Author Archives: WhiteJC

Quality over quantity

by danniboi-ffc

How wonderful is it to have so many options? Yet the squad is smaller than last season. Now we have more than one player for every position bar strikers which I am very confident the club will rectify before the deadline.

If I had to pick players that I’d be happy to see go before the window slams shut they would be Stearman/Ream, Tunnicliffe, Kavanagh, Grimmer and Woodrow.

I want 2 strikers in and with Smith as a third option I don’t really see a need for Woodrow. I’d loan him out with a recall option for emergencies. Same with Tunnicliffe as I believe he is the weak link squad player that is in Adeniran’s way. Just like O hara and Matilla were last year for Hyndman.

We could make 4 changes when everyone is fit and still be strong. The club may have broken even with money in and out but that doesn’t bother me. I am very impressed with this window. Compared to last season where I was very critical on deadline day and criticised this has been a breathe of fresh air. We have actually identified a system and built/signed players with the attributes and versatility to suit it. Compare the likes of Aluko and Ayite to the likes of Pringle or Odoi comfortable with both feet and both flanks in contrast to Garbutt or Jazz  who didn’t look comfortable wearing football boots let alone 2 positions.

No over the hill O’hara either, instead all our players are either in their prime or at a very good age all in the mid 20s.

We also have more strength in depth than most championship squads now bar strikers. This will surely give us an advantage as the season moves on and injuries/suspensions take their toll. We also thanks to our academy have the likes of Sess, Ade, Edun and De la torre who combined would cost others millions to have 4 players in the squad even just as back ups. Another advantage as with ffp most clubs won’t be able to both assemble a strong eleven and have a big squad. There’s always give and take with their budgets but we now have an opportunity to get in 2 top strikers and be one of the favourites. Something I never imagined saying a few months ago.

Fulham are defying maths. A 20 man squad should not be bigger than a 26 man squad of last year but it is.

Really buzzing about today, COYW!!!!!!

My view of the Cardiff game

by dannyboi-ffc

I always thought Smith was the donkey but at least even he has a purpose. We become very one dimensional with the long ball but as a sub he’s a weapon to be used in times of desperation with 10mins to go. Woodrow on the other hand with 10 minutes to go would influence absolutely nothing.

He’s slow, weak, makes dreadful runs if at all, isn’t an outlet, never scores simple goals because he’s not intelligent enough to be in the right place to score them. I used to think he was hard done by when it was always Dembele and Ross because Woodrow seems to do well when given a chance. But he’s had two starts now and I saw them both, Leyton Orient and today. He was easily the weak link and the reason we were forced to play everything in front of Cardiff as there was no penetration. No ability to hold onto the ball with his back to goal and lay it off for the midfield runners. Come to think of it there’s only one word to describe Woodrow’s performance today, non-existent (or is that two words lol)

Apologies to those who rate him and to the young man himself. Its certainly not for the want of trying but imo he shows no potential that his game can improve or change. I think physically he is what he is and its just not enough. We lost 40 goals this season and whilst I expect everyone to chip in with goals I expect my centre forward to give more of an overall contribution to our attacks.

This is just born out of pure frustration that the club have taken so long to sign a striker. I was the first to say Ross needs to go and well done to the club for receiving a good fee. If truth be told I wasn’t even that bothered about Dembele either other than the fact we allowed his situation to cost us a potential big transfer fee. But I expected a top quality striker who was more suited to Joka’s style to come in by now. Imo we have dropped 4 points in less than a week simply because our strikers aren’t good enough. You cant expect to win by one goal every week.

Woodrow isn’t the only culprit tonight, Cairney was very quiet although I can certainly forgive him of that. But this is life in the limelight TC, you are the new McCormack and he needs to learn how to cope with teams focusing on stopping him from playing. But what today proved is that when Cairney is quiet and when we get just one injury to Ayite we are literally down to the bare bones and depending on some magic from Aluko. We need more attacking options, a winger and 2 strikers.

I like Sessengon and congrats on becoming Fulham’s youngest ever goalscorer and possibly our youngest ever player at the Cottage? Only Briggs betters it but that was away to Boro. He looks very good going forward but there was a spell in the second half where I thought he looked out of his depth and lost the ball several times. But he has a bright future and belongs with the first team squad.

