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General Category => Archive => Daily Fulham Stuff => Topic started by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 12:01:49 AM

Title: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 12:01:49 AM


Brazilian is fresh Potters target

By Adam Marshall, 29/01/2010

STOKE are looking at Fernando Rubinho as an alternative to David James if the England keeper stays at Stoke.

James has been expected to join the Potters but the revelation that Tottenham are trying to get around a FIFA ruling to land Asmir Begovic could see the veteran shot-stopper staying on the South Coast.

Begovic is not allowed to play for three clubs in the same season but Spurs are said to be asking special dispensation to draft him in as cover for Heurelho Gomes.

If the protracted negotiations over a deal for James do not prove successful, Rubinho is another option for Tony Pulis.

The Brazilian, 26, has been linked with West Ham since the turn of the year but the takoever at Upton Park means Robert Green is going nowhere.

However, Stoke will have no joy if they try and land Stefano Okaka on loan from Roma.

Sources close to the Italian youngster claim he has given his word to Fulham and, if he does quit Stadio Olimpico, it will only be to Craven Cottage on loan.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 12:03:06 AM


Boss says don't read anything into defender's arrival


By Adam Marshall, 29/01/2010

MANCHESTER UNITED manager Sir Alex Ferguson says Chris Smalling's arrival from Fulham does not necessarily mean Nemanja Vidic will leave Old Trafford.
Real Madrid have made Vidic a top target and Smalling's summer switch from Craven Cottage has cast further doubt on the Serbian stopper's future.

When asked about the signing, Ferguson attempted to stress that Smalling was a separate case - even though United will potentially have Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Jonny Evans, John O'Shea and Vidic capable of playing centre-back.

"We've signed Smalling simply because he's a player of outstanding potential," stated Ferguson.

"That's the only reason. We recognise and identify players in that mould and we act.

"That's the reason.

"He has terrific height, good balance, he's quick, and at 20 years of age he has done exceptionally well for such a short period in the professional game. I don't see anything other than an outstanding prospect.

"That's the reason."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was disappointed to lose out after feeling he had done enough to land the 20-year-old rookie.

Wenger said: "Manchester United got Smalling in the end. I am sorry because we were very close to getting him and we were on the case very early.

"I wish the player well.

"At the end of the day it is important he has a good career.

"In both clubs he has a good chance to make a great career. The most important thing is he does that."
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 12:05:45 AM


Fulham 0 Aston Villa 2

By Aidan Magee, 30/01/2010

GABBY AGBONLAHOR showed that Aston Villa are in the Champions League race for the long haul - with or without the long-ball.

His manager Martin O'Neill suffered the football equivalent of a knife through the heart this week when Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, probably in frustration at his side's failure to break Villa down, suggested the Midlands outfit were a long-ball team.

For a man raised on the pass-and-move principles that brought back-to-back European Cups for Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest, this was hard to accept.

He admits he may have over-reacted to what he described as "an insult" but he will feel vindicated in his passionate defence of his team - after Villa overcame Fulham with an accomplished away performance.

The stats showed that they launched 20 long balls in the first half. But when the goals came in a short burst before half-time, they were slickly taken by Agbonlahor.

And both efforts gave Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer not a 'hit and hope' in hell of keeping them out.

The truth is that Villa, as is typical of any O'Neill team, like to mix up their tactics.

They play long balls to Emile Heskey and John Carew when one or both is fit. When they find Agbonlahor and Ashley Young on the deck, they look equally threatening.

Some punters could have been forgiven for thinking Villa were beginning to fade, just as they did last season, in their effort to break into the Premier League's top four.

They had not scored in 429 minutes and had not enjoyed a Premier League victory in their last four games.

There is little margin for error in the top seven and even Liverpool and Manchester City, who have suffered patchy campaigns, have improved in recent weeks to stay in touch.

Villa took their chances quite ruthlessly against Fulham to move within two points of Tottenham in their effort to break bread with the elite of European football next season. Villa also have a game in hand over Harry Redknapp's team.

Sir Alex Ferguson even pitched up at Craven Cottage to check on his latest investment and will have left knowing that it might be a while before it pays dividends.

Fulham defender Chris Smalling completed a fairytale journey from non-league Maidstone to Manchester United in less than 18 months this week when Fergie paid an initial £7million to take the 20-year-old to Old Trafford for the start of next season.

The United boss has been used to paying out for the finished article, but if he was not aware already, he and his coaching staff may have to reach for a duster and a can of Mr Sheen if they are to help this raw defensive talent shine in the future.

The United boss will also have taken the opportunity to size up Carling Cup final opponents Aston Villa - and he will have been reminded of Agbonlahor's abilities.

The young striker scored his first league goal since his headed winner inflicted a rare defeat on United at Old Trafford six weeks ago.

HESKEY: Beats Hangeland in the airO'Neill joked after the game that Agbonlahor and Ashley Young could have worn bear-suits as they prepared to lead his side's physical bombardment at Fulham.

Villa inflicted the damage on their hosts within the five minutes before half-time - and there was not a long ball in sight.

In the 40th minute, Agbonlahor scored the first with a header from Stiliyan Petrov's cross. The England World Cup hopeful used his strength to comfortably outjump Smalling and direct his effort past Schwarzer. Just four minutes later, the same player struck again in even more impressive fashion.

Carlos Cuellar played a low pass into the Fulham box, and this time Smalling's central defensive partner Brede Hangeland was guilty of being rolled too easily, allowing Agbonlahor to curl a fine second goal with his left foot beyond Schwarzer's reach.

Fulham sent on Swedish striker David Elm in the second half and he had what looked like a good goal harshly chalked off for offside by referee Lee Mason.

Fulham appear under-strength and clearly have injury problems, judging by the number of players being used out of their natural positions.

Stephen Kelly played at left-back despite running out on the opposite side at Accrington last week, while Aaron Hughes, usually a centre-back, filled in at right-back.

Five straight Premier League defeats have added a little bit of pressure to Roy Hodgson, who showed his frustration in a post-match interview with Sky's Alan Parry when he questioned the interviewer's assessment that Wednesday's home clash with Portsmouth had now become a "must-win game".

Any notion that the Fulham manager should lose his job should be greeted with ridicule, at least at this stage.

He was appointed two years ago and guided them first to the most unlikely of relegations escapes, before taking them to seventh place last season. They are still comfortably placed in the league and are still in the Europa League.

Nobody is calling for Hodgson to be sacked, and even if some will be doing so in a few weeks time, they should think what could have happened if Fulham had gone down in 2008.

From there, there might never have been a way back.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 12:11:08 AM

Wolves and Fulham in fight for African Nations star

Published 23:00 30/01/10 By Alex Shaw

Wolves and Fulham are locked in a last-ditch battle to sign African Nations Cup star Mohamed Gedo.

The Egypt striker is the tournament’s leading scorer with four goals, and his performances in Angola have attracted the interest of Celtic as well.

Gedo’s club Al-Ittihad are eager to keep hold of the 25-year-old but may be tempted into a sale if the price is right. Wolves boss Mick McCarthy wants to add to his squad before the end of the transfer window to ensure he has enough firepower for survival.

But Fulham are interested too. Roy Hodgson has landed Roma striker Stefano Okaka but remains active in the transfer market.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 12:13:20 AM

Fulham 0-2 Aston Villa: The Sunday Mirror match report

Published 20:20 30/01/10 By Alex Shaw

Maybe Arsene Wenger was right. Aston Villa indulged in the odd long-ball tactic as they swept Fulham aside – but it did the trick as Martin O’Neill’s men marched back into Champions League contention.

A quickfire double just before the break by Gabriel Agbonlahor set Villa on their way to their first victory at Craven Cottage since 2005. For Fulham, it’s now five ­defeats in a row, a worrying slide for Roy Hodgson to ponder.

O’Neill, whose side are two points off Tottenham in fourth with a game in hand, said: “I am delighted. We ­deserved to win and scored two great goals.

“We have gone a few games in the league without ­scoring so to win was a big boost.

“The players can play — no doubt about it. Our centre-backs are as confident as anyone in the Premier League. ­Perhaps the ­comment ­attributed to Wenger was overblown a bit.

“We got a little tired in the second half and it became a case of what we have, we hold.”

Following a goalless draw at Villa Park in midweek, Gunners manager Wenger attacked O’Neill’s tactics and dubbed his Villa side a bunch of long-ball ­merchants.

It seemed an odd statement to make, with Villa’s exciting young English ­contingent of James Milner, Ashley Young and Agbonlahor anything but the ‘lump it and leg it’ brand of player.

Obviously Wenger saw something different but O’Neill fought his ­corner, — lashing out at the ­‘self-important’ Frenchman for his comments.

