Sunday, 28 December 2008

Goodwill to all men...

Well not to Chelsea, obviously. Quite excited about today's game. Anything can happen. I have a feeling that Chelsea may just nick it like they did last year, but a good battling performance will do us proud.
The away draw at Spurs was a massive improvement on last year's 5-1 drubbing, although people are still having a go at Fulham away from home - that's four goalless draws on the trot now I believe. But these have been important points - its the five away draws that are keeping Fulham out of the relegation zone. Plus a 0-0 is only one step away from a 0-1. Here's hoping for the new year.
The Spurs match also appears to have heralded the first step in the rehabilitation of Chris Baird. Castigated all last season for sub-standard performances at right back, the crowd now audibly groan when he comes on the pitch - not a good sign for a confidence player such as Baird. However he filled in for Hangeland at centre half (the first time he's played in his natural position since joining the whites) and appears to have done a sterling job. Let's hope it can continue.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Fulham 1 - 1 Manchester City

I made the mistake of going into the Eight Bells before this match, which was awash with Man City fans. The owner of the pub is a Chelsea fan, so apparently it is a renowned away fans pub. The City fans were in good voice considering the early kick off, although there were some shameful references to 'Munichs'. They had also developed a song in Portuguese to laud the Brazilians players at City and were handing out little yellow song sheets to all the fans so they could learn it for the game. Shame that City didn't end up fielding any Brazilians after all!
Yet another game to add to the unbeaten home run. And Fulham should really have beaten Man City. They were undone early in the game by good work on the right wing by Pablo Zabaleta and Benjani managing to spring up between two defenders and easily plant a header past Mark Schwarzer. It really was simple stuff and felt a bit like a sucker punch after all Fulham's good initial play.
Fortunately the team pulled it back before half time, with seemingly want away midfielder Jimmy Bullard scoring his first league goal of the season - and what a sweet finish it was too. Reacting to a terrific pass from Bobby 'Bobatov' Zamora, Jimmy swept the ball into the far post from the side of the six yard box. A well deserved goal for a player who has gradually played himself into a bit of form.
Zamora was a pest throughout this game and really ought to have scored after latching on to a poor header back to the keeper, but headed it wide. It is not to say City didn't have their chances. Frequently Zabaleta (who I had actually met the week before) found himself in plenty of room on the right wing, but opted to cross several times. The one time he did have a shot, Schwarzer parried it out and there was chaos inside the Fulham box.
City's captain Richard Dunne, who has flattered to deceive this season after several barnstorming performances last year, was very lucky not to give away a penalty for handball - pushing away an Andy Johnson flick with his hand. It was entirely instinctive, but still handball in the area.
Shot (and save) of the day though had to be Bullard's free kick in the last ten minutes or so, which swerved and dipped several times before Joe Hart acrobatically pushed it over the bar. In the end, everyone came away more or less happy with a point.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Fultime magazine

I've just had my complimentary 'Fultime' magazine through the post. It's really rather good. A sturdy 84 glossy pages containing interviews with Andy Johnson, Ray Lewington and Billy McKinlay.
There is also an odd 'secret santa' feature with players suggesting what they would get random other members of the squad. Aaron Hughes' predilection for Kentucky Fried Chicken should perhaps be a concern for Woy in the long run.

Looking ahead to tomorrow's game against Middlesbrough and a win would be useful. Fulham may be sat in tenth place but incredibly they are only 3 points from the drop zone. Four draws on the trot is a bit similar to a run of form from last season, but at least three of these games have been away from Craven Cottage - so what I would call a bonus three points. However with bang on penalties not given against Man City and Stoke, and the ridiculous bad luck experienced by the home team the last time Boro visited means that it is time for some decisions to go Fulham's way this weekend.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Fulham 2 -1 Tottenham Hotspur

Now this was satisfying, wasn't it? A suddenly resurgent, Redknapp-led Spurs side brought plummeting back down to earth with a bump with the realisation that they are not as good as they think they've become.
Granted, the home side were dealt a huge slice of luck wit the mistake by Heurelho Gormless, but its not as if the keeper's erratic performances hadn't warned the Spurs manager that his number 1 isn't exactly to be trusted 100%.
In fact when the goal went in, I was convinced that Johnson had got a touch. There was no way that Simon Davies soft cross had gone in, had it? The length of time it took the ball to leave Davies' boot and end up in the back of the Tottenham net made it feel as if there were two acts to the goal. Still the replays at half-time gave us much succour. This poor keeper was going to be playing right in front of us for the next 45 minutes! Excellent fun.
Poor Gomes got berated with chants of 'Dodgy Keeper' and 'there's only one Gomes' for the whole of the second half. The Hammersmith End was even giving it the old 'whoooooooooooAAAAH! You're shit ahhhhhhh....' so I was in my element.
Sat next to me was one of Col's mates who came to the Wigan match. However he was sat with us as a Spurs fan, and kept accidentally cheering on his side. So he didn't like it when Johnson turned in a header from Dempsey to make it 2-0 and I danced.
All through the game Fulham were on top. Comfortable even. And I just couldn't relax knowing there was only a one-goal cushion, so the second goal going in saw a great release of tension. It turned out the second goal was necessary as well because Spurs scored against the run of play, loanee Frazer Campbell slotting in from inside the penalty box.
In truth the scoreline was a fair reflection on the game - it could have been even better if Gomes hadn't pulled off a cracking save from a sublime Bullard free kick near the end of the match. In terms of excitement, it had nothing on last season's 3-all draw, but in terms of performance it was head and shoulders above it. I even managed to capture mad Johnny Pantsil doing a lap of honour on my camera.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Fulham 2 -1 Newcastle United

Again another improvement on last year's corresponding match. I was fortunate enough to miss the last minute penalty which decided the result last year, but this season's award was right in front of us.
It is Andy Johnson's first penalty win for Fulham and, unlike those won during his previous justified diving reputation, was a bang on penalty. What the referee missed though, but the whole of the Hammersmith End witnessed, was the sneaky shove in the back that AJ had given to another defender outside the box before he was chopped down within.
Both sides had slices of luck - in the first half Johnson pounced after a Cacapa clearance hit the back of a fellow defender in a dangerous position, while in the second Shola Ameobi prodded in a goal from an offside position (not that we could tell at the time back in the Hammy End). But once again Fulham were good value for their victory and Murphy's penalty was a justified winner.
This was one of the matches where I became very conscious of the important holding up role that Bobby Zamora plays. It's a shame that he can't really add goals to that kind of performance. He would possibly score a few more if we employed proper wingers making regular crosses, but with the team winning I doubt Bobby Z (or to give him his nickname of Bobatov) actually cares that much.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Fulham 2- 0 Wigan Athletic

Whoa, whoa. I'm way behind here. This was a good win against an improving Wigan side - although to be fair the Latics were never really in it.
AJ's first goals for the club were really well taken, the first in particular, and it looks like the wee slaphead has broken the trend of nearly all the goals being scored in front of the Putney End.
His second goal was quick thinking at its best, with Bullard's speedy free kick meeting a speedy AJ run behind the back line and a neat finish at the far post.
It is also marked the start of Jimmy Bullard starting to play well again, although he was mostly awful in this game again. The assist seemed to spark the potential again and got him in the right mind set. He couldn't buy a goal though, despite seemingly having more shots than anyone else in the league.
The one let off for Fulham in this game was Scharner heading over Schwarzer's bar in the 45th minute when someone of his aerial ability really ought to have scored. We were also amazed to see Woy Hodgson actually making some substitutions. Three of them as well! Overall it was a much more impressive performance than the 1-1 draw against the same opposition last year.
Johnny Pantsil is continuing to woo the Fulham fans, if not with his match performances then his eccentric behaviour around games. From his prayer stance before the match, to his map of honour after the games - he is winning a lot of people over than he wouldn't have been able to manage with his play alone.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Getting a bit ahead of myself here, but I've been looking at some stats from the last couple of seasons. Fulham have won as many at home already this season as they did in the whole of last season - 5.

In fact out of 7 home games (8 including Carling Cup) they have only been beaten once (West Ham) and only drawn once (Sunderland). In fact only Man United and Liverpool have a better home record than Fulham, who have taken an average of 2.28 points per game at home.

