Monthly Archives: March 2008

Diomansy has not given up

Says the official site.

“Six points might look like a lot but if we win and Birmingham lose, it goes down to just three points,” he said. “We need belief and confidence. We need to win on Saturday, and then we can look at Birmingham’s result.

“When our games are over I’m always looking for the other results; Birmingham, Wigan or Bolton. We need to get three points behind Birmingham. Their next game against Wigan won’t be easy and then they have Everton so we need to believe in ourselves.”

joe.jpg

Pride Park

Nice bit from smfifteen about Pride Park.

I get all that, but for whatever reason I’m not as down on Pride Park as I am about the other stadia of its ilk.  Dunno.  My girlfriend went to uni in Derby in the 90s so we actually went to a few of the first games there.  It felt quite exciting at the time, and they had a half-decent team.  I remember Igor Stimac really looking the business at the back, Paulo Wanchope was about as fun a player as you could find, and they had bit part players like Dean Sturridge and Deon Burton who could be pretty handy on their day.  So perhaps that’s why I quite like the place.

The city itself is interesting too.  We used to hang around the city centre a fair bit.  Pubs, more studenty ones perhaps, but still, there was always stuff to do.   This time Hade suggested a few of her old haunts and it was quite odd.   Both of the first two pubs we went to had “Pub business for rent” signs on their front walls.  These pubs had been thriving ten years ago, served cracking food at tiny prices.   Now?   Only crisps available, no people in there, really bad tasting Guinness, and toilets… well, they’d clearly given up on dealing with those.   Which is fine, you don’t go to pubs to go to toilets (well sometimes…), but it did feel sort of indicative.

As you walk around Derby you see the same sort of thing.  A lot of the old shops are out, boarded up, whatever.  But there’s also a load of new things there too.  Some fairly nice looking new build residential buildings dotted around the place, and a number of roads looking like business is booming.   The retail park where Pride Park stands never used to have much in it; now it’s full up.   So it’s hard to know if Derby’s a town on the up, or one that’s feeling the economy’s pinch.   Both I guess.

Not that any of this matters, and it’s only my half-baked impressions on one day up there after 10 years away, but it was quite a strange feeling.  We both left feeling that perhaps Derby isn’t what it was, but then nothing is ever as good as it was, is it?  Particularly as we were younger then…

Anyway,  idiots and weather aside, it was a pretty good day.

Phuckerama: Derby 2-2 Fulham

Can’t start a fire, can’t start a fire without a spark…

We blew it.  Derby have been awful all season and we couldn’t beat them.  Our best players were Simon Davies, scampering around effectively on the right, Kasey Keller, who made some fine saves and did all he could to keep us in it, and that’s probably about it.  Nobody else showed anything to suggest that they deserved to stay in the top division.  On this of all days, they couldn’t rise above the conditions, the pitiful opponents.  Heartbreaking stuff for those of us in the stands. Hodgson removed Bullard with ten minutes left, a move that brought boos from the crowd and visibly staggered the midfielder.  Danny Murphy came on and did well, so perhaps it was the right thing to do, but it took balls and won’t help his standing in the eyes of many fans, for whom Bullard can do no wrong.

Derby scored first by accident.  The ball ponged around following a Robbie Savage volley that went upwards rather than forwards.  Andreasen and two Derby players converged, the ball came back our way, a shot, off a Derby player’s backside, and in.

Summed up our season.

We fought back.  Davies drilled a cross into the heart of the Derby defence and Diomansy Kamara rose unchallenged to head home.  1-1.  From there the teams mixed possession and gave their all, but there was little to choose between them and this is perhaps all we need to know.   The 4-4-2 meant that the midfield never imposed itself with any consistency.  There were flashes of excellence, particularly long passes from Bullard and Davies that cut open the Derby defence, but these were rare and Derby will feel that they earned their point.

