Author Topic: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)  (Read 10793 times)

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Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« on: March 05, 2011, 07:18:38 AM »


Mark Hughes believes Santa Cruz can re-establish himself as one of the Premier League’s top strikers

Saturday March 5,2011

By A Daily Express Reporter

ROQUE SANTA CRUZ may have fallen out-of-favour at Manchester City this season but Fulham boss Mark Hughes believes Santa Cruz can re-establish himself as one of the Premier League’s leading strikers.

Hughes, whose side entertain Blackburn today, is wary of the threat posed by his former employee, now on loan at Rovers from Manchester City, as he has twice signed him.

When he was in charge of Blackburn in July 2007, Hughes’s £3.8million capture of Paraquay striker Santa Cruz from Bayern Munich turned out to be a bargain as he scored 23 goals in his first campaign.

And when Hughes went to City, Santa Cruz, 29, soon followed – this time for a fee in the region of £17.5m in 2009.

Since the influx of more expensively-recruited strikers, however, Santa Cruz’s first-team chances became limited.

And while he has yet to score on his Rovers return, Hughes said: “My feeling in terms of his ability and what he can bring are well-documented. I have paid some significant amounts of money for him – I spent all Blackburn’s budget on him but only a small part of Manchester City’s.

You have to give Roque a run of games and then he will make an impact for you 
Fulham boss Mark Hughes
“You have to give Roque a run of games and then he will make an impact for you. If he plays regularly, which hopefully he will do at Blackburn, then you will see the same player I brought to this country from Bayern Munich.”

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2011, 07:23:15 AM »

Cherries: Dalla Valle aiming to help promotion bid

Saturday 5th March 2011


Exclusive By Ian Wadley »

NEW boy Lauri Dalla Valle vowed to give his all to Cherries’ promotion push and then told the Dean Court faithful to expect a clinical finisher.

The highly-rated Fulham striker yesterday boosted Lee Bradbury’s frontline by signing an initial one-month loan deal with the League One high-fliers.

Dalla Valle is set to go straight into the Cherries squad for today’s home clash against Oldham Athletic (3pm).

Likened to Fernando Torres by ex-Cherries striker and football pundit Steve Claridge, the Finnish teenager arrives with a promising reputation, having previously spent two-and-a-half years with Premier League giants Liverpool.

And after dropping into the third tier for a taste of first team action, the 19-year-old set his sights on helping Cherries cement their place in the top two.

When asked by the Echo what supporters could expect to see from him, Dalla Valle said: “I am a striker and I am quite clinical in front of goal. I work hard for the team and do my best in every game.

“I am here to do my best and to show people I am capable of playing in competitive games at senior level. Hopefully, by doing my best here it will be good for the club as well, and I can get goals for the club.

“They are talking a lot about wanting to get promoted and do well so, hopefully, we will continue that.

“I am delighted to be here and it seems like a really nice place.”

Dalla Valle’s deal runs until April 2, meaning he will be available for the League One matches against Oldham, Exeter, Southampton, Carlisle, Charlton and Peterborough.

Boss Bradbury was pleased to bolster his resources after previously missing out on loan deals for Middlesbrough frontman Jonathan Franks and West Bromwich Albion striker Simon Cox.

The Cherries chief received a series of positive reports when doing his research on Dalla Valle.

And he is hopeful the youngster will prove to be a good asset for promotion-chasing Cherries.

Bradbury said: “He has limited chances to play (at Fulham) and where better to come and play at the start of his career than at a League One club that is going places.

“Hopefully, he can fulfil his potential with us and give us a little push for the final bit of the season.

“We spoke to people at Liverpool and Fulham and people that have trained and coached him. Not one person had a bad word to say about him.

“All he needs is a chance and what a great chance it is for him to prove his worth to his parent club by coming down and doing well.”

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2011, 07:25:59 AM »


5th March 2011

By Graham Chase

STEVE KEAN got hampers from Mohamed Al-Fayed at Fulham and hopes he’ll soon get buckets of chicken from Venky’s – because it will mean he has sorted out Blackburn’s away run.

