Saturday, 29 December 2007

Fulham 1 - 1 Wigan Athletic

I actually ended up in the Johnny Haynes stand for this game, using one of the special offer extra £5 tickets available to season ticket holders. I was way over the other corner to where I usually sit and crikey, it was quiet. I was easily the loudest person in there. This being Wigan there were also lots of empty seats (still made of wood in JH) but fewer than expected. It was definitely the smallest away crowd seen though.
Fulham were unlucky to be playing them at this point as they'd turned it around under new (and old) manager Steve Bruce.
In truth Fulham were all over Wigan in the first half, playing some wonderful sweeping football. How they didn't score I don't know. The second half struggled to be honest, at least until Marcus Bent scored. While it wasn't against the run of play, I couldn't say Wigan deserved it. It was actually the second time I'd seen Bent score this season - I went to Charlton v Scunthorpe on the opening game of the season and he got the equaliser there. I spoke to a Charlton fan later who was chuffed that Bent had scored because it might fool another club to come in and make an offer for 'the lazy sod'. Hence the transfer to Wigan.
The game picked up again after this and Dempsey's goal was a very smart finish. I can't quite put a handle on Dempsey. He appears to have been deployed in the inside right position, so it's hard to judge his impact. He's been scoring some important goals though. He's certainly more effective than Bouazza at inside left.
Caretaker manager Ray Lewington was bullish about his chances of taking the job on full time after this result. The thing is, it was a home draw against a relegation rival. It's not going to be enough to keep Fulham up especially with home games against the top four and a woeful away record. Fortunately Lewington has got the heave-ho after the 5-1 humiliation by Spurs for the surprise appointment of Roy Hodgson.
Hodgson is particularly well qualified, but I don't think that he will bring the attractive football that Chairman Mo is after. He will make Fulham hard to beat though, which is a step in the right direction. I'll reserve my judgement until I've seen the new look side under 'Woy' but I've a horrible feeling he won't be able to save the team from relegation.

Friday, 21 December 2007

The most unwanted Christmas present

"I think that Sanchez has bought extremely well this close season and I have a feeling the team will not struggle like most papers are predicting."

Shows you what I know. I wrote this on the blog's very first entry. I can't help but feel that Sanchez has been unlucky in being shown the door. The fans resented him from the start, as most of them didn't appear to want to see the end of Chris 'Cookie' Coleman, but Sanchez hasn't been able to turn them around by actually winning some games. Fulham may have only just dropped into the relegation zone, but the bottom half of the table has been pretty false reading because of the dearth of quality. Only Derby have won fewer games than Fulham's two in the league and the Cottagers have drawn more games than anyone else.
I've started to wonder if I'm a jinx. I think the last season ticket I got at Man United was the season that Alex Ferguson replaced on Atkinson. Still that managerial switch did the job. This might be Fulham's last managerial change for two decades!
The hot money is on ex-player John Collins taking over the hot-seat after he resigned from Hibs just yesterday, with ex-manager Jean Tigana coming in as director of football. In any case, tomorrow's game against Wigan should be interesting.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Fulham 0 - 1 Newcastle United

I was in half a mind not to write about this match because, scandalously, I had to live 20 minutes from the end to catch a train down to Sussex and as such missed the denouement. This was another live match on Setanta, although why they wanted to show Fulham v Newcastle is beyond me. Maybe any Newcastle away games are good for ratings as the Toon have quite an army of supporters. I couldn't quite see any other interest in it, other than the fact that Fulham inevitably slipped into the relegation zone after the 3pm KOs.
I doubt Setanta will be battling Sky to show the return fixture anyway. The first half was particularly tepid and tedious, with neither team playing football of any discernible quality. In fact Fulham looked pretty clueless whenever they had the ball. Still half time came and it was still 0-0 with Newcastle having just one clear attempt that was well saved by Niemi.
However the boos from the fans in the Hammersmith End still rang out as the players trudged off. I really, really don't understand the constant booing. I think it began way back in September when performances were good, but the results were poor. Now both are poor and Fulham need a bit of confidence, but are not getting this from the crowd. Maybe I don't care enough, but I think the manager should be given more time. He certainly did something at half-time with Fulham playing some great football for the first 20 minutes. When I had to leave, Newcastle had played themselves back into contention but it looked odds on for a stalemate.
There seems to be a general consensus that it was a penalty in the last minute. On TV I thought it looked a little harsh, but could understand why it was given. Fulham NEED to win against Wigan on Saturday, for Sanchez's sake. I will say Fulham are justifiably in the relegation zone - they've only won two games all season. But the rest of the league is so poor that an unbeaten run would boost the team up the table again.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Fulham 2 - 2 Blackburn Rovers