It could have been worse.  In the second half Savage was given the freedom of the penalty area, but could only shoot straight at Keller.  It was a huge letoff.  Bullard hit the bar with a free-kick, but Derby hit the bar too, and also narrowly missed when Robert Earnshaw shot wide of an empty net, albeit from a tricky angle.  We didn’t particularly look like scoring, but with 12 minutes to go Kamara broke clear and smashed a left footed shot at Roy Carroll.  The ‘keeper’s parry bounced to Hameur Bouazza, whose controlled half-volley flicked off Dean Leacock and dribbled into the net.  Pandemonium in the stands, relief all over the players’ faces.  Oh how they celebrated.

The crowd started up it’s “we’re winning away” chant.

“We’re winning away.  We’re winning awaaay, how shit must..”  Then it stopped.

Derby had scored straight away.  A simple cross, a simple header.  The end.

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.

Alrighty

Time for bed. We’re up early tomorrow morning, driving up to Derby, and seeing what happens.

Some time ago we tried to set the tone for games with a bit of YouTubery. Perhaps this is required again.

So…. Iron Maiden, The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg. This needs to be louder than YouTube can go, but hey, what you gonna do? It gets particularly exciting after about five and a half minutes…

breeg.jpeg

He he. Anyway, I’ll be back on Sunday. In the meantime, COYW, etc, etc. It’s going to be a mother of a game. I’m scared shitless. Here’s hoping good things happen tomorrow, eh?

Loans!

Nathan Ashton and Ish Ehui have been loaned out.

Fulham Football Club can confirm that Nathan Ashton has joined Crystal Palace on loan until May 5th.

Reserve Team striker Ismael Ehui has moved to Carshalton on loan until April 27th.

We have, of course, won every game Nathan Ashton has played for us.   He had a nervy but effective debut in the 3-1 home win over Reading.  And that was that.   He looked awfully small but seemed to have some potential.   At this point a loan to a Championship side is probably quite sensible.

Ehui to Carshalton?  Ouch.  Carshalton are second from bottom in the Ryman League Premier Division.  That’s a drop of, I think, five divisions.   He looked a tidy player when I saw him.  Oh well.

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.

Sanchez buys in transfer rumour shock

These are from the Daily Mail.

Diomansy might be going to Stoke!

Stoke are trying to sign Diomansy Kamara on loan from Fulham to boost their Championship promotion bid. Fulham are reluctant to let players go as the relegation battle intensifies in the Barclays Premier League, but the 27-year-old striker is frustrated at his lack of first-team action.

Yuck.  He might not be everyone’s cup of tea but he’s not a waste of space either.  This would only make sense if they agree to buy him off us at the end of the spell.

There were rumours about David Healy going on loan too, but I can’t see Roy being confident enough in what we have to let that happen.

Gareth Southgate wants Steve Davis!

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate is ready to fight Rangers for the signature of Steven Davis in the summer.

The Northern Ireland international has made a huge impact in Glasgow after arriving on loan from relegation-threatened Fulham at the end of January and is loving life at Ibrox.

But now Boro and another Premiership club have been alerted to his performances and are ready to join a summer transfer scramble if Fulham are relegated.

Well, well, well.  I always thought he’d be alright in a proper midfield.   Competition for his signature can’t be bad for us either.

Antti mended

Antti Niemi was injured.

I think Keller had been brought in before the injury though; wasn’t Niemi on the bench for the first game Keller played?  Then we saw Ricardo Batista as sub keeper and I figured something was up.  Well now we know:  achilles injury.

Derby away

derby.gif

I really can’t see any trends here.  The yellow games are the games that Derby didn’t lose at home.   They’re getting a fair number of shots in and aren’t as bad defensively as you might suppose (this is home games only, remember).   They’ve conceded one goal or less in four of their last five games.   So it won’t be easy, particularly with all the pressure we’ll be under to get that win.

Sniffing around Bullard

From the Mirror:

Martin O’neill will head the queue to snap up Jimmy Bullard for a bargain £3million if Fulham fail to stay in the Premier League.

The Aston Villa boss has been keeping tabs on energetic midfielder Bullard since his winning goal against Villa last month.

And his reports say the 29-year-old has shown he’s completely over the cruciate injury that threatened his career. Bullard has two years left of the contract he signed when he left Wigan in a £2.5m deal in 2006 but wouldn’t want to drop out of the top flight.