I can now see why Cardiff fans celebrated the Malone swap. Although definitely better than Richards and defensively pretty decent but going forward I thought he was shocking. Still think we really missed out on Husband even though he’s injured at the minute. But I think in games like Newcastle where its more about defending then he’s a good squad player. But games like today where teams know we are better than them and sit back waiting for us to break them down, he’s doesn’t add much.

It’s a shame Parker is so old as a couple of years younger and McDonald/ Parker would be the best partnership in this division. They ran the game and were both outstanding. But we need another Parker to share the burden as Tunnicliffe isn’t of the same standard and we are weaker without Parker who cant play every game.

Overall I’m disappointed to have dropped 2 points because I believed we deserved the win and were so capable of running away with it. Cardiff bar 2 wonder goals, and even then the second I question the keeper but haven’t seen a replay, Cardiff did sweet FA and showed no intention of wanting to score until they had to. And we were naive to allow them back into the game. But that disappointment is fuelled by what’s been an amazing start to the season and when the players have defied all of our expectations and raised the bar I think its harsh to be too hard on them at this stage of the season when they rescued a point. I see a massive positive contrast in our mentality. Last season that equaliser makes us crumble and go onto lose 3-1. But there was only one team in it once they were winning and that was us. It showed the kind of hunger, fight and character needed from a team that wants promotion. And I loved the fact we didn’t celebrate the goal, we picked the ball up and ran back to the kickoff as we could smell blood. Thats clearly come from the manager and I’m so optimistic with him at the helm.

I said it before a few weeks back and i’ll say it again. There’s something about Jokanovic that not even the great Hodgson or Tigana had. Something about his presence on the touchline and his attitude. That’s not to say he will achieve what they did or even close to it but if the club can sort out the transfer/ kline issues and make Joka happy, then I believe he has something about him to become our greatest ever manager. Or I should say the best in my lifetime as I’m not in a position to judge past greats before my time.

We are still joint second, goal difference means nothing at the stage and we should beat Blackburn. I know the old cliche’s of this is Fulham so you cant treat anything as guaranteed but something about this team and what could be with a few quality additions that gives me the confidence to believe we will win.

Onwards and upwards


orient game- the good and bad

by Danniboi

First of all anyone who saw the score and were gutted to miss out, trust me it was certainly not a 5 goal thriller. But it was enjoyable none the less to see 4 young men make their professional debuts and do us proud. And what better way to start but talking about them.

Sess and Adeniran are a class above Edun and De la Torre. Physically strong and big enough to compete now IMO, everyone hypes up Sess and rightly so, he does the simple things with ease and plays like a fullback with years of experience. But for me Adeniran was just as special last night. He protected the defence so well and over powered the orient midfield and they were not small either. In fact Parker and Ade were so in control that it only became noticeable when Ade went off with a knock and Tunni came on. We started to become bullied and it was no coincidence both goals conceded came after Ade went off and were both towering headers.

Edun was tidy but drifted in and out of the game. He linked up well with Sess on the left but not sure he affected the game enough to be considered for the first team. De la torre IMO was not good enough. Physically much weaker than the other 3 and with no end product. For his debut and at his age I’m certainly not writing him off as he showed glimpses of magic dribbling with the ball Robertsesque but the game passed him by and he fizzled out. Joka was right to sub him.

Onto the senior players, whilst the youngsters showed promise the senior players proved why they didn’t start on Friday. Stearman and Ream were OK when it was easy but once Ade went off and orient lumped it into the box we looked physically weak and unorganised. You just can’t underestimate how much better madl and Kalas are. And this was league two opposition who being bluntly honest, were woeful.

Considering Kavanagh was right back he had his best game for us but even then he is nowhere near the standard required. Physically he is like a 10 year old and it showed when he was flattened when jumping for their second headed goal.

Jorenen not good enough yet, needs a loan. He had very little to do and I haven’t seen replays yet but I thought he should have come for both crosses that they scored from and the first he came half way and ended up in no mans land. Then he tried to catch or punch a third cross and ended up missing it completely resulting in Kav clearing off the line. He has potential but is certainly the number 3.

LVC huffed And puffed but with little end product. Although in his defence at times it seemed where he was our only chance of breaking through and tried a little too much. Again good impact sub but not better than those who started.

