Author Archives: bqfootball

Chills

I have to admit this video made me a bit misty and put a lump in my throat. Some scenes I had forgotten or tried to forget and others gave me the chills. Warner’s bobble, McBride’s knee, the wink, three times off the bar, and finally Rich and the gang in a blurry and distant parting shot. It’s all here in the best produced video I’ve seen yet of the season. And how can you go wrong with The Verve? Enjoy!

We’re Up, We’re Up, WE’RE FREAKING STAYING UP!

In a turn around of turn arounds, our boys in white, well actually red & black today, beat Portsmouth away. Incredible is an understatement as Fulham wins on the road again. 3 away wins after going almost two years without an away win. As well, the win made it 4 victories out of their last 5 games. They say wining is contagious and in a post game interview, the lone goal scorer Danny Murphy, as well as teammate Jimmy Bullard said as much. Confidence breads confidence and Roy Hodgson has instilled a believe in our side that we’ve not seen in some time.

Astonishing events really. Portsmouth had a chance in the dying minutes that saw the turn and shot go well over the bar as everyone in the pub gasped and then collectively sighed. Then there was the 3 min. of stoppage time. I had been on my feet since about the 70th minute and though my legs felt wobbly, this was no time to sit down.

Finally, Mark Clatterburg’s whistle, and Fulham have saved their premiership hides and will be around again for another year in 08/09. Which will make it the Cottagers’ 8th consecutive season in the Premiership.

I was able to watch the game live at “The Local” pub in Minneapolis and were joined by about 15 others. The small room exploded when Murphy nodded in at 75th minute. There were also numerous Toby sightings, particularly during the post match celebration. How can you miss someone with a Mexican hat and a large blue inflatable. Toby, you looked great on television world wide.

So leave your thoughts.

Audio interview with Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey talks to U.S. Soccer about his experience at Fulham and the current relegation fight. He also explains his contract extension.

What the new manager has done is really help us work on our shape defensively. So I think we’re a hard team to break down. Then we’ve gotten some goals from our forwards, Kamara, Mc Bride and Nevland.

Any time you’re able to not concede goals and then score goals you always have a chance to win.

Click here to listen.

Unbelievable! Birmingham 0 – 2 Fulham

If I thought I was speechless last week, I have no freaking idea what I am this week.

In a game that Fulham seemed to control from start to finish except for a few moments here and there, Fulham won their third game in four and lifted themselves out of the relegation zone. Goals by Brian Mc Bride and an incredibly important insurance goal by the cool finishing Eric Nevland, made sure the Cottagers still have a chance to stay up in the premiership with a good outing next week, away at Portsmouth, who lost today 0-2 to Middlesbrough.

On a personal note, I watched the game at a local pub with fellow Fulham follower Spencer and my good friend Bruce from dunordfutbol.com. Although Bruce follows Fulham from a distance because of the 5 Americans on the team, he is not a Fulham supporter like Spencer and I. So I think he enjoyed watching us agonize through the last 10 min. of the game. But all three of us were excited and had an eye on the other TV as Reading went down in flames today. Which could mean only one thing. We are STILL ALIVE!

Some interesting stats that proves that all that central midfield control we’ve been seeing get better week by week, really paid off in this game today.

Possession was held by Fulham with a whopping 63.6% to 36.4%

Passing was dominated by Fulham as well, 70.3% to 57.8%

Some links:

The always sensible Roy Hodgson speaks to the BBC

BBC report

Soccernet

Sky Sports

Lastly, how does this look?

Keep the faith!

Man City 2-3 Fulham

I don’t even know what to say. Seriously, I’m speechless and the words are not coming to me. Does this give us hope? Or is this totally Fulhamish, just prolonging the inevitable? Either way, a huge win today.

OK, all you Diomansy Kamara and Danny Murphy critics, let’s hear you today. Kamara with a brace, one in injury time for the win and Murphy with a goal and an assist in the winning goal.

Truly, unbelievable!


Fulham 2-2 Derby

For the second time this year we draw against Derby County, the worst team in the league. Really, is it any surprise we’re in second to last place then, just a position above Derby? Perhaps we hold ourselves in higher esteem that we should. But no matter, for whatever reason, we just seem unable to make it happen.

I was not able to catch the game and stayed free of news until just now. I DVR’d the game and just finished watching it. I’m sort of speechless really. I think I feel more resigned than disappointed.

Roy says there’s still a chance, but he says that every game and were narrowing our odds every game as well.

We did score two goals today. The first time in almost two months. Unlikely characters too, in Kamara and Bouazza. That’s something. I’m not sure what, but it’s something.

Bolton get beat in a 3 goal comeback by Arsenal, that’s something. Wigan get beat, that too is something. But Birmingham beat Man City, even a man down. What the ???? And Sunderland and Reading seem to be on a mini-run.