We're back! And it looks like normal service is resumed at Craven Cottage as well. For the first game since the first home game of the season, all five season ticket holders were present in their allocated seats for a match. Ironically not one of us was present for the previous match - the win against Reading as we were all abroad (myself in Oz with the others in Munich) .
Out of all five of us, Jarrod appears to be getting the worst value for money as he has only been to two league games out of the eight played so far, although it could be argued that Ish is not really getting quality from his season ticket as the guy sat next to him smells real bad. He also wants a friend so keeps talking to him, much to our amusement. On a couple of occasions he has even sat in Ish's seat when he didn't think anyone was going to sit there.
Anyway - the football. It seems that Danny Murphy has fit nicely into the team, but on Sunday made one of the worst tackles I have seen in a long time. It was like two windmills colliding. It probably wasn't as bad as it looked - the guy on the receiving end got back up straight away (more or less) - but it gained Murphy a well deserved yellow card. That was about all that happened in the first half, although I made sure I stayed and watched the injury time. I didn't want to miss another red card incident as I had done against Derby.
Contrary to all expectations, the second half exploded into life. Conforming to expectations, Fulham couldn't hold onto a lead. Blackburn were a strange side; when they wanted to play it looked like they could score at will, it just didn't look like they wanted to. Fulham played well and could have justifiably sneaked a winner near the end. But it's a strange experience being at a Premiership football match and cheering on Shefki Kuqi.
On another note - the nearby Larrick pub has burnt its bridges with us. Despite being happy to let us in before the match and previously after matches, they suddenly decide to say 'no colours' after the game. So the Temperance across the road will now get our custom.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Taking a breather

'It's a strange table', Lawrie Sanchez says, and he's not wrong. Last week's draw with Derby saw the Cottagers rise up five places to 13th - an absolutely ridiculous position more than a third of the way into the season for a team that has only won once. Can you imagine a team winning only four games all season yet being five places from the drop zone at the end of the season? Unlikely.
It's an odd season already - Chelsea aren't even in the European places - and Sanchez is perhaps lucky that several other teams have stalled as well.
Fulham have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous though - the free scoring, free conceding team has now reverted to a toothless attacking force but which can usually stifle the other team. The worrying thing is that Sanchez seems as perplexed as we are. I know which one I would prefer to watch.
For all the goals I have seen Fulham score this season, none stick in the mind as coming from particularly good interplay between the front two, and sometimes three, strikers. There doesn't appear to be any idea over what the best combination is either, although Sanchez seems to think that Healey and Kamara cannot play together and just interchanges them. I'm less impressed with Kamara - he needs to pull his finger out. You can only live off a last minute, overhead kick equaliser against close North London rivals for so long.
I'm also worried about the lack of character the team seems to have, Spurs match aside. When the team needs a leader, all 11 players seem to turn into a Madeleine McCann suspect - completely faceless.
I get the feeling that Fulham have played most of the weaker sides without picking up enough points and by Christmas will likely be in the drop zone. The team are starting to look like they did on Easter Monday under Chris Coleman - already down. If they don't pick up a couple of wins in the next few matches, Al Fayed will be under pressure to get rid of Sanchez and start again.
Hopefully it will all start turning around in the next few weeks, but I won;t be around to see it. I'm heading down under for an Australian holiday for a couple of weeks. Toodle pip.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Fulham 0 - 0 Derby County

