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General Category => Archive => Daily Fulham Stuff => Topic started by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:31:52 AM

Title: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:31:52 AM (
Once in a lifetime

There was no better representation of Wednesday's rollercoaster Europa League final than Hamburg's Reeperbahn - the street where both sets of fans congregated before and after the match.

Prior to the game, an overcast and cloudy day could not dampen the spirits of both sets of supporters, who shared beers and stories of mammoth journeys and volcanic ash disruption. The Reeperbahn was a place of unbridled hope, where Atletico fans dreamed of a first European success in more than four decades and Fulham fans dared to consider a first-ever major continental triumph.

"I've travelled 18 hours by coach to get here," John, a Cottagers fan from Northampton, told me before the game. "I was never going to miss it. It's been 35 years since our last major final (a 2-0 defeat to West Ham in the 1975 FA Cup final) and in another 35 years I will be 80 if I'm still here - we're talking real once in a lifetime stuff."

His was a common story and the phrase "once in a lifetime" was one of the most repeated by Cottagers fans.

The final itself was a highly dramatic affair, with the supporters contributing hugely. The HSH Nordbank Arena was a cacophony of noise from start to finish and the fans deserve a great deal of credit for creating an occasion of theatre that has become increasingly rare in an era where the mass sale of corporate tickets has often served to stifle the atmosphere of major finals; the opportunity to have a stadium full to the brim with the clubs' true followers is usually sacrificed in favour of schmoozing executives looking for the next big deal.

Fulham battled hard and their combination of grit, determination and never-say-die spirit, interspersed with moments of expansive football, was a continuation of how they had played throughout their European campaign. When Simon Davies equalised Diego Forlan's opener, Fulham truly believed that Roy Hodgson's charges were set to write an incredible new chapter. The chant of "stand up if you still believe" regularly reverberated around the stadium up until the final whistle in extra-time.

But it was not to be. Diego Forlan's 116th minute extra-time winner increased the volume inside the stadium to a new high as rapturous Rojiblancos fans leapt from the edge of the seats to cloud nine, and began to plan for a long night of partying.

After the game, Alvaro, an overjoyed Atletico fan from Burgos said: "It's an incredible feeling. It was the first time I have seen a final - the last time we played in a European final was 36 years ago (when Atletico lost in the European Cup final to Bayern Munich) and I was too young.

"It was amazing to be here to see us win. Forlan's goal was like a heart attack but it was the perfect ending for us. He is the kind of player who scores a goal when no one else can score it - he can score from nothing. Atletico is the third team in Spain and I hope that we will go on and challenge for the top positions in the coming years."

Much to the dismay of the patiently waiting Atletico fans, Forlan walked straight onto the team bus after the game, but after seeing the throngs of people waiting for him, and with what appeared to be a little coaxing from the driver, the match-winner greeted his adoring public. He posed for photos and signed autographs for five minutes, surely aware that he had etched his name into the club's folklore.

Having waved Diego off, your correspondent shared a taxi back to the Reeperbahn with a trio of Fulham fans, to see that the street that had been a hub of dreamers just hours before was now a place of understandably contrasting emotions. For Cottagers supporters, who 63 games ago in July of last year would never have dreamed of making the final, the result was a bitter pill to swallow; though they were disconsolate, that was tinged with obvious pride.

"I love Fulham and to get to a game like this is beyond my wildest expectations, but once you're there you dream and you think that tonight's your night," said an emotional Richard, one of my fellow occupants of the taxi. "Once we were in extra-time it felt like our game and when Atletico scored I felt like I had slipped out of my own body - I just don't think we deserved that.

"Forlan is a great goalscorer and a natural finisher but for me that game didn't scream 2-1 - it said 1-1, penalties and it was begging for us to step up and win the tournament."

On Thursday morning, the Reeperbahn was a sprawling mass of broken beer bottles and broken dreams, as Fulham fans tried to come to terms with the painful defeat and, in many cases, a painful hangover. Aside from the inevitable, occasional, alcohol-induced exchanges of words, both sets of supporters had mingled, consumed moderate amounts of beer and danced together until the early hours - the final as a spectacle and occasion for the fans was a resounding success.

But what of the tournament itself? That the inaugural Europa League's winning team to have lifted the trophy having won just three games, while the losing finalists were victorious in 11 matches en route to the final seems more than a little unjust.

But what can make football so wonderful are dreams. You could probably count on one hand the number of Fulham fans who believed last July that they would be beating European giants Juventus and Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg on their way to a European final.

Similarly, when Atletico were fighting at the bottom of La Liga and enduring a torrid Champions League campaign few would have believed that their ailing team would finish the season by ending a lengthy wait for a major European trophy.

Fulham boss Hodgson is one of the most widely travelled managers in football, and his continental experience was demonstrated to great effect both throughout this season's campaign and at the post-match press conference, when he answered a German journalist in fluent Deutsch. Hodgson was understandably happy to give the tournament a ringing endorsement, praising UEFA's revamp and insisting that the Europa League can be as good a spectacle as the competition that has overshadowed it for so long.

"It's been a great competition, obviously we have only good things to say about it," Hodgson said. "We've played some fantastic teams; there have been some magnificent occasions both at Craven Cottage and other interesting places against absolutely top-class teams. Here we find ourselves in this magnificent stadium once again, with 49,000 people and an excellent game of football against yet another one of Europe's top teams.

So, proof, if it were needed, that any competition that gives football fans the opportunity to dream of success, of that grand day out at a neutral venue, is a valuable one - whether it be the World Cup, Champions League or Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Just ask those who flocked to Hamburg's Reeperbahn.
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:33:01 AM (
Hodgson expresses his pride at Fulham players despite final loss

Roy Hodgson has insisted he couldn't be more proud of his Fulham side despite losing the Europa League final to Atletico Madrid in Hamburg on Wednesday night.

Hodgson, who was recently crowned LMA manager of the year, guided his Fulham side on an unbelievable European journey that saw them claim famous scalps over Roma, Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk and Hamburg.

But unfortunately for the Cottagers it proved a step too far as they fell victim to an extra time winning goal from Diego Forlan for the Spanish side.

Hodgson said after the game: "I couldn't be more proud of these players for this season and this performance tonight has summed up what we are at Fulham.

"They have performed against the odds and pulled results no-one expected them to pull out. You can't be happy being defeated especially in extra time but I don't have a word of criticism for these players."

Atletico took the lead through Forlan just after the half hour mark but Fulham equalised five minutes later thanks to a well taken Simon Davies volley.

And until Forlan's late dramatic winner Hodgson thought his side gave the Spanish side a run for their money and thought they were heading for penalties.

"I thought we gave them more than a good game, we were good value and it looked as if it was heading for penalties which of course is a bit of a lottery anyway but we would have taken that lottery", Hodgson added.

Hodgson also praised the efforts of 12,400 Fulham fans who travelled from west London to Germany in the hope of witnessing history in the making.

He said: "I thought the fans were magnificent as usual and I think they realise we have done the best possible job we could do and unfortunately it favoured against us when it came to lifting the trophy."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:34:11 AM (

Roy Hodgson has admitted he will need to let the pain subside before he can work out whether there will be any lingering benefits from Fulham's run to the Europa League final.

An amazing 17-match journey, that began in Lithuania last July, came to a shattering conclusion in Hamburg on Wednesday night thanks to Diego Forlan's goal three minutes from the end of extra-time.

It means that not only did Fulham lose the biggest match in their history, it also condemned them to a season without European football given the safety net of entry via UEFA's Fair Play Table had already been removed by England's slide down the rankings.

So Hodgson needs to look more closely to work out what advantages Fulham have gained beyond the prestige of reaching their first European final.

"When you look round a dressing room at a team that has just lost a final, you don't think about what a boost you have received, or how it will help us next season," said Hodgson.

"Before that you have to suffer. And it will take a bit of time before that pain passes over.

"Maybe when that pain has gone we can turn our attention to whether it has done us any good."

Undoubtedly it has enhanced Hodgson's reputation.

The former Inter Milan coach has already been named the League Managers' Association manager of the year and the links to Liverpool have come as no great surprise as Rafael Benitez's future continues to be the subject of great debate.

