Monthly Archives: October 2011

Déjà vu?

From Michael Cox of the Guardian, though they used different Chalkboards:

Fulham may have appointed two managers since Roy Hodgson left the club, but their performance in the weekend win over Wigan was classic Hodgson. They sat back, played very narrow and won the ball on the edge of their area, before occasionally moving up the pitch to construct attacks of their own.

Passing stats on each day:

  • Wigan: 79.4 % (551; 438, 113) Fulham: 76% (463; 354, 109)
  • Burnley: 74.5% (511; 381 130) Fulham: 73.4% (535; 393, 142)

Hmm…

Clint Dempsey and Wigan

Following up on Rich’s point about Clint, from statto:

29.10.2011

Wigan Athletic

0-2

Fulham G

15.01.2011

Wigan Athletic

1-1

Fulham A

30.10.2010

Fulham

2-0

Wigan Athletic G x2

04.04.2010

Fulham

2-1

Wigan Athletic 90’

08.11.2009

Wigan Athletic

1-1

Fulham G

07.02.2009

Wigan Athletic

0-0

Fulham 90’

29.10.2008

Fulham

2-0

Wigan Athletic 27’

22.12.2007

Fulham

1-1

Wigan Athletic G

15.09.2007

Wigan Athletic

1-1

Fulham G

17.03.2007

Wigan Athletic

0-0

Fulham DNP

Since Clint arrived at Fulham in Janaury 2007, Fulham have played Wigan 10 times and scored 12 goals total in that span. Clint played in nine of these fixtures, and has scored 6 goals.

In the past 5 fixtures against Wigan he’s scored 4 of the club’s total 8 goals, and assisted in another.

So of Clint’s 36 total league goals, 6 [ed. oops, not 12. too many numbers in this here post]  have come against Wigan. That’s probably the most for his career, but if anyone could point me toward a site that tallies all his goals scored against each club, I’d appreciate it.

Wigan 0-2 Fulham

Fulham playing Wigan means one thing: Clint Dempsey will score a goal. Those of us bold enough to put money where our mouth is were able to turn £3 into £13.38. Thanks, Clint; thanks Wigan!

Perhaps the result was a bit hard on Wigan, who had most of the ball and spent much of their time in Fulham’s half, but when you’ve lost six on the spin you need a spot of luck, and that was missing today. Victor Moses – a player I’ve long hoped might end up at Fulham – hit the angle of bar and post with a big dipper of a volley; Maynor Figueroa hit the post with an absurd long range strike that veered back towards the goal as if Wasim Akram had bowled it.  Other than this they were there or thereabouts, although Mark Schwarzer wasn’t overworked.

Wigan feel like a good team’s B side, with lots of interesting players who aren’t quite what they might be: the aforementioned Moses will be a decent player for someone someday, I like Figueroa, and Ben Watson goes underappreciated because of where he plies his trade. Hugo Rodellega is an enigma, but an enigma with some pedigree of scoring Premier League goals.  They’re not the only ones.

But somehow they’re less than the sum of their parts.  Perhaps a couple of good centre-backs would make the world of difference; perhaps for all his pleasant traits, Roberto Martinez isn’t quite the man to lead this team on to better things.  Who knows?  But it does look like this odd club is teetering on the brink of a relegation that now feels overdue.

Fulham weren’t all that today, but did enough. Danny Murphy banged a long ball over the top for Bobby Zamora, who squared for Dempsey to make it 1-0.  Simple.  Fulham’s second, also at the end of a half, also involved Clint Dempsey being clear, but this time the ball-carrier, Dembele, rolled the ball into the bottom corner past a curiously compliant Al-Habsi.  Perhaps the keeper expected Dembele to do the right thing and lay the ball off. Whatever, the shot wasn’t exactly unsaveable.

So yes, we did enough. Danny Murphy enjoyed a welcome return to form before making way for Dickson Etuhu (who didn’t give the ball away once), Andy Johnson looked lively-ish wide on the right, and while Dempsey and Dembele were quite quiet, both scored.  Bobby Zamora isn’t the menhir up front we’ve previously enjoyed, but he set up Dempsey’s goal and is contributing in other ways.  He really is a fine all-around player, even if he is only using about half of his talents in his current role.

These points matter and the team will be relieved to have won them.

Mistaken for a real poet

Friend of CCN Mike Hopkins has a new website where you can read some of his work and other odds and ends.  Mike’s tagline is “odd posts from an occasional poet (or vice versa)” which seems like a good starting point to me.

Here it is, anyway. Do have a read – worth bookmarking and checking every so often I reckon.

Next up are Wigan, who are “eyeing a better run of results boost”

When you look at it this way Wigan couldn’t really have done a lot worse.  Curiously, the fixtures computer donated them three games against the division’s promoted clubs to open up and Wigan drove home that advantage to the tune of five whole points.  But here they are, six games later, still sitting on those five points.  Put another way, they’ve lost seven matches in a row (one of which was in the league cup, just like us).  They haven’t been batterings or anything, but it’s a terrible run.

The question is: “can Fulham keep that run going?”

History would suggest not – we tend to draw up there – but honestly, this must the moment when Fulham make a bit more “6-0 v QPR” style noise.  Wigan are a bad team and have been for years; we need to make this one count.

Predictortron ’11

Further to Timmy’s post, perhaps it’s time to revisit the predictortron.

As you will recall, we fired this up last year to see if a slow start necessarily meant we were doomed. The predictortron was comforting, told us not to worry and gave us a hug. It said we’d finish with 46 points, and we got 48, so that was nice.

What does the predictortron say this year?