In all my years of going to football, I can only remember attending one goalless game before - a Champions League game - the first match of Man United's defence of the trophy which was a home game against Croatia Zagreb. There have probably been more, but I just don't remember them. I hope I don't remember this one.
A turgid first half display by both Fulham and, in my opinion, referee Phil Dowd was compounded by the injury time sending off of Paul Konchesky. However as I had been so disillusioned by the match to this point I had already gone to the Riverside Bar for what was actually a cracking pint. We heard the boos that greeted the dismissal, but were not minded to find out what was going on.
When the second half started, I was slightly confused that Seol Ki-Hyeon was replaced for a defender. While Ki-Hyeon himself was next to useless on the pitch, I felt sure Simon Davies would replace him, not Bocanegra. Mind you, the match got more exciting after the change and Fulham actually looked threatening for the first time. In fact the game became rather open, a fact that would have made more sense had I counted the number of people wearing a white shirt. In my defence, three other people with me also didn't realise.
Fulham did well with 10 players and had their chances to win the game, although not as many as Derby. The midfield looked like it needed a general to boss the game; the team is lacking a leader at the moment. It's a shame, as I would have liked to have seen Derby stuffed thanks to a general dislike of the little gobshite Billy Davies, who has rubbed my up the wrong way ever since he left Preston North End in a non too gracious fashion.
Not beating teams like Derby at home suggests Fulham will struggle this season and one win from 10 games demonstrates this. How Fulham current sit at 13th in the table with 8 points is extremely surprising, but they are only one point from the drop zone. In that context, this draw might be quite valuable in the scheme of things, but if the team don't win a game soon the crowd will be calling for Sanchez's blood.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

A new football trend

I went to Wembley last Saturday on a work jolly, despite the fact that it meant missing the Scotland v Ukraine match. The match was quite entertaining, especially in the first half, so I was somewhat surprised to find a real negative reaction to the game and performance.
I was also surprised to hear Frank Lampard booed when he came on as sub. As I have also heard the Fulham fans booing twice this season already, it seems that it is an accepted way of showing slight displeasure these days.
When I first started watching football, booing your own team was the absolute worse thing the fans could do. It would frequently be the last thing a manager heard before being handed his P45. Now it seems booing is somewhat a matter of course.
I was sat in the Club Wembley seats, rather near the pitch. In fact I could see the 'bench' along my row. It was strange sitting in a cushioned seat at the football - it was like being at the cinema. The seat immediately in front even had one of those pouches you get on car seats for you to put your programme in. The only other place I've seen cushioned seats in Arsenal's Emirate's Stadium. These nouveau stadia!
While I was watching the game, I was also receiving text updates on the Scotland match, so occasionally I was standing up and punching the air, while all those around me had no idea what I was doing. My father would be proud.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Fulham 0 - 2 Portsmouth

I guess this is the game where I realised that the experiment really wasn't working. Despite this being the fifth match I've seen with Fulham this season, I really couldn't get upset by the fact that they lost. I recognised the seeming injustice - Fulham had three really good chances to score just before half time only to be defeated by two deflected goals - but it really was not engaging like previous games had been.
The injudicious defeat against Boro had kept me involved until the end, with the team pushing on and scoring a disallowed, perfectly legal goal in injury time which Chris Kamara is currently lionising on YouTube, but this just fell flat from the second goal.
Perhaps its because I was distracted because Ben & Claire were due to show up just after half time and I was keeping an eye on my phone to make sure I could get tickets out to them. Perhaps it was because Fulham didn't look like scoring. Perhaps it's because I was full of a cold. Perhaps it's because I didn't care.
I think my sojourn to the away end has almost had a cauterising effect on me from Fulham's plight and that gap needs to heal again. It would help if they were competitive throughout the match though. Unlike the legend that is Jimmy Hill (pictured in the corner), Fulham didn't come out for the second half and it cost them.
Again, I'm surprised at the almost willingness for the fans to start booing Fulham if things don't go their way. The team's been a bit unlucky this season and if they don't rectify this soon it may become a habit. But who the hell do the fans think they are watching? This was a team that began the Millennium in the lower leagues. Without a support actually supporting them, it could soon find its way back there.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

An even stranger 'fan'

It's been a while since I posted. I've been ridiculously busy, which meant I missed the Bolton Carling Cup match (good move) and even had to turn down a free ticket to the Chelsea away match (bad move).
Anyway, I was looking back at some of my photos from the City match when I was sat in the away end and very uncomfortable and I came across this photograph that I felt I wanted to share it. It may look like a photograph of my wee mate Peter, but you'd be wrong. It's actually a photo of the guy next to him - the strangest football spectator I have ever seen at a match.
He never moved from his seat. He kept his rather full bag on his lap. He was dressed quite smartly considering it was a Saturday. He was not moved by anything that happened on the pitch. Considering this was a rip roaring 3-3 draw, that takes some doing.
I don't think he was even watching the football. Throughout the game he was reading 'Lighthouse' a magazine for stamp collectors. He left with about 20 minutes left. The City fan on the other side said he could understand the guy's behaviour if it was the previous season. "We'd be asking him to pass it around," he joked.
I have yet to come up a plausible reason as to why he was there, especially as it was £30 a ticket. My theory is that he still lives at home with his mother and she, being doollally, has bought him a ticket because that's what all the young kids are doing these days. And he's gone under sufferance. This doesn't tally with him being in the away end though. Maybe he gets sexual gratification from being among a noisy crowd? I'd love to find out his story. I would have asked him, but you kinda got the feeling he'd roll on the floor in a ball and scream if anyone noticed him.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Fulham 3 - 3 Manchester City