As Benitez is by no means certain to leave amid the internal issues that still have to be resolved at Anfield, a more obvious career path for the 62-year-old would be to take charge of the British Olympic team, and from there move on to the England job.

The prestigious Olympic job cannot be allocated until the British Olympic Association finally confirm the team will be made up of English players only, the compromise that was reached by the Home Nations amid fears about their standing within FIFA.

However, Hodgson has been spoken of as one of two clear candidates, the other being present England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce.

As the Olympic team would be an Under-23 side, plus three overage players, there would seem to be sense in opting for Pearce, but in terms of the potential for succeeding Fabio Capello, whose contract expires in 2012, Hodgson would be a better bet.

Crucially, former chief executive Ian Watmore was Pearce's biggest backer and with him now out of the frame, Lord Triesman's leaning towards Hodgson might mean the FA chairman gets his way.

Few would debate Hodgson as a worthy successor to Capello, having proved beyond all doubt in his three years at Craven Cottage what an able and steady manager he is.

However, he is also aware that by staying at Fulham next season he will deny himself the wider competition he has always seemed to crave, and hand himself a potential rebuilding exercise given seven players are out of contract at the end of next season.

"Next season will be a quite straightforward Premier League season," he reflected.

"Having said that, the Premier League, like Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga, is one of the very top leagues in Europe.

"Just being a part of it in itself is something really important."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:35:12 AM (
Simon Davies admits Europa League final defeat hard to take

Fulham midfielder Simon Davies has admitted he is struggling to deal with the heartbreak of losing the Europa League final in extra time to Atletico Madrid.

The Welshman equalised for the Cottagers with a fine volleyed effort minutes after Diego Forlan had given the Spanish side the lead in the first half. The Uruguayan forward then snatched a late winner in extra time and after the game Davies expressed his pain at coming so close to European glory.

"I thought we put a great shift in but it's a shame to get so close," he said.

"But I'm sure once we get home and look back on it we'll feel we've achieved something but at this moment in time it's very painful."

Davies scored in Fulham's previous Europa League tie against Hamburg in the semi-final where they came from a goal down to win 2-1. But despite scoring again in the final, he admitted he was struggling to deal with the defeat.

"To score in the final of a big tournament is something I am going to be proud of in years to come but it's very hard," he added.

Fulham seemed to be in control of the game in the second half and Davies himself could have doubled his and Fulham's tally but was denied by a fine stop from 19-year-old goalkeeper David De Gea.

"We played some good football in patches. We knew they were a good team and we would have to dig in parts and work really hard and we did that," he added.

"But we knew we were going to cause them some problems it's just a shame we came so close. We congratulate Atletico Madrid - they're a great side."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:36:21 AM (
England - Zamora was forced to miss out
The talk, in the wake of Bobby Zamora, one of the most in-form strikers in the country - until his recent injury problems anyway - being omitted from Fabio Capello's provisional world cup squad has been just that, that he was 'omitted'...

Although it would appear more and more as if he was not overlooked, merely forced to miss out.

The Fulham man has been struggling with an Achilles injury in recent weeks, this has been obvious for anyone watching him - and was all the more evident to anyone that watched him during Fulham's Europa league final defeat last night. He battled on for as long as he could before finally being forced off in the 2nd half.

Words coming from Zamora, and Capello as well, seem to suggest that it was Zamora who ruled himself out because he would not have been able to 'do himself justice' in South Africa.

He is now scheduled to have a minor operation in the coming weeks - I wonder if Darren Bent would have made the 30 had Zamora been fit or would Capello have selected both? They are different players, so you would like to think that both would have been included with Aston Villa's Emile Heskey 'probably' the one that could well have been overlooked?

Nevertheless this is all hypothetical now, Zamora's time might yet come for England - it is just a shame for everyone that the chance to prove he would have been worthy of a place in South Africa was never possible...

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:37:49 AM (
Brede hoping Hodgson Hang-s around

Brede Hangeland has led the chorus of pleas for Roy Hodgson to stay at Craven Cottage by warning Fulham it is imperative they keep him.

Hodgson's reputation has soared since guiding the club to their highest top-flight finish and the final of the Europa League, while operating on a modest budget.

The 62-year-old has been linked with a move to Liverpool and has even been mentioned as Fabio Capello's most likely successor when the England coach steps down.

While some of Fulham's over-achieving players may also now attract interest from rival clubs, Hangeland insists their newly-crowned Manager of the Year remains the key asset.

"Roy's the main reason we reached the Europa League final, it's as simple as that," said the Norway defender.

"We have a good group of players who have worked hard but it's all masterminded by him. He's done really well.

"I don't know what will happen now but I hope he stays because he's been so important to the success we've had over the last two years.

"Probably the most important thing for us over the summer is to make sure that he stays."

Former England left-back Paul Konchesky is one of several players who has seen his career revived by Hodgson's arrival.

"Roy is a big factor for the players and for the club," said Konchesky. "He's done well for the two and a half years he's been here and hopefully we can keep him and kick on again next year.

"The work he puts us through on the training ground and the squad he's built make him stand out.

"Whoever plays, they know exactly what they're doing. We've stuck together and that comes from the manager and the staff."

Hodgson's first spell in the Premier League ended under a cloud 12 years ago when he was sacked by Blackburn and only now is his nomadic and illustrious career receiving the recognition it deserves at home.

Under his expert guidance, Bobby Zamora has blossomed into one of the nation's form strikers who was on the verge of England recognition only for an Achilles injury to intervene.

"Roy has been absolutely magnificent and deserves all the praise he's been getting this season," said Zamora.

"If you ask any team this season they'll tell you how hard we are to beat.

"That comes from the gaffer - his organisation and willingness to work."

Wales midfielder Simon Davies, who fired the equaliser in last night's 2-1 extra-time defeat by Atletico Madrid, is confident Hodgson will stay.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he has offers on the table but he said he wants to continue with the job," he said. "I know he really likes Fulham and he's been a top manager since he's been here."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:39:06 AM (
Cole and Zamora on Blues' shopping list

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish is monitoring West Ham hitman Carlton Cole and Fulham forward Bobby Zamora as possible summer striker targets.

McLeish has indicated he will spread the net far and wide to bring in new forward talent after missing out on Stuttgart's Cacau.

Rangers' out-of-contract forward Boyd is also on McLeish's radar and negotiations have been ongoing in recent months.

But reports that he is on the verge of completing a deal for South Africa striker Katelgo Mphela appear to be wide of the mark.

Mphela is not near the top of McLeish's list of forwards and sources close to the club indicate the former Rangers boss would want to take him on trial after the World Cup.

But McLeish has made enquiries about the availability of Cole and Zamora after insisting the accent will be on bringing in players of proven quality.

Cole has netted 10 times for the Hammers this season while Zamora has been on the mark on 19 occasions, although he was clearly not 100% fit in Wednesday night's Europa League final against Atletico Madrid in Hamburg.

The fact Blues are even interested in players of such quality is an indication of their determination to build on an excellent first season back in the top flight in which they finished ninth.

McLeish admitted defeat in his bid to sign Cacau after the player did a U-turn and decided to stay with the German club.

The 29-year-old looked poised to move to Blues with McLeish believing he would have been an ideal addition to his current squad but Cacau has instead signed a new deal with Stuttgart.

McLeish confirmed: "We did miss out on Cacau. We thought we had it in the bag and he did an about turn.

"The irony was when we declared our interest in him, he was out of the team.

"I don't know whether our interest in him gave him a lot more confidence because he then went on a scoring burst and Stuttgart said there was no way they could let him go with what it would cost to replace somebody like that.

"He is one that got away. It would have been a coup for us, the type of player for the jigsaw I am trying to put together but we will keep working to strengthen the squad."

McLeish is still hopeful of signing Manchester United keeper Ben Foster in a £6million deal as a replacement for Manchester City's Joe Hart who spent the season on loan from St Andrew's.

McLeish said: "I can go and buy any amount of players but maybe not get the right ones. It is important I bring the right ones in for the way I want to see us play.

"I will bring in the players I feel are going to benefit our team.