Woodrow and this will shock many but IMO he was very poor. He scored 2 world class goals so it seems strange to knock him but his touch was shocking when his back was to goal. Picture Zamora take it down on his chest and bringing runners into play. Instead the ball bounced off of Woodrow and although a good squad player he is not the answer so many think he’s worthy of the chance to be. We need two strikers because we are very short on quality.

Parker was the only one who showed his experience and qualities. I’d be tempted to start him over Tunnicliffe who isn’t good enough. IMO Adeniran looked more disciplined, quicker and better. Going back to Ade and his goal. Shame on the ref and shame on the FA for such a stupid rule for celebrating a goal. This lad is 18 making his pro debut and scored. He didn’t jump into the crowd or take his shirt off. His Dad was in the front row and he hugged him resulting in many fans and half the team jumping into a group hug. Parker like the good captain he is was straight in the refs ear to explain and get Ade off the hook but the ref booked him which was pathetic. But then even more impressively despite being eagar Ade showed fantastic maturity and discipline to avoid risking a second yellow, in fact I dont even remember him giving away a foul. There was one incident where Ade shoulder barged their big centre forward and he went flying, the same guy who bullied Stearman and Ream a couple of times.

I will finish on the manager. He never sat down once, he stands on the edge of his technical area and his presence was very commanding. He is certainly the boss but at the same time the players looked like they were having fun. IMO he could well go onto be our greatest manager. I don’t remember a manager standing with such a profound and commanding presence as Joka. And ultimately I can’t see Craig Kline or Rigg winning if Joka wants his way.

Others may not agree but there was little coverage of the match from what Ive heard so thought I’d give a little analysis. Onwards and upwards

The View from South Texas — Fulham v. Blackburn Rovers

by HatterDon

Another Weekend, Another Mixed Bag

For most of the first half, I told myself that if today’s lineup was Fulham’s default starting XI for the rest of the season, I’d be happy with it. Fulham started brightly, striking deep and quick into Blackburn’s unsettled defense with a great example of – dare I say it – direct, long-ball strikes. With Cairney and Pringle playing as out-and-out wingers and with McCormack and Dembele an actual strike pair, quick counters looked to be on all day. When O’Hara and Tunnicliffe got into the mix with excellent short passing, Fulham looked to be a very good side indeed.

And so it was as early as the 4th minute, when Dembele shook off his defender a few yards into the Rovers’ half and headed straight for the goal line. A quick stop and a blind pass to his left was all it took for Fulham’s captain to be one-on-one with Blackburn’s keeper. Ross doesn’t miss these and it was 1-0. From then on throughout most of the first half, Fulham treated the crowd with a great exhibition of passing – short, long, diagonal, flicks, the lot. Especially noteworthy were Jazz Richards’ cross-field inch-perfect arcing deliveries to Ben Pringle. During this portion of the first half, Tunnicliffe gave a great demonstration of the art of box-to-box midfield play.

On the 30th minute, Fulham got the goal they deserved. McCormack was the recipient of another delivery on the left wing and provided a cross that Tom Cairney fired on. It was then deflected to Tunnicliffe who blistered the palms of the very busy Steele. The rebound fell to Dembele who made no mistake burying the ball into the roof of the net for his first Championship goal.

At this point, Fulham could have run rampant, and a third goal didn’t seem out of the question, but some profligate passes and hesitancy in front of goal deprived them of the goal that could have ended the contest before half-time. Most notable was another gorgeous McCormack cross – this time from the right wing – that Dembele met almost on the goal-line. All it needed was a gentle flick, and that’s exactly what Dembele gave it. Unfortunately, it turned out to be too gentle and the result was nothing but hand wringing and disbelief.

It was also at this point that the Rovers began to play. And a funny thing happened on the way to a clean sheet: Blackburn Rovers are NOT a bottom-three team. A series of blistering attacks from both wings resulted in Andy Lonergan being called upon to make some very nice saves and clearances. Still, on the half-time whistle, Fulham were very much in charge.