Once more, we make use of exotic sounding Monte Carlo simulations, in this case running 5,000 of the buggers. We estimate how good the team should be using results from the previous three seasons (more recent seasons get higher emphasis), adding in Martin Jol’s managerial record, a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper, and the all important knob of butter. Then the predictortron takes this record and runs those 5,000 seasons on a game by game basis.

The answers:

Predictortron, at the start of the season, would have had us down for 52-57 points. We seem to get a slight bump because Jol was successful at Spurs, but also because some of our poor seasons were long enough ago that they no longer drag us down. So there we are: 50+ points, with 54 being the most likely.

Unfortunately we currently only have seven of these, so all we need to do is consult Predictortron and see what happens when the team only has 7 points at this juncture:


Once more, there’s no need to panic. 46 points is a likely destination, with various values around there also common. We have very little chance of hitting the expected target in the mid fifties, but for the time being should feel relatively comfortable about not being relegated, either.

Fulham after 9 games

This season seems par for course, no?

Worth noting that in 2008-09, we had a game in hand compared to other teams due to United’s involvement in that UEFA Super Cup silliness.

And were we really 8th in 2006-07 around this time?!?

Loaner Report 10/25/11

David Stockdale started and made 6 saves in Ipswich Town’s 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace. Last Tuesday he started and made 7 saves in Ipswich Town’s 1-0 win at Portsmouth.

Bjorn Helge Riise did not dress in Portsmouth’s 2-0 win over Barnsley. Last Tuesday he was an unused sub in Pompey’s 1-0 loss to Ipswich.

Carlos Salcido started, played 90 minutes, had 2 shots on goal and received a yellow card in Tigres’ 0-0 draw with Monterrey on Saturday.

Lauri Dalla Valle started, played 76 minutes, and had 2 shots on goal in Dundee United’s 0-0 draw with St Johnstone on Saturday.

Danny Hoesen started, played 90 minutes, and scored a goal in Fortuna Sittard’s 2-2 draw at Helmond Spor last Friday.

Time for Riise to sit?

I’m not trying to make one of those posts that exist solely to generate pageviews, but I’m seriously wondering if it’s time for Riise to start the next game on the bench.

What is he offering at this point that is so unique that different looks through Briggs or Baird or Kelly can’t provide? Sure, he’s a better player than those three on paper, but consider what Rich wrote about him when he arrived:

He’s aggressive in his attacks, goes inside and outside the full-backs, and has a history of getting into the box. It’s an intriguing combination, and one that should give us our best attacking full-back pairing for a while.

Yet, outside of the first few matches where Jol tinkered with the back four to compensate for Riise bombing down the left, Riise has barely featured in our offense. Overall, his 77.5% passing completion rate is second-lowest among defenders (except Aaron Hughes) and midfielders (except Pajtim Kasami; hmm).

For someone who supposedly is the ball-crosser and attacking back, those numbers make sense. But below are the unsuccessful passes from yesterday (includes Baird UPDATE: Grygera for reference. Riise is on top).

Riise got much for forward than Baird Grygera, but completing one out of 10 crosses may is not a great stat to have (though better than Duff’s 1-for-13 a month ago).

Secondly, look at Riise’s successful passes from yesterday and last week at Stoke:

Again, he did get forward a lot yesterday, but notice where the successful passes in Everton’s third are all made from: directly on the sideline. Not once did he cut into the box for that “killer pass”. Perhaps that’s because Jol had about 9 forwards on the field already, but an attacking line-up calls for someone like Riise to show a bit a of magic. Heck, Hangeland tried it.

Um, let’s not even discuss last week. I could post more chalkboards, but going back a bit he was a marauder in our 6-0 win over QPR (as was everyone on our side), and a non-factor in the 0-0 draw with WBA. So, push?

Another facet of Riise’s game is he free-kick-taking-skills. Well, we’ve yet to score a single goal from a free kick yet (us and 16 other teams), and only have one goal from a header. HatterDon’s “View of South Texas” on FoF summed up our current position wonderfully:

Our free kicks have gone from useless to comic opera to cringe-making. Why does the referee bother making the defensive wall retreat 10 yards when we’re only going to have Murphy touch it to either Riise or Baird who will shoot with a defender 5 feet away?

Now this isn’t all on him, but taking into account the other issues it does make one scratch their head, no?

Put Briggs in on Saturday at Wigan. History dictates we’ll probably draw that match anyway.

Chairman Mo Does His Damn Thing

Per the official:

What a strange man Mark Hughes is. Sacked by Manchester City, he was becoming a forgotten man when I rescued him to become manager of Fulham Football Club.

Even when results were bad, I did not put pressure on him. I gave him every support — financial, moral and personal.

He fully negotiated a two-year extension to his contract. On the day he was due to sign, he walked out without the courtesy of a proper explanation.

And now he insults the club, saying it lacks ambition, and the players who delivered an 8th. position finish last season and a place in the Europa League.

He is not just disrespectful but entirely wrong. Fulham has just announced plans for a splendid new riverside stand that will substantially increase the capacity of Craven Cottage.

In every aspect of its work, Fulham is a progressive club with a top manager in Martin Jol, the man we had really wanted when Hughes was appointed.

We shall endeavour to prosper without him simply because, when the challenge came, it was not the Club but Mark Hughes who lacked the courage and ambition to take on the task of leadership. If people are looking for a flop, they only have to [ed: look?] no further than the man who has lost his spark.

Yours faithfully,

Mohamed Al Fayed,
Chairman,
FFC

Besides the typo, HOLY CRAP HUGHES GOT SERVED!

(if it’s not cuing appropriately, just go to the 7:48 mark)