Conversely, they are the worst away team in the league, but as we don't pay to watch those games, it doesn't really matter other than for league position, which at the moment is a sprightly 10th (although only four points from the drop zone).

Overall the only teams to have conceded fewer goals than Fulham are Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United. However only Bolton, West Ham and Sunderland have scored fewer goals per game.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Fulham 0 - 0 Sunderland

Shock, horror! After a busy old month or so on a professional and personal level, I thought I'd make amends and play catch up. This was a strange old game. The same fixture last year had Sunderland playing terribly, somehow running off with a 3-1 win and leaving me with the 100% assertion that Fulham were going down after a spineless display.
This season, and seven months later, Sunderland were by far the best team, yet didn't enjoy the luck from their spring visit and come away with just a solitary point. Typifying the Black Cats' fortunes was a stupendous free kick from Kieron Richardson which hit the left hand post, rolled across the line to the right hand post, bounced off that and came back across goal, hit a bewildered Mark Schwarzer on the leg before coming off the left hand post AGAIN and dropping into the keeper's grateful hands. I've never, ever seen a single shot hit the post three times. That's just ridiculous.
It really was not Richardson's day as he had a scorching free kick goal disallowed because of trouble in the wall. We couldn't really make out why it didn't count as it was down the Putney end, but all that happened it seemed was Jimmy Bullard playfully squeezing 'bits' of former teammate Pascal Chimbonda. Fortune favours the gay? Sorry, cheap joke.
Bullard himself still can't find a Fulham shirt with the ball, but he's running like a looney everywhere. Hopefully he'lll play himself into a bit of form, but he's a bit of a liability at the moment.
Woy shocked everyone by using a substitution in this game! The unlucky Dempsey came on for Gera, although there wasn't much difference in play after the substitution. Since slagging Hangeland off, he has been playing extremely well. Long may it continue.

EDIT - One thing I was surprised about was the booing of David Healy when he came on as as sub. The guy did his best for Fulham, but it was clear that he wasn't in Hodgson's plans. Why boo him for moving to a team that wants him?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Come one, come all!

Thursday night I will see my first footballing hero playing at Craven Cottage and I am nearly as excited as when he scored the first goal I ever saw my team score at Wembley.
Bryan Robson is turning out for England Legends and I would turn up just to support this player. As a manager he has been found wanting and there have been more than a few unsavoury stories about him as a man, but as player he epitomised all I admired in a footballer.
The closest I came myself as a player was to injure my shoulder, although with a broken collar bone rather than a dislocation. Even at the time as I was escorted off the pitch, I was kind of hoping it was a Robbo injury and I'd be back playing soon. He was that inspirational at his peak.
I am more than aware I will not be watching him at any kind of elevated level this week - hell he was pretty ropey in his last few seasons at United as the game got quicker while he simultaneously got slower - but that doesn't matter. It's Bryan Robson, Captain Marvel.
I kind of wish I had kids so I could take them to see someone who was once the best player in the land.
Some people see these legends matches as freakshows, laughing at how old and fat some of the players from some of their own team's hated rivals have become. They certainly don't come to watch a decent game of football or through any sense of loyalty to the arbitrary national teams that serve up the pretence of an important game.
However I, like many others I hope, am attending because I want to pay tribute to these great players of yesterday and reminisce on how they used to marshall games with aplomb. I guess it's the nostalgia factor, which is so prevalent in today's society. It also gives us a glimpse at what football in the early nineties was all about - a much more physical game, with very little diving. Any of these guys throw themselves on the ground and they'll be looking for a new hip.
The joy is that there are plenty of heroes to go around. Forest & Wednesday fans can laud Des Walker. Arsenal and Villa have David Platt. Liverpool Mark Wright and, along with slightly older Fulham fans, Ray Houghton. Man City have Niall Quinn. There is a good cross section for people to get excited about, as if it is 15 years ago.
The fact that this game is to be televised on ITV4 is somewhat puzzling to me, but I guess it's a relatively cheap way of providing 2 hours of exclusive 'dramatic' content for the channel in a week with no UEFA Cup games. Still, there's nothing like the real thing and I'll be shouting at the top of my lungs from the Johnny Haynes Stand, celebrating Robbo making yet another crunching tackle.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Barcelona 3 -2 Real Betis

Oh yeah, we're getting continental now. A business trip to Barcelona coincided with a fixture at the Nou Camp, so I took the opportunity to see a game played there. I'd been to the stadium before and had a tour, but it's obviously a different experience watching the Catalans play there.
Tickets via the internet were on sale to the public a month before the game, and I logged on the first day they were available only to find very few seats available. It took an hour to find three tickets next to each other. Oddly, when we got there, there were 30-odd thousand spare tickets. Go figure.
As I went to pick up the tickets at the little ticket windows, we were surrounded by ticket touts looking to pass off tickets for the game. No strange occurrence in the game these days, only these ticket touts were really old. We'd rebuffed one haggard old gent, when another even older bloke tried his luck. Then another even older man. To top it off this 70-year old crone sidled up to us and opened an envelope to show that she had about 30 tickets to sell. It was crazy. I'd forgotten my passport as ID to pick up the tickets, but fortunately the young lad accepted my PADI scuba diving card!
Inside the ground, the beer was zero alcohol and tasted like it. Before the match we had the odd spectacle of singa-longa-Barca, with the big screen showing the words for everyone to follow in traditional pre-match ditty. Unfortunately that tended to be the loudest that the crowd got.
It was eerie at times. Old Trafford can (rightly) get criticised for being quiet, but that's nothing compared to the stillness at times of Camp Nou. A resident bat had no problems getting around, despite its reliance on sonar. When the fans were noisy, it wasn't when Barcelona were good. It was when they felt the referree had cheated them but not giving afree-kcik or booking an opposition player.
On the pitch, Eto-o scored a quick fire double to put the home side firmly in control. His first in particular was impressive as he made himself a tiny bit of room on the edge of the box and blasted it in via the crossbar. It was almost all Barca in the first half, although you could see how poor some of the defensive cover was for the team.
This was highlighted after the break when Betis unexpecedly scored twice to pull level, with two excellent finishes. However Gudjohnsson, a player I always admired in England, managed to clip in the winner - perhaps not intentionally. Some highlights are available here and are worth a watch.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Aldershot 3 - 2 Bradford City

Ha! You weren't expecting that were you! I go to a few random games so I thought I'd add my thoughts on a couple of them. Not strictly Fulham, but there's nothing you can do about it.
A friend of mine is a Bantam (a term no fan of Bradford seems to use - are they ashamed of it?) and persuaded us all to go to the Recreation Ground to see his side play. I've seen Bradford before, at Maine Road of all places, so I was up for it. Unfortunately it seems the players weren't.
The Recreation ground is strange. You practically have to go on a hike through a park to get to the visitor's entrance. It's certainly a unique place. Not many football stadia have three or four trees growing around the pitch.
The stand we were in, which brings a new meaning to the term 'restricted view', actually had a birds nest in the rafters. The home fans, newly promoted, were full of gusto and had a drummer or two conducting the songs. Or should I say song. Aldershot is an army town, so it was plain where the drummers were trained.
The game itself was exciting, even if the quality was turgid. One aimless boot upfield from the defence and the strikers seemed to be one on one every time. There were some fine, crisp strikes that went in that day, but the difference had to be Omar Daley. If he hadn't been playing for Bradford, they would have won. Having said that, if Peter Thorne had scored his piss poor penalty at 1-1, Aldershot might not have registered their first Football League victory since August 1991.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Fulham 1 - 2 West Ham United