The second half was, of course, a totally different slice of sausage. It wasn’t so much that Fulham came out hesitant and over-protective of their lead; it was more that Rovers made a tactical substitution that irrevocably turned the match around. Off came the speedy, but serially disappointing Nathan Delfouneso to be replaced by Bengaly Fode-Koita. From that point on, Rovers got more physical. I’m not saying that they played dirty or even negative. Far from it. I’m saying that they made it clear that every Fulham possession was going to be robustly challenged, and each Rovers possession was going to result in an assault on Lonergan’s goal.

This change showed me a lot about Gary Bowyer, Rovers coach. Going from quickness to strength was exactly what was needed on the day. Fulham was always going to “out-football” Rovers, but had little chance in beating them in commitment. Blackburn has a lot of tall, strong defenders and midfielders, and Jordan Rhodes is no Andy Johnson either. Throughout the second half they kept the ball in the air and won almost every challenge. They were very effective at dead-ball situations, not because Fulham defended them poorly, but because they were able to deliver consistently into an area where an aerial contest would result in their favor. And so, for most of the half, they hammered Fulham. Jordan Rhodes had the devil’s own luck, hitting the post more often than a half-drunk corgi. When James Husband was adjudged to have taken him down in the six-yard box, I was doubtful. The replays confirmed what I should have realized all along: only a foul was going to keep Rhodes from heading in that cross.

Once Rhodes converted the penalty, the game got to be lots of fun. Dembele finally demonstrated the fine art of meshing pace and strength, winning several one-on-one battles and nearly tacking on another goal. At the other end, yet another goal-mouth scramble that featured woodwork contact ended when O’Hara provided what television replays showed to be an ACROSS the goal-line clearance. The battle continued until the final whistle – which I actually got to see since I got up at 0600 to watch it live. Had I slept in and watched the recording, I’d have missed the last four or five minutes of activity.

And so Fulham won and moved to 11th in the league table. The new boys were blooded and the fans went home happy – I’m assuming. The Blackburn following must be even more convinced than ever that they don’t deserve their current league position. They are very good in all aspects of the game and, in Rhodes, have a game-changer deluxe.

Fulham? We’ll we’re significantly better than we were at any point last season, and I like our attack more than I have since Jol screwed it up. We played wide, the fullbacks got into the attack, we had two goal poachers up front and O’Hara and Tunnicliffe marshaled the middle nicely. Stearman and Ream looked sound, and Jazz Richards was marvelous all day long. What was disturbing was Mr Hyde replacing Dr. Jekyll in goal about 55 minutes in. Twice Lonergan hit a hard pass upfield directly to a Rovers player, the last time hitting Rhodes in the back so hard that the rebound went into the stand. It could have easily bulged the back of the net. He also punched a clearance directly to Koita which really should have led to a goal.

Over all, though, I am still upbeat about the future. If these guys can play this well in such a short time together, the future looks good for me.

HatterDon’s Man of the Match: Well, with all due respect to Dembele, Cairney, Richards, and McCormack, I’m giving the award to Richard Stearman. He played a quality center half all match and, when we looked as if we were going to be out-muscled in the second half, he was a rock out there. One thing is for sure, if I’m in a crowd and it all kicks off, I was Stearman to be on my side. Welcome to Craven Cottage, Richard!

“Nobody loves Fulham like I do”

by EJL

Formalities first, Danny Murphy was an outstanding player for Fulham Football Club – a brilliant leader who made the team tick and demanded everything from his teammates. One year on, he still hasn’t been replaced, and many have called for the ex-skipper to be brought back to the club as a coach. I have the utmost respect for Murphy as an influence on the pitch, as a key part of the Cottager’s recent success and the way he personified what many wanted to see in a Fulham team. He is, however, a tad guilty of stirring the pot, so to speak, thanks to a few comments made during a call to talkSPORT on Monday morning.

The recently retired midfielder has been a refreshing addition to BBC’s Match of the Day, breaking the mould of its archaic, dumbed-down analysis usually offered by some of the show’s regular experts. But like the other pundits, Murphy hasn’t been one for confrontational opinion or noteworthy insight, so when I came across his comments about “certain friends” at the club complaining about players exempt from being dropped, it came as a bit of a surprise.