Fledgeling Blackburn Rovers boss Steve Kean today returns to Craven Cottage, where he got his first big career break, in dire need of a win to stave off a relegation battle.

He went from running the Fulham academy in 2003 to working as Chris Coleman’s assistant manager in a four-year stint in West London.

During that time he picked up plenty of experience in working with an eccentric owner – as is the case now at Rovers.

Poultry tycoons Venky’s took charge at Ewood Park last year and made mad boasts of signing Ronaldinho and David Beckham.

But they are now in the thick of a battle against the drop, with Rovers just four points above the bottom three after five away defeats on the trot.

Kean said: “Mr Al-Fayed used to send us a hamper if we got a good result. The better the result, the bigger the hamper.

“He did not come down to the training ground much. But if we had a couple of good results we used to get asked up to Harrods for board meetings.

“He would sit in the big chair and we were in the small chairs with him looking down on us.

“The owner was so involved and so animated. He used to say ‘when I phone, answer – but never phone me’. Looking back on that experience stands me in good stead for things at present.

“Our owners at Rovers now want to be involved and want information, so I am used to that from my days at Fulham.

“Hopefully if we can address our away form and get a few results there might be something in the post for me!”

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2011, 07:27:45 AM »–-blackburn-–-points-from-fulham-and-backpool-will-silence-alarm-bells.html

Club Focus – Blackburn – Points from Fulham and Backpool will silence alarm bells

By Mushtaq Quraishi

Saturday 05 March 2011

Much has been said and written this week about Blackburn Rovers and their recent dip in form. The fate of the Blues, however, is still very much in their own hands. With talk about relegation, sacking the manager, poor performances, bad owners and other factors surrounding the Lancashire club, it would seem that Rovers were rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table and fighting a losing battle. The fact is they are not. Steve Kean’s side are currently four points above the drop zone and have some crucial, yet very winnable games coming up, the first of which is against Fulham at Craven Cottage this weekend.

A handful of optimists would even point out that a win against Mark Hughes’s men could see Rovers climb into the top half of the table. The chance of leaping into 10th place is slim, but it remains a possibility. The situation for the Blues has by no means hit crisis point just yet. If Blackburn fails to take any points from games against Fulham and Blackpool, however, then alarms bells will certainly start to ring.

Fulham have only beaten this week’s visitors once in the past nine Premier League meetings between the two sides. In addition, the London side has kept just one clean sheet in 14 league games against Rovers. With that in mind, Kean may be looking to select a more threatening line-up than the one he picked against Aston Villa last time out. But the Lancashire outfit are poor on their travels and have conceded more goals away from home than any other side in the top-flight. Coupled with the fact that Rovers have only beaten the promoted sides on their travels so far this campaign, it could turn out to be quite an intriguing fixture.

Both sides have collected 32 points from 28 games meaning neither has secured their Premier League status for next season. The survival chances for the winner of this game will be significantly boosted, whereas players from the losing side will continue to look over their shoulders. Indeed, a draw is also possible, which happened to be the outcome when the two sides met earlier in the season. Realistically though, a point apiece would suit neither team.

As well as preparing for this key clash, Rovers have also had to deal with speculation that Liverpool is eyeing up goalkeeper Paul Robinson as a possible replacement for Jose Reina. Robinson has been in sparkling form for the Blues over the last couple of seasons and is arguably Blackburn’s most consistent performer. Although no transfer activity will take place just yet, rumours surrounding Robinson’s future will do little to improve the mood around Ewood Park.

Fortunately for Rovers, Robinson is still their man for now and he will be a key player for the team as they attempt to secure Premier League safety. Fulham could prove to be a tough nut to crack, and the points could head either way, nevertheless a win for the Lancashire side is still very much a possibility and would certainly ease their slightly premature relegation fears.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2011, 07:29:31 AM »

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2011, 07:36:14 AM »

No one is safe for 10 fall guys mired in Premier League survival fight

From Everton to Wigan, a crush of top-flight teams cannot rely on 40 points guaranteeing safety

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Stuart James, Friday 4 March 2011 22.29

Mick McCarthy, left, and Blackpool's Ian Holloway are rivals in the relegation fight, but of the two McCarthy's Wolves have the easier run-in. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA
A cursory glance at a Premier League table that resembles a concertina suggests this year will be the most exciting relegation battle ever witnessed. With six points separating 11th-placed Everton from bottom-of-the-table Wigan Athletic – the same gap exists between Arsenal in second and Manchester City in third – half of the clubs in the top flight are under threat of relegation with 10 games of the season remaining.