Yet again West Ham piss on my eiderdown. I have a long running antipathy for the Hammers and it doesn't help that everytime I see them they tend to beat the team I'm supporting. That doesn't really endear them to me at all.
Fulham played some good stuff here in the first half and really ought to have gone into the lead on a few occasions. However an aberration by Hangeland, where he allowed Cole to out muscle him to a clearance and knock it out wide for Etherington. The fact that Schwarzer practically pushed it onto Cole's feet in the six yard box, is also a worrying indication that the Aussie keeper is as dodgy as his predecessors.
Once West Ham had stolen a goal so close to half-time I decided it was time for a beer. From my position overlooking the Thames, I then missed Etherington's second (again Schwarzer could be culpable) and Andrew Johnson's second yellow card. In all fairness, Johnson's first yellow card was a bit wild and could well have led to a red in itself.
Last year I missed Paul Konchesky's red card just before half time against Derby yet didn't realise as in the second half Fulham played much better. The same happened here, with the home side much more likely to score than West Ham. The ref then awarded what I thought was a dodgy penalty to Fulham, although having seen it since on TV it probably was a handball by Neill, and suddenly, improbably Fulham were back in it with half an hour left to play.
Fulham huffed and puffed trying to score an equaliser, but West Ham nearly scored on the break a couple of teams. Zamora did well up front on his own, but the midfield couldn't always get up to support him. As has been mentioned everywhere else, Roy Hodgson didn't make any substitutions despite there only being 10 men on the pitch. A major mistake in my opinion as a fresh pair of legs would have given the Whites extra attacking impetus. Bringing Dempsey on for Davies or Gera (an enigmatic player so far) might have given Fulham extra bite, but the manager just doesn't seem to fancy the American. In this season where teams can put an extra two players on the bench, managers should really have another option available to them. The fact that Hodgson doesn't believe he has a plan B is worrying.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Fulham 2 - 1 Bolton Wanderers

Wow. We'll have some more of the same please. Granted it was against a poor and injury-depleted Bolton Wanderers side, but the football played was some of the nicest in the league this weekend.
I still wonder if Fulham have a soft centre, especially after the defeat at Hull, but Bolton tried their bullying tactics and failed. Danny Murphy was strong in the tackle and, surprisingly, Zoltan Gera weighed in with a few crunching challenges too, out-muscling the Wanderers in the middle of the park. It was no surprise that Bolton's only real effort (and goal) was a hoof up from the keeper which was nodded in by Kevin Davies. It was typical of Fulham to make hard work of a game they had dominated for so long, but fortunately they were at least 2-0 up by this time and had also hit the bar.
I guess many comments will be made about Andy Johnson's effective and encouraging debut, but the surprise of this game for me was the unveiling of the new player previously known as Bobby Zamora. Zamorandonna's goal, where a quick drag back took him past two players and allowed him to belt the ball in the back of the net from the edge of the box was a revelation and perhaps highlighted the fact that defences will be more worried about Johnson and perhaps give Bobby Z a bit more room in which to maneuver.
Gera was also impressive with a fine finish from the edge of the box and a header against the bar.
The Cottage was a bit busy this game, in glorious weather. It's the first league game in which the clappers weren't laid out for us, but the atmosphere didn't suffer too much. At half time I went to the little cabin next to the Riverside Stadium in order to buy a cap as it was so sunny. There was a light grey cap available for £5 - bargain. Only they all had security tags on there that the cashier didn't have the tools to remove. Pointless! The £8 black caps didn't have any tags on them, but were really horrible. I did without.
To cheer me up on the Thames there was some sort of weird river race with dozens of boats being rowed down the river, each one with different livery or flags giving it some. The Fulham fans gave shouts of encouragement (and abuse) but I guess that's part of the fun of being 2-0 up at half time.
So that's three home games and three wins. Last season it took until the middle of March for me to see three home victories (I was in Australia for the Reading fixture). Things are definitely looking up this season.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Jimmy for England

I'm starting to worry about the inverse power of this blog. I criticise Hangeland and up he pops to score the winning goal against Arsenal and keep a clean sheet. I have a go at Bullard and suddenly Fabio Capello picks him in his latest England squad! In comparison I laud Gera's skills and he has yet to sparkle in the Fulham shirt.
Bullard for England is a funny one, although it is an England squad decimated with injuries in the midfield area. He will be competing for a starting role with: Barry, J Cole, Lampard, Beckham, Downing, Bentley, Jenas. All depending upon how the game against Andorra goes, the 29-year-old might get his international debut coming off the bench. If that goes well he coudl even start the following game against Crotia.
I hope for Jimmy's sake he gets to make his mark as I doubt he'll have many better opportunities than this one.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Fulham 3 - 2 Leicester City

It was a pleasant surprise when arriving to this game to see that Woy had sent out a full strength team to face Leicester, who were relegated from the Championship last season, although for the first hour it was hard to tell which team was in the top tier and which in the third.
At one point Stoor (who I think with his very first touch in a Fulham shirt managed to clear the Riverside stand and put the ball in the Thames) lunged in on the Foxes' left winger, causing the whole Hammersmith End to go 'ooooo'. Fortunatly the winger stayed on his feet, but the referee could easily have taken his cue from the home fans and awarded a penalty. I'd never heard anything like it before.
The only other thing that happened of note in the first half was Gera opening the scoring on the left. From the Hammersmith End it was hard to see how the ball had gone in, so we waited until the replay at half time to find out. It was still impossible to tell. It seemed like a combination of a weak shot, a slight deflection, an out of position goalkeeper and time slowing down to a crawl for no reason at all.
Still Leicester shot out of the traps second half and scored two quick-fire goals which rattled the whole Fulham team. They all appeared to lose composure and got even worse until Nevland came on for the increasingly disappointing Seol on the hour mark.
Jimmy Bullard had an awful game, constantly spraying passes nowhere, but that will all be glossed over considering he scored one of the better goals I've seen at the Cottage to equalise with five minutes left.
Ish and I were settling down for extra time, only for Danny Murphy to pop up with a deflected shot in injury time to push Fulham past the Foxes into the third round of the League Cup. A trip to Burnley awaits.
I was a bit sneaky with this match. Knowing the Hammersmith End would not be sold out, I purchased restricted view tickets at £13 with the intention of just sitting somewhere else when we got there. This saved a whole four pounds for both our tickets, but as we had to pay an additional £2 transaction fee and a further £1 just to be able to pick up the tickets at the ground (which is nonsense when you think they post them out to you for FREE) I think we are about even.
First half we enjoyed in the middle of the Hammy with all the singing (it was quite a good effort from both sets of fans to be fair) but for the second half we decided to retire to our actual season ticket seats to check out the game from there. Despite the whole of H8 and the front end of H7 being empty, amazingly there was a husband and wife sitting in our exact seats. Given the whole section to choose from, they chose to sit in our seats! They obviously can't be that bad then.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Fulham 1- 0 Arsenal

Well I don't think anyone was expecting that. The strangest thing was that it wasn't a totally undeserved win either. Arsenal were nowhere near as good as they had been last season and Fulham were far better in a game with very, very few chances at goal.
That's not to say it was a rubbish match; it was compelling and contained some very tidy football. Arsenal didn't really have a shot on target and the winning goal came from a set-piece, which could sum up the game.
Our new seats are slightly closer to the action, which sacrifices a bit of reading of the game, especially down at the Putney End, but we no longer get the chill wind from the Thames!
The atmosphere was really top notch, helped again by the paper clappers on every seat. I do wonder if the club plan to continue giving these out, especially at the cost of 50p per seat, but they are no doubt effective and helped keep the Arsenal fans subdued. It was Col's first game in the Hammersmith End and he was blown away by the atmosphere. We'll have some more of that, thanls very much.
There were no dud performances against the Arse, even Seol managed to do what he was there for and head the ball a few times, but there has to be special mention of John Pantsil. The guy is already a legend in my eyes - he was throwing himself into every tackle and even did his own lap of honour at the end of the game. What is it with right backs at this club? They're all slightly mentally unhinged and great.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Great expectations?

Well, we're on the eve of the first home game of the season but the opening day defeat at Hull has taken the wind out of the sails already. Hodgson's curve ball of playing Seol Ki-Hyeon as a striker has thrown fans at the start of the season (including me) who was expecting Zamora and Healy/Nevland up front. Still the Korean has scored and Healy been off-loaded to Sunderland, so there is some logic to Woy's thinking. Hopefully.

With Davis gone as well and Woy dismissing Bolton's wooing of Bullard that should be it for now, only the manager has finally noticed that Fulham are missing a defensive midfielder, and have been since the sale of that nasty fuck Michael Brown. Where a DM will fit into such a packed midfield is anyone's guess, but after being bullied in the middle of the park by Hull last week, a fighter is back on the agenda. I did think that Andreasson and Andranik were bought for that very reason though. Clearly not. I hate to say it, but what about Robbie Savage?