O’Neill’s style of play has got Villa to the Carling Cup Final and within a chance of ­Champions League football next season and victory at Craven Cottage heightened the sense of expectation among the Villa support.

But watching the early ­stages ­yesterday would only have added fuel to Wenger’s fire.

Despite the pace of Young and Agbonlahor, Villa seemed more interested in the direct ­approach.

Fulham’s Chris Smalling, the promising young defender who will join Manchester United at the end of the ­season, coped easily with the aerial bombardment as Villa searched for their first goal in five league matches — the leanest run O’Neill has ­presided over.

Sir Alex Ferguson was at Craven Cottage to run the rule over new recruit Smalling and if the beaming smile was ­anything to go by, he was ­impressed with him.

The United manager must have been the only person to have liked what he saw before the match came to life.

Young’s header was tipped over by Mark Schwarzer and Bobby Zamora went close at the other end before ­Agbonlahor gave Villa fans something to shout about.

The England World Cup hopeful is not known for his heading prowess but he rose brilliantly to beat Smalling in the air and head past Schwarzer five minutes before the break.

It was Villa’s first goal in 429 league minutes but ­Agbonlahor wasn’t finished.

Three minutes later he turned Brede Hangeland and curled a sublime effort into the top corner.

It took Agbonlahor’s double to stir Fulham into life and Zoltan Gera almost pulled one back after the restart but Brad Friedel stood firm.

Gera then flashed a stinging drive that deflected past Friedel’s post but Fulham lacked the flair to turn this around.

For all Zamora’s endeavour, he was starved of support as Villa coasted.

Cottagers boss Roy Hodgson, who is still looking for new players in the final hours of the transfer window, said: “It was an uphill ­battle after they scored the two goals. We ­really did give it our best shot.

“Five defeats in a row is ­concerning – we’re still ­suffering from injuries. We have to keep working hard and make sure we don’t let our heads drop.”

This time last season, O’Neill’s men were about to embark on a dreadful run of just one win in 10 league games. There is renewed ­optimism this year and with Agbonlahor leading the charge, anything is possible.

“His two goals today were as much to do with his ­persistence,” O’Neill added.

“He played excellent.”
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 12:25:40 AM

Run of defeats no cause for alarm, says Aaron
Jan 30 2010 By Yann Tear

AARON Hughes insists Fulham are not about to panic after their fifth Premier league defeat in a row.

The 2-0 defeat by Aston Villa was also the Whites' third home defeat of the season and they have not won in the league since thumping Man United six weeks ago.

“That can happen in this league,” said a philosophical Hughes.

“You win four or five in a row and everyone's jumping around saying it's great, but you have to never lose sight of the fact that it can go the other way.

“We know that and at the minute we are stuck and we just need a win to get things turned around again.

“I wouldn't say we are overly worried about it. We will do what we can to try and get ourselves out of it.

“Sometimes, you've just got to show a bit of character and a bit of strength and try and get out of it.”

The defender, who was pressed into action at right-back rather than in central defence because of the injury crisis, says the absence of so many first teamers is behind the dip in form.

“Sometimes you can maybe get away with missing one or two, shuffling the squad,” Hughes said. “But we've got Clint [Dempsey] missing, AJ [Andy Johnson] and the two full backs are out and Simon Davies has got another knock. It's just the way it's going at the minute.

“We're having that little spell where we just can't get a win, but hopefully we can get the lads back soon and get going again.

“We are a bit disappointed with the goals we gave away [against Villa]. We kept going but didn't get anything from the game and that sometimes happens.”
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 12:28:00 AM

Sade thinks this hilarious. It sums up her career pretty well. She makes music on her own terms.

She tells me how, on seeing a poster for Lady Gaga’s album The Fame Monster recently, she wondered: “Why can’t I get so worked up about being famous?” She is a complicated, ambitious woman. “Artistically, I have high aspirations. I don’t want to do anything less than the best I can do,” she says. Yet she spurns the promotional rigmarole of the industry, despite knowing that it's hard to win the public’s sympathy if you ignore them.

She learnt the downside of fame - “not the sweet, rosy thing anybody expects” - very early on. As her albums sold millions all round the world, paparazzi climbed the trees around her London house to get an intimate shot of her. Rumours about her personal life plagued her, even the funny ones such as the report that she was about to buy Fulham Football Club. “I came to think that those tape machines the journalists used would just scramble what you say, like a liquidiser. It’s terrible, this mentality that if something seems simple, there must be something funny going on.”
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: RidgeRider on January 31, 2010, 12:54:13 AM

Sade thinks this hilarious. It sums up her career pretty well. She makes music on her own terms.

She tells me how, on seeing a poster for Lady Gaga’s album The Fame Monster recently, she wondered: “Why can’t I get so worked up about being famous?” She is a complicated, ambitious woman. “Artistically, I have high aspirations. I don’t want to do anything less than the best I can do,” she says. Yet she spurns the promotional rigmarole of the industry, despite knowing that it's hard to win the public’s sympathy if you ignore them.

She learnt the downside of fame - “not the sweet, rosy thing anybody expects” - very early on. As her albums sold millions all round the world, paparazzi climbed the trees around her London house to get an intimate shot of her. Rumours about her personal life plagued her, even the funny ones such as the report that she was about to buy Fulham Football Club. “I came to think that those tape machines the journalists used would just scramble what you say, like a liquidiser. It’s terrible, this mentality that if something seems simple, there must be something funny going on.”

Man, I love her. Best voice, possibly, ever for me. I guess I was a yuppie.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 07:40:24 AM

Hull, meanwhile, are set to be beaten by CELTIC in the race to sign Fulham striker Diomansy Kamara. He will move to Scotland on a loan deal - with a view to a permanent switch in the summer.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 07:41:47 AM



Tom Hopkinson

The brickbats keep coming at Fulham and boss Roy Hodgson over their refusal to use the changing rooms at Accrington Stanley last weekend.

But perhaps those rushing to cast judgement should steady on.

There was very good reason for the Londoners dashing off after the game - the away dressing room apparently wasn't big enough for the squad to properly perform their warmdown, which was designed to ensure they were ready to go again in Tuesday's Premier League game at Tottenham.

But the FA Cup fourth-round clash was a real clash of the haves and have-nots. Stanley players even queued up to buy tickets for their families at a tenner a time!


Which two players are said to be injured but have really been suspended by their club after a training ground bust-up? One late tackle too many caused the ruckus.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 07:43:35 AM

£14M Chris, who Chelsea could have had for FREE


Dave Kidd

Chelsea squandered a golden opportunity to sign Manchester United's £14million new boy Chris Smalling ... for FREE.

While Roman Abramovich has insisted that Chelsea scour the world for the finest young talent, in a bid to make the club selfsufficient, Smalling was allowed to slip through their fingers.

United snapped up Smalling in a deal worth up to £14m, after Arsenal had bid £12m for the Fulham central defender. Then Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton gave him a VIP Old Trafford tour.

But Chelsea had England Under-21 star Smalling on trial 18 months ago, when he was a non-contract player at Ryman League Maidstone United, only to pass up the chance to sign him.

Maidstone manager Alan Walker revealed: "Chris was available on a free transfer because he was never under contract with us. A lot of clubs showed interest and Chelsea actually had him on trial and he played in a friendly match for them.

"But it was only Middlesbrough and Fulham who made offers to sign Chris and he chose Fulham.

" I'm delighted Sir Alex Ferguson has signed him because I am a United fan. The Ryman League is a tough place to learn your football. Most of the players are ex-pros but as soon as Chris started to play for our reserves as an 18-year-old, it was so obvious he had to be in the first team. Then after 12 games for us, he was off to Fulham.

"The reason we didn't have him under contract was that he was at school and wanted to play for England schoolboys against Scotland at Wembley, and they won't consider you for England schoolboys if you are contracted to a club.

"It is a shame for us because the club have a plot of land in Maidstone with planning permission to build a stadium on but we have no money and are ground-sharing at Ashford."

Smalling cannot wait to complete his rise from the Ryman League to the Champions League and fulfil his dream of playing alongside Rio Ferdinand.

Smalling said: "Rio is very elegant on the ball, a good example to any aspiring centre-back.

"I like to play in a similar way in terms of bringing the ball out from the back and starting attacks, and Rio is the perfect example of how that is done."

And Smalling is already relishing more showdown battles with Premier League strikers. He said: ''The one I most want to face is Fernando Torres."
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 07:45:01 AM


Sir Alex watches as new signing has a mare

Marc Isaacs

Fulham 0

Aston Villa 2

Sir Alex Ferguson must be wishing he'd stayed at the United team hotel after new recruit Chris Smalling gave a nightmare display as Fulham's season got even worse.

Ferguson was in the capital ahead of the mouthwatering showdown against Arsenal today and took the chance to see his new £10million signing in action.