What a strange experience that was. Sitting in the away end at Craven Cottage was not an experience I would like to repeat. Watching the game with my City supporting pal, I found it very hard to celebrate goals against Fulham. I kept find myself verbally encouraging the Cottagers, despite my surroundings.
Still - another quite incredible match. I've calculated that so far I have paid £3.33 a goal. Anyone else offer that kind of value for money? It's just a shame that only half the goals have been scored by Fulham. If they could defend they'd be dangerous.
By far the pick of the goals was Hameur Bouazza's rocket of a free-kick. It was the first time I'd really noticed HB do anything other than dislocate his shoulder, so it was a pleasant surprise. The goal was reminiscent of Eric Cantona's free-kick against Arsenal many moons ago which was described by the commentator at the time as an 'exocet'.
Of the new boys - Danny Murphy obviously scored and could have even got a winner - but the most interesting player is Seol Ki-Hyeon. I'd seen him score a couple of screamers for Reading and he showed some great touches when he came on. But what stood out was how big he was. I didn't think the Koreans made them that tall.
I also found something else out - Putney Station is not just 10 minutes from the ground and the park between the bridge and Cottage is much bigger than you expect. It meant I arrived late for the game, but fortunately not too late to see Davies ghost in at the front post for the opener.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Divided loyalties

Just to underline my total plastic-ness when it comes to football, on Saturday I will be watching Fulham verses Man City at Craven Cottage - in the away end. If it seems odd that I would sit directly opposite my season ticket seat, then you would be right. However my mate, who is a City fan, is coming down from Manchester for the weekend and I said I would sit with him. It's only fair as I am making him come to watch Prince at the O2 the night before.
Despite being a United fan, I have been to watch City a fair few times and been happy to support them. Perhaps that's a patronising approach to the local rivals, but I don't think I could ever do the same for Chelsea or Liverpool. In fact, I know I couldn't.
In return City are a bit strange when it comes to United. No-one who works at the club is allowed to drive a red car. The deep seated hatred of the colour red has even caused them to develop a blue-coloured tomato ketchup. That's just weird.
The test for me on Saturday will be whether I'd be happy to cheer for one of my local teams against my adopted team. As I will be coming directly from the Oval where Lancashire could win the County Championship for the first time in over 50 years, I've got a feeling I will probably get carried away by the Northern fervour.
Oddly, since the start of the season I've hardly watched any Man United matches on TV. I went to the Community Shield at Wembley, but after that I've not seen a full game, not even the derby (thank god). I think attending Craven Cottage is satisfying my need to watch football and as such I just check out the results/listen to games on the radio. This will change tomorrow night with the game against Sporting Lisbon mind.

Friday, 14 September 2007


My take on the big news of the week.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Time on your side