Perhaps Murphy wanted to add a bit of weight to his views, but his point wasn’t exactly a new one. One of the many well-explored qualms with Jol’s tenure at Craven Cottage was his unwillingness to drop underperforming individuals – players such as Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz. He was saying what many Fulham fans have been arguing since the end of Berbatov’s honeymoon period midway through last season. Therefore, what was the point in revealing how a few of his old friends felt about untouchable favourites?

As Murphy said himself, Meulensteen’s first job is to motivate a talented squad bereft of confidence and ideas. Jol is gone; a fresh start is supposed to beckon, but when someone like Danny Murphy – a person who still has a lot of influence on all things Fulham – is making comments about players going behind their teammates’ backs, it isn’t going to do anyone much good.

The view from the Lighthouse

by Lighthouse

Well as there isn’t any View from Texas from Hatter as frankly he has a life to lead. I thought I would filll in the gap.

I couldn’t be bothered to watch any sort of stream of the game. Listened to radio Five Live which did have the game on live. Turned over to watch a few minutes of the awful Star Wars film. Went back to find we were three nil down.

The usual plaudits for Liverpool but mixed in were now comments about how awful our defending and our attitude was. The same comments that some on this MB have been saying for some time now.

It is not the score line. It is not even that some of our players make the same mistake week in week out. It’s not just the lack of investment. Its simply that as a fan and supporter for more than forty years. I know I will be bored watching us play. I don’t care anymore. When we beat Palace we knew the wonder goals hid the truth.

So win or lose I shall always have a place for Fulham in my heart. It has been a big part of my life. But while we play to bore. My view is simply this. I used to be proud of Fulham. My club, win or lose, I moaned but I loved the club. Now I am bored by them. Not sure I will ever forgive the club or the manager for making me feel like this.

Fulham on the telly? Wonder what’s on the other side. And before people tell me to go off and support somebody else. I can’t like the game anymore and so have stopped watching games or highlights. I am wishing for a time when Fulham, win or lose, become fun to watch and moan about.
Until they do, we will continue to say the same things over and over again.

Fulham you are boring. Now let’s have somebody to make us worth watching
We may still not win. But not winning and still being dull and boring. Just too much.

Partnerships: Hodgson and Jol

by EJL

Martin Jol will go into Fulham’s game with Stoke on Saturday knowing that only a win will likely be good enough to save his job. The Whites have won just one of their opening six Premier League fixtures, now totalling only three wins at home since the start of 2013.

Often when teams are struggling, like Fulham were last season, they rely on cliques or partnerships on the pitch to get results. Apart from the constantly disjointed right-flank of Ashkan Dejagah and Sascha Riether, there was nothing but an occasional moment of brilliance from Giorgos Karagounis or Dimitar Berbatov to carry them through games. Jol was the first manager to really take apart the 2010 Fulham team and attempt to mould his own squad and style, but the Dutchman has failed to find that grouped consistency that made Hodgson’s sides so difficult to beat.

Under Roy Hodgson, the entire team was constructed around numerous sets of players that complimented each other perfectly. Firstly, the formerly named ‘Thames Barrier’ — consisting of Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes — played a significant part in the Cottagers only conceding 34 goals in the Premier League during the 2008-09 season — the fourth best defensive record in the division. Hodgson famously said upon appointment at Fulham that everybody in his squad was the same size; there was no commanding defensive presence to slug away in a relegation battle. Sure enough, he solved the problem by bringing in the 6 ft 5 Norwegian, forging one of the best centre-half partnerships outside of the top four in recent memory. Hughes provided the athleticism, pace and conservatism that Hangeland lacked, whereas the latter’s sheer size, strength and aerial consistency compensated for the Northern Irisman’s flaws. It was a running theme in Hodgson’s system: start players that have one or two outstanding strengths and team them up with their near polar opposite.

Another example of Fulham’s balance was exemplified in the centre of midfield. Dickson Etuhu’s contribution towards getting the best out of Danny Murphy shouldn’t go without praise. A 2008 summer signing from Sunderland, Etuhu came to Fulham with just a season’s worth of Premier League experience under his belt and a fiery reputation. Similar to the strengths in Hangeland’s game, the Nigerian added a physical and ubiquitous presence to Hodgson’s new look midfield. His job was to break up attacks before they had a chance to bloom, collect the ball, give it to Murphy and let him ‘do his thing’. Mark Hughes’ attempts to convert Etuhu into a rampaging box-to-box midfielder were admirable, but it was his role as the enforcer that suited him best.