"It will be a busy time. There will be no let-up. The phone will be on wherever I am on holiday."

Meanwhile, former Birmingham striker and manager Trevor Francis has had his hopes of returning to the club in an ambassadorial role dashed by the board of directors.

Francis looked set to make a comeback at St Andrew's where he had a distinguished spell as a player in the 1970s and then two decades later as a manager.

But after holding initial talks with the board, Francis revealed he received a letter telling him the proposed link-up had been shelved.

Francis, who now works as a pundit for Sky Sports, said: "Alex McLeish believed I was coming back because he congratulated me on coming back to the club.

"I held a meeting at top level with a couple of directors and I was very enthusiastic about coming back.

"They listened to what I had to say, I thought it was very positive, and then two weeks later I received a letter from the board saying they didn't want to pursue it.

"It is a bit of a disappointment. I still remain a huge Birmingham supporter but I feel I could have done a real good job for the club in an ambassadorial role.

"Is that about money? I don't know. It may have been money. It is not for me to ask the reason.

"I just wish the club would make it clear to supporters who come up to me and say 'it's great to have you back at the club' that I am not back at Birmingham City."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:40:52 AM (
Fulham are clearly more than a club - they are a lifestyle choice
As Fulham's weary army of supporters return home following their team's harsh Europa League final defeat, as Lily Allen dries her eyes and Hugh Grant leaves a healthy tip for the nice man who kept bringing him beer throughout the game, we have to wonder: has there ever been a more polite collective of football followers to leave these shores?


A couple of years back, a friend of mine was horrified by a bunch of Rangers fans he happened to share a plane with on their way to a Champions League tie in Spain. Primeval was how he described their attitude to the cabin crew.

Fulham's supporters, on the hand, overwhelmingly behaved in Hamburg like a finishing school outing. And their numbers are likely to be swelled by many a like mind following their magnificent European adventure.

Including that Rangers-averse friend of mine. He is now living in west London and, although a long term supporter of another club, he tells me he has just bought season tickets for Craven Cottage.

It is, he explains, a delightful place to take his two young sons, the most civilised setting he knows for a bit of father-son bonding.

Like Barcelona, Fulham are clearly more than a club. They are a lifestyle choice.
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:42:54 AM (
Fulham - The Zamora Gamble!
Bobby Zamora, after limping off in the semi-final second leg against Hamburg, was always rated as doubtful for the Europa League Final.

Only some marvelous work from the medical staff enabled Bobby to take his place in the starting line up last night and, with the nature of his injury, there was always going to be a chance he`d not survive the full ninety minutes.

To be honest, Bobby looked to be in some discomfort every time he touched the ball but to his credit he gave his all.

It was always gong to be a gamble starting with Bobby but it was a gamble that, in our opinion, came off.

Apart from playing a major part in Simon Davies` goal, Bobby was instrumental in holding the ball whenever Fulham were looking to ease the Atletico Madrid pressure and push forward themselves.

It was a feature of our game that we lacked once Bobby had conceded he could no longer continue. Balls up field were not held and, inevitably, Madrid were able to put us on the back foot more as the game wore on.

Whilst admitting playing Bobby was always going to be a gamble, our only misgiving was that it was one that couldn`t be played out for the full ninety minutes, if it had, who knows!

Talking about the situation, post match, Bobby had this to say about his struggle and also the planned remedial action,

"I was struggling but I was desperate to play."

"It was touch and go for me to make the final but it`s a major tournament and I`ve worked all season to get there so I wanted to play some part."

"I`m going to weigh everything up with the medical team now but it looks like I might need a minor operation."

"The decision will be made over the next day or two but the operation is penciled in for a week`s time."

Have the operation Bobby and come back next season as fit as a fiddle.

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:44:03 AM (
Fulham - Dempsey Claims a First!
Last night may well have seen Fulham Football Club achieve a club milestone by appearing in their first major European Final but it also produced another interesting milestone.

We`re reliably informed that when Clint Dempsey came on as a second half substitute; he became the first American to make an appearance in a major European final.

Kudos to Clint!

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:45:02 AM (
Fulham - A Moral Victory!
Okay! We come second but we can still hold our heads high!

We shocked Europe and claimed some big scalps on the way, in fact you might be unaware of the fact that 192 teams participated in a competition that saw our club rack up in excess of 20,000 air miles.

Second out of 192, it sounds pretty damn good to me!

We may have been chasing our first major trophy since our formation in 1879 but we can take comfort in the fact that we survived the longest out of all those teams that were entered solely into the Europa League.

Atletico Madrid only bounced into our competition after exiting the Champions League.

In my book that gives us a moral victory does it not!

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:46:12 AM (
Fulham - Fair Play League!
Our loss, to Atletico Madrid, last night means that Craven Cottage will not witness European football next season.

A victory last night was the only way in which we could qualify for the Europa League next season.

Any hopes of finishing high enough in the Premier League, to qualify, diminished as the season progressed whilst one last possible entrance route was slammed in our faces just recently.

English football had high hopes of being awarded an extra Europa League place through the Fair Play scheme.

Our exemplary disciplinary record meant that we were prime candidates to qualify; indeed if we`d have won the Europa League relegated Burnley were the club likely to fulfill that place.

Sadly, that door was slammed shut when UEFA awarded the Fair Play places to the Scandinavian trio of Norway, Finland and Sweden.

It looks like, for us, all our efforts will be concentrate don the domestic competitions next season but it does have the added bonus that we`ll not be playing 63 competitive games and we`ll not be playing competitive football as early as July like this season.

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:47:20 AM (
Hodgson will stay says Fulham director

LONDON (AFP) - Fulham will do everything in their power to keep manager Roy Hodgson at Craven Cottage after his team's fairytale run to the Europa League final ended in defeat to Atletico Madrid.

Hodgson and his players headed back to England disconsolate after Diego Forlan's goal four minutes from the end of extra-time gave Atletico a 2-1 win in Hamburg on Wednesday.

However, Hodgson will be a hot property during the close-season after his unfashionable team eliminated Juventus, Hamburg, Wolfsburg and Shakhtar Donetsk on the way to the final.

The former Inter Milan coach has already seen his name mentioned in connection with Liverpool and England if those jobs became available.

But Fulham director Michael Cole said: "He is integral to the club, a very great manager. And as (club owner) Mohamed al Fayed has said, he's more than a manager - he's a very great human being.

"We do think he will stay and I think he'll be at Fulham because essentially he has what every manager says he wants - a free hand and the confidence of the chairman. By and large he gets the support he requires in the way he wants it."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:48:51 AM (
Fulham director expects 'integral' Hodgson to say
Fulham chief Michael Cole hopes Roy Hodgson stays at Craven Cottage

Fulham director Michael Cole insists Roy Hodgson is "integral" to the club.

The Cottagers' hopes of winning their first European trophy were dashed on Wednesday night in Hamburg as Europa League final opponents Atletico Madrid scored an extra-time goal to win 2-1.

Hodgson revealed his desperate disappointment after the match but is expecting to fulfil his contract and be in charge of the club for the 2010-11 Barclays Premier League season.

"He is integral to the club, a very great manager. And as (club owner) Mohamed al Fayed has said, he's more than a manager - he's a very great human being," Cole told Sky Sports News.

"We do think he will stay and I think he'll be at Fulham because essentially he has what every manager says he wants - a free hand and the confidence of the chairman. By and large he gets the support he requires in the way he wants it."

Cole insists al Fayed will not end in his interest in the Cottagers after it was revealed last week that he is deciding to sell Harrods and retire - even hinting it could be good news for the club.

The Qatari royal family are buying the store for a reported £1.5billion through Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the Qatar Investment Authority, which trades on behalf of the state.

Cole added: "Mohamed al Fayed carried out a brilliant deal for Harrods. There is some regret that he is selling but he has improved the shop.

"What he'll do in the future I think is a question for him, not me. But because he's sold the shop he's not going to sell the club.

"Because you sell your house you do not necessarily sell your car - you might even upgrade it if you sell your house for a tidy sum."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:50:16 AM (
Fulham - Bittersweet Reflection
The day of destiny came and the day of destiny passed us by.

