the summer if we get relegated see if we can keep hold of the best.Namely WH,SF,JOH,MJ RJ,KD,RZ.MK,SW,keep them and sell the rest only way to do things now as things are so bad.
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05/03/2012 10:53:00

Where's John Wolf when you need to be told that after another 5 goal thriller we're just not being supportive enough... the players are mentally tired. Unfortunately, TC is looking out of his depth and continues with some blind faith. But for some strange reason we're not out of it yet. Blackburn is judgment day. Anything less than a win and it's over. I feel we need to ring some changes just to freshen it up. Hennessey has probably been our best player, but I'd stick in De Vries as it's been a long season and increasingly demoralising. Craddock has to come in as he's probably the only defender with a goal threat at set pieces. Bassong, if fit is also an obvious choice. I think a five man defence would be too confusing for the players at this stage. The five man midfield was the correct choice against Fulham, but Foley should never have been in the middle. He's one of those unfortunate 'versatile' players that gets shifted around so he looks useless. I think we did the same to Mancienne, who initially looked like he might be a useful centre back. I just don't get the anti-Milijas thing? Yes, he's never going to put in the shift like say a Henry or O'Hara, but he offers something a little different. I think he helps O'Hara in thinking about the passes he selects. Kightly's ability to drift in and out the first team defies belief. Too much has been expected from someone who has been out for a year. I wouldn't have started Kightly in that Fulham game and kept Foley out wide as he worked well with Zubar in spells against Newcastle. This weekend he has to get Fletch in the team somehow and I think we also need Doyle. Maybe have Fletch playing a little deeper. So how about this for the team you won't see... De Vries, Ward, Bassong, Craddock, Zubar, Jarvis, O'Hara, Milijas, Fletcher, Hunt, Doyle. I presume Henry will be injured? Our bench is amazingly weak, but Kightly could make an impact if he came on for the last 30-40 minutes and do what he did against Villa. All clutching at straws, as deep down I think that the players are spent and almost past the point of anyone being able to motivate them. But really hope I'm wrong.
Wolf Downunder
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05/03/2012 11:33:00

Zubes craddock and bassong and Ward is our best back 4 option... you can sell stears berra johnson and elokobi for some magic beans - cos lets face it, only a mystical beanstalk can help us climb out of this mess. Doyle, Wayne, Jarvis Fletcher and Hunt will all be off next season, see how many people come in for SEB, Milijas ohara, henry, stears, johnson et al - NOBODY ! not a bloody sniff i tell you. The shower continues.
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05/03/2012 12:25:00

And i dont think it would be any different if mick was still in charge, though we may have looked like less of a laughing stock had we not gone through THAT debacle. You get out what you put in.
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05/03/2012 12:32:00

I've achieved nirvana again ... there's no point in worrying as nothing can be done short of a miracle. We are by a long way the worst team in the PL so embrace the inevitable. I'll be there on Saturday, though, hoping for that miracle.
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05/03/2012 12:48:00

the biggest joke was TC's interview after the game, we did well for 35 minutes!!! WHAT!!! we were bloody awfull from the start. then he said the 3rd goal was the cliincher, oh my god!!!!
gregory house
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05/03/2012 13:10:00

the biggest joke was TC's interview after the game, we did well for 35 minutes!!! WHAT!!! we were bloody awfull from the start. then he said the 3rd goal was the cliincher, oh my god!!!!
gregory house
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05/03/2012 13:10:00

and then when he makes a change we take off a winger and put on another striker...great....hang on the striker we had on the pitch now plays on the wing....you know I think another manager of ours used to do things like that....
gregory house
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05/03/2012 13:12:00

I would like to say "Well, it was fun while it lasted" but it's generally been like pulling teeth... for 3 years ! The standard of effort put in was never going to be enough to stay up, we did so by the skin of our teeth last season and this one we're looking odds on to finish bottom. Early bird anyone ?
Report Abuse
05/03/2012 14:11:00

They are well and truly *****ed end of story. This muppet was part of the problem only now he gets to pick the team. Cap tilted for the unlikliest of comebacks at Newcastle but proof and pudding. We are gone and we are going to go in spectacular fashion. I don't fancy us against Blackbrun let alone United. The biggest ***** up since I can remember. McCarthy had lost the plot so give it moron number two so he can fire the last bullet. The club has gone to ***** and we are playing Championship football next year with the likes of the Icelander in midfield. Brilliant.
New York City Wolf
Report Abuse
06/03/2012 04:12:00

Pushing on for Mid Table was the Fat *****'s opening gambit ... what a catastrophic failure, what a load of BS... I think the mood is sour enough for some kind of revolt... enough is enough.
Report Abuse
06/03/2012 10:00:00

As I have been a little disappointed at the way the season has turned out, from time to time I have felt it incumbent on on me to give a mild rebuke to the players, coaching staff and managagement. However, I am reserving judgement until the end of the season and in the meantime only intend to report on matches and offer the occasional gentle word of advice.
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06/03/2012 12:07:00

Occasional gentle word of advice,I like it Banksy,whats the medication your on?,pop some in the post for me will you!,never mind as my mother used to say there's always someone worse of than you!. Thought this snippet might cheer you all up,"Since January 2011, Fernando Torres has had more managers than goals",this however could apply to some of our players very shortly!.
Crete Wolf
Report Abuse
06/03/2012 14:18:00

Crete Wolf: raiding your stock of liquor might help. For me, Old Hooky helped ease the pain on Sunday. Clearly, you still are some way from achieving the peace and tranquility that comes from accepting the inevitable. I've embraced it but that does not mean that I have forgotten the cock-ups of the past.
Report Abuse
06/03/2012 15:07:00

I think Roger Johnston has been following Southbank around and hitting the "Old Hooky",think thats the last hope of the captaincy gone?.
Crete Wolf
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08/03/2012 09:58:00


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