Tag Archives: Hodgson

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


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.

Jol be sorry…

We are only a few weeks in to the new season but there are already rumblings of discontent among the terraces at Fulham. What started with a couple of very average performances, despite an away win, was compounded by a distinct lack of transfer activity on deadline day.

How much of that can be attributed to Jol remains to be seen although I suspect it was not the only factor. Khan is shrewd in his spending and it wasn’t surprising that he was unwilling to fund another left back when we already have 3 at the club. Similarly he may have been wary about buying another midfielder when we have an excess of names vying for places, albeit perhaps not the players we want.

On the positive side were it not for a late winner at Newcastle at the weekend then 4 points from 2 away games and a home tie against Arsenal would have been considered a good start. We have regressed slightly from a few years ago but need to continue to be patient with Jol. Defensively we look solid and it’s no coincidence that the area we struggle in has the most new faces, across the midfield and final third.

It will take a few more games for us to find the right balance and consistency but we have the tools at our disposal. Yes Scott Parker is not the same player as Dembele was but who would be in our price range? The same fans who moan about replacing Dembele moaned about replacing Danny Murphy before, yet compliments in finding a player in Parker who does exactly that seem few and far between.

Many will disagree with me on Jol but who do you honestly believe is going to do a better job? The consensus appears to be Gus Poyet although I really can’t see why. We are not a club who can afford to take a chance on a manager who has no Premier League experience, let alone a manager who let’s not forget was dismissed from his last job for improper conduct.

Such is Jol’s reputation that he has managed to bring to the club, alongside Parker, Darren Bent who cited him as a major factor in his decision to join as did Stekelenburg. Who would Poyet be able to attract when compared to our current intake? Critics will say that the money available is what counts but Sanchez had money and only succeeded in turning us into Northern Ireland in the space of 8 months such was his abilities to attract players to the club.

Poyet is yet to be snapped up by any other club which to me speaks volumes. Jol may not be your cup of tea and we may well finish mid table again but I can’t see him getting us relegated. Let’s give him the season and make our decision then. Anyway after he wins the Cup in Brazil Mr Hodgson may fancy another spell at Craven Cottage……

The View from South Texas — Norwich City v. Fulham FC

by HatterDon

[sorry for the LONG delay in getting this written. The match was tape delayed and my band had an early evening gig. I hope the wait is worth it]

Torture: Excruciating and Slow

In Roy Hodgson’s day, Fulham would approach a league match at an inferior opponent’s ground with the idea of stationing 10 players in their own half and going for the 0-0. This was usually a successful tactic  and only resulted in a few suicides by bored home supporters. Things are different now that Fulham are playing Martin Jol Sexy Football. Now we do our sideways and backwards passing further up the field. Instead of overtly playing negatively as under Hodgson, Fulham now appear to want to make attacking forays, but find it incapable of stringing more that three passes together. Under Hodgson, we had a well-drilled unit where everyone on the pitch knew his role and those of his teammates – all the better to execute the away boredom efficiently. Martin Jol Sexy Football differs as his Fulham have as little interaction among defense, midfield, and attack as possible. Furthermore, it is necessary for the team to appear to be composed of eleven highly skilled players who first met earlier that day.

And so Fulham traveled to Carrow Road to play a dispirited and ragged Norwich City. If there is a team more ripe for the taking on the road, I have no idea who it might be. Lacking two legitimate goal scoring threats, and fielding a defense that is easier to rip apart than a lovesick teenager’s heart, Norwich were almost begging to be trampled underfoot. Fulham, not satisfied with disappointing its own fans, also ruined Norwich’s date with destiny. Instead, Fulham dropped two points and handed Norwich one they never came close to deserving.

Fulham’s lineup featured three changes from their spirited and ill-deserved loss to Manchester United the previous weekend. Coming back from injury was the enigmatic Dimitar Berbatov, and with him two of our January loanees – Stanislav Manolev and Emmanuel Frimpong. The latter was rushed into action just hours after receiving his work permit due to the illness of our ever-present season-long loanee Sascha Riether. Frimpong replaced The Ancient Greek and looked to create a strong midfield partnership with Steve Sidwell.