Those two pairs were Fulham’s spine for a good three-and-a-half years. Other notable duos included Bobby Zamora and Zoltan Gera’s exploits in the Europa League, and the connection between Zamora and Damien Duff — their trademark being a one-two coming in off the right-wing, sometimes leading to a goal (Everton 2009). The problem with Jol’s time at the club has been failure to establish, or continue, successful partnerships.

Developing understanding has been toughest in the centre of midfield. Fulham fielded thirteen, yes thirteen, different midfield pairings over the course of last season. Those ranged from Moussa Dembele and Mahamadou Diarra — who started the Whites’ first two matches against Norwich and Manchester United — to then loan signings Eyong Enoh and Emmanuel Frimpong lining up against Swansea on the final day of the season. To comprehend the sheer number of variations Jol used, Steve Sidwell, who started more games than any other Fulham central-midfielder, lined up alongside five different partners.

Partly down to the departures of Dembele and Danny Murphy, along with the incessant injuries of Diarra, the inconsistent midfield selection caused games to be won and lost in a matter of minutes. There was no similar harmony of playmaker and powerhouse for long spells until Enoh and Karagounis started together. But, of course, the following week a brand new and unbalanced midfield would wipe out any chemistry built the previous match. The standard and type of player that the club needed to bring in during the summer was painfully obvious. Fulham lacked, and still do, a central-midfield playmaker who can pass the ball well under pressure.

Bryan Ruiz, Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele were starting to show that said chemistry midway through the 2011-12 season, but the departure of the latter two saw the Costa-Rican struggle to work equally well enough alongside the remaining Fulham squad. Jol’s attempts to accommodate Ruiz have stretched as far as deploying him in a wide midfield position — a role the Costa-Rican unsuccessfully played in for much of his debut season — causing the split of the aforementioned partnership of Dejagah and Riether.

Even this season, with Jol under immense pressure from fans and, more recently, the media, team selection is still too varied. The 2-1 victory over Everton in the Capital One Cup was supposed to be the turning point of Fulham’s season, but instead of starting the same eleven that won the game, Jol made five changes for the following must-win match against Cardiff. If he survives the encounter with Stoke at the weekend and is given a vote of confidence by the board, his first port of call ought to be establishing the side that works the best. Hodgson proved that he didn’t need luxury players like Dimitar Berbatov or Bryan Ruiz to make the team tick. Relying on favourites now rather than in-form players and maintaining the law of divine right would be Jol kicking the chair away.

Loose connections

This is the first in an ad hoc series, with four matches of this season gone I thought that I’d take a look at some of the players and managers who have been connected with both Fulham and our opponents.

This is not a “definitive list”, its just a list of people that I can connect to both teams, I’m grateful to a number of the really knowledgable members over on the FoF forum who gave me most of these names however, I’m sure I’ll leave out somebody significant, let me apologise in advance as I’ve not left them out “out of spite” its either ignorance or senility, you decide.

Sunderland Home shirt

The first player who springs to mind is Steed Malbranque. Having left the Whites for Spurs,  I still don’t really understand why he left us in the way he did? I can only assume that there was a problem between Steed and Cookie?  Anyhow, he spent a couple of seasons at White Hart Lane and then moved to Sunderland. Steed spent three seasons with the black cats and by all accounts became a fan favourite, much as he had with us.

One of our current players, on loan from Aston Villa, Darren Bent, spent two seasons with Sunderland making a total of 63 appearances, league and cups, scoring a total of 46 goals.

Kieran Richardson was at Sunderland from 2007 until 2012, when he joined us. Kieran was brought to Sunderland by his former captain at Man Utd. Roy Keane. According to wikipedia, yeah I know, he’s a left winger who can also play as a left-back, central midfielder and support striker. He played a total of 149 games scoring 15 times for Sunderland over 5 seasons.

Dickson Etuhu joined us in 2008 after spending a season at Sunderland. Dickson made 91 appearances for the whites and scored 3 times.

Andy(Andrew) Cole played for Sunderland in 2007-08, he made 7 appearances but didn’t score.