Anyway for the new season:
Most Anticipated Player: Zoltan Gera. I reckon he could shine in the side and weigh in with some very important goals. He seems to have played a good pre-season too.
Least Favourite Player: This is difficult as it's practically a completely different side. In fact from the first game of last season, I think only Simon Davies is still starting. I suppose I am still to be convinced about Brede Hangeland, although he has been improving.
Season prediction: Last year I suggested 11th in the league with a quarter final appearance in the League Cup and fifth round and fifth round in the FA Cup. Talk about being over optimistic! So this year - shit I have no idea. 14th in the league would be nice. As for the cups, an empty stadium is not very empowering. Fulham's away form means that home ties will be necessary for a repeat of last year's predictions.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

More new signings

As I said mid-July, 'I can't see room for any more new signings. If anything the team needs trimming'. As ever my finger was firmly on the pulse as Woy continued his acquisition spree and only offloaded a couple of players. Let's take a second look:

Andrew Johnson - A surprise move for someone who once looked extremely effective upfront, but got a reputation as a diver. I wonder if he has shed that from not playing that often for Everton? A big expensive signing, but a proven Premiership goalscorer and adds more pace up front. It appears the lure was London rather than the club though.

Frederik Stoor - At last another defender! Freddie will be fighting Pantsil for the right back berth, which probably means goodbye to Volzy. The Swedish international, who also has Champions League experience, has been linked with the club all summer so it's nice to finally get his signature.

Pascal Zuberbuhler - This one was abit more left-field. A 37-year old Swiss international goalkeeper as back up to a soon-to-be 36 year old goalkeeper. Unless Niemi is soon to move on, which may not be the case considering his previous ties to Woy on the national stage, Fulham again have an abundance of goalies with experience.

Those that have left on loan - Winger Lee Cook has returned to QPR without ever playing a game for Fulham, Hameur Bouzza has gone to Charlton, presumably because there is no room in Fulham's packed midfield and 'development' players Elliot Omozusi (who was promising in a few games last year for the first team) and TJ Moncur have gone to Norwich City and Bradford City respectively.

A bunch of loan outs is hardly cutting down on the squad, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the exits of Steven Davis (who has not been given a squad number back), Volzy as mentioned above and Smertin. I would have thought Healey was for the chop too, but Hodgson has said he would like him to remain part of the squad. Where the hell he'll fit in is the question. At it sounds as if things aren't at all rosy with Jimmy Bullard at the moment with rumours that Woy doesn't like his indisciplined play on the pitch. Say it aint so!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Vox pops

You're probably more than fed up with hearing about me and my views on football and Fulham, no matter how correct I am, so I thought I'd sound out my partners in crime over what they are expecting from their Fulham Season Tickets this year:

Jarrod is our remaining Aussie who misses some early matches because of cricket:

Less than eight months between home wins (of games I see!)
Some entertaining performances, less of last season's rubbish (ie passing the ball to the opposition or no one at all).
But most of all, the home fans as they were for the last 4-5 games last season!

Ishan was unlucky to be sat at the end of our row of tickets and next to a gentlemen who liked to encroach both on our space and our nostrils:

More wins. The same passion from players and supporters as last game of last season in every home game this season and an empty seat when i get to the stadium (late)!

Colin is our newbie, picking up the pieces from Coops and Adam:

My first season ticket, the delights of frosty December weeknights and 0:1 score lines cometh.
All the monies going on Andy Johnson with any luck!
Still thinking about what I want from Fulham this season. My expectations are quite low as a first timer. If the team turn up when I do, I'll be happy.

Interesting points I'm sure you'll agree. Ish and Jarrod have echoed something I'd like to see - a bit more from the crowd at normal games than just for the crunch ones. There were times last season where it seemed that it was just us five making a racket.

Only 11 days now until the start of the Premiership season. It feels as if its been a long time coming.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Mixed feelings

Last pre-season, I was full of optimism. I was a new season ticket holder and in my opinion Lawrie Sanchez was signing some really interesting players who I thought could do the business. He'd also shipped out some of the squad that I didn't particularly like. However that optimism was culled before Christmas.
This pre-season, something has changed. Woy Hodgson has signed some players that are failing to excite me and I'm not sure if they can perform at the highest level. Hopefully the inverse will happen again and Fulham will be pushing for 6th place by Christmas.

Lets have a look at these new signings.

David Stockdale - GK - £600,000. Young goalkeeper for the future. Nice to see Woy's thinking that far ahead.
Mark Schwarzer - GK - Free. Proven Premiership performer, although my Boro mate reckons that he had an awful season last year. Australian International.
Zoltan Gera - MD/FW - Free. I've always been a bit of a fan of Zoltan and was very happy to see him join the Cottagers. Still has something to prove at the highest level. Hungarian International.
Tony Kallio - LB/CB - Undisclosed. Kallio joined on loan in January, but didn't play a game. Not sure why he has now joined full time. One of Woy's Finland international squad members.
Andranik - CM - Free - Bolton reserve player. Don't ever remember seeing him play. If he is a defensive type then could be a very influential player. Iranian International.
John Pantsil - RB/RM - About £1.3m. West Ham reserve player. Never seen him play. Seems a bit of a looney. Ghanian International.
Bobby Zamora - ST - About £5m. West Ham reserve player. I've seen Bobby Z play a lot, but mainly at Championship level. He's usually scored against the team I have been supporting (Play off final 2005!) but he's still not that impressive and has not consistently performed in the Premiership. A confidence player by all accounts.

So all the money saved by getting internationals signed up on free transfers has been splurged on a 27-year-old West Ham reject? Interesting strategy. One aspect that does bode well is that West Brom fans, Bolton fans and West Ham fans seem to be very disappointed to be losing Gera, Andranik and Zamora, which suggests that they at least put the effort in and fans love that. I love that. And the number of managerial changes means that there might be some gems in Premiership teams' reserve ranks signed by the previous regime that the new lot might not fancy. Doesn't mean they are no good. On that note, I see Tony Warner has signed for Hull City on a free.

I can't see room for any more new signings. If anything the team needs trimming. There are four goalkeepers, 10 defenders, 12 midfielders and six forwards. That's quite a big squad. Hopefully Woy can find the right combination.

EDIT - It appears that Ricardo Batista has just signed for Sporting Lisbon - so that's three keepers. Hmmm. Maybe we do need another.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

We're back!

So there we go - we've booked four tickets in H7. We're actually seven rows ahead of where we were last year. We might as well have stayed where we were, except Ish wanted to move away from the smelly guy who sat next to him. I wonder who we will be sat next to in the up coming season?

I must admit though, I was far more confident of watching exciting football this time last year than currently. But that just shows you what I know. Come on Woy, prove me wrong. You've already done it once.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Transfer wish list

I just thought I would speculate on a few possible signings that I would like to see at Fulham. Most of them are mere fancy though, so don't get too outraged.

Goalkeeper - Fulham are suddenly well stocked in this department. They could also get Ben Foster on loan from Man United I suppose.

Defender - A right back is desperately needed as Woy doesn't seem to rate Volzy there. The club has been linked with Paul Scharner who I think is a very interesting player. He's a threat in the air in the opposition box too.
They could really do with a bit of pace at the back too. Preston's Sean St Ledger might be a good shout there. He's a gobby little shit too, so he might be able to bring some fight to the team.

Midfielder - Bear with me on this, but £5m on Darren Fletcher would be the best bit of business for the club in my opinion. He's been edged out of the United team this season and is a combative midfielder who can pick out a pass.
Thomas Gravesen might also be a steely alternative and is more or less unwanted at Celtic. However he will be on big wages and he is not as good as he was when unexpectdly signed by Real Madrid.
I like to see wingers in a side, but it's a dying art it seems. Morten Gamst Pedersen hasn't had the best of seasons, but has shown some class in the past, and with Mark Hughes leaving Blackburn there may be a few players up for grabs there.