It should make for a thrilling finale, not least because so many of the clubs in the lower reaches are putting up a determined fight to avoid slipping into the Championship.

Wigan, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are in the relegation zone, have accumulated 83points between them, which is a record at this stage of the season for teams occupying the bottom three places.

That statistic helps to explain why the view among managers is that the points total needed to survive will be higher than at any other time since the Premier League was reduced to 20 teams for the start of the 1995-96 season. Since then only West Ham United have been relegated with more than 40 points – they went down with 42 points in 2002-03 when Trevor Brooking was caretaker manager for the climax to the season after Glenn Roeder was taken seriously ill – and more often than not the safety mark has been well below a point a game.

"There is a suggestion it will take more points than in recent years to stay up," Mick McCarthy, the Wolves manager, said. "I think it probably will, whatever that total is, I don't know. I said 40 points would stay up. I said that all along. I think you just keep plugging away and try to get as many points as it will take.

"It was the same last season. I didn't really set a target because, if you think about it, the target to stay up in recent years has changed from one season to the next."

Trying to work out where the relegation battle starts is almost as difficult as predicting the safety target, although bookmakers seem to have settled on the idea that anyone from Blackburn Rovers and below – Steve Kean's side are 14th and four points above the drop zone – is in danger.

Gérard Houllier, the Aston Villa manager, disagrees, claiming that his side, who are one point and two places above Blackburn, are still in a relegation scrap. If that is the case, then Fulham also remain in the mire.

At this time of year it becomes faintly amusing to hear managers trotting out the line "we're not looking any further than the next game". With the matches running out, it is impossible not to pore over the fixture list and try to work out where the points needed to climb clear might come from, as well as look at the run of games rivals have to negotiate and speculate on likely results.

A match has never been won on paper but it is a fair bet Wolves feel much happier about their run-in than West Ham or Blackpool. After Tottenham Hotspur visit Molineux on Sunday, the highest opponents Wolves face in their final nine games is seventh-placed Sunderland. There are a couple of crucial back‑to‑back West Midlands derbies, against Birmingham and West Bromwich Albion in May but playing all six clubs positioned from ninth to 14th is about as good as it gets.

West Ham, on the other hand, face a daunting finish to the campaign. Avram Grant's side still have to play Manchester United at home and Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester City away. Blackpool's fixture list is not much better. Ian Holloway's side host Chelsea on Monday, Arsenal in their next home game and finish the season with trips to Spurs and United in two of their last three matches. "We need at least two more wins and two more draws," said Holloway, whose side are 15th with 32 points.

Albion, who make the short trip to Birmingham on Saturday, have the toughest home matches of any of the relegation-threatened clubs – Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Everton all go to The Hawthorns between now and the end of the season. Birmingham, one point above Albion but with two games in hand, will be much more comfortable with the idea of Bolton, Sunderland, Wolves and Fulham coming to St Andrew's over the last couple of months.

Wigan, in another example of how high the survival bar has been raised this year, have nine more points than the average haul for a team at the bottom of the league at this stage. With Manchester City, Spurs and Chelsea three of their next four opponents, it looks increasingly bleak for Roberto Martínez, although the Wigan manager refuses to be downbeat or entertain thoughts of compromising his approach. "It is a real fight and we will need to work really hard to stay in the Premier League," he said. "But we are going to do it with style."

What is clear is that the balance of power has shifted significantly in the top flight this season. The fact that only 20 points separate Chelsea in fourth from Wolves in 18th – the smallest difference on record at this stage and half as many points as the chasm that existed between the respective positions at the end of last season – points to a playing field that has levelled and, in turn, produced a much more competitive and interesting league.