No trophy will grace Craven Cottage this year; despite the belief, despite the desire and despite the hunger.

Fulham played their hearts out and battled until the end; in itself, being a great achievement.

We were gracious in defeat and dignified in despair. The season of hope for Fulham, crumbled in the hands of Atletico Madrid.

The emotions that passed through me, and many other Fulham fans last night are truly not surmountable in word form.

With emotion, though, comes reflection, and disregarding the bitter sorrow we all collectively felt last night, not just as Fulham, but as an English representative; we did ourselves truly proud.

Simply to be in a major European Final is a magnificent achievement, and, in the chaos and tears that followed in Germany, we must all treasure the journey that led us to Hamburg in this, the season 2009/10.

It was dubbed the year to remember and it still is the year to remember, defeat aside.

Nobody will ever forget the victories over Shakhtar, Juventus and Hamburg alike. Nobody in the Black and White of Fulham will fail to remember the 2009/10 season for all the elation, desperation and memories it has brought every single one of us.

The World has viewed our courage and grit and openly applauded it. We are a recognised force, not just in the Premier League, but now in Europe.

We were given the opportunity to surpass expectation. To jump huge hurdles. And we snapped at the opportunity.

Fulham FC, with our support and the tutorship of Roy Hodgson and his staff, have made history.

I will never forget. Nobody will ever forget.

We believed 'til the very end. We are Fulham.

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:51:59 AM (
10 reasons why Roy Hodgson should stay at Fulham next season

Well, the dream may have died last night for Fulham in the Europa League but they can hold their heads high. What they achieved by reaching the final against Atletico Madrid is amazing and all involved in the club have done England proud.

Now the job begins to take this success into the summer and the next campaign. But will Roy Hodgson still be leading the charge down at the Cottage. We hope so, and here's 10 reasons why we think he should/will be.

1) There's actually 1.5 BILLION reasons to be honest. That's said to be the amound Mr Al Fayed received for selling Harrods and now he is retiring what better way to spend it than on making the club world-beaters. Tevez to Fulham? Messi maybe? With that kind of cash, anything is possible.

2) LIVERPOOL are a shambles. Why would Hodgson want to go to a club up for sale, a team about to lose its prize assets and a side that are only just getting into the Europa League. It'd be such a risk to even consider a move to the big time, Hodgson could be a massive fish in a smaller pond. At Anfield he'd get chewed up and spat out like a sardine.

3) FABIO CAPELLO won't be leaving England any time soon. The Italian should steer us to a decent World Cup campaign and he'd have to be given a chance to lead us into the Euros in 2012. And just because Roy managed a Fulham team to a final, doesn't mean he could do it on the world stage. Another season of success though and who knows!

4) He is 62! ROY HODGSON should really be thinking about his exit plan from the beautiful game and staying with Fulham until he does retire, creating something very special, has to be much more enjoyable than major stress at a top five club here or abroad. He has been there and done that. Now's the time to leave a legacy.

5) He's bitter. And that means he'll want another crack. FULHAM won't be in Europe next term but a good challenge in the Premier League and Cups is what they need to prove themselves. A trophy and top six finish could well happen without the distraction of Europe and some money to spend.

6) He wants to STAY. Well so he says. "But as far as my future goes, I have never given it a thought. I've always been committed to Fulham and still am." Enough said. You heard it from the horses mouth.

7) He has two and a half years left on his CONTRACT. That's enough time to really move the club on and have another season in Europe and try again to go one better than this year. Why waste time starting again from scratch.

8) He needs to keep BOBBY ZAMORA. If Hodgson stays and can get the striker to stay too, he'll be onto a winner. Look what he's done while struggling with injury. Imagine what a fully-fit Bobby could achieve. Duff, Murphy, Konchesky and Hangeland would also be key to keeping the nucleus of the side in shape.

9) Other than the top clubs, anyone else would be a come down. Why move to West Ham or whichever other side decides to sack their gaffer this summer. We think Roy is a man of honour and can't see him wanting away for the sake of it, or even for more money and a better deal.

10) The fans love him and he was named League Manager's Association Manager of the Year this week. One swallow doesn't make a summer but Fulham's progress under Roy Hodgson is not in doubt and if the chairman does break out that chequebook, they could be a real force to be reckoned with.

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:53:12 AM (
Fulham eye Curtis Davies as Martin O'Neill looks to offload six Aston Villa players

Fulham are interested in Aston Villa central defender Curtis Davies who is one of six players earmarked to leave the club this summer. Davies, 25, joined Villa from West Bromwich Albion in 2008 for £8m.

But he has suffered with injuries and Villa will take around £5m to get him off the pay roll.

Fulham are also keen on Nicky Shorey and Steve Sidwell while Villa's Luke Young, Habib Beye and Nigel Reo-Coker are also likely to be sold.

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:55:10 AM (

SIMON Davies last night admitted Roy Hodgson is the best manager he has ever worked with – and pleaded with him not to quit Fulham.

Hodgson was voted manager of the year for getting his team to an unexpected Europa League final, and has been linked with the Liverpool job.

Davies scored Fulham’s goal in their heartbreaking 2-1 extra-time defeat by Atletico Madrid in Hamburg.

The Welsh star said: “You leave yourself open to get hurt more when you start believing that you can win it.

“We have had an attitude all along the way that you do not dare to believe, but getting to the final you want to win. it is just a shame that we did not manage it.

“Roy Hodgson is definitely the best manager I have ever worked with, 100 per cent. The way he has organised a
team like us and got us to a final and an occasion like this is remarkable.

“We are very proud to work with the manager and I would not be surprised if he had offers on the table and I am sure he is going to get that.

“It has been a great journey this year and we would love to continue it and for him to stay with us.”

As well as missing out on the trophy, the players never found out what bonus Fulham’s flamboyant owner Mohamed al Fayed had in line for them.

Davies added: “Mohamed al Fayed was in the dressing room before the game and told us we would get a big bonus for winning the final and we were looking forward to seeing what it would be.

“We got a Harrods gift card for reaching the final so we were wondering what it might be!”

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:56:55 AM (

BOBBY Zamora last night opened his heart about his England and Europa League final nightmare.

The Fulham striker, 29, could have been going to the World Cup if he had not picked up an Achilles injury six weeks ago.

And he effectively hobbled and limped his way through 55 minutes of the biggest night of his life on Wednesday
when Fulham lost the final to Atletico Madrid.

Things could have been so much different for Fulham and Zamora if he had been fully fit.

And he explained how he had to come clean with England boss Fabio Capello about his real prospects of playing in South Africa.

Zamora said: “It was a decision between four lots of people, to be honest. Our medical staff, their medical men, myself and the management team with England.

“The injury came at the worst possible time but I’m so proud of the lads at Fulham.”

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 07:57:59 AM (
Celtic know price for Fulham striker Kamara

Celtic are closing in on Fulham striker Diomansy Kamara.

The Daily Record says Celtic could keep Kamara for a cut-price £2.5million.

The Senegalese striker has been a hit at Parkhead since arriving on loan from Europa League finalists Fulham at the end of January.

Despite being hampered by a hamstring injury Kamara has impressed Celtic supporters with strong performances and three goals.

The 29-year-old has indicated he would like to make the move from Craven Cottage a permanent arrangement - but the Hoops hierarchy are going to have to stump up.
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 08:02:52 AM (
Hughes 'proud' of Cottagers campaign

Aaron Hughes believes Fulham can still walk away from this season with their heads held high despite Wednesday's Europa League final defeat.

Diego Forlan ended the Cottagers' fairytale European adventure on Wednesday night when he struck in extra time to deny Fulham their first major trophy in the club's 131-year history.

Fulham accounted for the likes of Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk and Wolfsburg in an 19-match run which began back in July to make the final in Hamburg.

Hughes has been an integral part of the Cottagers European run, playing in 17 of the games at the heart of the Fulham defence.

He praised the way that the team handled the gruelling campaign and believes the club should be proud of the players' achievements.

"I think we've done the club proud. Everyone has really enjoyed the competition," said the Fulham vice-captain.

"It's been fantastic. I think we've approached it the right way.