The United boss is the master when it comes to bringing through the best young talent, but knows he will have to wait while before seeing Smalling fulfil his true potential.

He was starting only his third Premier League game and was caught out for the first goal when Gabriel Agbonlahor rose above him. And he was always second-best to the Villa forward.

There is something about Ferguson which seems to bring out the best in Agbonlahor after the England striker stole the headlines with two goals.

Agbonlahor's last league goal came at Old Trafford in December when his winner silenced the champions.

Villa manager Martin O'Neill can only hope his lucky streak will continue in front of Fergie when the sides clash in the Carling Cup Final at Wembley at the end of next month.

More importantly for O'Neill, Agbonlahor managed to rediscover his touch in front of goal to help Villa get back on track and keep alive their hopes of playing in the Champions League next season.

Their league form has taken a major slump in their previous four games as they failed to score a goal and only picked up two points.

Arsene Wenger even accused them of being a long-ball team after Arsenal's 0-0 draw at Villa last Wednesday.

But Villa were anything but long-ball merchants here and produced an impressive performance which helped them close the gap on fourthplaced Tottenham to two points with a game in hand.

How O'Neill must have wished Wenger could have taken his place alongside Fergie in the directors box to see his comments were off the mark.

O'Neill said: "I am so pleased with the result and delighted with the team.

After Wednesday we thought about putting Ashley Young in a bear suit!

"The players can play and our central defenders are as comfortable as anyone with the ball at their feet. The comment (from Wenger) irked me but had I reflected on it, I probably would not have mentioned it.

"Gabby's performance against Arsenal was fantastic and I learned from a previous manager that you don't always get your rewards on the day. Those two goals were a result of that."

In contrast Fulham's season is taking a major downward spiral and they could yet face a relegation dogfight if they don't improve their form in the next few weeks.

Roy Hodgson has been plagued by injuries but not even the return of Bobby Zamora could inspire the home side who slumped to their fifth consecutive defeat.

Boss Hodgson said: "I am concerned but I know we have got players who can help us who are not available.

"I am disappointed with the manner in which we conceded the goals but we didn't have any luck and had a goal ruled out for offside.


"Chris did well but he got moved off the ball for the first goal. With experience he would have got to the ball. He has the quality."

Stiliyan Petrov's cross picked out Agbonlahor, who rose above Smalling in the box and flashed a close-range header past Mark Schwarzer.

Carlos Cuellar played the ball into the England forward and he curled a superb shot past Schwarzer.

Fulham thought they had pulled a goal back when sub David Elm slotted the ball home but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Shiner Agbonlahor

The Villa striker was long overdue a league goal and responded in superb fashion as he stole the headlines with a superb brace.

Fulham: Schwarzer 6 - Hughes 6, Hangeland 5, Smalling 5, Kelly 5 (Riise, 74mins, 6) - Davies 6 (*GERA, 25mins, 7), Murphy 5, Baird 6, Duff 6 - Zamora 5, Nevland 6 (Elm, 65mins, 6).

Aston Villa: Friedel 7 - Cuellar 7, Dunne 8, Collins 8, L Young 7 - A Young 7, Milner 8, Petrov 8, Downing 7 - *AGBONLAHOR 9, Heskey 7. REFEREE: L Mason, 7.

Shocker Smalling

He could not have picked a worse day to have a stinker as his new manager Sir Alex Ferguson was watching.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 07:46:32 AM

Fergie has been in contact with the Canales camp for the past 10 days and was set to sit down with them last weekend.

Mission But Arsenal's late attempt to sign Chris Smalling from Fulham forced a change of plan.

Instead of going to Spain, Ferguson made a secret visit to Fulham's team hotel in Lancashire to personally persuade the highly-rated England Under-21 centre-half to move north.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 08:23:39 AM

Celtic beat Hull City and West Brom to sign Fulham's Diomansy Kamara on loan as Scott McDonald edges closer to exit

By John Greechan Last updated at 1:08 AM on 30th January 2010

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Celtic are closing in on a loan deal for Fulham striker Diomansy Kamara, paving the way for Scott McDonald to be sold before the transfer window closes on Monday night.

Sources close to the Senegal international told Sportsmail he has chosen Celtic ahead of Hull City and former club West Brom.

Celtic sources last night played down reports linking them with Real Mallorca defender Ivan Ramis and Halmstad striker Emir Kujovic.

 In loan talks: Fulham's Diomansy Kamara is set for a move north of the border
But boss Tony Mowbray, who loaned club captain Stephen McManus to Middlesbrough and sold Danny Fox to Burnley yesterday, is continuing to wheel and deal - with West Brom midfielder Robert Koren and out-offavour Bolton centre-half Danny Shittu also on the radar.

Prime target Kamara, 29, joined Fulham in a £6million transfer from West Brom but, despite scoring 10 goals in his first campaign at Craven Cottage, has fallen out of the reckoning.

 Middlesbrough target Celtic's Scott McDonald

He would join Celtic on loan with a view to a permanent transfer in the summer. The collapse of Birmingham's £4m bid for Lens forward Aruna Dindane, on loan at Portsmouth, also provided Mowbray with a second chance to pinch the Ivory Coast international.

The arrival of any striker will almost certainly be funded by the departure of McDonald, already the subject of a failed £3.5m bid from Middlesbrough.
Former Celtic boss Gordon Strachan will return with an improved offer and, despite Mowbray insisting he won't force the Australian out, he will be sold to balance the books.

'I think we'll get the people we have targeted. I hope that's the case,' said Mowbray.

'We're working hard behind the scenes and things have moved on since last week. We're pretty close with one or two people. '
Hopefully things will be concluded before Monday night but you never know. '(Scott's) our top scorer and will contribute immensely to us.

'There's never been any evidence of him wanting to move. We've never had a cross word and I don't think he's ever felt he's not been appreciated.

'If he's here to play on Tuesday, I'll be delighted. If not, there are reasons behind it that will become evident. There is interest in Scott, that is widely known. But has he got a future at Celtic? Yes he has.'

Speaking about the players who left yesterday, he said: 'I saw (McManus) this morning and wished him well. He's looking forward to a new challenge.
'It's an opportunity for Danny to go into the Premier League and test his talents. The money we receive for him will be spent elsewhere to strengthen the areas that need strengthening.'

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Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:04:47 AM
[size=14pt]Fulham 0 Aston Villa 2 [/size]

GAB'LL DO NICELY ... two-goal ace Agbonlahor slides in his second

Published: 30 Jan 2010

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ASTON VILLA had to wait over SEVEN hours for a Premier League goal — but then a second came just four minutes later.

Villa came into this game in the middle of a desperate league goal drought.

But Gaby Agbonlahor snuck in to give Villa a 40th-minute lead before doubling his tally before the break.

And that was enough to see off Fulham and give the visitors just their second win at Craven Cottage in 41 years.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill said: "I know that strikers need to score goals to keep themselves alive and give themselves confidence.

"I learnt from a brilliant previous manager that sometimes you don't get your just deserts on the day.

"Gabriel taking those two goals today were as much about his performance against Arsenal on Wednesday night.

"He got his deserts today and he was fantastic."

Fulham chief Roy Hodgson tried to look at the positives. He added: "We've suffered a bad home defeat and don't feel good about that, but we weren't diabolical today.

"We're suffering from our injury situation but we were disappointed with the manner in which we conceded those goals.

"We gave it our all in the second half."

A few early lumps had suggested that Arsene Wenger's snipe at Villa's long-ball game was on the money.

Emile Heskey had a chance from one of the pumps forward — but the England man nodded over.

And when the hosts changed tack and went for a shorter passing game they created another opening, with Heskey again missing out.

Curtis Davies saw his afternoon end abruptly when he limped off for Zoltan Gera in the 24 minute.

Erik Nevland clattered the bar with a header as the Cottagers finally carved out an opening.

But they were on the back foot again shortly after and needed Mark Schwarzer's sharp reflexes to palm away Luke Young's header.

Stiliyan Petrov and Bobby Zamora then traded misses as both sides upped the tempo.

Petrov blazed over from six yards before Zamora, with 11 goals to his name so far this season, stabbed over the bar.

On 40 minutes, however, Agbonlahor was not so wasteful.

And Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, in the stands to watch new recruit Chris Smalling, would have been wincing at the goal.

The 20-year-old was caught napping at a Petrov cross, and allowed Agbonlahor to sneak in and nod home.

And three minutes later the striker was among the goals again, turning Brede Hangeland before producing a brilliant finish.

Fulham charged out of the blocks in the second half, with Gera coming close.

A corner had Fulham at panic stations but Villa were unable to get any clean contact on the ball.

Danny Murphy then stormed through — only for the move to peter out with a lack of decisiveness.