O’Neill, who wants to add more depth to his squad, was amazed at match statistics that showed Bullard found a team mate with 91 per cent of his passes during a defeat that damaged Villa’s hopes of Europe.

My question: why £3 million?  Why not £6million?  Or 7 or 8?  We paid a good amount of money for players who had proven themselves in the Championship this summer.  Partly this was Lawrie Sanchez paying a British League Premium, but partly this reflected going rates.  Jason Koumas was another to cost a team good money to step up a division.

So, if Jimmy Bullard has proven himself to be a usable player in the division above that, why would he cost less?

One answer is leverage:  if Bullard has only two years left on his contract then this makes it harder to hang onto him.   We remember what happened with Steed.   But I think Coleman played the Steed thing all wrong, and wasted another year of that player for a small transfer fee and short-term ego boost (“I’m the boss, don’t mess” or something).  If Malbranque had just played out his contract I suspect Coleman might still be in charge now.

The same should presumably apply to Bullard.  Assuming there is no clause in his contract, Jimmy Bullard is more valuable to us than any transfer fee we would receive for him.  If we go down then he would be central to our bouncing back.  If we stay up he would be important in staying up again.  I can’t see a situation where you’d sell him for £3million.  There is far more at stake than that now.

So I guess it just comes down to the player.   Players have more power than used to be the case, and I assume that if Bullard pushed hard for a move he’d get it.  The fans would “understand” because Bullard’s Bullard, an extrovert, an all-action bundle of vitality who everyone can’t help but love.  “He deserves to play at the highest level” people might say.

I’m getting a long way ahead of myself, and this is based on nothing but media speculation.   But I think the game’s economics have changed so much now that if Bullard goes Fulham must be paid something approximating his worth to us.

“Wisdom” of crowds revisited

Charles the Reading supporter made an excellent and timely comment in our archives today. He’s right, of course. Woops, arse, etc.

An update on my earlier point about how people overwhelming
 underestimate the capacity for the bottom teams to pick up points.  We still have
 seven games remaining and here are the tallies of their current points
 vs. their predicted finish:

12	Middlesbrough (34 - 40)
13	Newcastle (32 - 37)
14	Wigan (31 - 32)
15	Reading (31 - 30)
16	Sunderland (30 - 34)
17	Birmingham (27 - 29)
18	Bolton (26 - 31)
19	Fulham (23 - 36)
20	Derby (10 - 12)

Or, to put it another way: the number of points necessary for each team
 to reach their predicted finish:

12	Middlesbrough    6
13	Newcastle          5
14	Wigan               1
15	Reading            -1
16	Sunderland        4
17	Birmingham        2
18	Bolton               5
19	Fulham             13
20	Derby                2

This shows that a) things are not looking good for the Cottagers and b)
 almost every one of these teams (with Fulham being the notable
 exception) should be expected to beat the average prediction, some by a
 substantial amount.

Roy on video

Here.

He thought we did well in the first half, which I agree with, and that we lost it a bit in the second half.

He also mentions that we over-elaborated a bit going forwards in the first half, which is something we noticed too. Nobody was taking the shots that were on.  Anyway, on we go.  Even if we’d been in good form the most likely result was always a home win.

Bad news: Newcastle 2-0 Fulham

Relative to the other games we have left, this wasn’t ‘must win’ anyway. But it was disappointing to see last week’s good form snuffled out so tamely.

Newcastle lined up with three forwards and took the game to us. Early on Mark Viduka picked up the ball on the edge of the box; Brede Hangeland was some way away from him, and could not close him down. The Australian jinked inside and hit a low shot hard into the corner of Kasey Keller’s net. 1-0, exactly what we didn’t need.

The Fulham response was encouraging, with Bullard peppering the Newcastle goal with long-shots and knitting together a number of neat passing moves. Davies, Murphy, Johnson, McBride, all contributed to the slick attacks, even if none of these attacks led to any clear chances.