Oh well, as I said, I’m feeling resigned today and sort of at peace about the whole thing. All is well in Brian’s world no matter the result.

International round up

Lafferty_Healy_Craven Cottage Newsround

I spoke yesterday about these internationals possibly being a thing for our Fulham players, and I do believe that is exactly what happened.

Northern Ireland 4-1 Georgia

Steven Davis fed David Healy for a goal in a 4-1 rout. Kyle Lafferty, who was once a Fulham transfer target himself, scored two for N. Ireland. Healy received special recognition at the half for his record European goal scoring campaign this past year.

USA 3-0 Poland

This was a huge win for the US and a real let down for Poland (who are grouped with Germany, Austria and Croatia next summer in the Euros).   Carlos Bocanegra got on the board first with an excellent redirected snap-header into the near post. The 3-0 win was the largest for the US in Europe since 1998.

Clint Dempsey Craven Cottage Newsround

Clint Dempsey also played fairly well but Eddie Johnson looked very much like he has so far for Fulham and disappointed most US fans. His lack of confidence seems to continue to hound him. A report from Sports Illustrated.

Wales 2-0 Luxembourg

Simon Davies with his 50th cap and a celebratory win as captain of his Wales side.

Internationals, good or bad?

I was thinking about the internationals this week and contemplating whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing to have some of our players leave Motspur Park to join their national teams for a quick midweek game. Particularly knowing that we are in a relegation battle for our premiership life. While you could certainly make arguments for it hurting the team, I’ve come to the conclusion, (in my own warped mind), that it’s indeed a good thing, as long as they’re not having to fly half-way round the world to do so.

Case in point would be this article on Simon Davies getting his 50th cap for Wales. It’s really a landmark game for him and he’ll be captaining the team. This has to be a “feel good” moment for Davies and might be a nice break from all the work and frustration at Fulham currently.

Another example would be Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey. Bocanegra is having a problem getting minutes at Fulham and will join his American teammates and feel like a wanted player again. Dempsey will join in with an attack that seems to score goals most games and he is usually in the thick of that attack.

These players have all been under a tremendous amount of pressure for a good long while now. Breaking camp, joining up with your fellow countrymen and playing under a different sort of pressure might be a bit more fun and out of the routine. In fact it might be exactly what the doctor ordered to rejuvenate some of these players after a very long season.

Looking at the stats the day after

After yesterday’s game, I broke out the individual statistics to see if our perception of players’ performance actually matched what they accomplished on the field.

After looking at the data I would have to give the Man of the Match honours to Brede Hangeland. According to The Telegraph, here’s what he accomplished:

Brede Hangeland

• Won 69 per cent of his duels
• Made 10 clearances
• Completed 74 per cent of his passes
• 2 Ball recoveries
• 3 successful tackles
• 39 passes total

Here’s the rest, broken down by position with a few comments from me: Continue reading

Roy Hodgson’s post game interview – with a wry smile

An interesting press conference with Roy Hodgson.  He said you could have closed your eyes and thought it was Old Trafford on Sunday.

Roy also talks of team selection and he makes it clear that the team will be playing with two forwards a lot more from here on out. RH said that the team had done a lot of work with two players up top the last couple of weeks and then with a wry smile on his face said that he can guarantee that they will be doing a lot more work in that regard in the next 4 or 5 weeks. He also said that he thought Eddie did well but has a lot to work on.

Fulham’s remaining games and their chances to stay up

Soccer by Ives is normally a twice daily stop for me. However, I failed to get there today. But George H. didn’t and alerted us to this very interesting post by Ives Galarcep, mapping out Fulham’s remaining games. As well, he looks at the remaining schedule for Bolton, Sunderland and Birmingham. He says Fulham’s odds are actually better than many may think. He also points out that with Bolton’s remaining schedule they may be “toast”.

A good look at the final 8 games and the hope that we may very well have to stay up. I think yesterday’s win has everyone believing it’s possible.

Fulham 1-0 Everton – A big win

I’m writing from the pub so I’ll just make a quick post so you can leave your comments until Rich makes his game report. But a big win today against a team that we probably shouldn’t have gotten a win against. But we played well, again, and this time very much got what we deserved. Thanks to Adam and Stephen who gave me moral encouragement to wear my lucky Fulham slippers. By the way, the slippers are now 2 wins and 1 draw.

bq_local.jpg

COYW!

There is still hope!

 

 

UPDATE – Setanta to carry Fulham v Everton in the U.S.

I made a post last night saying that no one was going to carry the the game in the U.S. Well, according to Hatter Don, regular reader and commenter here at CCN and Fulham USA contributer and stalwart, Setanta has agreed to carry the game. The decision was made yesterday and is great news for us U.S. Fulham fans. Coverage will be live and carried at 8:30 a.m. CST.

