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The Tanner Report: Fulham 1 Leeds 1

Perhaps the best and certainly most stirring aspect of a scrappy match was the support for Leeds. Bearing in mind this once great club that dominated English football under Don Revie now languish in the second tier and this was a Wednesday night there must have been at least 2000 Leeds fans cheering their team with passion from start to finish. They sung the old songs from  the glory days like Marching  on Together. The board then was largely composed of successful local  businessmen like Leslie Silver and Manny Cussins reflecting a city that was famous for its cheap tailoring ( Montague Burton and John Collier started there) and finance. The present owner is Italian and better known for his sackings: 5 managers  have gone in 17 months and now Steve Evans late of Rotherham is at the helm.

I have admired the Fulham midfield but it lacked vitality, technique and accuracy last night: too many passes went astray, the forwards Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele received inadequate service and the shooting from outside the box never troubled the keeper. Often the wrong option was taken. It’s sad that Christensen – such a force last season – has lost his mojo, O’Hara was not delivering his raking passes and Ben Pringle who was wandering in from the left was subbed. Hopefully Tom Cairney after serving a 3 month ban will be back for Reading.

Dembele scored first after a strong run and finsh but as the game wore on a Leeds equaliser looked more and more likely. This came from a penalty which 3rd choice keeper Joe Lewis very nearly  saved after getting a hand on it.  After this he made several key saves which kept us in the game. My pal who took me to my first game assessed it as a point gained not lost. The positive is that with Richard Stearman at the heart of the defence we are no longer shipping goals, only one in the last 2 matches. My neighbour complained that the basics of passing, trapping and taking right options seemd to elude us. 10 years ago the great Johnny Haynes died and he was celebrated in the programme. I knew him as both player and man and recently shared memories with the author working on a biography on him. It’s forgotten that the first 7 years of his career were spent with Fulham in the second tier even though he was a regular England international. How much we need that passing acumen last night. Said to be arrogant on the pitch, he was a gentleman off it and whilst who is the greatest  ever is a matter of conjecture and debate at certain clubs at Fulham it can only be the Maestro.

We have now reached the 12 game water mark at which an analytical assessment will apparently be made at the play off chances. As I have said I disagree football works that way but certainly the supporters view is that Kit Symons is a nice guy: we want  him to succeed but he probably won’t. I went with Ivan to Brighton and you could see a shape, a way of grinding out results and overall momentum and optimism that I did not pick up last night. On Saturday high-flying Reading come to the Cottage and this could be the make or break match.


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About Alan Tanner

After a distinguished military service in the Catering Corps, Alan Tanner did well in mufti with his chamois as a window cleaner. Sadly he had to retire after falling from the fifth floor of Danny Murphy's mock Tudor home. He spends his retirement watching and writing about his beloved Fulham whom he has supported for over 50 years. The Alan Tanner Report is sponsored by Tanner Crystal Clear Ltd, Window Cleaners to the Gentry. More Posts