Whether that is down to the top clubs regressing or the rest of the division catching up is a matter for debate, with the answer probably somewhere in between. Chelsea, Aston Villa and Everton have all endured particularly disappointing seasons while Newcastle United, Albion and Blackpool have, by the standard of promoted clubs, fared surprisingly well. All three go into the final leg of the season outside the bottom three. It would, however, take a brave person to bet on that remaining the case come 22 May.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2011, 07:40:09 AM »
Hughes welcomes back riches in reserve

Published 23:00 04/03/11

By MirrorFootball

Mark Hughes will have a subs bench with a point to prove today that he hopes will provide him with the attacking options he has missed for so much of this season.

Bobby Zamora returned from his horrific leg-break in the FA Cup defeat to Bolton two weeks ago, only to suffer a minor set-back in training afterwards that forced him out of the 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Sunday and Gael Kakuta - the French prodigy that Chelsea worked so hard to sign - has featured for just 18 minutes since his arrival on loan in the January window.

Both will be on the bench for the game against Steve Kean’s side today but Hughes believes they could hold the key to a victory and Fulham’s Premier League survival.

`Bobby is training, it was only a set-back, he went over on his ankle. He didn’t compromise the break that he had, it was just one of those things that happen time and time again on the training pitch,’ Hughes said.

`He is happy where he is now, after a long time out, there were obviously times in that period when it was difficult for him but he has come through them.

`We’ve got Bobby back basically, we know that because he is loud and shouting so we know he is positive in his own mind.’

Kakuta on the other hand has grown frustrated with the delayed start to his Fulham career after arriving from their local rivals with so much promise and expectation.

`It’s no reflection on Gael, he is going to be involved from now until the end of the season because every day on the training ground we see quality from him that we will need to unlock defences,’ Hughes said.

`He is a little bit frustrated because he wasn’t able to play against Chelsea and he was cup-tied for the Bolton game, so he has kicked his heels for a number of weeks, but he is free and able to play and we hope to see a lot more of him.’

One player Sparky has already seen a lot of but will hoping is anonymous at the weekend is Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz who the Welshman signed while manager of both Blackburn and Manchester City.

`Roque is a good player. I think it is well documented how highly I think of him. I paid significant amounts of money on him. I spent probably all of Blackburn’s budget on him and a small part of Man City’s. He is a good player and you just have to give him an opportunity and a run of games and then he will make an impact for you.’

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2011, 07:43:58 AM »
Pedersen promises an improved performance

Published 23:00 04/03/11

By MirrorFootball

Morten Gamst Pedersen knows Blackburn fans need a good day out at Fulham after admitting Rovers were terrible last week.

The honest Norwegian accepted his side stank the place out as they crashed to a 4-1 defeat at Aston Villa.

Steve Kean’s side now travel to Craven Cottage having taken a worrying one point from the last 12.

And with Blackburn sliding to within four points of the drop zone, Pedersen admits they can ill-afford a repeat of last week’s shambles.

He said: 'I think the game and our performance was s**t.

'I did not have my best day at work either. I’m sorry for all the fans who came to support us and got to see that. I apologise.'

Kean intends to buck up his buckling Blackburn team by throwing January signings Mauro Formica and Ruben Rochina into the fray today.

The pair were pulled out of a reserves defeat by Liverpool in midweek to ensure they were ready for their Premier League bow.

Playmaker Formica arrived from Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys, whilst 19-year Rochina was plucked from Barcelona’s second string to add some sparkle to Rovers line-up.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2011, 07:58:31 AM »

Next up: Blackburn (h)

by Tor on March 4, 2011

I shall try to make a better go of this than last week’s Man City preview which was, frankly, rubbish. Although I did manage a correct result, even if not the correct score. Better than Lawro managed. Ha!