Adam, I may now need your support as I will have to bring the lucky Fulham slippers to the pub and wear them for the game. Oh my! Won’t that be a sight?

Interviews with Dempsey and Stalteri

Our friend Clint was evidently interviewed for the club’s members’ magazine, Fultime. Fans were able to ask Mr. Dempsey questions and he answered them. Some of the answers were actually somewhat interesting. The interview is worth a read.

Q: When playing as a striker what qualities do you like a partner striker to have to complement yours?
A: I don’t know, I mean I think it’s always good to have someone that is good at getting in behind defenders, because I like putting people through on goal. It’s good to have someone that can hold the ball up well and give it back to you, someone that is good with the aerial battle. You have to do the business too though, help out the forward you play with and use your own attributes also.

Do you think we could be up for a combination of GAM and Clint Dempsey up front? This is how Clint has excelled with the U.S. Men’s National team this past year, sending speedsters like Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley through with excellent passes. A Dempsey/EJ pairing might just work.

Also, an interview on the official with Paul Stalteri.

Stalteri had this to say about his conversation with referee Mike Riley concerning the missed foul on himself which resulted in a goal for Blackburn:

When I spoke to Mike Riley, he is one of the more experienced referees in England, he explained that he hadn’t seen it. I’m not entirely sure how he didn’t see it but I guess if you don’t see these things then you cannot blow a whistle for them. In his defence at least he didn’t say it wasn’t a foul, he just said he hadn’t seen it, and when he tells you that there isn’t a lot more you can say.

Everton crash out of UEFA Cup after overtime and penalties

Some of us expressed a latent appreciation for the Toffees this past week here at CCN. Today they did everything required but win a penalty shootout, failing to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition.

Personally, I was hoping for the game to go to extra time and then for Everton to win it in the dying minutes. This would have guaranteed some tired legs when Everton come to visit on Sunday. But I did want the Toffees to advance. However, Fiorentina won the penalties and advanced to the next round.

Everton seemed to dominate in almost every aspect of the game played at Goodison Park in front of their home supporters. They were 2 goals down going into the second leg of the competition with Fiorentina, but the Toffees fought hard all night and showed why they’re tied for 4th place in the Premiership, battling back to score 2 goals and tie Fiorentina 2-2 on aggregate.

So how will this affect Everton as they come to Craven Cottage to play Fulham on Sunday? Well, your guess is as good as anyone’s but, you would have to believe that Fulham will have fresher legs. A Saturday game would have been even more of an advantage for Fulham as Everton played 120 minutes of all out football. They also showed today what a quality side they are, and the loss may push them all the harder to stay in that 4th position in the table. A place that if they can keep until the end of the season will enable the Toffees a Champions League berth next fall. They are currently tied with Liverpool.

U.S. TV Coverage v Everton a no show

According to numerous sources, no one will be televising the Fulham v Everton match in the U.S. this coming Sunday.

I’m extremly disappointed as this seems to be a key game. But what game isn’t key at this point? I could see Fulham playing great but coming away with another draw which just isn’t going to cut it. As we’ve stated numerous times this past week, were facing another quality opponent in Everton.

Since viewing is not an option for me, I’l most likely be following along via Soccernet’s Game Cast and may very well be on Fulham USA’s game day chat as well. I know some of you may use peer to peer video programs as well to get a somewhat herkey-jerkey video stream of the game.

We American Fulham supporters have been very lucky this year with all the unprecedented coverage of the team. In the past you could only expect this if you were one of the top 3 or 4 teams in the premiership.

The following two matches against Newcastle and Derby will both be carried live on Fox Soccer Channel. Fulham USA always keeps you updated with the latest TV coverage of Fulham in the U.S. It’s on the right sidebar of their splash page.

I’m very concerned about American coverage if the team goes down. One more reason why Roy Hodgson and the boys need to find a way to stay up.

What does it take to become a professional footballer?

Well, our very own Moritz Volz tries to answer that question. He explains it’s more than talent, here in this Times Online article. Great stuff and I especially appreciate his comments about those that have made it to the top, and he has no idea how. I mean really, haven’t we all experienced this in our own lives. The kid who always seemed to make the club or school team and get the nod ahead of you, even though he was s*#t. Or the boss who you’ve no idea how he got the job as anyone of your coworkers could do better. Well, Volzy says it’s the same as a pro footballer.

At the other end of the spectrum there are those who seem to have made it in spite of their ability rather than because of it. I’d be lying if I claimed I’d never come up against players who’ve left me wondering how they manage to get paid to play. I won’t name names, but “couldn’t hit a barn door” doesn’t even come close.

Sunday News

A few links on this Sunday.