And that summed up the hosts' afternoon as Villa closed out for the points.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Hughes, Smalling, Hangeland, Kelly (Riise 74), Duff, Murphy, Baird, Davies (Gera 24), Zamora, Nevland (Elm 65). Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Stoor, Greening, Dikgacoi.

Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Luke Young, Downing, Milner, Petrov, Ashley Young, Heskey, Agbonlahor. Subs Not Used: Guzan, Sidwell, Delfouneso, Davies, Delph, Shorey, Beye. Booked: Heskey, Luke Young.

Goals: Agbonlahor 40, 44.

Att: 25,408

Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

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Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:10:02 AM

Gabriel Agbonlahor ends Aston Villa's goal drought in style at Fulham

Fulham 0 
Aston Villa 2 Agbonlahor 40, Agbonlahor 44 

Amy Lawrence at Craven Cottage, Saturday 30 January 2010 17.00 GMT

As a fact-finding mission for Sir Alex Ferguson, this was a convenient chance to assess upcoming Carling Cup final opponents Aston Villa, as well as cast an eye over an Old Trafford defender of the future, Chris Smalling. The Manchester United manager looked so spectacularly relaxed he would appear not to be remotely worried about either.

But in Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa possess a striker capable of hurting anyone. He ripped up the concerns over his team's recent toothlessness and tossed them into the bin. And so ended a four-match scoreless and winless sequence, much to the satisfaction of Martin O'Neill. "To win is a big boost for us," he said.

The game hinged on a spell five minutes before half-time in which Agbonlahor got what O'Neill described as "just deserts" for his efforts recently. He displayed the nous to meet Stilian Petrov's swirling cross with an instinctive cushioned header. It was a frustrating moment for his marker, Smalling, who was not quite as alive to the cross as the England frontman. Up until then the defender had shown enough composure and quality to earn some satisfied smiles from his new manager-to-be in the directors' box.

"Congratulations to Agbonlahor as Smalling was favourite to get it," Roy Hodgson said. "With experience that wouldn't happen again."

 by Guardian Chalkboards Aston Villia have been short of goals, with Gabriel Agbonlahor having failed to score in the Premier League since the start of December. The England striker was as usual involved largely around the periphery of the box, but he took his two chances with alacrity to rediscover his scoring touch and hand Villa a first win in five. Villa's second came along almost immediately. Carlos Cuéllar teed up Agbonlahor, who twirled away from Brede Hangeland and bent the ball deliciously past Mark Schwarzer. It was so classy, even Arsène Wenger would have been hard-pressed to fail Villa on the aesthetics test.

Fulham, without a league win since they embarrassed Manchester United six weeks ago, felt like a double decker had hit them. "Up until that two-goal period the game looked like a 0-0 in the making," Hodgson said. "But when you go 2-0 down to a team of Aston Villa's quality you are staring defeat in the face."

Fulham were not without chances. Bobby Zamora watched a first-half effort arc over the bar, and teed up Simon Davies for another shot. In the second half, Zoltan Gera showed some signs of life and substitute David Elm had a goal disallowed for a tight – though correct – offside decision.

And so Fulham lost at home for the first time since September. Recent form – hardly helped by a run of consecutive away games in the league and a string of injuries – puts them on a five-game ­losing streak. "Of course I'm concerned," Hodgson said. "Especially as the players you'd hope to help you out of it are unavailable. There is no simple solution but you have got to work through it."

Villa worked themselves out of their little slump. A welcome victory salved the raw nerves that Wenger had touched. O'Neill was content to admit he regretted rising to the bait on the subject of his team's artistic impression. "I just got a bit irked at that moment, but had I reflected I probably wouldn't have mentioned it," he said. Onwards and upwards.

THE FANS' PLAYER RATINGS AND VERDICTDavid Lloyd, There's Only One F In Fulham Somebody said Alex Ferguson was here; the last time he was, we won 3-0, so we were hopeful of a repeat. But it was sloppy and we failed lamentably to keep to our standards. The first half was muted from both sides and it was petering out to a half-time stalemate. Then suddenly we're 2-0 down. When we finally got started, it was too late. It's not the fact that we lost that grates, it's that we looked punchless. We could use a couple of new faces to freshen things up.

The fan's player ratings Schwarzer 6; Hughes 4, Smalling 6, Hangeland 5, Kelly 5 (Riise 74 6); Davies 5 (Gera 24 6); Murphy 5, Baird 7, Duff 6; Zamora 7, Nevland 5 (Elm 65 6)

Jaroslaw Zaba, London Lions We really didn't play that well at all, but we got the points. Defensively we were good, but in attack we were relatively toothless. Milner, Downing and Ashley Young were poor. Ending our goal drought was important, but Agbonlahor scoring was more so – he's a confidence player, so that'll do him good, especially the second goal which was an excellent finish. We do occasionally play direct, but we certainly aren't a long-ball side. In fact, we didn't play well either way today.

The fan's player ratings Friedel 7; Cuéllar 7, Collins 7, Dunne 8, L Young 7; A Young 7, Milner 6, Petrov 6, Downing 5; Agbonlahor 8, Heskey 7

Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:11:06 AM

Fulham v Aston Villa

Saturday 30 January 2010 15.00

  Score line 
Final score  Fulham  0 – 2 (HT 0 – 2)  Aston Villa 
  Agbonlahor 40
Agbonlahor 44
Bookings   Heskey 77
Young, L 90
 Fulham's Percentage Aston Villa's Percentage
Corners 9 75%  3 25% 
Goal attempts 9 47%  10 53% 
On target 4 40%  6 60% 
Fouls 11 42%  15 58% 
Offside 5 83%  1 17% 
Fulham Mark Schwarzer, Stephen Kelly (Bjorn Helge Riise, 74), Brede Hangeland, Chris Baird, Aaron Hughes, Chris Smalling, Danny Murphy, Damien Duff, Simon Davies (Zoltan Gera, 25), Erik Nevland (David Elm, 65), Bobby Zamora 
Aston Villa Brad Friedel, Luke Young, L, Richard Dunne, Carlos Cuellar, James Collins, Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, A, James Milner, Stiliyan Petrov, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey 
Referee Mason, L
Venue Craven Cottage
Attendance 25,408
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:19:28 AM

January 31, 2010

Gabriel Agbonlahor ends Aston Villa goal drought in style

Fulham 0 Aston Villa 2

Brian Glanville at Craven Cottage

ALAS, poor Fulham. This was their fifth Premier League defeat in a row. “We’ve had five bad results,” admitted their manager, Roy Hodgson, “but the performances have not been disastrous.”

The truth of the matter is that a club with a relatively small squad is losing so many key players. Both full-backs, Paul Konchesky and John Pantsil, so valuable overlapping their teammates in front of them, were injured. Their replacements were hardly capable of the same enterprise. Aaron Hughes is essentially a centre-back, while at left-back, Stephen Kelly was notably right-footed.

The odds were clearly on Aston Villa, though it was only late in the first half that Gabriel Agbonlahor snapped up a couple of goals. His manager, Martin O’Neill, was delighted and felt it was a continuation of his excellent form in the previous game against Arsenal. But as Hodgson admitted, both goals were down to mistakes by his centre-backs.

The first, on 40 minutes, came when Stiliyan Petrov crossed from the right and Agbonlahor, at the near post, got the better of Chris Smalling. Winning the ball in the air, he headed wide of the resilient Mark Schwarzer.

The next goal, on 44 minutes, came when Brede Hangeland, somewhat surprisingly out on the left flank, enabled Carlos Cuellar to get in his cross, which Agbonlahor, as a result inadequately marked, struck home. Fulham did have a valid case for a goal when substitute David Elm beat Brad Friedel but was contentiously offside.

Hodgson was philosophical. He felt until the two goals “the game had looked very much like a 0-0 in the making”, and his team had improved in the second half. The truth was, his side showed minimum trust up front and were seldom incisive in midfield.

Of Smalling, snapped up by Manchester United after so few league games, Hodgson said: “He’s definitely got the quality; there’s no doubt of that. He’s not one of our poorer players.”

By the same token, O’Neill’s eulogy of his team’s display seemed a little exaggerated.

Hodgson lamented the injury that put Simon Davies off the field, though not before he had provoked a good save from Friedel with a first-time shot. On 33 minutes, a left-wing cross from Ashley Young was firmly met, again first time, by Luke Young but Schwarzer did well to turn it over the top.

Slightly disappointing was the form of James Milner, who has done so well this season for club and country. But O’Neill admitted his team may have tired a little after their efforts against Arsenal in midweek, when Arsène Wenger accused Villa of playing a long-ball game.