There was no end product. At no point did we extend Harper in the Newcastle goal, or even really get behind the Newcastle defence. We threatened to threaten but didn’t get past that.

In the second half whatever momentum we had built up just died away. Newcastle won all the 50-50 balls, everything seemed that half a yard too far away from a Fulham challenger. We couldn’t get the ball, we couldn’t keep the ball, and a comeback seemed unlikely.  Leon Andreasen, our rough diamond ball winner, was racing up and down the right wing.  Why sacrifice the one player who has done most to rectify the early season weaknesses?

In the end Michael Owen made sure of the win with a nice header from a free-kick. He had missed a similar chance in the first half and we weren’t going to get away with it twice.

Newcastle’s last two league wins are against Fulham, which tells its own story. No matter. We must focus on the games ahead, starting next week with Derby away. That really is a must win game.

Easter

Light posting for now, down at my folks’ for Easter.

Back on Saturday for Newcastle, on TV, on t’internet, on something.

Shay Given is out for Newcastle, so that’s good news. Newcastle seem to think they played well in their away draw with Birmingham. Could be tough.

Jimmy Bullard is playing at the ground where it all went wrong last time. Who knows what might have happened to us last year had that incident not happened?

Something’s sizzling in the kitchen…. best be off.

The Shortlist

I was going to shut up about this so as not to jinx anything, but other blogs are talking about it so I thought perhaps I would too. Below are the shortlisted blogs for the Football Fans Census awards, Best Blog category. You can see the page here.

Anyway, the good news is that at some point somebody from the panel must have come here on a good day, because we’ve made the shortlist.  Thanks millions to anyone who nominated us in the first place!  Very exciting.

Here is that shortlist (copied and pasted from QPR Report, who have done the hard work here – thanks!). There are some frighteningly good sites in the list (the 100 grounds site really is fantastic), very intimidating, but hey ho. As Fats Waller is said to have said, “One never knows, do one?” Fingers crossed…

Aston Villa AVFC Blog

Celtic Celtic Quick news

Fulham Craven Cottage Newsround

General The 100 Football Grounds Club

Liverpool Kop Blog

QPR QPR Report

Rangers Fat Eck

Sunderland Sobs on Soccer

Watford BHaPPY

Late edition

Apologies, been in meetings all day.  At least you’ve had my lovely Paul Stalteri artwork there to admire.

Good stuff on the official today.

Newcastle is sold out!  A cross between a small allocation (1,000 I think) and some happy supporters, no doubt.  We were going to do this one, but it’s miles away and I don’t know anyone who would a) want to go and b) has a car that’ll go that far.  The train costs a fortune and the coach leaves me unable to walk for days (I’m too tall) so it’ll have to be SopCast again.  We do have Reading and Derby away tickets though, and I’ll do Man City if anyone else will.

Eddie Johnson interviewed.  Looks like something that might have been in a recent programme.  I gave up buying the programme long ago, which is sad because I really do want to like it.  But ultimately there’s really nothing there.

If you could travel back in time to any period, where would you go and what would you do?
I would probably go years back to when the dinosaurs were on the planet to see what they were like up close. You get the stories and the films, but it’d be cool to see what it was like.

I can see that.  Good answer.

Brian McBride, long article.

 Speaking in FulTime magazine recently, Clint Dempsey detailed how McBride had acted as a “mentor figure” for him upon his arrival at Fulham, but the man himself is typically modest in playing down the role he has played in helping his young countrymen like Clint and more recently, Eddie Johnson, settle into their new environment.

“I think if you’ve been somewhere for a while and someone comes along who’s new, it’s not your job, but if you can help them in any way then you should. I don’t think that’s just in soccer, I think that’s in life in general and hopefully there’s something I can do for whomever, regardless of if they’re American or not.”

Last but not least, Roy again:

“I would defy anyone to say there was a major class difference between the two teams – I didn’t see it anyway,” said the Fulham Manager following Sunday’s win over Everton at Craven Cottage.

And then

“If you’re not playing well and you’re losing – you can speak until you’re blue in the face about confidence, belief and faith. But unfortunately, the first time a couple of passes go astray that confidence disappears out the window.

