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.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Return of the King

For all the expected result at West Ham (ten games Fulham have taken the lead now without winning), it was brilliant to see Jimmy Bullard back and hear the reception that he received.
Bullard really is the everyman, he's the epitome of the berk you used to play football with after school, only this one has made it to the top level of football.
Bullard has only played three and a third games for Fulham before this, scoring two goals and getting the side four points. Perhaps he can be the spark that will get Fulham some much needed points away from home, because they look unlikely to get enough just from their home games.
A draw against Arsenal on Saturday will be an unbelievable result, but in essence Fulham need a win, which goes to show the difficulties Woy Hodgson has got. Even if Fulham beat Arsenal, they will stay in the relegation zones.
Hodgson needs a striker and a quick centre-back. He could also do with a ball-winner in the middle of the park, but Fulham's cup runneth over with midfielders already.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Fulham 2 - 2 Bristol Rovers

Well I thought this would be the first home win I'd seen since the start of the season, but sadly the picture was all too familiar. At least on the pitch. Off the pitch and in the stands was a little bit strange.
As we only booked the seats for the cup match on the Friday I had to pick the tickets up from the ground (which cost an extra £1 for some unfathomable reason), so I got to Craven Cottage early. The place was swarming with Bristol Rovers fans. I met the boys in the Fulham fans only Golden Lion (locked doors and I had to show my season ticket to be let in) as the other two pubs were closed to football colours, probably because of the scary influx of Bristollians. What I didn't expect is that they would still outnumber the Fulham fans once inside the ground.
Apparently the 'pirates' brought 7,000. The official attendance was 13,500. Not surprisingly, they made more noise than the Fulham fans - especially as the Fulham team had actually given them plenty to sing about. In all honesty, they were better than most Premiership fans that have visited the Cottage. They even had some inventive and original songs.
We'd billeted ourselves in the Riverside Stand as that meant I had watched a match in all four sections of the ground this season, but the Riverside is a much different prospect than its three other brethren. It feels wrong somehow to sing-a-long (and swear at the players) when surround by the infant and infirm. At half time we decamped back to the Hammersmith Stand, pretty much like a lower league team's fans can, and joined in some of the singing there instead.
I even heard a song that I'd not come across before - Fulham fans singing sarcastically about winning the Intertoto Cup. Perhaps there's life in the old dogs yet.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Fulham 1 - 2 Chelsea

Well it was the first game under Woy Hodgson's direction, but the script seemed pretty similar. One up going into half time, only to be beaten in 90 minutes. In fairness to the new gaffer he hadn't had much time with the team, so he wouldn't have been able to change too much in that period of time, even if it was against a slightly lacklustre Chelsea side.
All the goals happened down the other end of the ground so we couldn't see what was going on, however the Hammersmith End were in good voice for this match. It's not often you can say that. Obviously it helped with being against the local rivals but I reckon the kick off also played its part. 12.45pm on New Year's Day - everyone is still pissed.
It was good to see Mauritz Volz playing as he added a bit of dynamism to the side, but Fulham were very poor and lucky to be leading. Strange thing is Chelsea were also incredibly poor, but deserved the win.
I'd never really noticed how big Michael Ballack is. He's massive. It' s just a shame he goes down at the merest touch. It's an even bigger shame that the referees keep falling for it, as happened here in my opinion.
While Ballack is big, Alex the centre half is even bigger. If you combined all the Fulham squad into one big, semi-talented footballing monstrosity, I kind of think you'd end up with something that does not look entirely dislike Alex.
The good thing about this game is, for the first time in three matches, we got to do the 'you're shit aaaah' chant to the goalie while they were taking a goal kick. Freak's of play (and Fulham not having any shots) means that the opposition goal keeper taking goal kicks at the Hammersmith End have been few and far between. In fact the first two goal kicks they had the bastard Hilario ended up passing it to the left back rather than booting it upfield, the bastard.
I'm not sure if anyone else is joining in when we barrack the goalie in this way, but we're enjoying it so we don't care. It's strange that most of the fun at this match derived from us singing daft songs about Jarrod pulling the night before rather than what was directly happening on the pitch. You've got to make your own entertainment at the Cottage these days.

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