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.

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