I’m betting that Daniel Cousin wishes that FIFA had made a different decision and allowed him to play for Fulham. The 31 year old Rangers striker broke his jaw in the UEFA game on Thursday v Werder Bremen. Cousin had scored a couple of goals recently as he seemed to be working his way back into Walter Smith’s side. Cousin said, “This is the worst possible thing that could happen after breaking back into the team.”

The Hawkeye technology that the FA had been testing and hoping to use next season has been voted down by the IFAB. The IFAB is a group consisting of four home associations who each have a vote and four FIFA representatives who also have a vote. According to the Soccernet article, FIFA and the Football Association of Wales all voted down the goal-line technology.

Instead, they are siding with UEFA president Michel Plantini’s idea of experimenting with having two extra goal-line referees behind each goal. The FA is concerned about how they are going to recruit extra referees that are competent and the extra cost of those referees. They’re also very disappointed after spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on testing the equipment which utilizes 12 cameras linked to a computer that gives an accurate 3d photo of the ball. It’s also stated in the article that Hawkeye Technology company’s costs have run into the millions of pounds.

I personally think it was time for a change and to upgrade to technology. Fulham were a victim of human error in regards to balls crossing over goal-lines this season and could have certainly been 3 to 6 points a head of our current place in the standings if correct calls had been made. I also don’t understand how two referees standing behind the goal are going to be able to tell on a 192 sq. ft of goal, if the ball went in or out. Of course this is used in hockey but were talking 24 sq. ft. A big difference.

An excellent article on Eddie Johnson written by Steve Davis of Soccernet. Davis looks at what GAM must do if he is to succeed in the Premier League. I think Davis gives a fair assessment of Eddie’s strengths and weaknesses. He also gets some quotes from EJ and an assessment of a reserve team game that EJ played in and Davis attended. Good stuff and he’s very accurate in his assessment in my opinion.

Lastly, I’ve been trying to follow Steve Marlet’s trial with the Chicago Fire. Last I reported, he had left with the team from Florida spring training to fly to Mexico where the team played friendly’s with a number of Mexican teams. Marlet featured in one of those games and shortly after the Fire released their roster. Marlet was not on it. However, I’ve done a fair amount of searching around and cannot find anything that says the Fire released him and if they did where he went. If there’s any Fire fans out there with more information let us know.

Lucky Slippers v Blackburn

I stated in a post yesterday that we really need a miracle. So I’m wearing my son’s lucky Fulham slippers again today. Last time I wore them Jimmy Bullard hit a free-kick in the dying minutes of the game to give Fulham a win and us supporters some hope. And even if they don’t bring us a miracle, or just some luck, at least they’re keeping my feet warm. It’s -1°F here in the Twin Cites. A tad warmer at 52°F in London currently.

fulhamslippers.jpg

COYW!

The patterns of Roy Hodgson

Some time ago I did a series of posts on Analyzing the Game, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. For those of you who didn’t read those posts, there were links to UEFA’s web sites section called the Training Ground. In there you can find videos of managers talking about different tactical situations and one of those managers is our own Roy Hodgson.

Out of curiosity, I watched a couple of these again this afternoon, now that we’ve seen Roy in action for a while at Fulham. I will link to them, again, because I think listening to Hodgson speak about a couple of the tactical situations is a bit telling of some of the things we’ve seen Roy implement at Fulham, and perhaps should not have been such a surprise to us. You’ll have to listen to the videos and then let me know what stood out the most to you. The first is called, Goal down after the first leg. The second is, Goal down with ten minutes left.

One of the things to look for is when Roy is commenting on being a goal down, with ten minutes left, I think it clearly points out that we will not see a manager who is prone to throw substitutes out in the final 10 minuets just to mix things up a bit like some managers. I think that’s a comment I’ve been hearing from some lately as well as myself. We’ve asked, why didn’t he make a significant substitution? Why didn’t he try something different? Well, I guess this answers the question, and whether you like his answer or not, it’s Roy’s philosophy.

In these days of Fantasy Football and everyone is a football coach, were seeking too often the miracle solution. What we’re doing really, is throwing cards up in the air. You’ve worked for a long period of time, which your convinced will score you goals. Then every time something goes against you, a bad penalty decision that puts you a goal down, a wonder 40 meter strike that hits the quarter of the net that no one could have legislated for, unlucky own goal ricocheting off one of your players. All of a sudden you decide to…well, all of the work we’ve done is of no value. Lets change everything and put a couple of players on and sling some balls into the penalty area, well, I’m not convinced.

-RH-

Yes Roy, I do believe we’ve had everyone of those unlucky things happen to us this year and then some. But there’s nothing in his interviews on how to turn that luck around. I guess what we need is for the opposition to score an own goal, or for us to score a 40 meter wonder strike, or to get a bad penalty decision to go in our favor. How about a couple of goals for the other team that are disallowed even if they were legitimate. We’ve seen it all this year, haven’t we? And substitutions galore will not be on the menu at any venue where Roy Hodgson is the manager.

