Author Archives: Rhys Lightning 63

FulhamFCTV – A warning of what could be ahead

As I’m sure many of you are aware, although given how the club have gone about it I understand if you’ve missed it, the club is soon set to feature a new service for fans called FulhamFCTV. This service will provide us with (to quote the club); Club footage, interviews and action from behind-the-scenes, stuff that we are basically getting already in the form of short clips on the main website.

However, the panic setting around the messageboards right now, is that what we are getting for free, might soon be costing us fans. In an email sent by Sarah Brookes to FOF’s very own ‘Gang’, she gave this response;

“Since our relegation to the Championship, we have understood the importance of ensuring that fans have access to match footage because it is not so widely available as it had been in the Premier League… As you may be aware the League is responsible for a centralised deal that puts all content behind a paywall on uniform designed club sites known as EFLDigital. The club charges vary but are, on average, £29.99 each month. The league protects the value this deal by charging the clubs that are not signed up to it, to air their own footage on their own platforms. Therefore for two seasons Fulham has paid a significant amount to the league, so that our fans could benefit from free content. As I’m sure you can understand, that’s simply not a sustainable model and we are, therefore, compelled to have a subscription service of our own. We will add value to this by ensuring that we create excellent content that fans will want to see, and produce features that are interesting and insightful. This will be at a fraction of the cost of other Championship clubs, and be far better quality as we also invest in extra cameras at our own home games matches, which few other clubs do as it is so costly. I hope that when you see the pricing and the level of content you will agree that it is great value for money, albeit no longer the free content we have offered previously and for so long.”

What this says to me, is that the parachute money from our days in the Premiership, has finally run out. The club has exhausted all the money it can from what it used to have, and is now financially thinking about how to get that money back, from other sources. With the money on offer in the Championship being a pittance compared to that of the top flight, and with FFP dangling over clubs (btw, we’ve already had one strike, we fall foul again, I fear point deductions are afoot), the pressure to keep the books as favourable as possible is becoming harder and harder. The club therefore has two choices; put up ticket prices or start up this subscription service.

What does this all entail? Well to put it simply, this year it is Premier League or bust. Many clubs have come down and failed to get back up (Leeds, Forest, Ipswich, Wigan, Sheff Wed, Wolves, Birmingham, Blackburn the list goes on).  This is brought about by a combination of two things:

A – The league being a ‘tough place to get out of’ in the first place

B – Not having the funds to splash out when they’ve been in the division for three years and the parachute payments run out.

Some clubs, like Newcastle United, because of the situation they’re in (big fanbase, 52,000 seater stadium, wealthy owner) could afford to bankroll themselves even without the parachute money. We however, are not in the same boat as The Geordies. Due to where we are, and given that The Cottage can only be expanded so much, we are VERY limited in terms of what we can do to grow financially ‘organically’.

To sum it all up, this FulhamFCTV service, I feel should be served as a warning to all fans (and to an extent the club), that if we do not achieve promotion this season, we could be stuck in the same position as the clubs I’ve listed before, floating around the mid table for what will feel like a generation.

Why that was our best game of the season

Yes, before you ask, I am being serious. A lot of people in modern people are concerned about the performance that goes into getting a result, but personally I’m more concerned about the result first, then if the result doesn’t come, looking at the performance to see if the result was a fair one.

What is it that people used do say about Fergie’s teams at Man Utd ‘always good at grounding out results’ , and that is what we did today. It may not have been the best of games and I’m sure that the pile of fingernails bitten off could very easily refill the spot left by the MJ statue and then some, but all that really matters is that we have another 3 points in the bag (and for those who like to think like this, that means we are only 33 points away from the magical 40 points mark).

Now I don’t know about you, but I would be rather happy if we scrapped our way to eleven 1-0 wins (add a few draws here and there) and get to somewhere within the region of 45-48 points come season end (even if that means finishing 17th) and taking that HUGE lump of TV money and really pushing on with some decent signings and an integration of youth to go with it.

So I put it to you. DO NOT get on Jol’s back because of today’s performance, rather praise him for getting the right result.

What can we tell after one game?

Having got back from our first home pre-season friendly yesterday (what for some fans would be their first chance to see the new look XI in the flesh), I felt the need to just give those who missed it, a brief summary of how the team looks to be shaping up

Stekelenburg: Very easy to see why he is the Dutch #1. A VERY good shot stopper (some of the things he was pulling off in the warm-up were simply sublime, not to mention his save after a huge deflection during the first half). He’s also very commanding of his area and the defenders, there was one point during the first half, after a corner had been cleared by Betis, that he boomed his instructions to Boateng to pass the ball back to him from near the half-way line, to which Boateng obliged. We are onto a real winner with this guy, I’m amazed that none of the ‘big clubs’ have gone sniffing around for him.