"There was never any real pressure on us, which helped us because we just went out and played.

"Everyone was looking elsewhere at the other clubs and that us get on with it. Then all of a sudden we found ourselves in the quarter finals, the semi-finals and then in the final."

"Everyone was disappointed that we didn't get anything from the game but at the same time we've had an excellent season.

"It's just a pity we couldn't cap it off."

Forlan had put Atletico ahead on the half hour before Simon Davies rifled in a well-taken volley to level just before half-time.

The game looked destined for penalties as both sides laboured through the second half and extra time before former Manchester United striker Forlan sealed Fulham's misery in the 116th minute.

Hughes denied that the players had lost their focus towards the end and added that he thought Fulham could have won the match.

"I wouldn't say we were just thinking about penalties," said the 30-year-old.

"We were still concentrating on the few minutes that were left.

"It was just that Forlan did the stuff that he's done all through the competition, he sneaked in and scored a good goal.

"I don't think there was a big difference between the two sides. In the end it was just wasn't our night."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 08:23:47 AM
Roy Hodgson's run to the Europa League final with Fulham has made him favourite to be named manager of the Great Britain football team for the London 2012 Olympics. An announcement is expected some time next year. (Daily Mail)
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 08:27:46 AM (
Schwarzer desperate for Fulham not to repeat Middlesbrough mistakes

Aussie goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is desperate to see Roy Hodgson remain with Fulham.

Schwarzer is anxious for Fulham to keep Hodgson and avoid the same downward spiral suffered by Middlesbrough.

“Unfortunately, most of the Middlesbrough team broke up after we lost to Seville,” said the 37-year-old Australian, who left the club the season before they went down. “It's well documented what's happened to Middlesbrough since then.

“Let's hope that it doesn't occur at Fulham. It would be a great shame if something like that was to happen. Hopefully, it won't. The guys really enjoy playing football at the club, it's a great environment and the set-up is fantastic. But in football you never know. Things change and they can sometimes change overnight.”
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 10:03:45 AM (
Maidstone United General Manager Bill Williams hopes to attract lucrative friendly against Premier League side

General Manager Bill Williams has revealed Maidstone have asked Premier League Fulham for a money-spinning pre-season friendly.

The club are awaiting a response from the Cottagers, as well as Leyton Orient, Dagenham and Gillingham among others.

Mr Williams also revealed he expects the Stones to miss out on a cash windfall from the Cottagers as part of the Chris Smalling deal.

The Stones were set to receive a five-figure payment for every 10 first team appearances Smalling (pictured) made.

The defender – who will join Manchester United this summer – made his 19th appearance at Arsenal on Sunday, but will not now reach the 20-game milestone.

Mr Williams said: "There is always hope, but agreements are agreements. We did ask them to consider a few things officially and you never know, but I doubt we’ll get anything.

"You are dealing with plcs and there is no compassion or sentimentality when it comes down to money."

He also revealed he would be inviting ex-Stone and current Fulham boss Roy Hodgson to attend a sporting dinner to raise funds for the club.
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 10:04:56 AM (
Birmingham City Make £8m Approach for In Form Fulham Forward Bobby Zamora
Alex McLeish hopes to lure England hopeful to St Andrews’

Birmingham have made an official approach to Fulham about a double swoop for Bobby Zamora and Paul Konchesky.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is facing having to break up the Cottagers’ heroic Europa League side with a string of his top men approaching the end of their contracts.

Skipper Danny Murphy and Konchesky head a list of six key players who have just a year left on their current deals, while Zamora has become much-wanted striker.

Birmingham officials were given short shrift by Fulham when they moved for £8m-rated Zamora and Konchesky.

But City are now expected to return with a big-money bid for Zamora, who is also attracting attention from Aston Villa.

Brum boss Alex McLeish has an interest in West Ham front man Carlton Cole but sees Zamora as the ideal target man to spearhead his team.

McLeish said: “You get a lot of strikers in football who are great at assists and they do a lot of work for other people to score. (Daily Mirror)

Now I can see why Birmingham City would be interested in Bobby Zamora but I would have thought that the in form forward will be offered a new contract at Craven Cottage given his great season. The former Tottenham man had become something of a figure of fun after a poor last season at West Ham and an even more disastrous debut season at Fulham.

However this term the 29 year old has clicked into gear and helped Roy Hodgson to a solid domestic campaign as well as a fantastic Europa League adventure where his eight goals have been a crucial part of the west London sides run to the final.

Birmingham City have had a great season of their own however scoring goals has been a problem with only four clubs scoring less goals than Alex McLeish’s men. The former Rangers man is hoping to snap up Ibrox goal machine Kris Boyd and they may find it easier to clinch that deal than trying to nab Zamora from Fulham.
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 10:05:52 AM (
Roy Hodgson pledges future to Fulham after Europa League defeat

Roy Hodgson appears to have pledged his future to Fulham after watching his side lose the Europa League final to Atletico Madrid in heartbreaking fashion.

Diego Forlan won the game for the Spanish side deep into extra time – his strike four minutes from the end of the additional 30 minutes securing the 2-1 win.

Speaking after the game, Fulham's 63rd of a remarkable season, Hodgson expressed his disappointment at the result but declared he was "committed" to the club.

There has been continuing speculation in recent weeks the LMA manager of the year could be in line for a move to Anfield as Rafael Benitez's successor at Liverpool should the Spaniard move to Juventus as reported.

However, Hodgson moved to end the reports, saying he was dedicated to seeing out his contract at Craven Cottage, which expires in a year.

"As far as my future is concerned, I haven't given it a moment's thought," the 62-year-old said.

"I've been fully committed to Fulham as long as I've been here and always will be."

Hodgson said after the despair from last night's defeat lifted he and his players would be looking forward to next season, despite not qualifying for either of the European competitions.

"We can't promise the fans a Europa League final again as we won't be in that competition," Hodgson said.

"Our season next year will be quite a straightforward Premier League season. Just being a part of the Premier League is something special."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 10:07:39 AM (
Magne Hoseth set for Premier League transfer to Blackburn or Fulham

Premier League rivals Blackburn and Fulham are preparing to do battle over midfielder Magne Hoseth from Norwegian side Molde.


The 29-year-old Norway international playmaker is being discussed as a potential cut-price arrival in England for around £450,000.

Both Rovers and Fulham are keen to bring the player to the Premier League in the summer to bolster their line-ups, with Sam Allardyce the current favourite to land his signature.

However, Cottagers boss Roy Hodgson could still gazump the ex-Bolton manager's advances through his network of contacts in Scandinavia from his time as Finland international coach.

Hoseth impressed against Scotland and the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign and is said to be a good fit for English football.

Before joining Molde, with talented midfielder had spells at Danish side FC Copenhagen and Norwegian league side Valerenga.
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 10:09:21 AM,19528,11095_6152388,00.html (,19528,11095_6152388,00.html)
Davies - Hodgson is the best
Fulham midfielder heaps praise on 'best manager'

Fulham midfielder Simon Davies has heaped praise on Roy Hodgson, saying 'he is the best manager I have ever worked with'.

Fulham came nerve-shatteringly close to Europa League glory when pushing Atletico Madrid to extra-time in the final in Hamburg on Wednesday.

It was not to be, though, for the Cottagers, whose hopes of silverware were dashed by a last-gasp Diego Forlan winner minutes before the final whistle.

And yet, even in defeat, the players can draw so much from their monumental achievements under Hodgson this term.

His impact since joining the then-troubled club in late 2007 has been unbelievable, leaving Davies, amongst others, forever in his debt.

A real shame
Davies admits that, having gone as far as they did in the tournament, to lose in the final was utterly heart breaking.

"You leave yourself open to get hurt more when you start believing that you can win it," he told the Daily Star.

"We have had an attitude all along the way that you do not dare to believe, but getting to the final you want to win.

"It is just a shame that we did not manage it."

He added: "Roy Hodgson is definitely the best manager I have ever worked with, 100 per cent.

"The way he has organised a team like us and got us to a final and an occasion like this is remarkable."

Hodgson had been linked with a move to Anfield in recent weeks when Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was touted for the coach's post at Juventus.