But Roy, we really need a miracle solution!

League Managers Association interview Roy Hodgson

A couple of interesting tidbits here. Otherwise the same old rehash we keep hearing. But in this article Roy is asked if the English long ball tactics are still true or at this point, a myth.

He also tells us why he was at the Manchester United v Lyon game on Tuesday evening, doing some work for UEFA. The man is well connected and respected.

Andy Roxburgh is the Technical Director of UEFA and his task at the end of each Champions League is to produce a report. It’s a report that is put together from a technical and tactical point of view that will hopefully give coaches an idea of any trends in the game and the way things are heading. Not least of all, it reflects the way the Champions League teams that reach the final stages try to play. Andy Roxburgh uses people like me and Gerard Houllier who have got some experience in the game. He gives us the task of going to the game and giving him a technical report on the styles of the two teams; what they are good at and basically why they have got to where they are. So it’s a watching brief; you watch the game and use your experience and power of observation to help him put the report together because he can’t see every team himself.

Is Jimmy Bullard trying too hard?

I was sharing some statistics with Rich the other day which led us to an email discussion. The stats came from Saturday’s game against West Ham and they were published on the Telegraph website.

What caught my attention was that Clint Dempsey was given the Man of the Match award. They said that Dempsey had attempted five shots, set up three chances, and made two flick-ons.  This surprised me because I didn’t think Clint had had that great a game. However, comparing the statistics of Dempsey and Bullard I started to understand why Clint was named over Jimmy.

So here’s how the stats laid out.

JB CD
5/1 5/1 Attempts on target
2 2 Key passes
4 3 Crosses
0 4 Ball recoveries
1 6 Clearances
37 27 Good passes
12 4 Bad passes
75% 85% Passing percentage
1 1 Tackles

In some areas the two were very close. But it looks like Clint did more defensive duties than Jimmy and Clint actually had a higher passing percentage. Now I think we need to think of Jimmy as more of a withdrawn forward, so he wouldn’t be expected to win as many balls and make as many clearances. But if that is true, why is it that we saw Jimmy pulling back into the defensive third of the field so often? We’ve been lamenting the fact that Brian McBride seems to be left alone too often.

So is Bullard trying to make too much happen himself?

The reason I ask this is Rich and I have both noticed several times during recent games that he has been tracking back so much that he has sometimes ended up taking the ball off his own teammates’ feet. Once on Saturday it was actually a bit embarrassing as Danny Murphy had recovered, or was about to recover a ball in our own defensive third, and Bully comes screaming back, pulls the ball off his foot and dribbles back towards his own goal, almost getting himself into trouble. A rule of thumb is if the ball falls between two teammates, the player facing forward always takes the ball. He can see the field better. It reminded me a bit of school ball, where the kid with the quite inflated ego comes and grabs every ball from his teammates because he thinks he’s the star.

Now I’m not saying that Jimmy Bullard is that sort of player. But there’s a suggestion that perhaps he doesn’t trust his own players, and that’s not good. He is a creator and the more he touches the ball in advanced areas, the more good things seem to happen. But I think he just needs to relax and stay forward a bit more, trusting his teammates to work things out behind him.

Former Fulham players in MLS

Last week I wrote the former Fulham player Steve Marlet was training with the Chicago Fire and trying out for a roster spot.  As promised, I’ve been keeping on eye on Marlet and Luis Arroyave of the Chicago Tribune’s Red Card Blog is saying that Marlet is still with the team and made the trip from Florida to Mexico to finish their preseason training. Marlet featured in a friendly last week against Toronto FC but did not score.

In another story of a former Fulham player, well a youth academy player, does anyone remember the name Dan Stratford? MLSNET.com has an interesting story on the young man and how he ended up on trail with DC United.

Last year another player from the Fulham youth system made their way to the States and tried out with DC. His name was Yinka Casal. He was the leading scorer for the Fulham reserves in the 05-06 season. Casal did make the reserve team and then was released in July of last year.

Hodgson speaks his mind

This week’s post game interview on the Official is short. Hodgson is clearly agitated with the turn of events and the officiating of the game. And he damn well should be.

I was just today trying to piece together the many times this season that we have been robbed of a win or a draw because of poor officiating. Of course we’ve not helped ourselves too many times as well. But bad officiating in itself has cost us at least 5 points. Am I missing some? I’ve got a very poor memory when it comes to this sort of thing. Maybe someone can remember the specifics. But if it was 5 points, that would bring us two spots out of relegation.