“All of us who have been involved in football – we know that. There are no words that can help but what does help, in my opinion, is what you do on the training pitch. I’ve always believed in that – that’s my mantra.

“I don’t believe in magic wands, I don’t believe in team talks changing everything. I believe that if you work very hard with the players on the training field, work hard to make sure that they really know their jobs as individuals and team players and you keep the mood in the squad as good as it can be – then you’ve got a chance.”

Amen.

Hmm

hmm.jpg

If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? And if I know you can’t afford to kill me, how are you gonna scare me into giving it to you?

I’m not wrong am I?

paul21.jpg

Note to lawyers:  as best we are aware, Mr Paul Stalteri does NOT smoke and this representation of Mr Stalteri does not intend to suggest that he does.  Smoking kills.  Mr Stalteri is a very fine full-back and (I presume) does not endorse smoking in any way.   Nor is he a private detective.

Mumblings on Monday

I can’t get over how solid the team looked as a unit on Sunday. Everywhere you looked somebody was doing his job well and working hard to help out a teammate. As a supporter this is great to see, particularly as part of a winning performance.

In the last days of the Sanchez empire the team had become so much less than the sum of its already dubious parts. Clint Dempsey, lowering his guard for a moment, suggested that the team had ended up trying to “jump the ball in”. It was a nice description of some not nice football.

But now things look different. Suddenly everyone out there is playing quite well, and, bizarrely, is somehow very likeable. Stalteri and Hughes are still in my thoughts now, two men who seem, on the surface, to be throwbacks to another time when players let their football do the talking and got on with doing a solid and unspectacular job.  You could almost imagine either in a 50s private eye film (Paul Stalteri as Sam Spade?), but we’ll save that thought for another day.

The difference between Sunday, when Danny Murphy led and received a standing ovation, and previous games, where half the crowd would boo Seol or Baird or Kamara was staggering. Not to get too middle class or anything*, but it was a much more enjoyable afternoon. I hated the last few games after Sanchez. Not just because of the losing or the football, but because of the negativity in the air, because of that booing. Now we all see hope. There is a great sense of optimism, that we can all be part of something thrilling.

Many of us have said that it might be more fun to win a few games in the Championship, but I wonder if those wins could ever feel like this one. Would there not be a slight feeling of expectations being met after every win? I’ve said before that I don’t get Chelsea supporters: they turn up, and either they’ll wander along to another boring win or they’ll be bitterly disappointed by everything else. Where’s the hope? Where’s the prolonged drama in that? Can they ever feel like we did yesterday? Doubt it.

But we shouldn’t get too carried away by one very solid performance – football teams blow hot and cold all the time (look at Boro!) – and now is the time to really be careful. I am, as long-time readers will know, quite prone to only seeing the good side in these situations, while conveniently ignoring everything else. We’re looking good though, eh?

* this is as good a place as any to admit that I took avocado, red onion and cumin sandwiches to Anfield this year. I feel much better for having admitted that, finally.

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

It was a deceptively cold afternoon by the Thames, featuring a strong wind and light, icy rain that fired down all game. Fulham played far better than a 19th placed team should. Everton will not have enjoyed their Sunday. Newcastle, our next opponents, may well be worried.

Not because Fulham were fantastic. That would be an exaggeration. But at last we see a team out there, playing well as individuals and as a group. Today Roy went for a 4-4-2 which gave us much more oomph up front and worried Everton all game.

We started slowly, the main route of attack being Kasey Keller’s wind assisted bombs deep into Everton territory. They weren’t pretty and they didn’t make anything happen, but it seemed to keep Everton pegged back. As did the pace of Eddie Johnson. The new centre-forward, starting alongside Brian McBride, clearly has much to do before he is a force at this level. His touch can be poor and his shooting erratic, but he is learning to link with his teammates, and his pace gives us a real threat on the break. With any other Fulham player up front opponents can push up, safe in the knowledge that they will not be burned. Not now. We had options: over the top, or through neat movements in the middle of the park and on the flanks. Variety is everything in attacking play, and it is something we have lacked for too long.