Davies says he hopes Hodgson stays at Fulham and continues his influential reign for the foreseeable future.

He said: "We are very proud to work with the manager and I would not be surprised if he had offers on the table and I am sure he is going to get that.

"It has been a great journey this year and we would love to continue it and for him to stay with us."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 10:10:34 AM,19528,11681_6152436,00.html (,19528,11681_6152436,00.html)
English eyes on Hoseth
Norwegian international in demand understands a number of English sides are chasing Norway international Magne Hoseth.

The Molde midfielder has enjoyed a fine season to date and his performances for club and country have alerted a host of clubs.

The 29-year-old could be available for a cut-price fee and both Blackburn and Fulham have been credited with an interest in the attacking midfielder.

Blackburn have held preliminary talks over a £450,000 deal for the attacking midfielder who has had previous spells with FC Copenhagen and Valerenga and has over 20 caps.

Hoseth's English agent, Dan Fletcher, has confirmed several English teams are tracking the player.

"There is significant interest in Magne from English clubs. But nothing has been agreed yet," Fletcher told

"Magne is a leading contender for the Norwegian Player of the Year this year, having been involved in 14 out of Molde's 17 goals so far and scoring five himself in 11 games."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 10:44:43 AM (
Birmingham City make official approach for Fulham's Bobby Zamora & Paul Konchesky - report

Birmingham City are believed to have officially contacted Fulham to enquire about the potential sales of striker Bobby Zamora and defender Paul Konchesky.

The pair have been a pivotal presence for the Cottagers in their fairytale run in the Europa League, but manager Roy Hodgson may have to let some of his players go as six of his charges including Konchesky have only one year left on their contracts with the London-based club.

The Mirror has reported that Brum have made an official approach to sign the pair, as manager Alex McLeish is believed to have been assured of a flush transfer kitty.

It is said that McLeish is interested in West Ham United forward Carlton Cole as well, but views Zamora as a more interesting option.
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 11:56:58 AM (
Schwarzer relishing new lease of life

Two years ago Mark Schwarzer was written off after quitting ambitious Middlesbrough for struggling Fulham.

The veteran Australia goalkeeper was accused of lacking ambition for joining a club that had only survived relegation from the Premier League after one of the most extraordinary escape acts in top-flight history.

After two outstanding seasons for the Cottagers, and with Middlesbrough stuck in the Championship, few are questioning the Sydney-born 37-year-old's judgement now.

Fulham have been revitalised since Roy Hodgson took over as manager in December 2007 and Schwarzer has enjoyed a new lease of life under him.

Last season he kept 15 clean sheets as the Londoners finished a club-best seventh and qualified for the Europa League.

This term he has built on that and again been outstanding in a remarkable run to the final in Europe's second-tier competition that, after beginning in July, has included wins over Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus and Wolfsburg.

Now Schwarzer hopes to maintain that form into the summer as he rejoins the Australia squad for the World Cup in South Africa.

"From day one I have enjoyed my time at Fulham," Schwarzer told (

"I have been fortunate enough over 13-14 years to have some pretty fantastic seasons, and definitely the last two seasons at Fulham have been very special for a number of reasons.

"The longer my career has gone on the more I have relaxed and enjoyed things and savoured the moment.

"This season is turning out to be pretty special and I hope it continues into the World Cup. That would really cap off a memorable season."

Schwarzer, who had won 73 Australia caps heading into the pre-tournament programme, is firmly established as his country's number one.

In 2005 he made himself a national hero with two penalty shoot-out saves against Uruguay to take Australia to Germany for their first World Cup in 32 years.

He then conceded just four goals in 14 matches in a comfortable qualification for South Africa 2010.

The Socceroos' reward for those performances was a tough draw against Germany, Serbia and Ghana but Schwarzer believes they can make an impression.

"If you look at our group it is very, very tough," said the former Kaiserslautern and Bradford player.

"We are going in again as underdogs, but the difference now is that we are not the unknown quantity we were last time.

"I'm quietly confident we will go to the World Cup in the best possible shape and condition and hopefully give it a real shake like we did last time.

"We definitely have more experience than four years ago and statistically experience helps you more so than anything else.

"This time around we also have a larger pool of players to call on.

"Hopefully that will keep us in very good stead throughout the World Cup."

With German parents and having first moved to Europe to play for Dynamo Dresden, there is little doubt which of the World Cup group fixtures has captured Schwarzer's imagination the most.

Australia open their campaign against three-time winners Germany in Durban on June 13.

Schwarzer said: "Nothing beats playing in a World Cup as you are representing your country, you're playing on the biggest stage on the planet and there are hundreds of millions of people watching around the world.

"To have the opportunity to play against Germany, and hopefully get a good result, would be a dream come true."

Looking beyond the summer, Schwarzer has one year remaining on his Fulham contract but, in the form of his life, he has no intention of hanging up his gloves yet.

"I would like to stay beyond that," he said. "Obviously at this time of your career it's a case of staying on top of your game and performing week-in, week-out.

"I want to keep playing at the highest level as long as possible."
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 12:42:38 PM (
Cottagers' pride remains intact

TEAMtalk's James Marshment says Fulham can still take great pride from their European exploits after their defeat in the Europa League final.

They've overcome obstacles as diverse as the might of an Old Lady and a volcanic ash cloud, but Lady Luck decided to desert the Cottagers when it mattered most on Wednesday night.

Nonetheless, Fulham and manager Roy Hodgson can take great pride from their Europa League adventure, which started way back in July in the preliminary rounds.

To overcome the likes of Juventus, Hamburg, Shakhtar Donestsk and Wolfsburg, amongst others, is a remarkable achievement for a club, which just two seasons ago was surviving in the Premier League thanks to a dramatic last-day triumph at Portsmouth.

Fulham's journey is all-the-more astonishing for me on a personal level. As an ambitious young journalism student up in Darlington, I remember seeing the Cottagers plying their trade in the fourth tier of English football and winning an enjoyable encounter at Darlo's former home Feethams. It may have been 13 years ago, but it's a remarkable rise nonetheless.

So fast forward to May 12, 2010 and the Nordbank Arena. It's the biggest night in Fulham's proud history and possibly the crowning glory of Hodgson's managerial career.

Unfortunately for the Cottagers it wasn't to be. After a nervy start, they fought back to cancel out Diego Forlan's opener with a superb Simon Davies strike and for long periods thereafter, they looked the more probable winners. But deep in extra time, Forlan struck again to send the Spanish into dreamland and the Cottagers into despair.

The quality of Atletico's front pair of Sergio Aguerro and Forlan proved the difference on the night, but we shouldn't forget either what a difference a 100% fit Bobby Zamora would have made. Dickson Etuhu didn't have the best of games in central midfield either as he gave away possession all-too regularly. But it's not a time for recriminations and the Cottagers still deserve enormous praise for their efforts.

English sides have done well in the Champions League in recent seasons, but in the Europa League - or the UEFA Cup as it was formally known - our teams have too often fallen short.

Whether that is a case of teams taking it too casually, I'm not sure, but Fulham have illustrated just what can be achieved when the competition is gone at full-tilt.

Next season, the likes of Manchester City, Aston Villa and Liverpool all have the chance to replicate - or even better - Fulham's achievements. Hopefully, they will have learned a lesson and give the competition their best shot.
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 12:43:40 PM (
A Different Week - Chelsea reign supreme, but Fulham take the plaudits

As the political power in the country shifts from red to blue, so it seems does the nation’s footballing supremacy. As most people expected, Chelsea casually strolled past Wigan Athletic to secure their third Premier League title on the final day of the season. The ease of their strolling may have surprised some, but then this is some Chelsea side who are more than capable of hitting seven or more goals against even some of the tougher sides in the league, as Sunderland (7-2) Aston Villa (7-1) and Stoke City (7-0) will testify.