It’s all gone so wrong – Fulham 0-1 West Ham

Well, we played well enough. Well enough to draw – at home – against another London Club. We had our chances all right. But the ball didn’t drop quite right and Dempsey didn’t pop it over the keeper and Johnson winged it high and…we could just keep going couldn’t we?

So as I wrote, we played well enough for a draw. In fact that is how the game should have ended. Salano is not marked well by Murphy and breaks free. He gets to the ball at the same time as Niemi. The ball falls, Niemi gets kicked in the face and the ball goes off the arm of Salano. Howard Webb, who wouldn’t let either team play all day as he called foul after foul for good hard play, didn’t call the hand ball. Just as he didn’t call handballs for two other Fulham shots that went off of West Ham players in their box. Such is life at Fulham.

It was hard for me to enjoy todays game. I watched on Fox Soccer Channel and knowing how important this game was, my stomach was in knots the whole 90 min. I think it’s fair to say, we are wading in deeper and deeper and there may be no coming back. At least for this year.

Feel free to post your thoughts until Rich comes in with his match report.

Reserves lose to Hammers, Elliot and Johnson get minutes.

Eddie Johnson and Simon Elliot had runouts with the reserves last night. The team lost 2-0 to West Ham, but both players are said to have looked decent. Elliot played the full 90 while Johnson was pulled on the hour, which was planned. Was this because there’s a possibility of him getting some minutes this coming Saturday?

In an online fan poll conducted on a fanzine, the question of “who will score the goals that keep Fulham up?” was asked. Eddie Johnson was far and away the leader of the poll. I put no stock in the poll whatsoever. But it does concern me that so much pressure will be on the young man. With expectations so high, if he fails in any way, the torch that passed from Zat Knight to Chris Baird, could quickly move to EJ. Which is hardly fair, but such is life in the Premiership.

Quick News

No the news isn’t quick but this post will be.

Just a few bits of interest to Fulham fans. I guess you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard this by now, but in case you are indeed living under a rock: Former Fulham star and club manager Chris Coleman has found a new home in the Championship League at Coventry City FC. Coventry are safe for now, 2 spots and 4 points above relegation.

Also, I’d seen this news a few days ago but George H. sent us an email with a link to a story that another former Fulham player is trying to find a new home as well. But this one is trying to find it in the U.S. Does the name Steve Marlet bring back any memories, bitter or not?

Yes, according to numerous sources including MLSNET.com, the former France international is in Bradenton Florida where he is trying out with the Chicago Fire and hopes to catch on. Being that I was not a Fulham follower back in 2000, I was shocked to see that Marlet had been signed by Fulham at that time for a transfer fee of £12 M. Yikes! Marlet scored 11 goals in 2 seasons and 54 games.

I have mixed feelings about this. If he does well in MLS, well then what does it say about MLS? But my feeling is he may get signed but I’m guessing he will be an average player as he has been in Europe. Most of the better players that have come from Europe, Mexico or S. America (I know, I mixed a country with two continents) have said that the level of play in MLS is much better than they had imagined.

I’ll try to stay on top of this one to see and report back to CCN.

Healy to go out on loan?

Yesterday I reported that Fulham striker David Healy may well be on his way to Sheffield Wednesday. This morning, the Belfast Telegraph, is reporting that no less than 6 Championship teams are looking to sign the Euro qualifying record setting forward who is being shopped around by Fulham.

Now the Telegraph, in another article, says Queens Park Rangers are the team that will be offering Fulham and Healy a deal that would loan him out for the rest of the season. In the post I made yesterday that links to an article that Healy wrote himself, he was quoted as saying that he didn’t want to leave the Premiership. But QPR, loaded with money from new Italian owners, seem to be keen on acquiring the Northern Ireland forward.

Healy, who is 28, still has 2-1/2 years left on his contract. It certainly seems that he is at the very bottom of Roy Hodgson’s pecking list of no less than 7 forwards. Even Healy admits that.

The manager has brought a lot of players in – Eddie Johnson, Jari Litmanen and possibly even Daniel Cousin. Brian McBride and Diomansy Kamara are returning from injury so you’re talking about six or seven strikers at the club and possibly at the minute I’m seventh choice.

Bottom Watch -February 8, 2008-

It’s time to do the bottom watch again this week.   Here are the bottom 6 teams in the table:

15) Wigan 23 pts
16) Sunderland 23 pts
17) Reading 22 pts
18) Birmingham 21pts
19) Fulham 19 pts
20) Derby County 9pts

Matches for the weekend and my predictions:

Sunderland v Wigan @ Sunderland
Wigan with a big win last week and Sunderland with a big loss. I should say a draw but I think Wigan come up with a win over Sunderland who seem to be sinking. 1-0

Everton v Reading @ Everton
You have to go with Everton here who are doing well and Reading’s another team that seems to be slipping. 2-0

West Ham v Birmingham @ West Ham
Wigan upset West Ham last weekend but their back at home and just don’t see another upset on tap. West Ham gather the points, 1-0

Middlesbrough v Fulham @ Boro
Being a Fulham supporter and hoping for momentum from last weekend I would love to see a win. But using my head instead of my heart I say 2-2.