It’s probably fair to say that Blackburn seem to have a few defensive concerns this season, or certainly they do away from home where they’ve conceded a massive 35 goals. And the less said about the 1-4 defeat at home at the hands of Aston Villa last weekend, the better. Is that poor defending, poor goalkeeping or a combination of the two? With the usually safe England international Paul Robinson between the sticks perhaps the weakness sits with the back four. Unfortunately for Blackburn that back four will be further weakened tomorrow by the enforced absence of the suspended captain Ryan Nelsen, but boosted by the return of Chris Samba who we should all be fairly familiar with as he’s been rumoured to join us every transfer window since forever. Well, a couple of years. He’s good though. And for a centre-back he’s a bit of a Hangeland-esque goal machine with 13 goals in 135 appearances. It’ll be interesting to see if they can contain Clint Dempsey who like scoring against Blackburn, with 5 goals in 5 games. They could also have fit-again Bobby Zamora to deal with. Zamora looked in good shape on his eagerly-awaited return to the Fulham fold back in the FA Cup game against Bolton – not only was he hassling the defence, he didn’t look afraid to get stuck in which some feared he may after such a horrific injury. I can’t see Zamora starting tomorrow but Moussa Dembele and Andrew Johnson should both be available and they seem to be building up a decent understanding together.

In midfield, Blackburn are without the wonderfully entertaining El Hadji Diouf who’s currently plying his trade on loan to Rangers (and getting into a wee spot of bother, as you’ll know if you watched the Old Firm game on Tuesday) and the two injured Davids, Dunn and Hoilett. Last week’s match featured Jermain Jones, Grella, Brett Emerton, Keith Andrews and subs Jason Roberts and Nzonzi. Only Emerton has made it to double figures for league appearances so far this season. With 27 games played so far this season, that doesn’t suggest the most stable midfield ever. There’s a little fire power up front though with Morten Gamst Pedersen and this season’s top-scorer Nikola Kalinic leading the line. Roque Santa Cruz, on loan from last week’s opponents Manchester City, is another player recently mooted for a link-up with Fulham but for one reason or another it didn’t pan out. We won’t get to see whether that was a good or bad outcome tomorrow as he’s likely to be out with a back injury. There’s a lot of that going around at the moment – yes Mr Senderos, I’m lookin’ at you. I shouldn’t have thought there’d be too much there to worry Hughes and Hangeland who can together handle just about anything thrown at them. It probably goes without saying that Baird will start, probably at right back leaving Carlos Salcido on the left. With Matthew Briggs having signed a new contract in the week that’ll keep him at Craven Cottage until 2013, I’d prefer to give him a bit of a run out and see how well he fares against a similar level team. I can’t see it though, we may not look like relegation fodder at the moment but that table is still looking scarily tight and a slip-up could have dire consequences, a risk I’m not sure Mark Hughes will want to take in his first season in charge. In midfield, Steve Sidwell is still out with that knee injury although his recovery is progressing according to schedule. Duff’s on form and hopefully neither the week’s Twitter excitement (the person claiming to be him is actually an imposter) nor the fact that this is where his career started will put him off that stride. Dickson Etuhu did well on his return last Sunday although Murphy looked a bit off his game. Was it me or was there an unusually high number of misplaced passes courtesy of Captain Dan?

This will be Steve Kean’s first trip back to Craven Cottage as a fully-fledged manager, having spent four years here as assistant to Cookie. The team has seen wholesale changes since then so Kean won’t have much inside info to help him out. Historically Blackburn have done reasonably well against us at Craven Cottage if you ignore last season’s rainy Wednesday night 3-0 defeat (starring Erik Nevland, *sighs*). Overall though I think we should out-muscle Blackburn even with our reluctance to shoot from more than 5 yards beyond the goal-line. With a strong defence; a midfield which, on its day, can control anyone’s game; and a couple more options in attack than previously this season, I’m fully anticipating a home win. I hope it’ll be pretty too but I’d happily snatch a scrappy 3 points from you if offered it. By goodness do we need them.

How about your prediction? And what would be your starting XI?

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2011, 07:59:30 AM »

Kean hopes hard work pays off for Rovers

Date: 4th March 2011 at 4:08 pm

Written by FFC News Desk

Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean cancelled his players’ day off this week in a bid to halt his side’s bad run ahead of their match at Fulham on Saturday.

Blackburn have lost four of their past six Premier League games including a comprehensive 4-1 defeat at Aston Villa last week and Kean knows they desperately need to create more goal-scoring opportunities.

“We have got to make sure we get service to the front men and make sure we can dictate play. That has been one of the disappointing aspects of recent weeks; we have not had enough service to the front unit. We have been working to fix that,” he said.

