Hughton looks on as Fulham flounder. Coincidence?

Fulham 0 Sunderland 0

As recent events have shown, few men are as unpredictable as club owners. Mohamed Al Fayed is far more popular at Fulham than Mike Ashley is at Newcastle but he is not known for his patience either, as several previous managers can testify. That will concern Mark Hughes after his team's winless run extended to 14 matches with this dire goalless draw. It may have been been a coincidence, but newly out-of-work Chris Hughton was watching.

Hughes has had less than six months to fashion his own side, but a team that reached the Uefa Cup final in May has declined alarmingly. The personnel are similar but confidence is low. The poor run dates from the ankle injury to Bobby Zamora in September, which is no coincidence. Fulham have not won since; only goal difference keeps them out of the relegation zone.

That goal difference (-4) in itself tells a tale. Fulham are rarely hammered, they just keep being edged out. With Zamora, some of their nine draws would have turned into wins.

This might well have been one of them. Steve Bruce admitted his Sunderland team played nowhere near their potential but Fulham could not put them away. Hughes tried three strikers and none looked like scoring.

"We just need a break," said Hughes. "We were anxious in the first half but in the second half we took the game to Sunderland and deserved to win it."

The first period was desperate. Clint Dempsey stretched Simon Mignolet with a dipping 25-yard yard shot on seven minutes, but the rest was huffing and puffing. Fulham were booed off at the break. One north-east reporter commented that it was the worst half he'd seen all season, adding "and I've seen a lot of Boro".

Hughes replaced Diomansy Kamara, who is quick but not too visionary, with Andrew Johnson. He worked the channels and held the ball up, giving Fulham a better shape. Half-chances were created but Phil Bardsley cleared Dickson Etuhu's header off the line and Mignolet denied Johnson at close range, and Zoltan Gera's shot was blocked.

Sunderland, who had David Meyler in for his first start since his cruciate ligament injury in May, should have won the game on the break but Darren Bent over-hit his pass to Asamoah Gyan. "I'm delighted with a point but it was one of them games where we all could have gone Christmas shopping," said Bruce. Sadly, he was right.

Substitutes: Fulham: Baird for Salcido (71),E Johnson for Etuhu (72), A Johnson for Kamara (h-t). Sunderland: Al-Muhammadi for Ferdinand (10), Gyan for Meyler (53), Zenden for Welbeck (78).

Bookings: Sunderland: Richardson.

Attendance: 24,462

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Man of the match: Swarbrick (I'm not joking!)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee