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.

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