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.

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