Bob Tickler’s godson Jamie was mascot and will remember this game for the right and wrong reasons.
The right? He met and was photographed with the team, led them out hand in hand with his favourite player Tom Cairney, shook hands with the opposition, his name was on the scoreboard … an experience he will never forget.
Striker Abou Kamara will not have similar memories. He grabbed the ball after Fulham were awarded a crucial penalty – refused to yield it to the designated penalty taker Alex Mitrovic – and compounded a singular lack of team spirit by failing to convert.
Fortunately for him and for us Mitrovic did score after good work by Ryan Sessegnon, unaccountably left on the bench till the 75th minute.
New boss Claudio Ranieri will point to one goal conceded in the last 3 games but playing the lowest scoring side in the division with 5 strung along the back it’s not that hard to keep a clean sheet.
Luciano Vietto started ahead of Sessegnon and, although the loanee from Atletico is a skilful player and had an effective game, Ryan Sessegnon – with his pace, pass and execution – he ain’t. Our fans made this clear with their “He’s (Ryan Sessegnon) one of our own” chant.
Ranieri listened and subbed. He nearly scored with his first attempt and with a gorgeous through ball set up Mitro’s winner.
In the week Claudio Ranieri advocated a winter break.
This is an Italian speaking based on his own game and culture. We all know that if there is a break the team is taken off for a lucrative friendly normally in the Middle East; that whilst Ranieri mentioned the benefits to the player and pitch (I could see no problem with Fulham’s verdant sward) he fails to mention the fans who enjoy a game in the long festive period.
How would he like a British manager pontificating on Italian football failing to delay with racism as they won’t stand up to the ultras – last week Inter were ordered to play 2 games behind closed doors because of racial taunting of a Napoli player. In his always perceptive column in the Fulham programmer, our leading goal scorer ever Gordon Davies said how much he and other players enjoyed matches over the festive period and were given a break from training. Things were different in his era but squads now are much larger too.
Next Tuesday we go to Arsenal. One hopes that a team vulnerable to pace with a flaky defence will have to face Sessegnon for 90 minutes but with the Tinkerman you never know.
One player unlikely to start is Abou Kamara.