I did not get to Elland Road for our victory over Leeds so here is a report from Chris. He is a high-flier financier from the States who has taken Fulham to his heart. Like many sporting Americans he adopts a statistical approach to his analysis (some of you may be familiar with the Moneyball theory) but his judgment of matches is sound:
‘My faint Fulham heart skipped a few beats as I reviewed yesterday’s team sheet for Leeds away. A side which had conceded a shocking 27 times in 10 away matches would be constructed around a spine of nomads, journeymen and kiddies.
Deputizing for the suspended Bettinelli, Kiraly would be looking straight up the pitch at Hutchison, Hyndman and Man City loanee Fofana. What hath Kit wrought?!?!?
Parker was out due to illness, so Ross took the armband for his return to Elland Road. And what a triumphant return it turned out to be! Our back line — the Greek ninja, Bodurov and the young Grimmer joining Hutch – turned in a gritty performance and facilitated a workmanlike clean sheet from Kiraly, who had conceded 17 times in four prior appearances.
Fofana added pace in transition, though his touch repeatedly let him down as he approached the penalty area. The decisive moment came at the hour mark when young magic man LVC beat his defender to the end line and peeled back to Hugo who finished cleanly from the top of the six-yard box. Fulham protected the lead resolutely and looked at least as likely to add a second as to concede an equaliser.
Our Whites advanced four lines in the table to 14th, though the table is far more crowded immediately beneath us than above. But a result like yesterday’s causes the mind to wander. We have 24 points from our last 13 matches: a return of 1.85 points per match. Not only that, we have earned a handsome 11 points from our last seven journeys — three wins, two draws and a nearly unimaginable level goal diff in that span.
Extrapolating that 1.85 points average return over the remaining 25 matches would put us on 71 points. The past 10 years, the playoff cutoff has ranged from 68 to 75 points and averaged 72.7. So who knows?
What I do know is that Alan Tanner will be checking his Christmas stocking for a Hugo Rodallega hat trick. We may need one for our Boxing Day journey to league leaders Bournemouth!’
Certainly Kit Symons has answered his critics after the debacle against Watford. If you asked me about Shaun Hutcheson three months I would have consigned him to the same dustbins of some of the other Magath purchases. A friend of mine whose brother in law owns Motherwell for whom Ross MacCormack also played doubted too if he would make the transition from the home of bad defending that is Scotland. In his first games he was an accident waiting to happen worth two goals to the opposition. Yet recently he has looked far more reliable. It was still a brave decision to drop big Dan Burn for him but one that paid off.
Transfers are so random. Bryan Ruiz has never rally settled down at Fulham whilst a Mexican who played for his country many times Salgado found it difficult too, he could not speak the language, had a burglary and was soon off. I like the Scanianvians a lot, like Brede Hangeland, as linguistically and culturally they seem to adapt quickly.
Chris is confident of a play off but we need to be more consistent at home, once a fortress, again it’s rather odd that a team that could not buy an away win in the Premier has now won two on the bounce. No doubt Chris has noted that next week we with the worst defensive record come up against Sheffield Wednesday, the Championship’s lowest scorers.