Star man: Gabriel Agbonlahor (Villa)

Yellow cards: Villa: Heskey, L Young

Referee: L Mason

Attendance: 25,408

FULHAM: Schwarzer 7, Hughes 5, Smalling 6, Hangeland 6, Kelly 5 (Riise 74min), Duff 6, Murphy 6, Baird 5, Davies 6 (Gera 24min, 5), Zamora 5, Nevland 5 (Elm 65min)

VILLA: Friedel 7, Cuellar 7, Collins 6, Dunne 7, L Young 6, Downing 6, Milner 6, Petrov 6, A Young 6, Heskey 5, Agbonlahor 7
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:23:31 AM

Fulham 0 Aston Villa 2: match report

By Gerry Cox at Craven Cottage

Published: 5:15PM GMT 30 Jan 2010

Gabriel Agbonlahor ended Aston Villa's recent barren run with two goals in a four-minute spell at the end of the first-half to resuscitate their hopes of Champions League football.

The young England striker hit his 11th and 12th goals of the season to keep Martin O'Neill's side in touch with the top four, although they came as a result of defensive errors from Brede Hangeland and Chris Smalling, the young Fulham defender destined for a permanent move to Manchester United in the summer.

But it was no classic, with the first-half especially low in quality and high on errors. Both sides struggled to get the ball down and play, and long-ball side, there was a distinct lack of decent passing from both teams.

A rare move involving more than three passes ended with Ashley Young crossing for a glancing header from his namesake Luke that was tipped over the bar by Mark Schwarzer in the 33rd minute.

Fulham then had their best chance of the half when Bobby Zamora raced on to control a long ball out of defence, but as he waited for the ball to drop on to his right foot, Carlos Cuéllar got in an interception to send the ball over his own crossbar. Agbonlahor finally broke the deadlock five minutes before half-time.

The Villa striker had barely had a sniff of goal up to that point, but when Stilyan Petrov crossed from the right, Agbonlahor got in front of Chris Smalling – watched by his new manager Sir Alex Ferguson – to head inside the near post from close range.

It was Villa's first league goal in more than seven hours of football, and four minutes later they scored again. Once more it was Agbonlahor, taking advantage of another defensive lapse to score.

Villa right-back Cuéllar played a simple forward pass to Agbonlahor, who had Brede Hangeland between him and the goal.

But the Norwegian inexplicably tried to anticipate Agbonlahor's next move, guessed wrong by turning away from goal and allowed the striker to spin the opposite way and curl a shot into the far corner of goal.

With Fulham also short on goals and confidence, there never looked like being a way back and so it proved. The second-half followed a similar pattern, with precious prevision passing or controlled football.

Villa were content to soak up what pressure Fulham could muster – which was not much – and then attack on the break with the speed of Ashley Young and Agbonlahor always a threat.

Fulham did manage to get the ball in the Villa net after 76 minutes when substitute David Elm volleyed past Friedel, but referee Lee Mason ruled correctly that the striker was marginally offside.

Zoltan Gera tried his luck from long range to no great effect, Elm had another shot blocked by the excellent Richard Dunne, and his defensive partner James Collins was spared the embarrassment of an own goal by Friedel's sharp save in the closing stages.

But Villa rarely looked stretched and were comfortable winners in the end, while Fulham have now gone six league games without victory.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:31:14 AM

Glensider At Craven Cottage

I always look forward to our visit to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and the home of the oldest professional club in London, Craven Cottage. Set on the banks of the River Thames, it hardly seems to have changed in outward appearance since we first visited the ground way back when, days when the Cottagers were well served by the likes of George Cohen and Mr. Fulham himself, Johnny Haynes. The old Stevenage Road Stand was actually re-named in Haynes' honour after his untimely death in a car crash back in 2005.

We'd left Brummagem in the early hours, well just after 6.00 a.m. to be exact, Deep Purple doing their level best to keep us awake as we headed south ('Deep Purple in Rock' really is an exceptional album), the early departure needed because a visit to Fulham F.C. is not complete without stopping off in Twickenham, to spend a couple of hours or so with a long time friend, a Fulham season-ticket holder, and his family. Surprisingly, he wasn't overly optimistic as to Fulham's chances against us, although he wouldn't go so far as predicting a Villa victory. 'You'll get a point' he grudgingly conceded. 'Watch out for Damian Duff' he added, saying that at times he was still more than capable of splitting open a defence with just a twist and turn. That’s all we wanted to hear.

Anyway, after enjoying some varied and interesting conversation, some very welcome and much needed hot beverages, and an excellent late breakfast/early lunch, we bid our farewells, and headed off to Craven Cottage.

As was to be expected, there were several Villans in evidence, all in seemingly good voice, and here we were still a couple of hours away from the kick off.

We made our way into one of the local watering houses, and hadn't got as far as ordering our refreshment of choice, when we were asked, and not for the last time before we departed the pub, 'Got any spare Wembley tickets mate'?

It was certainly bitter cold as we made our way from the public house to the ground, but you couldn't help but be cheered by the volume of noise coming from the traveling Villans. They were certainly in good voice, letting the world know that they'd shortly be making a trip to a place called Wemberley, wherever, whatever that may be.

As expected Martin had named an unchanged starting eleven from the side that had kicked-off against the Arsenal on Wednesday evening, meaning that our line up was as follows:-

Brad Friedel, Carlos Cuellar, James Collins, Richard Dunne, Luke Young, Stewart Downing, James Milner, Stan Petrov, Ashley Young, Emile Heskey, Gabby Agbonlahor.
Subs: Brad Guzan, Nathan Delfouneso, Curtis Davies, Fabian Delph, Habib Beye Nicky Shorey, and Steve Sidwell

I have to say that once again our lot looked resplendent in their claret and blue, Brad stealing the show though in his canary yellow outfit, and we set the game in motion attacking The Hammy End, Fulham's very poor equivalent of our Holte End.

It was a lively opening from both sides, the quality of football suggesting that this probably wouldn't be the bore fest that many had suggested it might be. We certainly looked bright and inventive. Our approach play was neat, with not a hint of us being this long ball side as suggested by a certain Frenchman who shall remain nameless, but in truth there wasn't really that cutting edge that was needed to open up the hosts defense.

As the half progressed we certainly enjoyed the bulk of the possession, dominating the midfield, while looking extremely comfortable at the back.

Our first real shot on target was an Ashley Young effort around the twenty-five minute mark, Schwarzer easily gathering the ball.

We were certainly gaining the upper hand, and a Luke Young header brought a decent save out of the Fulham keeper, while moments later Stiliyan Petrov wasted a very opportunity to put us ahead, shooting over the top when very well placed at the corner of the six yard box. Stan claimed that the effort had taken a deflection, but the ref was having none of it and pointed for a goal kick. A wasted opportunity. Looked a glorious chance from where we were.

Up at our end, the rejuvenated Bobby Zamora got onto the end of a long ball, but with Carlos Cuellar breathing down his neck he fired over Brad Friedel's crossbar. Somewhat surprisingly on this occasion though, the official ruled that the ball had taken a deflection off of Carlos, and so awarded a corner.

As half-time approached the traveling Villans behind Brad's goal were starting to get a little restless. This game looked to be there for the taking. Fulham looked lack-lustre and short on ideas, hard to believe that they had thumped Manchester United here, back in December.

Finally though on the forty minute mark we took the lead, fully deserved on the evidence of the opening forty minutes.

Following a mix-up between Schwarzer and Hangeland, we won a throw out on the right hand side, a throw that was quickly taken by Carlos Cuellar. He found the unmarked Stan Petrov, who unchallenged swung in a peach of a cross. Gabby got in front of Manchester United's latest capture Chris Smalling, and headed home. Schwarzer got his hands to the ball, maybe even should have saved the effort. Who cares? 1-0 up, time to dance about in celebration, get the blood flowing again to warm us up, and exercise the vocal chords with a rendition of the Gabby Agbonlahor song.

We didn't have too long to wait, three minutes at the most, before Gabby struck again. He collected a pass from our heavily bearded Spaniard, turned Hangeland as if he wasn't there, and curled a left footed beauty past the home keeper. 2-0 to the good guys from Brummagem B6.

The second half was something of a non-event as far as we were concerned. Fulham dominated possession with Murphy pushing forward and orchestrating most of their moves, but in truth they never threatened. Richard Dunne and James Collins were superb in the middle, winning virtually every ball swung or played into our area.

They did manage to breach our defense around the seventy-five minute mark, their substitute Elm beating Brad Friedel with a neat left foot volley, but the linesman had his flag raised and the effort was ruled out. Leaving the ground the home fans were somewhat angered, believing that their guy was in fact level with our last defender, and that the goal should have stood. Couldn't tell from up our end, but the linesman certainly raised his flag immediately. He had no doubts.

As an attacking force in the second half we were completely impotent, which was something of a disappointment. We never threatened to add to our lead, and in truth Fulham dominated possession throughout the second forty-five, just as we had held the upper hand in the first half.

