Friday, 31 October 2008

Modesty Ablaze

When Fulham won three consecutive away games at the end of last season – the first, against Reading, breaking an 18-month run without a victory away from Craven Cottage – it looked as though that particular demon had been exquisitely skewered. However, with 4 away losses out of 4 this season, and an all-too-familiar infirmity being displayed, it was beginning to look as though this ghost of season’s past was dusting itself down for a resumption of haunting duties.

It is in the looming shadow of such a spectre therefore that the point gained at Portsmouth last Sunday should be eagerly grasped, and the ongoing shortcomings nonchalantly shuffled and placed in the “pending” tray to be revisited later. They are, in any case, well known to all, and do not bear reiterating here. For the moment, anyway.

For we must now accept that Mr. Hodgson will not become radicalised overnight. This is the way it is, and the way it will be during his time at Fulham. “You’ve got to remain modest”, he said recently, and shaking our collective fists at his philosophy will not cause it to splinter, and provoke him into a flurry of reckless, reflex tinkering. We must walk the long road with him, or else prepare for a future of fulminating, and festering resentment.

Maturity and experience beget patience, and faith in the long view. Roy’s approach is a season-long one, perhaps even extending beyond that. He is aiming to cultivate a standard of play, and then to achieve a consistency in that standard. Hopefully improvements will arise naturally as inter-player familiarity develops, and tactics and routines become habituated. The intention is that over the course of the season that this will achieve the club’s aims. What they may be beyond mere survival has yet to be made explicit.

He is thus committed to not “turning cartwheels” when the team wins, and not “getting the shroud out” when we lose. This refusal to entertain the extreme reaction may be at variance with the typical supporter’s approach, but then he bears the responsibility of orchestrating an entire campaign, and not just (over) reacting to individual results.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” suggested Ralph Waldo Emerson. But he wasn’t a football manager, and for Roy Hodgson it looks set to be the angel on his shoulder.


Mike H said...

Yes, you have read him correctly, I feel. Two questions come to my mind. The first is whether he will be given the time to complete his mission - another run of losses (even gallant one goal defeats such as at Everton) will see a rising chorus of calls for his dismissal. The second is his use of substitutes. If he is really looking long term, shouldn't he be giving significant match time to more than just the 'chosen eleven'. What if AJ or Davies or Paintsil get injured? They will have to be replaced with players who've seen little or no first team time on the pitch. And how do you keep pressure on the likes of Bullard to perform (which he hasn't), if the threat of being dropped is never present?

smfifteen said...

@Mike H:
I concur with your critiques: consistency clearly has it's disadvantages, and the ones you highlight are pertinent.
Although I am advocating patience (largely because RH will not be re-inventing his approach any time soon), the FFC board may not be so tolerant. They ultimately measure performance by points, not philosophies.
And yes, greater deployment of substitutes not only demonstrates tactical flexibility, but also increases the pool of "match-ready" players in the event of injury.
I also agree that it's time for JB to be reminded that it's not the playground, and it's not his ball.

Anonymous said...


I work for an advertising agency in London and we need some extras for filming inside Craven Cottage on Thursday afternoon / early evening (13th November).

This would be a great opportunity to explore the stadium and appear in an ad representing Fulham! We'll pay for travel expenses and provide refreshments for anyone who wants to come along.

Could you do a blog post about this please? You can ask people to send me an email if they're interested ( and we'll take it from there.

Nice win against Newcastle, by the way.