Derby v Tottenham @ Derby
The best Derby could do here would be pull a tie and I just don’t see it. 3-0 to Tottenham.

So, the table could look like this after the weekend.

15) Wigan 26 pts
16) Sunderland 23 pts
17) Reading 22 pts
18) Birmingham 21pts
19) Fulham 20 pts
20) Derby County 9pts

Another game to mention is Bolton who’s in the 14th spot v Portsmouth. So if Wigan does moves up and Bolton lose, they could swap spots in the standings. As well, this would be a fantastic weekend to pick up points for Fulham if the table does move as little as I’m expecting . If we win, it could bring us level with a struggling Reading. Wouldn’t that be something!

McBride Speaks

The official has a great interview today with Brian McBride. He speaks on five different topics. From his injury, the fans, and the Sanchez period compared to the Hodgson period. He comes off a little more like Keller did concerning Lawrie Sanchez and says we just got unlucky and then everything went south. But with Roy Hodgson he speaks glowingly. You can tell the RH instills confidence. Good Stuff!

Anything he’s, (Roy Hodgson), done out on the training field, you can never have a problem with because your always like, yep he’s right. Out on the training field, there’s a lot of energy, the coach is very enthusiastic and it rubs off on players. Now it’s just up to us to put it in motion. So its good, it’s exciting for sure, and I think its going to be exciting for Fulham fans. Hopefully we’ll put things right.

-Brian McBride-

Premier League, coming to a country near you?

I’m home sick today, (the reason for all the posts) and was watching Sky Sports. I saw Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore announce this morning that the League has decided to continue to move forward with the plans to play one game, most likely in a January time period, in other venue’s outside of England. This would be only one game -called the International Round- would be added to the schedule so no one misses a home game.

He also said that perhaps they could incorporate this into a sort of winter break, with the teams most likely going to warmer climates to play their game.

Reading between the lines, I would guess that would primarily mean games played in Asia with a few in the southern and southwestern United States.

Scudamore also said that he would expect that a schedule would be drawn up by May of 2010 for the International Round fixtures for January of 2011, the first year to incorporate this game.

Why is this all happening? According to some reports, the Premier Leagues’ international TV contract is very undervalued. It’s possible that the international TV rights will soon outweigh the UK deal. Prem teams could clean up very big on this. But what is the price paid?

The Gaffer, from EPLTalk.com, has a decent piece concerning this subject which he wrote back in January.

Personally, I think players are already under so much stress and strain from extended schedules and increased pressure for fitness and performance. Players are nearly at the breaking point with not just an added game of league play, but cup play and international call ups.

As much as I would love for the game to come to the U.S. once a year, I think in the long run this can only hurt the league. Would the intensity level really be the same as playing in England on familiar pitches, with home and away supporters?

So what do think of this?

Teammates Turn Rival

simon_davies_erik_nevland_wales_v_norway_634988.jpg
Club teammates, country rivals, Davies and Nevland battle.

Interesting that Simon Davies captained his Wales team last night in a game against Norway, where he faced off against Fulham teammates Erik Nevland, and Brede Hangeland. All played significant minuets for their countries. Davies played 59 minutes, Hangeland 61, and Nevland 77.

Davies and his native Wales won the match 3-0, but from reports I read, it sounded as if Norway certainly had their chances and the game was not as lopsided as the score would lead you to believe.

US v Mexico – Bocanegra collision and Dempsey (near) goal

With some trepidation that this will turn into an American soccer discussion, (remember my American cohorts, it’s a Fulham blog) I’m posting the video highlights of the U.S. vs Mexico (supposed) friendly from yesterday. Early on you can see the collision that Bocanegra had with Timmy Howard. Bocanegra on the bad end of things here with an elbow to the face and then cleats to the leg when falling.

You can also see young Josy Altidore scoring for the U.S. He will be going to Europe next summer no doubt and he becomes the youngest goal scorer in U.S. Soccer’s modern history.

About 1/2 through you will see Clint Dempsey doing some magic and scoring. Unfortunately he was called offside. It was a very close play. But the receiving of the ball off his chest and then the patient dribble and shot are exquisite.

In Spanish from Univision…

24 hours with Clint Dempsey

U.S. Soccer.com and Nike’s Studio 90 have again combined to bring us another video. This time of Clint Dempsey. Go to this link, then click on the 24 Hours with Clint tab. The Studio 90 people film Clint for 24 hours from the time he gets off the plane in his home state of Texas.

