THE JOL VERDICT
Martin Jol gives his considered reaction to the 3-3 draw with Fulham at the weekend...
Martin Jol gives his considered reaction to the 3-3 draw with Fulham at the weekend...I CAN STILL hardly believe that we left Craven Cottage without three points to our name on Saturday.
We dictated the game, everybody saw that, and it was probably our best away performance for a long time. The first problem, once again, came from a corner kick and I keep on saying it, but you have to be strong. They attacked the ball, we didn't and Fulham got a free header from which they scored.
It gave them a leg-up before half-time, but after the break we got our passing going again and created chances - Dimitar had a great chance cleared off the line, Steed hit the post and Jermaine was through one on one with the keeper.
We got a third, but if we had got the fourth we wouldn't have had to change anything and it would have been an easier game for us. Then there was the deflected goal when luck went against us to make 3-2.
We changed it and Jermain Defoe came on, which is what we have done over the last couple of years with our strikers. Jermain was hungry, fresh and most of the time changes like this have come off for us as we have scored so many goals following substitutions in the past.
This time it didn't come for us, or the change in bringing on Michael Dawson, but I have seen similar substitutions made - like by Chelsea up at Liverpool recently when they ended the game with three central defenders and collected a point. Manchester United did it last season when 1-0 up against Arsenal and Sir Alex Ferguson probably had the same feeling as I did about needing a big man and they lost the game in the final seconds of the match. Not quite so much was said on that occasion.
To lose a lead so late on is horrific, but it shouldn't have been necessary to make a change because our lead should have been greater. I did feel that Robbie looked a little tired and when you have someone like Jermain on the bench it makes sense to use him. A couple of weeks ago when I didn't against Derby County people asked why.
When you are so comfortable and dictating a game, a striker for a striker is no problem. It has nothing to do with tactics and any discussion on the subject is with the benefit of hindsight.
Our main problem was in giving away the second goal. You could say you should play in the opposition's half, but that is what you try for all the time. Aston Villa had 15 per cent possession against Chelsea in the last 15 minutes on Sunday and they still won comfortably because you have to defend.
If Chelsea had scored Aston Villa would have been questioned on giving away the initiative like we were, but that is football. I think it is bad if you don't make decisions and leave things all the time. We don't do that, I will make decisions and keep on doing it. I make decisions to try and make us better.
Two years ago we rarely gave away a lead, while last season we recovered from going a goal down on a number of occasions and went on to win games. That has more to do with tactics than changing a striker, but you have to deal with criticism because that is the business.
It would be ideal to have another game this week to put things right rather than getting a number of our players back on the Thursday or Friday before the Arsenal game due to the internationals. That is the way it is though and all the managers have to contend with this.
We will bounce back like we always do and, don't forget, we played well against Derby and Manchester United, while we also played some good football against Fulham. I think we should have eight points now and if we keep on playing in the same fashion, while cutting out errors, we will soon get the points our performances deserve.