A well deserved win though, plenty of good individual performances, and as a team we worked hard and gave our all. Good to see Gabby net his first goals since his winner at Old Trafford, while at the heart of our defense, Richard Dunne and James Collins were immense.

Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:32:56 AM

No cash for Stones from Smalling switch

Chris Smalling’s transfer to Premier League champions Manchester United won’t trigger any extra funds to his former side, Maidstone United it has emerged.

The central defender, who came through the youth ranks and made 12 first-team appearances at the Ryman Premier League club, completed a transfer to the Premier League champions from Fulham, believed to be worth £8 million in the week.

The 20-year-old former Chatham Grammar schoolboy, who joined Roy Hodgson’s Fulham in May 2008 from Maidstone, has become one of the nation’s hottest prospects.

The young defender initially captained the reserves, but he has since broken into the first-team, making four Premier League appearances, including a start in the 2-1 defeat against Chelsea last month. He has also been one of Hodgson’s first choice defenders in Fulham’s Europa League campaign.

Maidstone United chairman Paul Bowden-Brown is proud of the club’s former player, but is not expecting to receive any further funds from Smalling’s move to Old Trafford. He also admitted the club are not looking into setting up a pre-season friendly with United.

He said: “I’m really proud of Chris we all knew he had something about him as a footballer and he has proved that with his move. I’m sure one day he will play for England. I wish him and his family all the best.”

Smalling was on a non-contract basis while at Maidstone two years ago and was eligible to play for the England Schoolboys side where he was spotted by Fulham. When he joined the Cottagers, the Premier League club agreed to give Maidstone two sums of money in the form of a gesture of appreciation. The second sum is to be awarded once he has made 10 Premier League appearances, but the club won’t be getting any money as a result of his move to Old Trafford, despite reports to the contrary.

Bowden-Brown said: “There is no compensation agreement, but we are to receive a nominal fee once he has made 10 Premier League appearances. I’m not expecting to receive anything else, this was the arrangement agreed when Fulham signed him. “Obviously I would’ve loved to have put on a sell-on clause, but that was not possible. The club has received a lot of publicity and it can only help us.”     

Smalling will remain at Fulham for the rest of the season, before joining up with Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in the summer.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:35:37 AM
Aston Villa Photo Special

Sunday 31st January 2010

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Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:37:25 AM

Hodgson's Villa Reaction

Saturday 30th January 2010

Fulham FC News
Looking back on Saturday afternoon's two-nil defeat to Aston Villa at Craven Cottage, Roy Hodgson gave his post-match reaction: 

"Up until that two-goal period the game looked a 0-0 in the making. We didn't pose enough threat, they threatened more," he said.

"We've suffered a bad home defeat and don't feel good about that, but we weren't diabolical today.  We conceded two goals in a short space of time and at half-time it didn't seem that we deserved that.

"We're suffering from our injury situation but we were disappointed with the manner in which we conceded those goals. We gave it our all in the second-half.

"Of course I'm concerned about this run but I'm more worried that the players who would help us out of it aren't available.

"But we've got to keep working through it and make sure players don't start dropping their heads."

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Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:42:22 AM
From the Other Side

Saturday 30th January 2010

Fulham FC News
Sepaking after Saturday's match between Fulham and Aston Villa at Craven Cottage, visiting manager Martin O'Neill gave his post-match reaction:

"I know that strikers need to score goals to keep themselves alive and give themselves confidence," said O'Neill.

"I learnt from a brilliant previous manager that sometimes you don't get your just deserts on the day.

"Gabriel taking those two goals today were as much about his performance against Arsenal on Wednesday night. He got his deserts today and he was fantastic.

"I'm pleased to be back to winning ways. I'm delighted with the team and thought we deserved to win.

"We scored two great goals and that helped us because we'd gone a few matches in the league without scoring, though the performances have been good. Winning today was a big boost.

"There has been a lot made of the fact we haven't scored a goal in four games so it was nice to right that today. They are three very valuable points as we try to stay with the leading pack.

"We played very well. We were the team pressing in the first-half and we got the goals which I think our play deserved.

"In the second-half it was a case of sitting on what we had but we saw it through reasonably comfortably and I thought it was an excellent performance."

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Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:44:16 AM
Fulham 0 2 Aston Villa

Both teams had gone four league games without a win, but despite a bright start from Fulham it was Aston Villa that claimed the three points and put an end to Fulham’s 11-game unbeaten run at home.

With the sun shining down on Craven Cottage, Fulham promised much early on, with the Whites creating the best of the opening chances with Bobby Zamora, Damien Duff and the returning Simon Davies all testing the Villa goal inside 10 minutes.

It was a positive start indeed for the hosts, but it wasn’t long before Villa started to show the type of football that has won them so many admirers this season with Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor and James Milner looking lively on the ball.

This week Villa manager Martin O’Neill had described his side’s run of forthcoming fixtures as a “make or break” phase of their season and his players looked intent on showing they were up for the challenge.

Stewart Downing crossed for Heskey who could only move Mark Schwarzer into a routine stop, before the Australian goalkeeper was forced into a smart low save to deny Ashley Young following Milner’s clever pass.

Having missed the majority of the season through injury, it had been a welcome return for Davies but the Welsh international’s contribution was cut short with the midfielder limping off and replaced by Zoltan Gera.

Within moments of coming on Gera had a close-range shot blocked by James Collins, while Danny Murphy was snuffed out on the edge of the box by Stiliyan Petrov’s desperate lunge.

With little more than 30 minutes gone Schwarzer made a super save to deny Villa captain Petrov, with the Bulgarian meeting Ashley Young’s pin-point cross with a brave header.

At the end other end Erik Nevland almost took advantage when Friedel spilled Gera’s hopeful strike from distance, but the American shot-stopper just managed to claw the ball back.

Buoyed by that chance Fulham pushed forward again and opened the visiting defence with Zamora breaking free. Unfortunately his shot was deflected over following Richard Dunne’s timely intervention.

From the resulting corner Chris Baird went close with a stooping header, and after a goal-mouth scramble Villa managed to clear the ball to safety.

From that the visitors broke forward and when they won a corner down the right, Petrov’s delivery was turned in by Agbonlahor whose clever header had Schwarzer well-beaten with four minutes of the first half remaining.

Fulham replied almost immediately and when Duff was upended on the edge of the Villa box, Murphy’s resulting free-kick curled narrowly wide.

However, within seconds Villa were on the attack again and when the ball fell to Agbonlahor just inside the Fulham box, the striker kept his nerve and curled in a delightful left-footed strike beyond the reach of Schwarzer to double the visitors’ lead and nab his 10th league goal of the season.

After the break, Villa continued to impress with Ashley Young and Downing swapping flanks and Agbonlahor’s pace stretching play.

One such moment of play saw Downing drill in a low strike from the left while Schwarzer had to be alert to get to the ball before one Agbonlahor burst of pace.

Approaching the hour mark, Murphy’s teasing lofted pass found Gera at the back post, and the Hungarian did well to bring the ball down and force a sprawling save from Friedel, with Hangeland heading the subsequent corner over the bar.

Fulham certainly began to see more of the ball in the second-half, but for all their possession the Whites just could not make the breakthrough in the final third with half chances falling for both Nevland and Zamora.

The latter did well to tee up Gera on the edge of the Villa box on 67 minutes, with the midfielder’s strike forcing another corner from which 20-year-old Chris Smalling almost diverted home with an angled header.

Substitute David Elm did have the ball in the net after 75 minutes doing well to slide home Gera’s delicate cross, but the Swede’s cool finish was ruled offside – a decision that looked close to call.

Sensing that they may well find that elusive breakthrough the Whites pushed forward intently with Zamora doing much to unsettle the Villa back four.

A fantastic cross from Bjorn Helge Riise led to another goal mouth scramble and when the ball rolled to Elm, Dunne did just enough to turn the ball out of play. Hangeland rose highest to the resulting corner but the Norwegian’s header arrowed wide.

It was a brave final 15 minutes for the hosts who deserved a goal for their late endeavour, but there would be few that begrudge the visitors their points with O’Neill’s side showing the type of form that could make it a season to remember for the Villans.

The visitors face fellow UEFA Champions League hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United next, while Roy Hodgson’s side have the chance to bounce back on Wednesday evening when they face Portsmouth at the Cottage before travelling to Bolton Wanderers in seven days' time.   

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Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:46:23 AM

Fulham 0-2 Villa

Filed under: Match info — weltmeisterclaude @ 11:41 pm

Five defeats in a row.  This predicament has snuck up on us somewhat, the problems largely having come away from home (insert England captain joke here), but here, in a tricky but far from daunting fixture against a good but slightly out of form Villa side, we fouled up horribly.