After Vic Halom left Fulham in 1971 for Luton, where he spent a couple of seasons, he then joined Sunderland in 1973 where he spent 3 seasons and scored 35 goals in 113 games.

In the eighties we had a goalie on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, Iain Hesford, who went on to play for Sunderland for a couple of seasons.

Later in the 80’s Clive Walker joined us having previously spent a couple of season at Sunderland.

In 1995 Martin Gray came to Craven Cottage on loan from Sunderland, he made 6 appearances for the whites.

Paul Bracewell had 3 terms at Sunderland, 1983-84, 1989-92 and 1995-97. Paul joined us from his last term at Sunderland in 1997 and played 62 games scoring 1 goal. Paul later went on to manage Fulham after Kevin Keegan left to become the England Manager. Jean Tigana replaced Paul as Fulham manager in 2000.

Another player to join us from Sunderland was Andy Melville in 1999. Andy made 153 appearances for us scoring 4 times.

Lee Clark joined us at the same time as Andy and scored 20 goals in 149 appearances. Perhaps Lee’s finest game for the whites was against Man Utd in October 2003, Lee scored the opener in our 3-1 victory at Old Trafford.

Another player who joined at that time was Kevin Ball who made 18 appearances during the 1999-2000.

Louis Saha played eleven times for Sunderland in the 2012-13 season, he didn’t manage to find the back of the net.

The View From South Texas — FFC v. WBA

by HatterDon

Well, That Was More Like It

Both Martin Jol and Steve Clarke described today’s match as “must win.” So, naturally, it wound up a draw. Both sides worked hard and, although Fulham were certainly the more unlucky in front of goal, a draw was a fair result over the run of play.

Fulham fielded a side filled with potential scapegoats: Richardson, Ruiz, Berbatov, Sidwell, and Arch Scapegoat Senderos. West Brom decided to keep their main danger man on the sub’s bench and so the answer to the big question in the run-up to the match, “Who will have to mark Sinclair?” turned out to be “Clarke” – for at least the first hour or so. Victor Anichebe did feature and, for the first half, engaged in a very entertaining duel with Philippe Senderos.

Last season, Steve Clarke was the only manager in the Premier League who didn’t know that the way to stifle Fulham was to pressure our slow attackers and stop us from turning. As a result, we got six points from them that a better organized Albion might have kept for themselves. Today, Clarke’s side looked a bit more proactive, and there was a right battle up and down the pitch for 90+ minutes.

Fulham featured a starting XI that included Kacaniklic and Kasami, with both Ruiz and Berbatov in “creative attacking roles.” In other words, Fulham fielded a 4-6-0 at home. Unlike previous weeks however, Berbatov spent most of his time closer to the opposing keeper than to his own, and his presence, along with Kasami’s strength and aggression made Fulham a difficult side to contain. Special K was either thrilling or invisible throughout the match, but he was involved in most of the good things Fulham did in attack. In the 22nd minute, Fulham won a corner after a neat overlap by Richardson. Kacaniklic took the corner and with a leaping, twisting header, Senderos put the ball in Steve Sidwell’s reach, and the English midfielder’s poise in front of goal rewarded Fulham’s desperate supporters. 1-0 was a fair result, and it was heartening seeing the club immediately go for a second. Berbatov put the ball in the net twice more but was ruled offside on each occasion – one of them as close a call as you’re likely to see.

In the second half, Anichebe’s all out wrestling match with Senderos was interrupted when the Nigerian giant moved over to confront Hangeland. He easily rolled Fulham’s captain but fired a weak strike that Stockdale handled somewhat less than comfortably. That was the closest West Brom had come to a convincing chance. Everything changed, though, when West Brom brought on Sinclair and McAuley in the 63rd minute. Jol had just taken off a tiring Richardson for Amorebieta [the first ever Venezuelan in the Premier League according to the International Feed’s announcers], when Sinclair came on and immediately pressured our left back playing centre half.