The poor guy looks exhausted. It has to be really tough for these international players that need to travel long distances. It doesn’t look very glamours, does it? I hope Clint still has gas in his tank for Saturdays game.

Could there be a chance that Dempsey will be given a break on Saturday? He’s played an awful lot of games this year. Davies and Bouazza on the wings perhaps?

30 Seconds

There was a key moment in Sunday’s game, that if we do stay up, may go down as a turning point in the season. It only took 30 seconds, and involved 6 players who took 29 touches and made 11 passes. That might be the moment we all realized that the pendulum had swung the opposite direction, finally!

But that single moment was actually the culmination of many smaller moments seen since our new manager took over. Hodgson has not come into the team with grandiose ideas, he’s too seasoned for that. He doesn’t say we’re staying up or that he will save the team. He just says we’ve got to fight like cats and dogs.

When he got the job, Hodgson, being a wise man, may have sensed a team that had been a bit beaten down and trodden upon. The manager – who has been around the block a few times – quickly said that he had a good team at Fulham. The caveat: good players but too many of the same type of player; that a few changes needed to me made, not a lot. He told us we needed a defensive midfielder and central defender with some size. Wihtout changing personnel, the changes were starting be noticed in the FA cup replay against Bristol Rovers. It was a disappointing game but we kept a clean sheet, the first one since October 20th against Derby.

The next fixture was Bolton away. This was the first game for some of our new signings, and though we were sorely lacking in the final third, our midfield looked better than it had all year. The addition of newly acquired defensive midfielder Leon Andreasen allowed our team to play a different style and shape than they had been afforded all season. Andreasen – a very modern defensive midfielder in his style and approach – played end to end and managed some stinging shots at goal. This allowed the combination of Bullard, Dempsey and Davies to attack while Danny Murphy held back with Andreason.

All of these changes led to those 30 seconds in last week’s Villa game. A goal kick which was played around by both teams until Murphy picked it up and held the ball as he turned, passing to Davies. Expectation grew with the passes that followed, something special seemed likely to follow. Then it came: the ball was played between 6 players down the right side of the field, a total of 11 successful passes. The second to the last ball came from Murphy again to Bullard who’d placed himself in a spot where he had some time and space to turn towards goal and look up. Bullard saw an on-racing Simon Davies and drove the ball low, perfect for Davies to flick on towards Villa keeper Scott Carson, who, given the pace and placement of the shot, could do nothing to stop it.

What also made this goal special is that it was a come from behind goal. We could have gotten down after creating our own misery with an own goal. But the team kept the faith and persisted, not only with the goal from Davies but a continued attack at Villa that eventually led to the winning goal, a fantastic free-kick by Jimmy Bullard. If we can keep this momentum going, those 30 seconds may be remembered as the time when the tides started turning for Fulham.

Bullard a Fulham savior? (UPDATED)

Well not yet he’s not. But Sky has an interesting take on the impact Jimmy Bullard has had on Fulham. His record with the club, both before and after injury is pretty remarkable. Really, it’s too early to know how his long term effect on the club will play out. But for now, I hope he can keep doing what he’s doing, because he’s doing it really well.

It was announced on Wed., that Jimmy made the ACTIM team of the week. Well deserved may I add.

Fulham 2-1 Aston Villa (3 MASSIVE Points)

Bullard's scores on a free kick to gain 3 points for Fulham

Jimmy Bullard’s heroics gain Fulham a huge 3 points as the key man for Fulham scored on a free kick in the 85th minute.

With three minutes of added time it was a stomach churning time as Fulham has so often given up leads late in games. But the quality of the new players on Fulham showed and with their help we were able to keep things pretty much under control this time as our team delivered a win that could be a turning point in the season.

It was also a game that saw Aaron Hughes score an own goal. But a beautiful series of touches set Bullard up to put a nice dropping ball into the path of a running Simon Davies who flicked the ball on for a goal in the 72 min. This was only two minutes after Brian McBride made an inspirational return to the field at the Cottage.

I don’t want to take away from Rich’s brilliant game reports. But this was just to exciting not to report on. I am so jazzed!

fulltime.png

Dempsey and Bocanegra are called in for U.S. v Mexico game

The U.S. roster for the February 6th game was released today and Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra were both called in for the contest. As already announced by Fulham FC, Eddie Johnson will not make this trip on the request of Roy Hodgson who wants Eddie to stick around and train with the team. Otherwise he certainly would have been called in also.

The U.S. v Mexico clash is the most heated rivalry in the CONCACAF region and the games are never dull. Often tempers flare and the pace is usually extreme. 12 European based players were called in for the U.S. match and 7 are from the Barclays Premier League, including our Fulham representatives.

picture-3.png