Since his arrival two years ago Brede Hangeland has been a tremendous player for Fulham, but this season something has been askew.  Today he was directly involved in both Villa goals, first giving away a silly throw in from which Villa went ahead, then easily turned by Agbonlahor who curled in his second.   It was miserable defending.   How often have we said that under Hodgson?  Hardly at all until 2010. (That first goal also showed why Chris Smalling is not yet an England player: a fine cross from the right was nutted home by Agbonlahor, but Smalling was on the scene and could have done more.)

After that Fulham performed quite well, but as Roy Keane recently said of his Ipswich Town side, it’s no good playing well when you’re 2-0 down.  Playing when you’re 2-0 down is easy, said Keane, and there’s something to that.  Villa sat back and absorbed most of what we threw at them, but in truth Brad Friedel was not worked hard.   David Elm, on as a late sub, did manage to beat Friedel with a sweet falling volley, but he had strayed a yard offside in the buildup so it didn’t count.  Shame for Elm, who at least brings some freshness to an increasingly jaded looking side.  Baird and Gera came out of the game with credit, but few others performed to the level we have come to expect.  It is the beauty of Hodgson’s teams that the players, when going well, look so much better than the sum of their individual talents.  When things are not going well, when key players are missing, the sum of those talents is a minor concern.

Happily, next week brings Portsmouth, the biggest Premiership mess in recent memory.  Things can change quickly.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:48:32 AM

That's not a Duff record

Ryan Giggs may be the only player with at least one goal to his name in every Premier League season, but by scoring for Fulham early in the new year, Damien Duff has beaten him as the first to register a League goal in three different decades; Duff's very first came for Blackburn back in November 1997, and he has now been emulated by Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka (first goal in the same month) and Frank Lampard (August 1997). A whole crop of other strikers and midfielders could join them, as well as two long-serving defenders: Arsenal's Sol Campbell is now back in contention, having first scored for Tottenham as long ago as December 1992. But don't bank on Jamie Carragher, who averages one per decade and has famously scored as many times for Spurs (three own goals) as for Liverpool (three in over 400 League games).
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:50:42 AM

Agbonlahor's double brings an end to Villa's dry spell

Fulham 0 Aston Villa 2

By Conrad Leach at Craven Cottage

Sunday, 31 January 2010

If this game was to prove anything about Aston Villa, it was meant to show that they were not arch- exponents of a long-ball game, nor that their strike force had dried up just when Martin O'Neill needed it most. On Wednesday, Arsène Wenger got under O'Neill's skin by suggesting in the wake of the goalless draw with Arsenal that Villa were a Route One side, a comment that drew a relatively fierce reaction from the Villa manager.

Here at Craven Cottage, calmed by a fairly straightforward victory which proved that his strikers were not in danger of redefining that particular word, he admitted he had probably overreacted in midweek.

Yet the Northern Irishman still felt moved to defend his side's reputation, saying: "The players can play, no doubt at all, and we've got centre-backs as confident as any in the Premiership with the ball at their feet. Perhaps Arsène Wenger's comment was a bit overblown. I got irked in the week, but if I had thought about it I would have let it go."

Part of O'Neill's frustration also stemmed from the fact that his side, just when they were positioned so well for the final Champions' League place, had stuttered in the League since Christmas. Four games had come and gone, two of them defeats, without his players scoring, even if reaching the Carling Cup final has acted as a soothing balm. But it is in the League where O'Neill wants to show he can compete with the biggest teams, and that goalscoring drought had seen his side slip from fourth place.

After beating Stoke by one goal on 19 December, O'Neill could not have imagined he would have to wait seven hours and change – 429 minutes, to be precise – for another one in the League. The wait ended here when two of the precious blighters turned up in short order, and now Villa sit only two points behind Tottenham, who are in fourth place.

Gabriel Agbonlahor got them both, his ninth and 10th of the campaign. The first was simple, as Stiliyan Petrov crossed to the near post, where Agbonlahor outjumped Chris Smalling to head home from eight yards.

Four minutes later, Villa had a second and a decisive lead. Carlos Cuellar passed to Agbonlahor, whose marker, Brede Hangeland, slipped just at the wrong moment, leaving Villa's top scorer to turn and curl his shot beyond Mark Schwarzer's right hand.

Roy Hodgson, Fulham's manager, was critical of his defenders, saying: "Make a mistake for the first goal then compound it a few minutes later leaves you a lot to do." Too much to do, as it turned out, despite Fulham pressing desperately to get back in the game. David Elm, a substitute, had the ball in the net but was given offside in the 72nd minute, which Hodgson rued, and after that Brad Friedel was relatively untroubled, protected by the imposing defensive duo of Richard Dunne and James Collins.

Sir Alex Ferguson, in town for his side's game at Arsenal today, took the chance to watch Villa, his opponents in the Carling Cup final at the end of February, and also to look at his latest purchase, Smalling, whom he bought for Manchester United this week but who will continue to play for Fulham this season.

The central defender, on his third League start, was caught out for the first goal, even if he was covering for Hangeland. But he showed the attributes of calmness in possession and a willingness to play simple, neat passes that caught not only Ferguson's attention in the first place but Wenger's too this month.

This was Fulham's fifth consecutive League defeat, although Hodgson was not about to panic given the level of possession his side had enjoyed here. For O'Neill, having proved a couple of footballing points and earned three, the panic is over too, for the time being.

Attendance: 25,408

Referee: Lee Mason

Man of the match: Agbonlahor

Match rating: 6/10
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:54:14 AM

Fulham slump to another defeat

by Dan on January 30, 2010

One thing really annoyed me today. The booing at half time and full time. A lot of it came from people around me, who had mostly sat on their hands, refusing to join in any singing, and only opened their mouths to barrack their own players. I know Fulham have lost a few in a row, but we still are in a good position in the table, with a run of winnable home games in front of us, and the injury situation makes Roy Hodgson’s job particularly difficult.

Take today, for example. Stephen Kelly came in at left back but the successful defence of last season has been rearranged. Brede Hangeland doesn’t look as commanding without Aaron Hughes alongside and Chris Smalling was all too easily outjumped by Gabriel Agbonlahor for the first goal. Hughes is no right back, but he gave it his best against two very quick wingers and we missed the surging forward runs of Pantsil and Konchesky.

There’s no shame in losing to Aston Villa, who could very easily nick a Champions’ League spot if they repeat this level of performance. The likes of James Milner, Ashley Young and Stewart Downing had Fulham’s midfield tracking back rather than threatening Brad Friedel’s goal, although Hodgson’s planning was made redundant after Simon Davies injured himself in shooting on goal in a low-key opening. The Welshman forced a good from Brad Friedel but had to come off after colliding with James Collins just after he had fired on goal. Fulham’s football lacked their usual spark but they did manage to apply some late pressure on Friedel’s goal. Carlos Cuellar had to be alert to prevent Bobby Zamora from latching onto a fine through ball from Chris Baird and Danny Murphy’s deflected shot was parried by the Villa goalkeeper.

The damage was done in three minutes at the end of the first half, although O’Neill’s side could have been ahead before that – Luke Young’s cute header was creeping under the crossbar until Mark Schwarzer intervened. Both goals came in quick succession down the right, showing how much Hodgson was ruing the injury Konchesky picked up at Blackburn.

Fulham were slow to shut down Stiliyan Petrov down the right and Agbonlahor headed home at the near post. Smalling might have received a push in the back as he challenged for the ball, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Sir Alex Ferguson will be wanting him to stronger than that at Old Trafford next season. Still recovering from the shock of going behind, Fulham’s task got all that more difficult when Hangeland got the wrong side of Agbonlahor and the striker’s deft curler left Schwarzer clutching at air. Agbonlahor’s celebrations might have irritated the Hammersmith End, but the game seemed up for Fulham.

The home side did at least put up a spirited second half showing. For all their possession, they perhaps should have tested Friedel more. The American pulled off a fine reaction save from Zoltan Gera and susbstitute David Elm was cruelly denied a first goal for the club when his impressive volley was ruled out by an offside flag. Elm, increasing looking like an intriguing proposition up front, might have got his goal a little later were it not for a fine saving challenge from Richard Dunne.

Portsmouth on Wednesday now becomes a massive game. Another defeat could see us start looking over our shoulders.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Hughes, Kelly (Riise 75), Hangeland, Smalling; Baird, Murphy, S. Davies (Gera 25); Zamora, Nevland (Elm 66). Subs (not used): Zuberbuhler, Stoor, Dikgacoi, Greening.

ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Friedel; Cuellar, L. Young, Dunne, Collins; Petrov, Milner, A. Young, Downing; Heskey, Agbonlahor. Subs (not used): Guzan, C. Davies, Shorey, Beye, Sidwell, Delph, Delfouneso.

BOOKED: Heskey, L. Young.