Forward - A cheeky bid for David Nugent might pay dividends. I realise he hasn't exactly set the world alight this season, but the boy has got talent, pace and hunger. Something clearly isn't right at Portsmouth and maybe a trip to Putney can rectify the situation? I reckon he could be picked up for about £3m. A bargain of Mo's money.
Someone who has already been here, been a hit with the fans and could give the club a bit of flair is Vincenzo Montella. Owned by Roma, he has spent all season on loan at Sampdoria, scoring four times in 13 games.
A proper target man to replace McBride would also be useful. Woy's big friends with Kevin Davies, but James Beattie may be a bit cheaper and he has just scored 22 in 41 games last season for Sheffield United, who failed to get promotion.

I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of football at the mo - and would have liked to have another winger on the wish list - but its easy to lose touch when you don't play Football Manager.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Ormondroyd's Season Review - part 1

The ever funny Ormondroyd posted this on the Official Fulham website, however it can be a 'mare finding things on there, so I've taken the liberty of posting it on here too.
Well I did tray, but it just wouldn't work on this blog, so here's a link
It's well worth a look.

In the meantime - Brian McBride has left amid lots of public wailing. As I mentioned on this blog recently, he won me over eventually, but he is getting old. Better to leave on a high by scoring goals that have kept the team up, rather than turn into a player who can no longer cut it on the pitch. He'll be 36 in a couple of weeks and not many players last beyond that age.
That said teams in the MLS are queuing up for his services, including Chicago Fire and Toronto FC. Can you see the later having the dream ticket of Brian McBride and Danny Dichio up front? Awesome.

Friday, 23 May 2008


It seems Woy's been cleaning out the closet. From the OS (my comments in italics):

Fulham Football Club can confirm the following players have left the Club:
  • Jari Litmanen - waste of money
  • Carlos Bocanegra - a shame - a solid if slow defender with his own chant
  • Philippe Christanval - unseen this year
  • Simon Elliott - don't really know who this is
  • Ian Pearce - was practically dead at the end of last season not seen in '08
  • Michael Timlin - no idea here
  • Ismael Ehui - or here
  • Bjorn Runstrom - or here

Paul Stalteri has also returned to Tottenham Hotspur following the end of his loan spell. Wonder what will be happening at right back then? Is Finnan really coming home?

I'm surprised there are no goalkeepers on this list, especially as Mark Schwarzer has just turned down Bayern Munich and Juventus (!) to join the Cottagers. I'm sure the EU will be stepping in soon to make sure we distribute our steadily growing goalkeeper mountain amongst poorer teams.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Coming back for more

It seems like we are going to continue with our experiment for a second season! Jarrod and Ish have said they will come back, my old friend Col is dead keen to give it a go (despite living just walking distance from Selhurst Park), and Ben is currently juggling his finances. This will be helped by the fact that the season tickets are still quite cheap, although we have seen a 10% increase where we sit! Still much cheaper than the cheapest seats at the flea pit in Loftus Road, mind you.
It might take us a while to get sorted again, but fortunately there's no early bird discount for the cheaper seats (how could there be?) so we're going to take our time in selecting seats I think. Ish definitely doesn't want to sit where he is now as he says the bloke next to him can whiff a bit.

On a tangent - As essentially a Man United fan, I'm a bit worried about this evening. It's not even the thrill of possibly winning the European Cup, it's more the dread of potentially losing it to Chelsea. This wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't an all English final. Damn the Premier League's dominance.
At least I know that all the Fulham fans will be (should be) supporting United tonight. I can't see them wanting a Chelsea win.

Monday, 19 May 2008

End of season awards

A lot of other blogs appear to be putting together their awards for the year - so I thought I'd have a bash as well.

Survival Award - Simon Davies
Only Simon Davies has been an ever present in the Fulham squad this season, from the first game to the last and scoring some important goals along the way. He's been pressed in this award by Paul Konchesky (who suffered a three match ban) and Danny Murphy (who only joined on transfer deadline day). To be constantly in a team that has used many, many players during the season shows his dedication on the pitch and the training ground.
Also nominated: Fulham FC

Disappearing Act Award - Alexy Smertin
Where the hell did the Russian go? The only midfield 'enforcer' played most of the matches until mid January, resurfaced in March for the defeat against Man United and then disappeared again. He also scored two of the biggest deflected goals of the season.
Also nominated: Eddie Johnson

Surprise Package Award - Billy the Badger
There was one point of the season where Fulham's mascot was getting more favourable press coverage than the team, and with good reason. He was pictured consoling Chelsea manager Avram Grant and was then sent off against Aston Villa during a televised game for breakdancing in the corner while the game was about to kick off.
Also nominated: Woy Hodgson, Erik Nevland

Frank Spencer Award - Chris Baird
Poor Chris Baird. The £3m centre half embodied his manager Laurie Sanchez and for that reason the Fulham fans never took to him. Clearly suffering from having his confidence knocked (he was Southampton's player of the season last year), Baird put in one clueless performance after another, albeit at right back - not his natural position. Frequently out of position and with appalling distribution, it would not be a surprise if he returns to the south coast this summer.
Also nominated: Brede Hangeland for his 'performance' against Sunderland, Tony Warner

Laissez-Faire Award - Seol Ki-Hyeon
It is now apparent why Reading were so happy to see the back of the Korean. When he was up for it, Ki-Hyeon mixed skill and pace with a surprisingly robust physical presence. However most of the time he looked like he couldn't be arsed. Useless as a starter, Ki-Hyeon only made any impact on a game when introduced as a sub and then not often enough.
Also nominated: Diomansy Kamara

Goal of the Season - Diomansy Kamara v Tottenham Hotspur
In probably the best match the Cottage saw this season, Kamara's last minute, overhead kick equaliser probably generated the most celebration. An undeserved point against London neighbours in such spectacular and unexpected fashion was an incredible feeling and, in the end, was essential for Premiership survival.
Also nominated: David Healey v Sunderland, Hameur Bouzza v Man City

Atmosphere of the Season - Fulham v Everton
The Cottage came alive for this game, aided by the paper clappers which generated a background noise from which to progress. I think this was the game where the 'Great Escape' theme first started this season and caught the mood and I believe took the pressure off the players - helping them record an unlikely 1-0 win.
Also nominated: Fulham v Spurs, Fulham v Birmingham

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Great Escape

Highly improbable? Yes. Highly enjoyable? Definitely. The shout that emanated from our table when the news of a goal came from Fratton Park was one of unexpected joy. Had the Walkabout in Shepherd's Bush been showing the match on Setanta (rather than Aussie rules football) it would have been one of disbelief if the match reports were anything to go by.
A nervy Man United win combined with a nervy Fulham win and Man City being battered 8-1 by Middlesbrough of all teams provided me with quite an incredibly fulfilling day of football.
Many are labelling Fulham's survival as the greatest escape, although I'm not so sure. I was doing some work experience in the PA Sport office the day on-loan goalkeeper Jimmy Glass scored in the last minute to keep Carlisle in the League. I suppose there are some parallels - Glass shouldn't have been in the penalty area when he scored the winner and, according to Danny Murphy, he shouldn't have been either.
Personally I thought Fulham were down, but only after the gutless defeat at home to Sunderland. The week before that I had convinced myself that Fulham were staying up after writing this piece, so much so I had a bet on it. Now I'm £80 better off. Cheers Fulham - that'll go towards next year's season ticket.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

I'm not sure if exciting is the word

Well its been a quite remarkable season for me personally and going into the final game with one eye at the top and one eye at the bottom of the league is a new experience for me. I must admit I have a horrible feeling that Fulham will not get anything from Fratton Park, but that's not defeatist as I'm not sure that Birmingham or Reading will get the necessary points either.
However it is the last game of the season, which is renowned for unusual scorelines. Fulham to win three consecutive away games? No bother! Throw possible European qualification into the mix through the Fair Play League (fingers crossed for Man City red cards) and it could be an incredible game.
A friend called me up yesterday and wished me luck on the last day of the season. As a Fulham fan. He didn't quite understand that I was actually a Man United fan who had a Fulham season ticket and, frankly, I don't think he wanted to understand it. It was strange, but I suppose symptomatic of the enthusiasm I have shown for Fulham this season.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Brian McBride - An apology