Alongside Johnson, McBride had his best game for a long time. The team’s leader won everything in the air, and won it constructively too. His flicks often found white shirts and were frequently starting points for Fulham raids. He worked hard as usual, but now there was threat, now there was cohesion. Fantastic.

And it was McBride who scored the winning goal. Simon Davies, who is faster than he looks, whizzed all the way down the left flank before whipping a fine cross into the box. McBride arrived and planted his header into the ground, up, and into the far corner. The crowd, frighteningly noisy anyway, blew up into a cacophony of joy. A goal! A motherfucking goal!

Until then the concern had been that, for all the possession, for all the neat passing (and the not so neat passing too – there was a lot of that too), Tim Howard’s day had been quite quiet. Everton, famous thieves of away points (they had won seven away games before today), were starting to prowl around the edge of the Fulham box. A heartbreaking, season-breaking, defeat seemed possible. But Fulham 08 is more solid than Fulham 07, and managed to find the magic when it was needed. Special stuff.

All of this was possible because of our defensive solidity. Konchesky was back to early season form, Hangeland took care of the high stuff, and Hughes and Stalteri were both massively impressive. These pair are quiet, understated footballers, but know what they’re doing and do it well. It’s now a back four that picks itself.

In front of them Leon Andreasen, Danny Murphy and Simon Davies were all terrific. Jimmy Bullard, the fourth muskateer, had a quieter game, perhaps because of the extra responsibilities required of him in a midfield four, but again, it’s a quartet that picks itself when it plays like that. Nice to see something coming together like this, it really is.

Funny how around this time of year there’s always something strange afoot at the bottom of the league. Suddenly teams put something together, start to play, to get results. You can feel it happening, you really can. We’re not done yet.

The gallery:

Defence was pretty much perfect today:

1defending.jpg

Yakubu killed us at Goodison.  Today we kept him in check.

1keller.jpg

Three of our better players today, all in a line:  Davies, Murphy, Stalteri.

1three.jpg

The end!  Kasey signs for the kids.

1keller2.jpg

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!

 

 

Great feedback on TiFF

PaNdy on TiFF went to the kit sponsors’ day this week:

Went to the Kit sponsors day yesterday. Good day out. Very interesting watching the players train. Players all came over to chat and sign stuff at the end. Dempsey comes across as an exceedingly humble down to earth guy, as does Healy, as do most of them really.

The Q+A session with Hodgson was most interesting. Make no mistake, Hodgson IS then man for the job in the short and long term. An exceptionally nice man, tactically aware, with an “iron fist in velvet glove” demeanor. He is dedicated to the cause, whether in the prem or in the champions league, and is aware of certain players who do not share this attitude.

The spirit in the ranks is good, judging by the noise that was coming from the canteen when the players were eating together! Roy is aware of the urgency of the situation, and is both realistic and hopeful of survival. I reiterate: This is a man who has IMMENSE experience at all levels of the game, a sound understanding of what is needed by this club, and a passion for implementing a programme which will make the club successful in the long term. Roy’s revolution will transform the club, whether in the premiership or the championship, mark my words.

I don’t think you could get much better feedback than that.  Makes you feel that the club’s in good hands, come what may.

Video!

My spies tell me that youtube might have pulled the video below. Oh well.

Try this instead. The club goes for “stirring” and hits the bullseye.

RRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHH! etc. C’mon!

Silly how a few black and white images and some ‘atmospheric’ music can make you believe again.  There we are though.

Perception

I wonder if there’s a future for this in football?

Talks about pitch vision, anticipation, field sense.  Starts with Wayne Gretzky, but might as well be discussing Cesc Fabregas.  Then it goes on to talk about how expert sportsmen can see something happen much quicker than amateurs – in the article they talk about a tennis serve: the pros can judge where it’s going before it’s been hit; the amateurs see it off the raquet.  Similarly, it talks about how volleyball players were taught to read things by wearing goggles that made them blind just before a crucial situation.  Knowing that their sight was to be taken away, the players developed better anticipatory skills.   Interesting stuff.

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.