Monday, 22 March 2010

Folan victim

So, just how ungrateful is the supporter who dares criticise Caleb Folan even after the striker bagged two goals at Portsmouth on Saturday?

Well, perhaps a little. And some supporters criticise without reason. Method to go with the madness does not exist in their world. Folan is who he is and that remains enough.

Yet the laconic centre forward deserves it. His two-goal salvo is rendered less laudable by City's inability to then see out the game safely (not that Folan is to blame for that) and also for the great number of things Folan simply didn't do correctly set against the two things he did get right.

There is a broken record at work here, but Folan simply will never be a good enough centre forward at Premier League level until he can fathom how to stay onside. Six months in the wilderness has done him no good, and maybe it was thinking way beyond the wishful that Phil Brown had told him when he returned from his loan at Middlesbrough to put his feet up and watch endless DVDs that spoonfeed the workings of the offside trap to players who simply cannot decipher what it is.

Someone somewhere will have kept count of the occasions when Folan was caught beyond the last defender. It occurred two, three, maybe four times too many and a better striker would have seen the majority of Folan's peccadilloes as preventable. There was one occasion when Richard Garcia waited and waited and waited on a counter attack for Folan to get into position, and still the flag went up when the Aussie could bear the suspense no longer and released the ball. It helps Folan in no way at all that he habitually berates the deliverer of the ball each time he is caught by the linesman, even though only Folan himself is to blame.

Folan hadn't changed much at Portsmouth, despite the goals. He is still a preener on the pitch. He still doesn't run anywhere near as much as he could. His touch is good but his awareness of what is around him and general football sense is poor.

And yes, he scored twice. The generous would say this means he deserves a break from the criticism. Well, the first goal he knew barely a thing about, while the second was as much down to a defensive stumble as anything else, though he did finish it well. He didn't help himself, however, with a strange, egotistical celebration which was easily forgotten during the Tiger Nation's own capering of glee but then instantly recalled when the final whistle sounded on the 3-2 defeat.

The worst thing of all is that Iain Dowie, a confirmed Folan fan, will now argue with some justification that Folan deserves to keep his place in the team, even though he only received his fast-track to the starting XI when two other strikers succumbed to injury the day before. Folan may have a history of scoring against Fulham at the KC Stadium, but even so there is little to feel but horror at the prospect of City trying to stay up while relying on Folan to lead the line. Those two goals are nought but a smokescreen, and if that makes us ungrateful, so be it.