I've never really understood the reverence with which Fulham fans held Brian McBride. He was good in the air, granted, but he never seems to have much else in the locker. He doesn't take people on, he hasn't got blistering pace and he doesn't have what I would describe as 'the fury' necessary to be captain.
However it is becoming clear to me that was he does have is timing. Time and time again it is McBride who is popping up and breaking the deadlock and helping Fulham claw their way to safety in the league. It is an extremely valuable trait that most other players are lacking in the squad. In fairness, I haven't seen much of the big American this season (what has happened to Eddie Johnson by the way?) with his long term injury, but the more I see, the better he looks.
Against Birmingham it also showed that McBride also had another vital attribute - awareness. Brum had a corner, but the ball was cleared. As all the Fulham players pushed out, McBride had the nous to check out the defensive set-up as Brum won the ball back. For some reason there was a Brum player free on the left side of the box, God knows where Stalteri was, and he ran 15 yards to plug the gap. In this new position, McBride was able to easily chest the cross back to Keller, but had he not stepped in then there would have been a one on one situation. In find that the fact that McBride did this even though he is a striker even more impressive.
So I'm now in the Brian McBride Fan Club. Hopefully he can add to his Fulham legend this weekend.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Fulham 2 - 0 Birmingham City

Well, well, well. The Cottagers do their fans proud and put things back into in their own hands. It may sound like an innuendo, but Fulham's 2-0 win over Brum has provided an opportunity that very few thought possible just a few months ago.
Fulham are now out of the drop zone with one game to play. Unbelievable! As Kammy might say.
We went to the final home game of the season mob-handed as my mate Pete the City fan was down for the bank holiday weekend. In fact Pete must be one of the few hundred people to see Fulham win twice in consecutive weekends. Also with Pete was his five-year old daughter Sara and his bird Emma. Sara has been to a few matches before at Man City, so she was not too phased by Craven Cottage. She absolutely adored the clappers given out though and held them up continuously, at least until she realised that bashing them on people's heads caused a loud noise.
Her presence even emboldened the little lad who sits in front to start talking to us at this match. I say sits in front, the tyke actually sits on the edge of the top of his seat, so during this match he was practically on my lap. He's a nice little lad though, who all season has been watching us chant and tacitly looking for approval whenever he starts singing too.
As for the football, Birmingham are probably one of the worst sides I've seen this season at the Cottage, excepting some of the home team's performances in the middle of the year. They had nothing up front and even less bite than Fulham. I'll be extremely surprised if they stay up.
The big danger is Reading, who may not be playing well but their last game is against Derby. This means Fulham have to win at Portsmouth. No mean feat, but hopefully they will be distracted by the FA Cup final the week after.
Hopefully Brede Hangeland will be playing like he did in this match rather than how he did against Sunderland. He actually looked like a proper decent player against Brum and made barely any mistakes at all. More of the same please.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

It's now or never!

Well today's either going to be excellent or a massive damp squib. My City supporting mate is down from Manchester with his bird and 5-year-old daughter so we are all going along. This is good because whenever Pete watches a Fulham game there is an average of five goals scored (and thanks for the points last week mate!).
I hope Woy starts with McBride and Healey and then brings Kamara and Nevland on - that tactic was pretty effective last week and Kamara has never really done the business when he has started a game.
It's going to be soooo tense. Ish and Coops are actually going to attend this match, with it being the last one of the season and I believe they will see a difference with the crowd. They stopped going because the crowd at Fulham was less than boisterous at the start of the season, but I've told them that this has change over the past few months (starting with the win against Villa).
I've decided that I will probably renew my season ticket (expense permitting) if Fulham do go down. In a way, the Championship is more genuine and exciting anyway than the ultra negative Premiership.

Hopefully it won't be an issue though...

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Squeaky bum time

So in order to have any chance of staying up, Fulham need to be unbeaten for the next three games. This is possible. In September Fulham were unbeaten in four league games - however they didn't get a single win during this time. This actually encapsulated a period where Fulham were defeated just once in eight games in the league - the poor 2-0 home defeat against Pompey. However they only won one game in this time. This will not be enough to keep Fulham up.
Two wins and a draw could be enough to overturn things (as long as one of those wins is against Birmingham) although a lot will depend on this game today against Man City. Fulham seem to have been losing a lot of 'must-win' games these days.
Perhaps I should go abroad more often. Two of Fulham's five league wins this season have come while I have been out of the country on holiday. However as both these results were against Reading, perhaps Fulham should just apply to play the Royals more often. Although if Fulham do somehow stay up, it will likely be at the expense of Reading.
Jari Litamen has become symbolic of Fulham's season. He's now out injured because Ricardo Batista kicked a ball that hit him on the head. Although the presence of Chairman Mo means that the club could have always been ridiculed, this has been largely avoided thanks to the other personnel at FFC. However this just makes the team a laughing stock.
Woy Hodgson said: "Jari has been very unfortunate. When I first went to the Finnish FA he was standing next to his sporting director at Malmo who opened a can of coke and the top popped into Jari's eye."
This is why he is being paid £15,000 a week and being described in some quarters as '
one of the worst signings in Premier League history'. The only way he can redeem himself and provide proof that he is worth the money is with winners against the Brum and Pompey

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Fulham 1 - 3 Sunderland

Well this was a real gut churner quite frankly. This was the one where I left feeling betrayed. But how dare I, a johnny-latecomer, feel so annoyed and pissed of at a team that isn't even mine. What about the fans who have been going to the Cottage for decades? Have I any right to get indignant on their behalf?
The main problem with this games is that I had half convinced myself that Fulham were staying up. I even had a bet on at 9/2. Those odds have gone up to 15/2 now and with good reason. After this, another spineless, clueless performance, I have no doubt that Fulham are going down.
Roy Hodgson doesn't appear to have made any difference at all. In fact most of the players on the pitch yesterday were signed by his predecessors, so God knows why he went on that acquisition spree in January. He's not even using them.
One one player he is using was a massive cause for this defeat. Brede Hangeland. It's like watching a hulking marionette at centre half. Zat Knight was more effective. Sunderland manager Roy Keane was on the nose when he said that they didn't play well, but scored at the right times. Just before half-time with the first effort on target, 10 minutes after half time with a route one goal which broke Fulham's belief and then a minute after David Healy showcased his talent with a 20 yard curling left footer to nip in the bud any chance of a revival.
I was very angry at them after the game, but it's hard to know who to blame. Most of the players were trying hard, but didn't really know how to change things. The question is, do I continue going next year if they can piss me off this much?

Friday, 4 April 2008

Irritating thing, hope.

Okay, so I've decided to plump for the Fulham game against Sunderland tomorrow, despite the Mighty North End's visit to QPR at the same time. For a moment I was considering going to one match, then haring it across West London for the second half of the other match, then I asked myself what the point was. I'll ask myself again at half-time tomorrow.
There were several reasons for doing this:
1) I knew someone else going to the Cottage.
2) If I didn't go tomorrow then there was just the game against Birmingham left (I'm going on holiday for two weeks, so will miss the 'Pool.
3) Preston are more or less safe from relegation after winning five out of six.
4) Fulham still have that outside chance of staying up.
It's that little bit of hope that just sticks in the gut and twists you around a bit. It's horrible.
But a look at the fixtures remaining and it may be possible. Regardless of the fact that Fulham have only won four this season.
H - Sunderland - They'll have to play well, but Fulham did beat Everton and Villa. I reckon this could be a cracking match.
A - Reading - A key match. If Fulham are to stay up they really need to win this one.
H - Liverpool - A repeat of last year's unlikely victory may be on the cards, especially if Liverpool get passed Arsenal and they rest players at the Cottage again.
A - Man City - Have suffered a real slump in form recently. Fulham need to get something from this game, even if its just a point.
H - Birmingham - Another team struggling to stay in the division. This is when the fighters will need to stand up and be counted. But how many fighters are in the squad?
A - Portsmouth - With Pompey highly likely to be in the FA Cup final, they might rest some key players and those left on the pitch might not give 100% if they want to get to Wembley without getting injured.

Then again, Fulham may not get another point this season. Like I said, it's the hope that gets you. Anyone know when Fulham usually try and renew the season tickets? And will they be as cheap as this year considering there are more matches in the Championship?

  • Forgot to mention - At the Man Utd v Liverpool match, the two women sat next to me left 20 minutes before the end! I mean, what's the point?

Saturday, 29 March 2008

A different perspective

I managed to score tickets to Man United v Liverpool at Old Trafford on Easter Sunday, so was obviously made up with the result. It's the first time I've made it to the 'Theatre of Dreams' (bleugh) this season and the first time I remember being sat in the South Stand.
I think I am overly critical of Old Trafford as I remember it when it was terracing and therefore brilliant (Nostalgia Rule 3.4), but I expected the whole ground to be up for a match against Liverpool. This will be more like how it used to be!
Indeed the Stretford End were in great voice and there was even some noise in the East Stand. The South Stand, however, was deathly quiet. I would much rather have been in the Hammersmith End (as it was against Everton) watching Fulham. The only good thing about the seats was that Mascheano combusted right in front of us, which was rather amusing. The guy was harassing the referee all through the first half and no-one in the stands was surprised to see him get a red. What a lunatic.
Getting a tea at half time (it had snowed that day) was also a nightmare. The guy who was serving was slower than a glacier. We'd have got our order quicker if I had trained myself in telekinesis while in the queue and used my brainwaves to pass the carton cups over the counter.

As for Fulham. They so need to win today it's not funny. If they don't, I really can't see how they will stay up. If they do win, then there is that horrible affliction called hope that will nag away until the end of the season.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Fulham 1 - 0 Everton

Now this is more like it! (strange sense of Deja Vu).
I was amazed to hear before the match that Everton have not taken even a point from Craven Cottage since 1966. That's 42 years! Granted Fulham have yoyoed through the divisions during that time, but that is some record. Surely their luck would change at some point?
Maybe, but not this season. Possibly knackered from going out of the UEFA Cup on penalties during the week, the Toffeemen didn't get off to a good start when speedy slaphead Andy Johnson pulled up with a groin injury and they didn't have the personnel to fulfil a plan B.
Despite this, Fulham really didn't get going in the first half. In fact I don't think I've ever seen so many misplaced passes by one team during a 45 minute period. It would have been understandable if the Fulham fans had wished it was their own Johnson, American Eddie, that had got injured and carted off, so ineffective and headless was he. I never thought I'd hear the Hammersmith End calling for the introduction of Diomansy Kamara!
Still at half time Woy appears to have actually managed to make the players communicate with one another and Fulham played better stuff in the second half. The goal, when it came, was functional and, tellingly, Fulham's only attempt on target. It's about time the Cottager's luck took a turn for the better. How Simon Davies missed with an open goal later on is one of those enigmas wrapped in riddles that I've been reading so much about recently.
Personally I thought Everton had a strong shout for a penalty just before half-time when I think Pienaar was brought down, but I have seen no other mention of the incident elsewhere so I guess I was wrong.
A mention must be made of the cracking atmosphere at the Cottage. It's been recorded elsewhere, but being part of a crowd shouting, singing and generally having a laugh is what I signed up for in the first place. More please!
Of course the worst thing about this result is the hope that it brings that Fulham will stay up. Eight games left and most are against eminently beatable teams, however only three of these are at home and the away form is worse than useless. We'll see how Fulham do at St James' Park this weekend before making any judgement on whether they can stay up, but I reckon the survival mark will be at a record low point level. Here's hoping.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

A bunch of CLINTS

Before Christmas I noticed that the official match day programme had a tendency to use Clint Dempsey's first name in headlines above stories regarding the American striker. I initially thought that it was simply because it's shorter than his surname, no-one else has got the same name making it instantly recognisable and, finally, that its quite a cool name.
However, there might be a more nefarious reason.
Adam, before he buggered off to Singapore, was reading a programme at the match and my eye briefly ran over the page. I had to look again to make sure it DIDN'T say what I initially thought it said.
Try it. Just look at the headline of this post with slightly closed eyes. With the right font, it could be very, very rude. And therefore very, very funny for the compilers of the programme.
Unfortunately Clint hasn't had so many stories about him since the start of the year as the influx of new talent has given the writers some fresh victims to write about.
Personally I am looking forward to more headlines about Clint, who has impressed me with his endeavour this year, with another winner against Liverpool who might be resting players for a semi-final tie in the Champions League, depending on whether they get passed Arsenal.
On a separate note I have managed to score tickets for Man United verses Liverpool next week, which is pleasing as I have missed/will miss the Craven Cottage games with these two teams. If things continue as anticipated, the only team I will have missed this year will be Reading, which is no great loss. Unfortunately I have had the misfortune of watching Wigan twice.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Fulham 0 -1 West Ham United

I've not posted in a while and I only logged in to delete this whole thing. I'm that apathetic about things at the moment. However this may be down to some of the football I've been watching recently.
The West Ham match was a bit of a joke. Fulham had by far the better chances to score. West Ham's goal looked a bit dodgy from the other end of the stadium, but on TV it seemed incredible that it had been allowed. A boot in the goalkeeper's face, followed by by Nobby Solano putting the ball in with his elbow? When you don't have the luck, you do not have the luck.
It didn't help that referee Howard Webb seemed to be booking Fulham players left right and centre for infringements yet letting the Spammers off for exactly the same fouls. I was shocked to see him officiating a Champions League match last night.
The last four times I've seen West Ham they've been unbeaten, with three wins against teams I've been supporting and one draw. Bastards. I really don't like them, especially as they then roll over against Chelsea and Lolerpool.
I didn't attend the Fulham v Man United game for two reasons. One , as a Man United fan myself, I didn't think it would be right to sit with the fans I've been sitting with all season and support the away team. Two - I was in Manchester watching the travesty of a game that was City verses Wigan. Thank god the tickets were freebies.
I've seen some poor matches at Craven Cottage this season, but nothing to rival the souless, goaless draw that, had I been at home, would have had me cancelling my Setanta subscription mid-match.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Grudge match

Ahead of this weekend's game at Craven Cottage, I feel it's time to lay my cards on the table here: I hate West Ham. I really want to see their team suffer. It's not logical, in fact it's pretty petty, but that's what football is like at times.
It wasn't always this way. As with the majority of the country, I used to look quite fondly upon the Hammers. They played some good football and felt like they had some romance and heritage, stemming from the 60s when it supplied some of the key players for the victorious England side in 1966.
Man United might have thrown away the chance to grab the title at Upton Park by drawing 1-1 in 1995, but I didn't blame West Ham for that. I blamed Andy Cole. However, the turn of the century saw a change in my ideals.
First up, West Ham played my second team Preston North End in the play off finals in 2005. North End had already done the double on the not-so happy Hammers (the away leg I was privileged to attend), but the Lillywhites froze (again) at the Millennium Stadium and West Ham won 1-0 and got promoted. Suddenly everyone was a West Ham United supporter. People with a hitherto undeclared love for football were suddenly Claret and Blue crazy. They were everywhere, like an infestation, and they caused your skin to itch, especially as they had been pretty quiet when it looked like they would have to stay in the Championship.
Secondly, they failed to beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final. My dislike of LFC has many levels, and by giving the Pool another trophy, West Ham were given another subconscious black mark.
Last season, for my girlfriend's 30th and mother's 50th, I splashed out on corporate tickets at Old Trafford for the last game of the season. I wanted to see Man United pick up the Premiership trophy (for what feasibly could have been the last time) so I stumped up £600 for four tickets. This was quite a risk as Chelsea were very much still in the title race at the time I had to book the tickets. Fortunately this was not the case come May. Unfortunately the opposition were West Ham, who beat us AGAIN and stayed up as a consequence.
The Hammers beat United again this season. They are a bogey team and I want rid of them. So I will have absolutely no qualms about singing for the Fulham cause tomorrow. West Ham are going to get beaten.
  • On a similar note, I have a strange affinity for Watford of all teams - I think it's because they were my first Subbuteo team. The 1985 strip with the red and black stripe across the chest.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