Riether: No change, still hard working as ever

Hangeland and Amorebieta: Two very physical centre backs and will deal with any aerial threat very easily. It also helps that one of them is left footed and the other is right, means that we have the option of playing the ball to either of them on their stronger foot for an easy clearance, rather than someone being rushed to get rid of it on their weaker foot. My main concern though is their pace. A ball over the top to be chased on by the likes of Suarez, Aguero and Bellamy, they will struggle, but let’s hope that doesn’t hinder us too much.

Richardson: Good solid left back, certainly better than he is as a left-winger. Gives us a good option for the counter-attack, especially with his link-ups with Ashkan Dejagah. Do I think he’ll start on opening day? No, I still think Jol favours Riise as the better defensive option and I’m, inclined to agree with him. Out of the two I’d much rather have Riise there than Richardson

Ruiz: Where to start with Bryan. He still hasn’t bulked up, he is still worried about going into tackles and he is being WASTED on the wing (much like he was in his first season). I think he would be more suited in playing the ‘free role’ similar to Cristiano Ronaldo during his latter days at Utd.

Boateng and Sidwell: A very good combination together. Each of them taking it in turns to attack whilst the other one defends, a system that worked well last night. I’d imagine that if this whole Taarabt deal comes through, it would be Sidwell that gets the chop, thus leaving Taarabt to play in a more attacking-creative role whilst Boateng holds back. Similar to a 4-3-1-2 system.

Dejagah: Very good to see him back. Offers good pace for a counter attack with Richardson. He acts the exact opposite to Damien Duff last year, in that he can charge down the wing, then cut inside and onto his right foot, to curl shots/crosses in to the far post. Which is a system that works well, but only if the two wingers occasionally swap, give the full-backs something to think about.

Berbatov: Still hasn’t quite worked out that he has a #9 on his back. He needs to realise that as a striker, he will need to get into the box to act as an aerial threat. There were times last night, much like last season, that the wingers would pick the ball up, only to find nobody in the box and that is an issue that needs to be sorted out AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Maybe the signing of Osvaldo would sort this out.

Rodellega: Made some very good runs, especially early in the game, managed to get behind the defence and caused problems. Needs to improve his heading ability if he is to be used as an effective target man.

Miscellaneous: I am getting a little concerned that we are getting a bit like Liverpool and Swansea, always wanting to find that one last pass, when we have ample opportunities to shoot, something that can get very frustrating to watch. I also feel that we are going to be excellent at set-pieces next year, the additional height of Amorebieta and Boateng should cause problems in the opposition box.
All in all, I am looking forward to next season. Whilst I imagine we will float into mid-table nothingness, I would like to see some amount of progression ready to lay the foundations for a proper charge on Europe in the seasons to come.

Does our team have enough chemistry?

So with the news that we might just miss out on Roma striker Pablo Osvaldo by €7m, it seems that we need to start looking elsewhere for our latest black and white star. My question is though, should we be looking for ‘stars’ in the first place? Or are we in danger of becoming like Man City and Q.P.R and just throwing money at the problem.

I want to take you back to 7 August 2008, the day we signed proven Premier League goalscorer Andy Johnson, to pair him up with our other new signing Bobby Zamora, in what was meant to be a partnership that would fire us to the top. Except the only problem was, only one of them fired in the goals that season. Due to our formation that season of 4-4-2, Bobby Zamora was meant to be the #9 (as his shirt number indicated), but he spent most of that season being in the shadow of Andy Johnson who top scored that season. Obviously they lacked the keyword of this piece ‘chemistry’, because most front two partnerships work when both players share the goals rather than being lopsided in one way or the other (I refer you to the Man Utd 99 season, Sheringham + Solskjaer and Cole + Yorke).

Let’s compare that to our strike ‘partnership’ next season on. Bobby Zamora and Zoltan Gera took Europe by storm, because of their ‘chemistry’. Bobby was given three options when he recieved the ball in the opposition half; play the ball out wide, play the ball back to Zoltan Gera or take the ball on and go for goal himself, rather than having to ALWAYS look for Andy Johnson.

THIS is why we struggled for goals last season. We had two players in Brian Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov who both wanted to play the #10 role, so when the ball went out to our two wingers, there was nobody in the box to score the goal. This is why many people were asking for Hugo Rodallega to start more often, because he was the typical #9 that would have stood in the box waiting for service.

So my question is how much chemistry does our team have? By my reckoning, 0. All our partnerships were taken apart this transfer window. Hangeland and Hughes (together sincce January 2008) gone, with Amorebieta set to take up Aaron’s role, was the only real partnership we had (I’ll allow you to argue Riether and Dejagah reliving their Wolfsburg days, but unless Martin puts Duff in his natural position of left-wing, that’s never going to flourish).

The point I am trying to make is, when we make our signings this summer, not only do we need to consider the players quality (I’m sure Osvaldo is a very good player), but also how well they fit into our system. This may seem obvious, but we are not in a position to be ableto drop 1/2/3 league places again. If Man City start stumbling, they have the resources to fix the problem, but if WE start stumbling, we will be stuck with the players until the end of the season. Who knows where that will leave us ending up?