With these sorts of results behind them, it’s easy to see why the Blues have not only taken United’s throne, put pinched some of their crown jewels off them too - breaking their 1999/00 record of most goals scored in a season (97) with their own tally of 103. This was of course thanks mainly to the goal-scoring abilities of Didier Drogba and his last day hat-trick was more than enough for him to sneak ahead of Wayne’s Rooney and steal away the Golden Boot from the Red Devils top-scorer. His petulant sulking as Frank Lampard put Chelsea further ahead from the penalty spot may have left a sour taste in the mouth, but the way he responded in his relentless attacking was marvellous and his teammates’ relentless endeavour to help him on to the scoresheet was both touching and great to watch. Love them or loathe them, Chelsea are a fantastic side headed by a fantastic striker. Drogba, John Terry and Ashley Cole might not be top of the popularity polls outside of Kensington, but they are top of the Premier League and right now that’s probably all they really care about.

They can cement their dominant position this weekend with victory in the FA Cup Final against a Portsmouth team who’s own fortunes couldn’t contrast much more with those of their affluent opponents. It’s hard to see anything other than a win for Ancelotti’s men, but Chelsea will be all too aware of what happened to Tottenham in the semi-finals. A win for penniless Pompey against the Stamford Bridge millionaires is unlikely, but not impossible. Securing a first League and FA Cup double for Chelsea would be a fantastic achievement for Carlo Ancelotti in his first, highly successful season at the club, but whilst Chelsea look to clean up the domestic honours, success on the European stage continues to elude them. Since Abramovich showed up in west London, it has been stated by various members of the Stamford Bridge playing and coaching staff that until the European Cup sits in the Chelsea trophy cupboard, then the Blues can never be considered as a ‘big’ club and yet despite all their best efforts, Champions League glory is still something Terry and Co. are yet to taste.

In fact, the only English team to really excel in European competition was, of course, Fulham, whose fairytale adventure finally came to an end in Hamburg last night. Despite falling at the last hurdle, Roy Hodgson’s men can hold their heads high, having surpassed surely even their own expectations in a fantastic campaign that started back in July against FK Vetra and saw them travel almost 20 000 miles as they contested nineteen Europa League fixtures, including that incredible night at Craven Cottage when they came back from 4-1 down on aggregate to defeat the mighty Juventus 5-4. To lose out to Diego Forlan’s late winner was a cruel way for it to end for Fulham, but the future looks bright for the Cottagers and in Hodgson, they have a fantastic leader, who richly deserved his LMA Manager of the Season award and has taken the west London club from relegation candidates to European challengers, building a strong team around honest, hardworking players. The likes of Mark Schwarzer, Paul Konchesky, Danny Murphy, Simon Davies and Bobby Zamora might not be the biggest names in English football and they may not be individually great players like some of their better-known counterparts up the road at Chelsea, but put them in a team together and they can even send Turin’s Serie A giants packing. One certainly gets the impression that there is no room for egos or superstars in Hodgson’s dressing room, refreshing in comparison to the glitz and glamour of the Premier League’s other European representatives and another reason that, whilst Chelsea might claim the prizes, it’ll be their unglamorous neighbours who deservedly pick up the plaudits.
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 12:45:59 PM (
  Club Focus - Fulham - Dizzying heights, shattered dreams, but a proud club still believes

Empty handed, yet full of pride. A 63-game long season ended with the mix of emotions that Craven Cottage has spilling from its walls. Hope sprung from several memorable comebacks from against the odds. Despair struck after Diego Forlan cruelly defeated Fulham 116 minutes into the Europa League final. Yet, ultimately, pride overruled any other feeling as the players, manager and fans reflected on what was, despite not actually winning anything, the most successful season in the club’s history.

The Fulham players brought literal meaning to the age-old blood, sweat and tears metaphor on Wednesday night. Bobby Zamora pushed himself beyond the pain barrier for the last few games of the season, Danny Murphy had worked so hard he could barely stand come full-time. And

Zoltan Gera collapsed in a heap of emotion at the end of extra-time, summing up emphatically how everyone connected with the club - and to a certain extent plenty of outsiders - felt at that moment. It was a cruel, cruel way to end a season of such hope, with this last game proving just one tiny step too far for Fulham to get the recognition they deserved - the Europa League trophy. When the fans at the end of last season were singing “we’re all going on a European tour”,not one of them expected to take in 19 fixtures, seven countries and thousands of air (or coach) miles, but their club has been the footballing story of the season and all it lacked was a fairytale ending. This, however, was real life, and 120 further minutes was simply too much for such tired legs.

Those supporters old enough to remember the club’s last golden era will be only too aware of the club’s ability to make promises only for luck to change its mind at the last moment - somehow it just would not have been Fulham were it Murphy lifting the trophy on Wednesday night. Over the years Fulham have fluctuated between the top flight and the bottom of the football ladder, and despite missing out yet again on a major trophy, the 2009/10 season far eclipsed all others that had gone before it. And for that reason, even accounting for the late heartbreak, 2010 will be remembered as a major success. Not in the league, perhaps, although a safe mid-table position is still a remarkable achievement when considering the team’s two cup runs (let’s not forget the FA Cup quarter-final), but the overall view of this year will be of how one man and his troops overcame the odds from every angle to succeed beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.

That man, Roy Hodgson, took the defeat as he takes any result - with humility and grace. Clearly devastated by the outcome, he took the opportunity to praise his players, and rightfully considering the consistently high performances from the majority of them over the slog that has been 2009/10. Zamora, with Hodgson's continued support, has been a revelation. Damien Duff's career has been rejuvenated since his summer move. And Gera has filled in (and improved upon) for Andy Johnson spectacularly, particularly in Europe. All the above - and most of the rest -have thrived on the team-focused tactics that the manager demands, and now at the end of the season their performances can be judged on consistency rather than temporary form. No player can be accused of underperforming, and that really is testament to the talents of Hodgson.

Had Fulham won the Europa League then there would have been a case for the manager achieving all he could at the club - not that Hodgson would ever make such a claim. Now, however, he could well feel like he has unfinished business. The potential that this quaint family-friendly club alongside the river was clear this season for the whole of Europe to see, but the pain of the harshest of defeats served as a reminder that, whether they go on to bigger and better things or not, the spirit of everyone involved will always remain.

The important question now is whether Fulham will sink back into the comfortable surroundings of Stevenage Road by the river, or whether this past year, combined with the fact Craven Cottage will host no European fixtures next season, will spur the club on to further success and a regular attack on the top seven. In truth, a lot rests on whether Hodgson is plied away from the esteem he has built in SW6 for one last chance to prove himself at an already established outfit or whether he, along with Mohammed Al-Fayed, can keep the bulk of the squad together and improve on it with more clever transfers. For those who witnessed each of the 63 games this season provided, dare they dream that things could get even better? For they, more than anyone, know the pain that is caused by dreams being shattered
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 01:54:51 PM (
by Dan on May 14, 2010

It’s only natural that the overriding emotion just after that sudden blow to our collective solar plexis was crushing disappointment. Getting that close has to hurt. But, given a couple of days to place the whole experience in the broader picture, I challenge any Fulham fan to be feeling anything other than very, very proud.

Proud of how Roy Hodgson handled defeat. With characteristic frankness, he set the defeat in it’s rightful context minutes after the game had finished. In that analytical manner of his that seems to have been borrowed from a sixties schoolmaster rather than a modern football manager, Roy conceded that found it difficult to make a technically gifted and exceptionally dangerous Atletico Madrid. When Sergio Aguero was leading all and sundry a merry dance after Forlan’s first goal, I feared Fulham might buckle under the pressure.

That goes against everything we know about the team Hodgson’s built. In adversity, we saw those familiar qualities yet again – endeavour, teamwork and the will not to be beaten. That spirit had carried Fulham through far greater crises that this and Simon Davies’ sweet strike had our hopes soaring. It’s right to acknowledge his contribution here too. Davies has been written off by some as past it and injury-prone over the past season, but he scored one of the best goals I’ve seen in a high-pressure situation to get us back into the semi-final and demonstrated that flawless technique at the far post again on Wednesday night.

Defensively we were clearly stretched but the boys kept going. Dickson Etuhu imposed himself on proceedings and quelled some of those speedy Atletico breaks. There was plenty of courage on display. Most of our back four were carrying niggling injuries and Damien Duff soldiered on despite the calf strain from Stoke. Bobby Zamora battled gamely for the best part of an hour and caused enough consternation to create the goal. Everyone was a hero.