My flirtation with relegation

I've realised that I've been quite lucky as a football fan in that with all the teams I've picked up along the way I don't ever recall being in a relegation fight, never mind being relegated. The worst I've had as a Manchester United fan is them being mid-table and mediocre under Big Fat (and now racist) Ron. I got into Preston 10 years ago when I moved to the town (and now city) since which they've been promoted twice and involved in the play-offs on four occasions.
Times do change though and thanks to the acquisition of a Fulham season ticket and the collapse in trust of a nice, if weak, manager in Preston means I am not so much having a flirtation with relegation, but a full blown affair. I wonder if I should buy a Valentine's Card?
A relegation battle is harder work on the fans than the players in my opinion. If the player is good enough they can just transfer to a non-relegated team in the close season. The fans are stuck with it. The hard part is the hope. Personally I though Fulham were going down after they failed to beat Derby at home. When they went one down to Villa, I questioned whether Fulham would get any more points at home at all. But suddenly they started playing. And won. And provided that kernel of hope that relegation would be avoided. But the existence of that hope makes the dread of relegation even harder to stomach. I'm sure Derby fans are quite relaxed and trying to enjoy what's left of their season. But for the other clubs in the mire, games are so tense there's no sense of enjoyment. Only relief.
I went over to Colchester United last night to see Preston play at Layer Road (before it gets bulldozed at the end of the season). I really wanted to go and watch a game in terracing again and it helped the atmosphere and singing. However PNE got beat 2-1, not helped by an atrocious officiating performance by the referee and his assistants, a result which leaves North End very much in the relegation mix. The players tried their hardest, but I still couldn't help feeling betrayed. It's horrible this relegation lark. I can see why the Americans don't bother with it - the sales of Prozac would treble within a season.
Still - here's hoping!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Healywatch 2

Healywatch makes its exciting second appearance! In truth it's been hard to watch Healy. After a bright start, much like the team, things haven't quite worked out for the record goalscorer in European Championship qualifiers.
He has always tried, much more than Kamara at any rate, but it appears he has now fallen out of favour with Woy Hodgson who has brought in three new strikers and seen McBride come back from injury. He didn't even make the squad for the win against Villa, a situation that appears to have upset him in this article.
He says: "I knew it wouldn't be easy making the step up to the Premiership. In my book it is the best league in the world with many of the finest defenders on the planet out to stop strikers like me hitting the net. Despite what has happened this season and especially recently, I still have great faith in my ability.
There have been question marks raised about whether I can cut it in the top flight. Well, I can tell you right here in this column that I DO BELIEVE I am good enough to play in the Premier League."
Ten out of ten for attitude I suppose, but I'm not sure what kind of a look-in Healy's going to get now, especially with Woy's purging of the smaller players in the team. If only Healy had come from Scandinavia - he'd be a cert to start. However finding yourself behind 36-year-old Jari Litamen in the pecking order might persuade Healy to go out on loan. He might like to return to the only club side he scored regularly for - Preston North End. They could certainly do with the help at the moment.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Fulham 2 - 1 Aston Villa

Yes, you read that right. A third home win of the season and well deserved too against a high flying Aston Villa team which could have moved into fourth spot (albeit by scoring five) with a win.
This was the first glimpse that the home fans had been given of Woy Hodgson's new look side, despite him being in situ for around six weeks, and there were definitely signs that it may not be too late yet.
The midweek away match at Bolton provided a bit of an indication that Fulham were now a 4-5-1 team even with the new players. This is a bit frustrating, especially at fellow strugglers where a win would have been wonderful. However a defeat would have been unthinkable and in the end it appears the goalless draw was a good set-up for a somewhat unexpected victory against the Villains. Anyway - expect more 0-0 draws away from home.
In this match poor Baird got booed before he even came on, but despite this he started brightly and won some important headers and made some useful tackles. After about 20 minutes though, he reverted to type and was quite simply shocking. His distribution went awol, which caused his head to drop, which then affected the rest of his game. I'm amazed he didn't get hooked during the 90 minutes. If he thought the crowd was on his back during this game then he should be pleased that the fans didn't know that he'd decked St Jimmy Bullard in training. They'd have lynched him. Other players who played below their previous high performance levels were Danny Murphy and Paul Konchesky.
In the first half, Fulham were reasonably comfortable, but that all changed at the start of the second with Villa having constant pressure, but not really testing the keeper. Inevitably they did score from a corner but yet another own goal. Villa have only scored 3 against Fulham this season, which includes two OGs - one from an ex-Villa player and one from a defender who signed for Villa three days later!
Anyway, whether the goal made Villa rest on their laurels, or gave Fulham a kick up the arse, or whether it was the introduction of the talismanic Brian McBride for the hardworking Erik Nevland, the game suddenly changed. Fulham were in the ascendancy, equalised quickly and then saw Bully do his Roy of the Rovers stuff from the freekick. Woy doesn't want too much pressure to be placed on the shoulders of the maniac (or McBride either) but if they continue to have such influence on games then the weight of expectation on them will only grow. Especially at the business end of this season.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Fulham 0 - 3 Arsenal

I know it's taken me a while to get here, but what a depressing game. In the first instance of Woy Hodgson actually doing something different to Lawrie Sanchez, Fulham went out to tackle Arsenal in a 4-5-1 formation. Surprisingly, Dempsey was the 1 upfront. None of the new signings were involved.
It was no doubt meant to stifle Arsenal's progress in the middle of the park, but lasted all of 19 minutes before Adebayor activated his go-go-gadget legs and calmed headed the ball into the net. For all intents and purposes, this signalled the end of the match. Individually Arsenal's players impressed with the speed of their feet around the ball and some of the passes they pulled off, but in reality they didn't get out of third gear. The second goal was almost a carbon copy of the first, with Fulham's defence as clueless and gormless as ever. Adebayor also showed himself to be the classless idiot he really is by goading the Fulham fans in the Hammersmith End after the second goal, despite there being no provocation the other way.
Although I have heard the third goal to involve Rosicky 'acrobatics' you couldn't really make anything out from our seats and I have not bothered to catch it on television since.
This wasn't so much a thrashing as a public dressing down. There are light years between the two squads at the moment. This is perhaps emphasised by the fact that Arsenal only bothered to have three shots on target all game (three more than Fulham though).
Since the game, the Cottagers have crashed out of the FA Cup on penalties to Bristol Rovers and entertain (perhaps the wrong use of word) Aston Villa on Sunday desperately needing points. The awful performance of Derby County (who got a point at the Cottage) is masking how bad things are for Fulham. They are one of the worst performers in the League at this stage over the last 15 years.
Still they've now signed ex Man Utd trainee Erik Nevland, who will join Eddie Johnson in attack, with midfielder Leon Andreasen and defender Breder Hangeland starting tonight against Bolton - one of the two teams that Fulham have actually defeated this season. Another defender is necessary in my opinion, but the transfer window closes on Thursday night.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

A case for optimism?

The first new signing of Woy Hodgson's reign has arrived and several more appear to be on the way. Norwegian International defender Brede Hangeland (pictured) has joined the squad from FC Copenhagen and was part of the line-up that beat Manchester United 1-0 in the 2006/07 Champions League group phase.
As is the want with new managers, Hodgson wants to bring in players he knows he can trust. While managing FK Viking, Hodgson made Hangeland club captain.
While it is unlikely that Hangeland will become captain (at least not straight away) he will hopefully add some much needed pace to the backline.
Although a Norweigan international, Hangeland was actually born in Texas, so should fit right in with FulhamUSA, as will the new striker Eddie Johnson. The American international will provide some bite (and height) to the attack. Johnson's international form is actually better than his domestic form, which sounds worryingly like a certain Mr Healey, but it at least provides some options upfront, work-permit permitting.
Perhaps the most exciting potential signing is Watford's Marlon King, although £5m appears to be at the higher end of the Championship scale. King has dominated defences at the lower level, but never really got a chance to shine in the Premiership after a knee injury wiped him out of most of last season. And that sounds horribly similar to Mr Kamara. Unfortunately worries over this knee injury appears to be holding up the transfer and he won't be around to face Arsenal today.
With these three, all Fulham need now is a holding midfielder, although Hangeland can apparently play there as well. Throughout the season, scoring has not been a problem but conceeding goals has cost Fulham dozens of points. Therefore another defensively-minded player could work wonders. Hopefully it will not be too little, too late.

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