Welcome to the Premier where if you are dominating a game it’s not enough, you need to be clinical in your finishing. Palace were, Fulham weren’t.
Much was made of our new back four and keeper, none of whom started at Wembley in May, but since the words “reality check” will be used, the reality is that keeper Marcus Bettinelli and Tim Ream were injured, Fredericks and Targett are no longer at the club, and Odoi was suspended.
My only fear is keeper Fabri whose positional sense and judgment are poor, hence the two goals. A more generous ref might have awarded André Schurrle a penalty as Sakho’s trailing leg seemed to bring him down as he spun across him, but I can’t recall the German striker doing anything else and we need more presence in the box at the end of crosses, knock downs and keeper parries.
The first home game is for me an emotional meeting of old friends. As I’ve been doing for 50 years I walked down Finlay Street till the Cottage comes into view.
I always buy a programme from the same bovine-faced woman queuing on the pavcment but this time the queue was into the street and I was accused of jumping it. I was going to remind the chap that I’ve been coming down here for 50 years, most callers to phone-ins announced their badge of honour supporting longevity, but decided to move onto another outlet. This was a slow-serving merchandising booth.
More negatively I was often scared of the opposing fans. It’s a different game now with a different audience. I also remembered Fulham friends no longer with us – Peter Thomson and Dennis Turner – such intelligent supporters with their finger on the Fulham pulse. I was reunited left and right with my regular Fulham companions the two Nicks but for the first time I did not get a feeling otherwise of old Fulham friends well met.
His sides are always well-drilled, every player knowing his place and duties on the pitch.
Sometimes I looked at the set ups: Palace in well-organised banks of four, Fulham spreadeagled all over the pitch. In boxing terms we had the fast combination punches but Palace the ring guile.
Over the season there will be three team than us. We are still faithful to our fluid, passing game, building from the back. Seri with his mobility and clean short passing was always involved in the action and looks quite an acquisition, but Schurrle and Maxime Le Marchand still have to convince me. Joe Bryan is a skillful and composed left back who is a worthy replacement for Matt Targett. The group has to get to know each other and find their feet in a more demanding division. Give them time. It will tell.