“We had a good meeting with the players on Tuesday afternoon and we watched certain aspects of the game against Aston Villa. We’ve worked on that all week and the mood is good.”

The players have been forced to forego their usual Wednesday day off in order to get in an extra day’s preparation for the Craven Cottage showdown.

With new club owners Venky’s expecting great things from the Lancashire club, the manager will be trying everything he can to improve on the club’s current 14th position in the Premier League table.

“We’ve had a long week; normally we train very hard on a Tuesday and I give them the Wednesday off but we’ve been in all week. They have put in a lot of hard work on the training ground so hopefully we will see the rewards on Saturday,” Kean said.

“This match is an opportunity for us to bounce back. Fulham are in decent form so we know it will be a tough game.”

Blackburn will be without David Dunne (hip), Mauro Formica (fitness) and Phil Jones (knee). Junior Hoilett (hamstring) and Roque Santa Cruz (back) are both doubtful.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2011, 08:00:38 AM »

Fine Form

Friday 4th March 2011


Fulham will be looking to build on two recent impressive Barclays Premier League performances against Chelsea and Manchester City with another positive result against Blackburn Rovers at the Cottage on Saturday afternoon.

However Mark Hughes’ Team will not be underestimating Saturday’s opponents and Fulham will need a fine collective performance to navigate their way past Steve Kean’s side at the Cottage.

“We’re playing well at the moment,” Hughes told “We’ve come through the games against Chelsea and Manchester City with a lot of credit and taken two points from those games.

“We’re looking forward to the game against Blackburn but it’s a difficult one for us because they’re a good side that have threats. When they play well collectively they’re a difficult team to overcome. We have to approach the game in the right manner and make sure we get the job done.”

Hughes took a moment to praise the form of his central defensive pairing of Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes on Friday afternoon as the duo enjoy another outstanding season at the back for Fulham.

“We’re playing well defensively and our central partnership, Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes, are playing exceptionally well,” said Hughes. “Their performance against Manchester City was exceptional and with the support of Carlos Salcido and Chris Baird, we look a good solid unit.

“We make sure they have protection in front as well but the Team is working well collectively and I’m pleased with what we’re producing at the moment.”

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2011, 08:01:51 AM »,19528,11681_6794680,00.html

Bradbury happy with loan deal

Cherries secure Fulham striker on a month's loan

Last updated: 4th March 2011


Bournemouth manager Lee Bradbury is confident Lauri Dalla Valle will be a 'great asset' after signing the striker on loan. revealed earlier on Friday that the Cherries had lined up a deal to bring in the Fulham youngster on loan for a month.

Dalla Valle has now completed his switch to the League One club and Bradbury is looking forward to the opportunity of working with the Finn.

"It's brilliant for us and I'm really pleased," Bradbury told the club's official website. "He's come here and given extra strength to the squad and it will invigorate everyone.


"He's a quick player who can play off our front men. He has a really good work rate and he can stretch the line. He can score goals and he will be a great asset for us

"He is very hungry to play and he will want to prove a point to Fulham that he is capable of being in their squad.

"For him to come down to a League One club from the Premier League shows how hungry he is.

"He has a lot of self belief and it's a good opportunity for him and this can only be good for us because it can help push us on."

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2011, 08:02:55 AM »


By Mauro Galluzzo for

FULHAM manager Mark Hughes has backed his players to secure a top-half finish in the Barclays Premier League.

The Cottagers’ relegation worries have been quelled in recent times by an impressive run of form that has seen them beaten only once since New Year’s Day, moving up to 13th place in the process.

However, Hughes’ side still lie just four points above the relegation zone heading into Saturday’s clash with his former club Blackburn and know they could yet be sucked into the relegation mire.

While Fulham have lost just eight of their 28 Premier League matches this season, the Londoners have drawn half of their games with the latest point coming last weekend at another of Hughes’ former charges, Manchester City.

The Welshman believes such inability to eke out a victory has cost his side dearly since taking over from Roy Hodgson in the summer, yet he believes his players have the attitude and aptitude to push up the table.