Earlier this week, a West Ham fan I know was talking about going to Villa Park for the Hammers match and explaining how it was the only 3pm kick-off in the top league that Saturday and how shocking that was. I agreed. Unfortunately, because he was a little worse for wear, he proceeded to tell me three more times.
The law of diminishing returns ran true and I became less and less enthusiastic in my agreement. By the fourth 'revelation' I found myself thinking 'what's the big deal with 3pm on a Saturday'?
Man United fans have been lamenting the loss of their 3pm kick offs for several years now as TV demands more from the successful teams. Some United fans I know prefer the Noon kick offs anyway as it means the game doesn't dominate the day as it would at 3pm. It probably means many fans are sober enough to actually remember the game, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on which team you are following.
Are people just getting wound up about the 3pm Saturday match because it's something to get wound up about? Or is it something that the increasingly marginalised fans groups are making noises about because it is something that they might actually manage to change and reassert their importance to the sport? The days of non-domestic talent filling team sheets and football 'stars' removed from reality (c.f. Ashely Cole), neither of which can be changed by the fans, I can see how little victories are needed.
As mentioned before, this blog was called 3pm Cottagers as we anticipated most of the games to be played at the default time of 3pm Saturday, but it looks like this will only be the case for around half the games. Is this a big issue? Well not for us I suppose as we all live within 30 minutes from Craven Cottage. However it becomes an issue for those wanting to attend the away game at Anfield in November - a late evening kick off will mean that anyone attending will be getting back to London gone 11pm. Is this unreasonable? What happens if there is a late or early kick off against any of the three teams in the north east? As long as TV and the international markets, get their games no-one seems to care about the supporters. But this is true of big bucks football these days. Teams in the Premiership are getting that much TV money that they need not worry too much about fans actually attending games, as long as the 'supporter-base' is increasingly globally.
The truth is, if you really wanted to watch a match at 3pm all you have to do is ignore the Premiership. Just watching Soccer Saturday demonstrates the sheer number of 3pm kick offs in Britain at all the different tiers. So all the supporters groups will bitch and whine about the loss of football's 'traditional' 3pm kick off, but it seems to me the only thing that has stayed the same since I started watching football is that the Refs are still jumped up pricks. The rules have changed. The balls have changed. The leagues have changed. The grounds have changed. The atmosphere has changed. The only question is why must the Premiership games be shown at 3pm Saturday? I want all games televised and potentially on the end of my remote control. Let's have ALL Premiership games kick off 8pm Saturday. It'll help with the atmosphere and will be enough time to recover from UEFA Cup exertions.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

In and out the streets of Putney

The forthcoming international week is a good time to reflect on the end of the recent transfer window and Laurie Sanchez leaving everything until the last minute. I suppose after Saturday he could argue that he was leading by example.
I don't understand the late rush in the transfer window, but I can't deny that it's exciting if your team is involved.
While United were quiet as ever, Fulham signed four players on deadline day and sold another two. The picture shows my view of them being introduced to the Fulham fans. Even more surprising is that only one of Fulham's new signings was a defensive player - considering the team is conceding an average of 2 goals every game.
Stefanovic started on Saturday and looks a competent, if slower, replacement for Knight. As for where Sanchez is going to fit Danny Murphy and Sol Ki-Hyeon (yes, I did have to check the spelling) into a midfield still awaiting the return of Jimmy Bullard is beyond me, but it should be good watching him try. It should also belie the long-ball tag that has been unfairly attached to him. Kuqi as a short-term replacement for McBride might be quite useful and brings something to the team that no-one else does. As long as he just brings it from the bench.
The in and outs also refers to our rag tag of season ticket holders. In three matches so far, there's been a different line up every time. A lot of us are finding that real life is getting in the way of going to Fulham, especially if you're not that bothered. I think part of the problem is that it is not frequent enough. There are only two home games a month, which kind of stops you getting in a rhythm.
Also, despite the name of the blog, out of the next five Fulham home games, three are televised. Who said Fulham aren't fashionable enough for TV? Oh yeah, it was me. Still, with an average of four goals per game at the matches I have been too this season, on a personal level I am thoroughly enjoying it so far.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Fulham 3 - 3 Tottenham Hotspur

There's something particularly special about a 3-3 scoreline in football. It's the one you sit up and take notice of when it flashes over the videprinter. It's the game that you don't mind watching on Match of the Day even though your team's not involved. However, the scoreline rarely happens at a game that you actually attend.
I'm not sure but I think I broke my 3-all virginity yesterday. It was not really what I was expecting, but thoroughly enjoyable at full time. Another Fulham game, another goalkeeping blunder costing an early goal. In fact Antii Niemi put in one of the most jittery performances from a goalkeeper I've seen in an age. Hopefully he'll settle down.
In the first half, Fulham were woeful. Dejan Stefanovic, thrown straight into the first team, just didn't look fit and had no communication with Bocanegra. At one point they literally bumped into each other in the penalty area. The main problem for Fulham this season now is going to be pace at the back - they have none. Both Tottenham's second and third goals were from balls played in behind the back four.
Spurs completely dominated the first half and should have been four up by the break, except Dempsey scored a really powerful header from a corner (one of those that you head in yourself from the seat) and that appeared to put a bit of fire in Fulham's belly for the second half where they actually looked like a football team.
The goal by Smertin was reminiscent of the OG scored by Spurs captain Gary Mabbutt in the Cup Final way back in 1987. The fact that Smertin 'scored' was typical of this game - he'd been pretty awful all match.
As for the equaliser... well I saw the overhead kick and thought there was no way that would go in. Then everyone celebrated! Robinson gets lobbed from within his penalty area again! How short is he? 5'6? It was a great feeling, especially as Fulham really didn't deserve anything from the match. As I hugged Adam, I realised that this is the sort of game which can really endear a club to you. They showed a bit of fight and pulled themselves back into it. Nice one! Plus it shut up the Spurs fans who were sat in an executive box just behind us.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Good Knight and God bless