Tactically, we were difficult to break down but, if anyone doubts that Roy’s too nice for the pressure-cooker, get them to watch the video again. The difference between an anxious first half and the positive manner in which the Whites started the second half was remarkable. As ever with Fulham, with a bit more luck, the balance might have tilted our way. But don’t take too long to consider the ‘if only’s’ – the memories should simply be happy ones.

Remember all those people you told you that the Europa League would wreck Fulham’s season. That we’d be a relegation dogfight before we knew it. The astounding thing about this season is that, for all the thousands of miles the same players travelled week in, week out, the Whites still finished well clear of the danger zone. Think about the sides we’ve played and beaten: Basel, Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus and Hamburg. We fell in the final seconds against a team that possessing one of the most frightening strike partnerships in all of Europe – there’s no shame in that.

The enormity of all of it could have been too much. I first started going to Fulham in the early 1990s – and many of my friends have been following the club for far longer. Sadly, I couldn’t make it to Hamburg, but it felt like I was there. Not just because of the sheer number of phone calls and text messages I received from my Fulham family, but those banners, the black and white masses and the songs that came through loud and clear on the television.

Most football fans will never get to see their team in a European final. We did – and the boys certainly didn’t let us down.

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 02:02:37 PM (
Fulham risk seeing Euro final team broken up

Fulham's Europa League final team face being broken up over the summer.

The Independent says there is still doubt over the manager Roy Hodgson, who has been tipped as a contender for the Liverpool job should Rafael Benitez leave, but it is his team that faces the most uncertain future. Amid suggestions that chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed could reinvest some of his £1.5bn windfall from the sale of Harrods back into the squad there has not been a decision yet on a handful of major players.

Mark Schwarzer, Chris Baird, Paul Konchesky, Simon Davies, Dickson Etuhu, Danny Murphy, Zoltan Gera and John Pantsil, the latter an unused substitute against Atletico, all have just one year left to run. With an ageing squad there are suggestions that Fulham will attempt to move on a lot of these players this summer for a fee and attempt to recruit younger, cheaper replacements.

They are also losing Erik Nevland, who is set to go back to Norway when his contract runs out at the end of next month. The club have already signed certain players such as Brede Hangeland, Clint Dempsey and Aaron Hughes to longer deals, demonstrating that these are the individuals they are most keen to keep.
Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 04:32:15 PM (
A Fabulous Journey


Fulham’s European dream may have ended in heartbreak in Hamburg, but Damien Duff is already targeting a successful domestic campaign next season to boost the Club’s chances of experiencing another European adventure in the future.

“It’s been a fabulous journey,” explained Duff. “We can take a lot from that, but when you get to a Final you want to win it, so we are gutted.

“At the start of the second half on Wednesday I thought we were really strong and perhaps that was the time to capitalise and take our chances. We’re all devastated.

“I’ve obviously had some massive highs and massive lows in my career and getting to the Final there have been so many highs - but losing a Final is not a nice feeling.

“I hadn’t trained for a week so I was tired at the end and it was always going to take its toll. The Club did great getting me fit and out there but it would have been nice to win.

“We obviously won’t be in Europe next season but hopefully we’ll have a better chance to pick up more points in the league. Hopefully we’ll do a lot better in the league and get into Europe again.”

Duff has enjoyed a fantastic inaugural season at the Cottage and before the Team departed for their summer break, the Republic of Ireland international was keen to pay tribute to Manager Roy Hodgson following another historic season for the Club.

“I think the fact that he was named Manager of the Year by the LMA on Monday speaks volumes. He’s a top Manager, a top coach and it’s about time he started getting the recognition he deserves.

“I can’t speak highly enough of him – you can see what he’s done with us this year. He’s a top man.”

Duff had one final note of praise to deliver for a playing colleague, whose inspirational goals in the UEFA Europa League played a pivotal role in Fulham reaching the Final in Hamburg.

“He’s [Zoltan Gera] been brilliant and I love Zoltan to bits. He was fabulous again in the Final and he’s been brilliant all season.” 

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 04:34:04 PM (
From Pain To Pride


The pain of a Final defeat was palpable as Fulham's players departed the Hamburg Arena on Wednesday evening, but despite a cruel end to a memorable European adventure, Fulham's pain will eventually be replaced by pride, as Brede Hangeland explained.

“It was difficult to come so close to penalties and lose it at the end,” said Hangeland after the game. “It’s going to take some time to get over that disappointment but I’m sure in a while we’ll be proud of having reached the Final and the fact that we gave a good account of ourselves.

“I thought on the whole they were probably the better team and created more chances but when you’re that close to penalties it’s very harsh and very difficult to take.

“All four of their attacking players are top, top players. For most of the game I thought we did really well and they didn’t create that much but they scored two really good goals and Forlan is always dangerous in the box.

“I’m sure in time we’ll be able to look back and be proud of our performances in Europe but when you lose a Final it’s hard to be positive but we have done well."

Before departing for the team hotel on Wednesday night Hangeland paid tribute to Manager Roy Hodgson, who has guided Fulham to heights that many would have never thought possible only a short time ago.
“He’s the main reason we were in the Final, explained the Norwegian international captain. "We’ve got a good group of players that work really hard but it’s all masterminded by the manager. He’s been crucial to the success we’ve had over the last two years.

“I think if we hadn’t of played in Europe we could have finished higher in the league but we needed to balance the squad with the number of games we played and for a small Club to get to the Final is a great achievement.”

Title: Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...
Post by: whitejc on May 14, 2010, 04:37:22 PM (
5 Reasons why I think the Europa League was worth watching and not just for Fulham fans

During this whole Europa League tournament I have heard and read criticism of the Europa League. Some soccer fans and critics might feel the tournament is not that important. I have read comments to my own stories that if Fulham won they would only be the 17th best team in Europe. I have also read comments that this journey that Fulham was on in the Europa League was a nice story, but not really that important. My question to these critics and fans is did you actually watch the Europa League matches this year?

If any fan or critic did not watch this tournament I think you missed out on some great football. I have to say this Europa League was not just about Fulham. I will tell you below the "5 reasons why I think the Europa League was worth watching and not just for Fulham fans."

 I was exposed to teams I normally would not watch.  I found watching teams from different countries fascinating. I was able to see Fulham play FC Basel form Switzerland, CSKA Sofia from Bulgaria,  Shakhtar Donetsk from the Ukraine, and Amkar Perm from Russia. Fulham, in different rounds played home and away matches to these clubs.I really got to respect just how phenominal a club Shakhtar Donetsk turns out to be. I never would have been able to appreciate that club without the Europa League.

I watched and appreciated players I had just heard and read about prior to the Europa League.  Before this League I had only heard about Edin Dzeko. By watching Fulham play Wolfsburg I now see why he is a player in such demand. I also got to appreciate players like Diego Forlan, Mladen Petric, and Sergio Aguero. 

I got to see many different styles of football. I have to admit I watch mostly the English Premier League. The Europa League exposed me to different styles of football from the many leagues in Europe. I got to see teams from the Bundesliga, Serie A, Russian Premier League, and La Liga. It was fascinating to see Fulham play against different styles of football. 

The Europa League offered European football to a smaller mid level club. A club like Fulham might never play in the Champions League. Who knows the next time Fulham will play in Europe again? This was a chance to see my team be rewarded for a great season the year before. Fulham took this tournament seriously.

The best reason to watch the Europa League was the quality of competition.  Is the Europa League the same competition as the Champions League? The answer to that question is "no". But, the teams that played in this competition wanted to win. The games were exciting and extremely competitive. Fulham played against the current German Champions, last year's UEFA Cup Champions, a Bundesliga power, the current Europa League Champions, and a Serie A legendary team.  I never thought I would see Fulham play these type of clubs in one competition in my life.   

In concluding, some fans and critics can laugh at the Europa League. If I am a fan of Aston Villa and Manchester City I would be watching the Europa League next year. Your clubs have a chance to win a League that I think is very good.

 Fulham will not be competing in the Europa League next year. I will still be watching the Europa League matches. I appreciate the quality of the competition that will be in this league next year.