“I think we are doing well, we’ve moved on,” said Hughes.

“The team has added qualities that maybe it didn’t have before we came, certainly the way we approach away games and the way we take the game to the opposition away from home is something that is a positive for us.

“In terms of points accumulated, we would say we feel we are probably better than the points we have.

“We have had a hell of a lot of draws that even if we had converted a very small number of those draws then we would be very comfortably in the top 10, which is where I feel we should be.

“But we are quite calm and reasonably pleased with where we are and certainly next year we feel we can kick on.”

He added: “We have been playing well for a long time. I would be more concerned if we were showing inconsistent form, struggling in games and conceding poor goals.

“That’s not the case in our view and we’re playing good stuff, creating chances against top quality opposition.

“I’m very pleased with what we’re doing at the moment and that’s why I look at the teams above us rather than the ones below us.”

While much of the pre-match talk have been about the long-awaited league return of England striker Bobby Zamora, Hughes was instead quick to hail his side’s recent defensive prowess.

Fulham have yet to concede a league goal at Craven Cottage in 2011 and now face a Rovers side on a four-game losing streak away from Ewood Park.

“We are playing well in terms of our defensive work and I think obviously the central partnership we have at the moment - Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland - are playing exceptionally well,” he said.

“Their performance against Manchester City was exceptional and along with the form of Carlos Salcido and Chris Baird we look a good, solid unit.

“Obviously we make sure they have protection in front as well so the team is working collectively really well and I’m pleased with what we are doing.”

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2011, 08:06:26 AM »

Bobby, Give Us a Wave

Posted by Phil Mison 5 hours, 35 minutes ago

The big man is fit and must surely make his first start since September against muscular Blackburn. News from the north is that nerves are getting to Rovers, they see Saturday as a relegation 6 pointer.

Much has happened since we blogged the fall out from our draw at Ewood last autumn. The two targets of my take on that 1-1 result, Big Sam and the biggest yob on the UK scene - you know who I mean - have both left Blackburn behind. North of the border, Diouf continues to act the barbarian, Old Firm games proving the ideal arena for his brand of incendiary indiscipline.

Will Blackburn be so blatant in their attempts to target Schwarzer this time around? I don't think so, though for such a tall man Mark does not handle the physical hurly burly as well as he should and punching remains the major weakness in his game. Will man mountain Chris Samba be fit for Rovers? I'm praying not. He's a big presence for them.

The good news is our visitors have lost six of the last seven, and from what I heard of his time as Coleman's number two at the Cottage, I don't rate Kean highly as a manager. Rovers midfield went missing in last week's 4-1 reverse at Villa Park, Robinson has been single-handedly keeping them afloat in recent weeks, Roque's made no impact since coming back and Wigan put four past them a month ago. A bit like us, the side is crying out for a real predator up front.

 © Getty Images

But hey, we've got Bobby Zamora back. Yes, that's the England centre forward of last year. Having shaken off his ankle sprain, I'm going to stick my neck out and predict Bobby gets back on the goal trail Saturday and we see another home shut out from our defence. Clint also enjoys scoring against Blackburn, while Duff's goal from Sunday I hope will have whetted his appetite for more - both he and the boss of course are going up against a club where they enjoyed good times. Shame Steve's knee sees him sidelined till the end of the month, he would have been just right for mixing it in midfield for this one. Momentum with Fulham, so three points please by Saturday night and a few notches up the table.

In other news, I see Della Valle is going to get a month on loan at Bournemouth. Great for the boy to get a chance to show what he can do, and also for us all to get a look at him on TV too.

Congrats to Matthew Briggs, landing a new three year contract. I saw this boy look utterly composed last August against Port Vale, two operations to both calves and an ankle since have hampered his progress. This boy is a natural and will surely supplant Carlos once we've had the best out of Salcido.

On a lighter note, did you spot the story of Smalling and some low-lifers trashing his luxury hotel suite (£2,000 per night) following the Chelsea defeat? Young Chris splashed another £2,400 on room service for the chavs and agreed to settle the bill of the one guest who complained the loudest. Wow! Whatever would Uncle Woy have said to that?