I've just found out that Zat Knight has been transferred to Villa for £3.5m. Considering that Fulham's problems this so far this season have been in defence, I'm slightly surprised about this turn of events.
However the truth is that big Zat Knight, England international, is not actually that good. He is like the complete negative of a gestalt entity. He's big. He's strong. He's quick. He's fairly comfortable in possession. He can head a ball. He's got long legs. All these are perfect ingredients for a world class centre-half - it's just like he's been taken out of the oven too early.
Watching him as a neutral is intensely frustrating. You want him to do well and make the most out of what nature has provided. It just doesn't work out that way. His marking his awry. He can't read the game. He gets out muscled too often. His passing is pretty poor. Unfortunately, for some reason, Zat Knight is less than the sum of his parts. But that's Villa's problem now. It's probably why he scored for them last weekend.

With Brown gone before the season started and Knight somehow fitting himself through the transfer window, once again I need someone to be overly critical of in the Fulham squad. Because of his sizable transfer fee (and the fact he is unlikely to bugger off before Saturday), I think it will have to be Diomansy Kamara.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007


It seems that I, along with many other football watchers, have done a disservice to David Healy. Many people thought he couldn't hack it in the top league, especially as his time at Leeds was not exactly prolific. However his tenure in Yorkshire also coincided with the club melting down a few times, which might have had some affect on the team too.
This dismissal of Healy's talents is despite his ridiculously good goals to game ratio for Northern Ireland, which we have to remember is a particularly poor national side. If Lawrie Sanchez hadn't have come to Fulham, I don't think any Premiership team would have taken a chance on Healy and as such I think at around £1m he could turn into the bargain of the close season.
Okay he's scored twice in four games (three times if you count the Middlesbrough match) but that still means he's scored more than Manchester United so far. He also scored another two last week for his country. It's not the goals that have impressed me either - it's the intelligent movement. He always seems to be moving and using his brain as a much as his physical attributes. His off the ball running has impressed me greatly and he could be a massive factor in whether FFC stay up.
The team is playing nice enough football to stay up easily, but the run of bad luck they have experienced is a bit worrying.
It's that consistent that I had a bet on Fulham to lose 2-1 at Villa. Four matches all ending 2-1 with the team that go into the lead ending up losing? I wonder what the odds are for Spurs at weekend?

David Healy
Games 4
Goals 2*
Hit ratio 50%

Monday, 20 August 2007

Fulham 1 - 2 Middlesbrough

No-one else appears to be bothering posting on here just at the moment, but I'll keep the engine running.
You could tell that nothing was going to go Fulham's way in this match when the captain dislocates his kneecap while scoring even though there was no-one around him - an injury that will keep him out for 3 months!
Added to that Bouazza somehow dislocating his shoulder from a nothing challenge (which Sanchez originally told him to 'run off' from the byline), the point-blank save made by Schwarzer with his FACE from Healy, the abomination that was Mido's goal and the officials missing Healy's injury time equaliser all add up to a bad day at the office for Lawrie Sanchez's team.
The trend in each of Fulham's games this season has been a massive goalkeeping howler and the leading team end up losing 2-1. Unfortunately Fulham have been on the wrong end of both these trends twice now. Tony, Tony, Tony... you gifted Boro an equaliser. Bolton I could explain and understand with it being the wettest evening ever, but this was just crap.
On the bright side, Fulham played some wonderful football on the day and really deserved to take at least a point off Boro, with Simon Davies being particularly creative. The opposition were pretty poor to watch in comparison. Still they got the points.
A couple of interesting things happened at this match which I'd never seen before. After about five minutes the ref pulled up injured and Andy D'Urso (shudder) had to replace him. About ten minutes after that there was an announcement over the tannoy asking if there was any qualified referees in the stadium! I reckon a Boro fan said he was and acted as the fourth official, which is why Healy's goal was disallowed. I've heard of tannoy announcements for doctors, but qualified referees? What would have happened if D'Urso got injured? We'd have had the supporter of one of the sides running the line! Suspicious offside decisions ahoy.
Also during one stop for a Fulham injury where Warner had booted the ball out, Sanchez called the whole outfield team over to the dug out for an impromptu team talk, leaving the officials and the Boro players a bit non-plussed. If I was the Boro player I would have taken the throw-in to a colleague and rushed to goal while the Fulham players were still talking, get a one-on-one then purposely boot the ball wide of the net to really shit the players up. It could have seriously back-fired on Sanchez.
It remains to be seen now if McBride can be replaced by £6m Kamara, but I haven't seen a lot to suggest this could be the case yet. The away match at Villa on Saturday might answer some questions.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Fulham 2 - 1 Bolton Wanderers

Craven Cottage was like an easy-listening Scottish band last night - Wet wet wet. A couple of friends who'd secured £5 seats in an uncovered part of the ground didn't even bother sitting there - choosing to watch from inside the stand instead. I suppose you don't mind so much if it only cost a fiver.
It wasn't the best of starts either - I was the only one sat in our bank of seats for the first ten minutes because of problems with the fancy credit card ticket turnstiles. As soon as everyone arrived, Bolton scored with Tony Warner making a bigger clanger than Jens Lehmann. None of us saw it though, as everyone was just getting settled into their new seats for the season.
A full-bodied fight back from Fulham saw them score two goals, but as they were at the other end of the pitch we didn't have the best view. Mind you, it was possible to see the deflection on Smertin's shot from space.
Considering the conditions, the quality of football was much higher than many anticipated and Fulham's backline looked particularly competent, with Bocanegra worthy of his own mention thanks to a series of last gasp blocks.
Beer's gone up to £3.50 a bottle - but I guess the club's got to recoup some money from the £299 season tickets somewhere.
The unanswered question: Why did the referee change his top from the yellow one in the first half to a green one in the second?

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Up the Arsenal

I didn't see the Arsenal v Fulham game (why have a match on a Sunday if it's not being televised? strange) but I did make sure I waited up to see David Healy's goal which my Orange mobile phone told me was scored on 0 minutes!
A debut goal with your first ever touch? And people thought that he might not be able to make the step up. Plus it had the added value of making Mad Jens Lehmann look like a complete arse (link maybe be pulled down soon).
In honour of this escapade, and the fact that most of us used to watch Healy in his PNE days, we will now introduce HEALYWATCH onto the blog to chart his progress - on the home games anyway.
Looks like there are about 15 of us going to this match tomorrow night, should be a laugh even if the football is poor. Sunday's performance is promising though.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

The new season beckons!

Q: What happens when a London-based Premiership football club offers season tickets for £299?
A: You get a lot of football tourists signing up to watch top tier football at £16 a game.

Well that's what's happened this season with Fulham. A bunch of us who support Manchester United (me), Middlesbrough, Brighton & Hove Albion, Tottenham Hotspur (apparently) and Preston North End, have all signed up to experience a league campaign from the Hammersmith End of the Grade II listed Craven Cottage. Fortunately we have an existing season ticket holder and Fulham fan to aid us.

It's odd. When the wheeze first came about, I was all excited about being a season ticket holder for the first time in 21 years. Now, with the season about to start, I'm strangely apprehensive about everything. I follow enough teams as it is: do I really need another one? How will the proper Fulham fans feel about our experiment? It is a bit patronising after all.

With the first home match on Wednesday night against Bolton, FFC have been offering season ticket holders additional seats at £5 each. It could be viewed as a good time to get a full house and persuade people to come in for the rest of the season. But it seems a bit desperate - clubs should really be able to fill their ground on the first home game of the season. Mind you Bolton and Boro aren't the two most appetizing fixtures to start off with I suppose.

Still I think that Sanchez has bought extremely well this close season and I have a feeling the team will not struggle like most papers are predicting.

Most Anticipated Player: Jimmy Bullard. 'Nuff said.
Least Favourite Player: Zat Knight. It would have been Michael Brown, but luckily he's buggered off. I guess Zat's slightly flattered to deceive in the past in my opinion.
Season prediction: League - 11th. League Cup - Quarter finals. FA Cup - Fifth Round.

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