The match started interestingly. Berbatov was kicked in the face after only 70 seconds. There was no yellow card, naturally, since the game was less than 15 minutes old. It took a few minutes to stanch the bleeding and give the Bulgarian striker a few stitches. It was only 3 minutes later when Mark Schwarzer was called into action FOR HIS ONLY SAVE OF THE MATCH. The strike was from Norwich’s January transfer Luciano Becchio. The Argentine striker obviously had been taking extension courses in platform diving at Leeds University, and could not wait to demonstrate how well he learned this craft to his new teammates and supporters. How he escaped a yellow for “simulation” is a mystery. He dived more often than a panicky U-boat skipper.

Fulham began the sideways and backwards passing drills they’ve perfected almost immediately. So successful were they in showing no aggression towards the Canaries’ shell-shocked defense, that it wasn’t until the 19th minute that Damian Duff took Fulham’s first shot.

Other highlights of the first half was a weak yellow for Frimpong and, in the 42nd minute, the sight of Berbatov actually chasing after one of his errant passes. I can’t remember seeing him do this since Christmas.

Steve Sidwell was enjoying having a strong center mid partner and “put himself about” all over the park. He looked every inch the box-to-box midfielder he can at times be. In the 48th minute it was Fulham’s only English player who took the first shot on goal. It was an easy save for Mark Bunn, but still it was on target, and there was still 42 more minutes left for Fulham to have a second SOG. Two minutes later, Bryan Ruiz let loose a pile driver of a shot that completely clocked Sebastian Bassong. The Norwich defender is a tough geezer, but he was seriously shaken by the event. The first really attractive multi-pass move from Fulham occurred in the 67th minute. Of course, it came to naught, but it was nice to see guys – you know – passing the ball upfield to teammates.

Norwich, getting into the spirit of MJSF, managed their second shot on goal in the 70th minute. There was some activity in both penalty areas as the minutes dwindled down to a tiresome few, but it was obvious that if there was any justice in the world, this match would end 0-0. Neither side was able to come up with the coherent play required to make a serious attack on goal.

And, so, I was left with looking for oddities:
1.   The television announcer saying of Hangeland, “His long legs were tangled in the heels of Snodgrass,” which left me wondering if this was the original first line to “The Sound Of Music.”
2.   A classy turn by substitute Urby Emanuelson. I believe it was the singular highlight of the second half.
3.   Simeon Jackson raising himself on his tiptoes to grab on to Hangeland’s shoulders.

So, yeah, it was a dire display by both teams, but we gained a point when pretty much all the strugglers lost – except for Southampton and Norwich of course. We moved up a position in the standings, and we’re a game closer to the end of the season. We also now have logged a grand total of THREE wins in our last eighteen league matches. We’re still not giving a team display anywhere near as good as the quality of the individual players. We’re still refusing to take hold of our own destiny, never mind 90 minutes on a Saturday – except on very rare occasions.

Who looked good? Sidwell excelled, Frimpong looked strong and – with his partner – faced up to Norwich’s attack and stifled it. Nobody Norwich sent to challenge our back four got any change out of Riise and Manolev. Senderos’ 100th league match was very strong, and Hangeland looked as dominating as we’ve seen him for a long while. The thing is, as easily as Fulham contained Norwich threat after Norwich threat, as dispirited as The Canaries and their fans were, it is almost inexcusable that Fulham didn’t come away with a win, and that’s the rub. That’s the reason for the negative review of a point gained on the road.

HatterDon’s Man of the Match award goes to Stanislav Manolev. Yes, Sidwell and Hangeland had better individual matches, but this guy has played a total of ONE league match for PSV Eindhoven this season and, still gutted out 90+ minutes with a bunch of guys he barely knows. It was a hell of a Premier League debut, regardless of the result.

Next Up? A weekend off to watch Luton Town play Millwall in the FA Cup. We play our next league match against Stoke City Wrestling Club on February 23rd at the Cottage. COYW