From this point on, West Brom looked the team most likely. And so it was a surprise, really, when – on a top quality counter attack – several Fulham players contrived to get the ball to Bryan Ruiz’s feet inside the Albion penalty area. Ruiz collected himself and lofted a gorgeous ball that rebounded off the cross bar and out. Two seconds later, Fulham had the ball in the net courtesy of Rodallega [who had come in for Berbatov] but AGAIN the goal was disallowed for offside. I saw the replay three times; perhaps a fourth will convince me that SOMEBODY in Fulham colors was offside on that play. Never mind. Stockdale, after an uncertain performance, delivered a spectacular save and, after a scary looking injury for Fulham’s Costa Rican creator, the 90 minutes were well up.

Then came extra time – six minutes of it. West Brom were pouring it on and, after Fulham conceded a corner, Brunt found Gareth McAuley haring into the penalty area. The Albion sub beat Hangeland to the ball and headed past the Fulham defense into the net. The increased quality and creativity that West Brom showed after the double substitution of Sinclair and McAuley was rewarded.

Interestingly, after West Brom’s first goal of the season – two minutes into injury time of their FOURTH match – the visitors were the hungrier to get the decider. But that never came. Points shared, and it’s hard to argue that it’s an unfair result – even with the three disallowed Fulham “goals.”

Who looked good? Well, most everybody in white. Senderos had an excellent match in the main and mastered Anichebe. Riether did very well in defense and in attack. Ruiz was 75% wonderful and 25% rubbish. I still would like to see him in the role he plays for Costa Rica – a classic #10 pulling the strings – but that’s not going to happen. I thought Berbatov had his best match for us, and despite his tendency to wander into irrelevant positions, Kacaniklic gives us a dimension we have lacked without Dejagah in the side – someone who will turn upfield with pace and menace. Kasami was somewhat uneven, but with an attack that is as languid and passive as Fulham’s, he really needs to be up there – especially if we’re not going to play Taarabt. For Albion, the guy that caught my eye was Morgan Amalfitano. His play on the right nicely balances Brunt’s on the left. Once he’s gotten his Premiership legs, West Brom could give a lot of sides a lot of trouble.

Yes, Fulham dropped two points in injury time. Yes, we gave up the first goal Albion scored this season. Yes we still give up more shots on goal than any other Premier League side. But I still think today’s performance was “more like it.” We defended the fortress for the most part; we attacked early and often. We played with conviction and, occasionally, some pace. I was pleased to see the way we played the damn game, okay?

HatterDon’s Man of the Match is Scott Parker. I believe we have our Danny Murphy replacement, and – if we play in the manner we played today – I think he’ll be good enough to keep us out of trouble this year.

Who’s next? Who cares? Our home losing streak is over!


International Watch

by Frankie-Peter Taylor

I usually do a weekly loan watch but I thought I’d give you an International update.

So far, Pajtim Kasami scored a penalty in Switzerland’s 2-0 win over Latvia, and Kerim Frei scored the 3rd in Turkey’s 4-0 win over Malta, both under 21 European Championship qualifiers.

To add, Jack Grimmer was an unused substitute in Scotland u21s 4-0 loss to the Netherlands. And finally, Jesse Jorenen captained Finland’s u21s to a 1-0 win over Lithuania.

Noe Baba started Ireland u19’s 2-0 win over Slovenia, playing 79 minutes until Fulham team mate Dean O’Halleron’s came on for him.

Coming up:

– Lasse Vigen Christensen represents Denmark u21’s as they play Andorra tomorrow.
– Josh Pritchard, currently on loan at Tromso, is in the Wales u21 squad to play San Marino tomorrow.
– Cameron Burgess is in the Scotland u19 squad that will play Iceland on Tuesday.

– Elsad Zverotic is in the  Montenegro squad to play Poland tomorrow, of course in the same group as England.
– Alex Kacaniklic is likely to start for Sweden in a must win game against Ireland tomorrow.
– Brede Hangeland’s Norway will play Philippe Senderos’ Switzerland.
– Giorgos Karagounis is looking to make cap 126 for Greece vs. Liechtenstein.
– Bryan Ruiz playsfor Costa Rica against the United States in a top of the table clash.
– Fernando Amorebieta, who obviously we are yet o see this season has travelled with the Venezuela squad for their game against Chile.

Lastly, Dimitar Berbatov will take part in a charity football game in honour of Stan Petrov. Also taking part will be John Terry, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Jamie Redknapp, Roy Keane and Robert Pires. Also taking part, Louis Tomlinson from One Direction and comedian John Bishop.