GOALS: Agbonlahor (40, 44).

REFEREE: Lee Mason (Bolton).

Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:55:39 AM

A Bit of a Blip

by lydia on January 30, 2010

A disappointing run in the league has just seen us drop down to the bottom half of the table for the first time in months. No players bought in the transfer window ( you just never know with the Okaka deal!) and several bad injuries to deal with. What do we make of it all?

Firstly, Lets look at our last results in the league-

Chelsea 2-1 Fulham

Stoke 3-2 Fulham

Blackburn 2-0 Fulham

Spurs 2-0 Fulham

Fulham 0-2 Villa

Four of those games where away from home against difficult opposition and one was against a high flying Villa side at home. Yes I would have wanted Fulham to have picked up a number of points here but all you Fulham fans who are beginning to doubt the man who saved us, lets just relax. Every team goes through a sticky patch and this is just a rather bad one from Fulham. It happens to every team and to have lost 5 in a row and be 11th, is a fair achievment.

This run is bound to end soon especially as we welcome Portsmouth to the Cottage on Wednesday night. That game follows one away to Bolton and then we are home to travel sick Burnley. We couldn’t have hand picked these fixtures better ourselves and it is an excellent opportunity to climb back up the table and ease a little bit of pressure.

Hopefully we will have Okaka soon and have some players back to their usual form ( I thought Murphy was great today) and we will be fine.

I can see 6 or 7 points from the next three matches- COYW
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 11:57:36 AM,20144,12383_5901736_12383,00.html

The angel Gabriel

Agbonlahor finds his finishing touch at Fulham

Last updated: 30th January 2010   

Agbonlahor always gets a decent return because he goes in little spells where he dries up then all of a sudden he's scoring goals - and very important goals for Villa.

Charlie Nicholas

Charlie Nicholas watched Gabriel Agbonlahor silence his critics with a two-goal salvo against faltering Fulham.

The England striker netted his first Premier League goals since the winner at Old Trafford in early December as Villa kept in the hunt for that fourth and final Champions League spot.

Agbonlahor's brace, in the space of four minutes before the break, also ended his side's four-game goal drought in the league, as well as maybe leaving one or two of the Soccer Saturday regulars a little red-faced.

"Gabriel Agbonlahor, who we always say is not the most natural finisher, scored two good goals; the second one in particular was very classy," said Nicholas.

"What he did - and it's not often you say this about Fulham - is expose both centre-backs. On both occasions he took advantage of Chris Smalling's inexperience.

"Sir Alex Ferguson was there to watch his new signing, but he bossed him in the six-yard box; it was a great cross, which Villa do time and time again, he got the wrong side of the defender and it was a smart headed finish.

"For the second one, (Brede) Hangeland got the wrong side and it's an easy decision for him to turn him and he just played a lovely bending left-foot finish, really cool and composed.

"I think he always gets a decent return because he goes in little spells where he dries up then all of a sudden he's scoring goals - and very important goals for Villa."

While Agbonlahor had a field day, it was another thankless afternoon for Fulham, who have now lost five league games on the spin.

Roy Hodgson deployed Bobby Zamora in a lone striking role and once the Cottagers were left chasing the game, that meant they made little headway against the Richard Dunne and James Collins in the centre of the visitors defence.

And with Andy Johnson and Clint Dempsey out injured, Nicholas admitted Fulham were barely recognisable from the side that made such a bright start to the season.

"At 2-0 there was no way back for Fulham," he said. "Zamora tried, had a couple of half chances didn't quite fall for him, but this wasn't the same Fulham team we were talking about six weeks ago.
Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 12:02:35 PM,19764,11065_3150822,00.html

Villa cruise to Fulham win

Comfortable victory for Martin O'Neill's men

By James Riach   

Last updated: 30th January 2010   

Man of the match: Gabby Agbonlahor takes this award after his two well-taken goals - Richard Dunne was also immense.

Goal of the match: Agbonlahor's second goal was expertly taken - Cuellar rolled the ball into his path and Hangeland was nowhere to be seen as he curled it into the far post.

Save of the match: Mark Schwarzer had to produce a fine stop to deny Luke Young in the opening period.

Moment of the match: The second goal on the stroke of half-time killed the game off and Fulham never responded.

Talking point: Brede Hangeland and Chris Smalling are two much-admired central defenders, but they did not shine on this occasion.

Two goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor secured a 2-0 win for Aston Villa against a toothless Fulham side at Craven Cottage.

Villa were good value for their win on the bank of the Thames and took the lead in the 40th minute when Agbonlahor rose at the near post to head past Mark Schwarzer.

Stiliyan Petrov crossed from the right touchline and the ball evaded Chris Smalling as the Villa striker opened the scoring.

He doubled the lead just four minutes later with a superb effort - turning on a sixpence after being fed in by Carlos Cuellar to bamboozle Brede Hangeland and curl the ball into the far post.

Fulham huffed and puffed in the second half, and although they had a goal ruled out for offside, never really threatened a comeback.

O'Neill following concerns the club's leading scorer had been suffering from a crisis in confidence.

The England marksman started the day with 10 strikes this season, yet the last time he had scored in the Premier league was against Manchester United on 10th December.

More crucially for Villa, who named an unchanged side following the goalless draw with Arsenal, the brace ended their four-match winless run that was in danger of seeing them fade in the race for a top-four finish.

There was little of the long-ball football Arsene Wenger had complained of in midweek, just a comfortable and clinical victory over a team in freefall.

Out-of-form Fulham were unbeaten at Craven Cottage since September before today and must cast their minds back to their 3-0 drubbing of Manchester United six weeks ago for their last Premier League victory.

Fulham midfielder Simon Davies made his first start since 3rd December and was involved early on when his well-struck volley bounced off goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

It was then the turn of Cottagers keeper Schwarzer to come to his side's rescue as he plucked a fine Stewart Downing delivery from the air as Emile Heskey attempted to shove him off the ball.

Ashley Young forced an easy save from Schwarzer and by the 24th minute Davies' match was over as he limped off to be replaced by Zoltan Gera.

Soon in the thick of the action, Gera was crowded off the ball as he picked his shot, giving Friedel time to react, and then Nevland nodded over the crossbar as Fulham finally began to threaten.

Sharp reflexes from Schwarzer saved the Cottagers at the other end when Ashley Young's cross was met by Luke Young whose header was expertly palmed to safety by the Australian.

Petrov wasted a great chance when he picked up the ball with just Schwarzer to beat from six yards out only to sky his shot high.

With the tempo of the match finally starting to pick up after a lethargic start, Bobby Zamora wasted a great opportunity to send Fulham ahead, only to stab over the crossbar after showing great technique to control a long ball.

But Villa were clearly the more dangerous side and in the 40th minute they deservedly raced ahead through Agbonlahor.

Petrov produced a cross which should have been cleared by Smalling but instead the 20-year-old soon-to-be United centre-back allowed Agbonlahor to sneak in and nod home.

Sir Alex Ferguson, who was watching in the stands, will not have been impressed.

Three minutes later Villa surged 2-0 ahead, Carlos Cuellar picking out Agbonlahor who left Hangeland for dead before producing a brilliant finish.

Fulham fans watched in frustration as their team broke clear through Danny Murphy midway through the second half only to see the move peter out amid a lack of decisiveness.

Substitute David Elm finally found the net for Fulham but the flag went up for offside and then the forward was denied by a great last-ditch block from Richard Dunne.

Team Statistics
Aston Villa

0 Goals

0 1st Half Goals

4 Shots on Target

5 Shots off Target

10 Blocked Shots

9 Corners

11 Fouls

5 Offsides

0 Yellow Cards

0 Red Cards

77.4 Passing Success

21 Tackles

90.5 Tackles Success

55.1 Possession

53.8 Territorial Advantage

Title: Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (31.10.10)
Post by: White Noise on January 31, 2010, 12:03:32 PM,19768,11065_3150822,00.html

Fulham Player ratings  Player Our Rating Your Rating Rate player
 Mark Schwarzer
Made a great save  7 6.3  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Brede Hangeland
A poor performance  4 4.5  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Stephen Kelly
Looked vulnerable  4 4.0  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Chris Baird
Out of sorts in midfield  6 4.5  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Aaron Hughes
Not convincing  5 5.2  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Chris Smalling
Still learning the game  5 5.0  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Danny Murphy
Overrun in the middle  5 5.7  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Simon Davies
Went off injured  5 5.3  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Bobby Zamora
Worked hard  5 5.8  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Erik Nevland
Never a threat  4 5.3  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Damien Duff
Never got going  5 5.5  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Bjorn Helge Riise
Couldn't make an impact  5 5.2  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 David Elm
Goal ruled out for offside  5 5.7  Rate 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 
 Zoltan Gera
Fulham's brightest player