Of course, it's no joke when you're on the receiving end. In 2007 I was at the Mandalay Bay in Vegas - that's a pretty high end hotel on the Strip. In the next room I had some weekend party animals when there was clearly a huge row between one girl and her fella. First we had her hysterics, then more verbals when he returned to the room, a scuffle, screaming, then an hour of high decibel phone chat to everyone in her address book. It went on till 4.00 am. I moaned like hell at reception the next day...and was offered a complimentary breakfast voucher!

While I'm in the mood for bitching, I think I know you all well enough to get a real bugbear off my chest. It's been Oscar week and social networking has been in the news. Facebook, I'm all for it - search my name and you'll find me. It's great for business links, finding old friends, people with the same interests...But, I'm sorry, the futile and meaningless drivel sane and well-educated people load up my wall makes me want to reach for a gun. A sample from this week. These all from clever people I consider friends and fun people to know:

Nick is fixing a new chrome letter box to the front door, Lisa, 'Best job in the world...being mummy.' Antony is checking in to the Frankfurt Holiday Inn (he's cabin staff for BA, so what the f*** is remarkable about that?), In the week Libya is in uproar - 'Katy has a dilemma, should she bake a Batman or Spaceman cake for Ben's 1st birthday' ... GIVE ME STRENGTH!

Tim Berners-Lee (look it up), where did it all go wrong?

Keep smiling and...COYW! Twitter@fulhamphil

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2011, 08:07:29 AM »

Blackburn Rovers (H)

by Kristian Balkin on Mar 4, 2011 5:34 PM GMT

Mark Hughes will come up against one of his old sides for the second consecutive week on Saturday afternoon, when the Cottagers play host to Steve Kean's Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League.

Caught between the kick and run football of Sam Allardyce and the more elegant play of Kean, Rovers will bring a unique test for Mark Hughes and his men. Hughes will take heart, however, in that Steve Kean brings his men to South West London off the back of an abysmal 4-1 defeat at Villa Park last week. It is likely to be a tight game but home advantage will be crucial for Fulham, as well as a host of injuries to some of Blackburn's key players.

Another man that faces his old club will be Steve Kean himself. The ex-Scottish winger played the role of assistant manager at the Cottage between 2003 and 2007, which saw him fall under the tutorship of Chris Coleman. He's sure to get a warm welcome from the Fulham faithful.

Blackburn, as mentioned, come into this tie with an inconsistent, if not shameful, form book. They haven't won since January and have conceded 8 goals in their last three games.

Following the respectable and understated draw at The City of Manchester Stadium last Sunday, Fulham still haven't won since their 1-0 victory over Newcastle United on 2nd February.

In September, Fulham visited Ewood Park and picked up a valuable point; Dempsey scoring the only goal in a 1-1 draw. Over the years, the Whites haven't fared too well against Rovers in London, disregarding a 3-0 win in November 2009. In the previous season, we succumbed to a 2-1 defeat and the year before that saw us held to a 2-2 draw by a late Warnock goal.

Bobby Zamora is well in contention to start for the first time since that fateful day against Wolves, and it's thought likely that he will get a place in the first eleven. Steve Sidwell is still out, but his recovery is on track. Fulham fans will still await a glimpse of Phillipe Senderos, after feeling a tightness in his hamstring.

David Dunn will miss out for Blackburn Rovers, but he is only one of many that make up their injury list. Jones, Formica, Hoilett and our Summer/January target Santa Cruz are all doubtful.

Score Prediction: Fulham 1 - 0 Blackburn

Predicted Line-Up: Schwarzer; Baird. Hangeland, Hughes, Salcido; Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey; Zamora, Dembele.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2011, 08:09:55 AM »

Squad sheets: Fulham v Blackburn Rovers

Share, Friday 4 March 2011 17.07 GMT

Probabale starters in bold, contenders in light. Photograph: Graphic
Viewed by some as an upstart in managerial circles, Steve Kean would be forgiven for practising his post-match handshake ahead of Blackburn Rovers' trip to Fulham. Mark Hughes's apparent need for validation from his peers – he clashed with Roberto Mancini in last weekend's draw with Manchester City – does his side no credit as they creep up the table. