Fulham 3-0 Bolton

There was a joy to Fulham’s play tonight, and Bolton took a good old fashioned hammering.  It’s the sort of game that encourages a good hard think: if we can defend really well (and we can) and attack really well (we sometimes can) then is the sky the limit? Probably not, as we won’t play a team as accommodating as Bolton again for a while. But this win, coupled with a few glimpses of glory along the way (Peterborough, Port Vale and Spurs have also been thrashed this campaign) does inspire optimism.

The Whites got off to a fine start as Muamba missed a great chance to give Bolton the lead. At the other end Dempsey went close. The then goal, Baird’s volley bouncing out slightly, Dempsey cavorting mid-air to thwack home a volley that his manager would have been proud of. The goal tied McBride and Malbranque’s Premier League goalscoring record.

Fulham were on fire. Simon Davies is a delight to watch in games like this, and having he and Murphy in the same side always makes us better in possession (remember when Davies first signed and he stood out because he could actually use the ball?). These two and Dembele were causing havoc, Dembele in particular proving impossible to tie down. He has an ice-hockey player’s turning circle, and can make defenders look stupid with his quick jinks. Alongside him Eidur Gudjohnson was enjoying himself, wandering around the Bolton defence and taking up crafty positions all evening.  He nearly got a well deserved goal following a wonderful Baird through ball, but his shot on the run hit the base of the post and bounced out.

Fulham scored again in the early stages of the second half, Dempsey converting from close range with what Gary Lineker would have called a gambler’s run. He really is the king of the first time strike.

Hangeland added a third with a towering if underwhelming header (it looked really easy. I’m sure it wasn’t) and that was about that. Fulham were able to bring on all three subs, and Bobby Zamora was unfortunate to have a deliriously good fourth ruled out for handball after Simon Davies had committed footballing apocalypse on the right wing with some mindblowing skills.

All good, then.

20 thoughts on “Fulham 3-0 Bolton

  1. It’s clear, not only from those news articles at the time but also from the performance changes this year, that after coming in and seemingly trying to change things too fast, Hughes got the players back focusing on core principals Hodgson instituted and then has gradually been opening us up. He’s achieved, therefore, the one realistic goal for this year, which seemed to be getting away from him: a smooth transition from the Hodgson era. The squad is as good, deep and varied as we’ve ever had (Zamora, Johnson and Etuhu off the bench today!). It seems to me that we’re just one player shy of being a major force in the England, and by that I mean constantly challenging for a Europa place and in cups. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s time to stop buying quantity and building the squad. This summer we should aim to bring in a cheap fullback replacement for the unfortunately departing Pantsil (or just give him a new contract), and then to spunk all of our remaining money on a burgeoning or declining midfield star looking for a team where he can a showcase his talents before moving on the bigger and better things.

      1. If I thought we might land him permanently I’d be super-enthusiastic about that. Anyway, a terrific night with all the front players looking good (best from Dembele this year) and Davies taking the breath away at times.

      2. Oh Christ I would love that if there was a chance it was permanent. One season alternating with Murphy and he’d be ready. Not convinced he’d be ready next year though, so a one year loan wouldn’t really do it for me.

  2. Can I just say, Simon Davies, WTF?

    Whilst I love him as a player, I really thought that his acceleration and step had completely gone but tonight he rolled back the years for a classic right-sided midfielder performance. I get the impression that over the last 3-4 months when he has been out of the team and squad, he may have been working through the injuries that have plagued him over the last few seasons. Frankly I am excited that he might have the physical side to go along with the technical side that he has always possessed. With him and Duff, we have the skilled veteran midfielder place locked down for the next few years.

    How exciting was it to play 4-3-3 with a false 9? I started to pretend that we were Barcelona with the three front men continuously switching position. I hope we give Gudjohnsen a 1 year contract – with him and Dembele, we can (finally) play without Bobby.

  3. Sure was a great game to watch. Glad I got up at 4.45 am to do so rather then watch it a couple of hours later recorded – which seems like cheating! Just about everybody was great. Loved watching Simon as, like others, I was beginning to think that this might be his last season. When he is on song he is brilliant to watch. Eidur Gudjohnsen (which I am sure is the Icelandic spelling of Andrew Johnson) played a great first half and looked sharp, lithe and fit. Moussa is one of the best close players I have seen for Fulham in the past 30 years! He does what a lot of Fulham players have tried to do down the years in wriggling through/away from defenders but he actually manages it! Just needs some assists and goals to make him a star. Murphy had a few wayward passes but I think that’s just a part of the game given the pivotel, pass to role he has. Baird has really settle into the right back, still not sure on Salcido. Sidwell was effective but quiet, Dickson was playing well – like a man trying to win his spot back – when he came on. Johnson & Zamora both looked good when they came on. Mark was good in goal, sure coming out and with crosses though his kicking sometimes lets him down.
    Good opportunity to beat Sunderland on Saturday given their striker woes and cement ourselves in the top half with and 9th (dare I wish for 8th?) place finish and a spring board to 2011/12 season.
    So next season, keep all the core if we can (esp Hangeland) perhaps bring in one or two players. I’d like to keep Gudjohnsen. Gera should move on with our thanks as he needs first team football, probably same for Pantsill. Oh – and keep Hughes and promise him some cash to bring in players he wants.

    1. Yes the joys of getting up in the middle of the night eh? 4:00 wake up for me, but well worth it, and a decent stream to watch, as well as occasional listen to Gentleman Jim. Shame there isn’t a tool to synchronize GJ’s commentary with a video stream, but for once the commentary on the stream I watched was ok – they raved about out classy style of play, quite rightly. Everyone looked good. Simon in particular. All credit to Hughes for reviving his form, and giving he a chance, when he could just be sticking Kakuta in the team. Thought Dickson was like a ravenous, unleashed Hound of the Baskervilles when he came on, a man possessed.

      1. Ahhh … I assume you are in NZ then! I get to watch just about every Fulham game on Foxtel here in Australia with people like Tony Gale commentating!

        1. No, Adelaide. But don’t have Foxtel, so depend on an internet stream, which can sometimes be unreliable, but lately has been good.

          1. Of course – I went the wrong way – NZ would be a reasonable 7am start.

            You benefit from the time of afternoon kick off matches. My brother is in Perth and a QPR supporter so gets the games around 9pm which is perfect. Looking forward to QPR V Fulham next year. We may even travel over to watch one of the games depending on the season’s scheduling.

  4. By the way – could this be the first time two Texan’s scored goals for Fulham? Probably first time in Premier League if not football League!

    1. Damn – didn’t mean to put the apostrophe in Texans and so many exclamation marks. Promise to do better in the future.

  5. Not to take away from Dempsey or Dembele or the back four or Schwarzer, but Davies did look great in this match, as Rich noted above. Good skill on the ball, but also quicker than I remember him looking in ages.

  6. Roy Hodgson often said that football is about crucial moments. If Muamba had put away that early chance how might the match have panned out? Still it sounds as though we were excellent after those early minutes (I didn’t see the game) and gives good cause for optimism next season. It also feels as though the good fortune which stayed with us during last season had deserted us this year. Maybe it’s time for the pendulum to swing back in our favour.

    Can anyone explain the rules governing qualification for Europe via the fair play league?

    1. The top three countries in the UEFA Respect Fair Play ranking in 2010-11 get an additional bid to the Europa League. The ranking covers matches by clubs in UEFA competitions (the Champions League and the Europa League) and matches by national teams in UEFA competitions (such as Euro 2012 qualifiers). For each of those three countries, the highest-ranked team in the domestic top-level fair play competition (e.g. the Premier League Fair Play rankings) that has not already qualified for either the Champions League or the Europa League through league placing or cup competition gets that bid. I’m not sure I’d be getting my hopes up based on England’s intermediate ranking though, because a couple of sending-offs of players from Premier League clubs in the Champions League knockout stages may wind up hurting that ranking.

      1. I’d heard that England is in line to come second in the Fair Play rankings. Barring any madness from Man. United players in their remaining two games in the Champions League this season, I think England are in line to get the spot.

        And as of a couple of weeks ago. We’re second in the Premier League Fair Play table by Chelsea, putting us in contention for a Europe League spot.

        1. The UEFA Fair Play Rankings for the top three countries use match data tallied through 30 April 2011 so presumably we will find out England’s ranking relatively soon. The Intermediate Rankings from UEFA.com

          http://en.uefa.com/MultimediaFiles/Download/uefaorg/General/01/58/64/67/1586467_DOWNLOAD.pdf

          that show England as second are tallied through 31 December 2010. I have no idea how things will shape up, but at least I take comfort from the fact that we seem to be well ahead of a scrum of countries with scores close to third place Sweden (and Norway in commanding lead over us).

          That’s my eyeball interpretation because I did not do any statistical analysis of those numbers, but I can show you the intermediate fair play rankings from 2009/10 and the final rankings from last year. The 2009/10 intermediate rankings are at

          http://www.uefa.com/MultimediaFiles/Download/uefa/KeyTopics/94/78/16/947816_DOWNLOAD.pdf

          and the final rankings are at http://www.uefa.com/MultimediaFiles/Download/uefaorg/Respect/01/48/66/48/1486648_DOWNLOAD.pdf

          So what does that show us? (not a lot) Maybe it gives us some hope though. ~0.05 points is a fairly large gap between us and 3rd place. Of those countries at the top of the rankings last year the biggest climber was Norway which increased its point total 0.039 points. The three final winners did alter their point total a great deal, and in fact, Finland, the third place country, actually declined its aggregate score 0.012 points. Which brings us to the unsettling other finding is that in order for Finland to drop points and still gain a ranking, England had to lose a number of points–0.056 to be precise (if I’m doing the math right). Which means, we can expect England to probably drop some points because the same factors which play into our dropping of points during the same time period last year (high pressure CPL matches, maybe) may cause similar negative pressures this year, but we should take solace from the fact that a ~0.05 aggregate point difference does seem to be fairly significant, and it would take more than one other country to have a run of “good luck” to surpass our 2nd place ranking and drop us to 4th place.

          Another unrelated issue will be how well FFC does in regards to other EPL teams internally. Those tallies don’t end on 30 April 2011. Not sure when exactly. In fact, I seem to remember the FA fudging the numbers at the close of 2008 so that Man City received England’s fair play UEFA Cup spot over us because…

          Anyway, I wouldn’t put much stock in my back-of-the-envelope calculations, but I personally am very hopeful for Europa glory next year.

          1. I needed to proof read my post first.

            “The three final winners did NOT alter their point total a great deal…”

            “Which brings us to the unsettling other finding–in order for Finland to drop points…”

  7. Since it seems to have somewhat glossed over here, Congratulations to Clint for becoming the club’s all time leading Premier League scorer! Quite an accomplishment for any player, let alone one whose place in the side has so often been questioned by managers and fans alike.

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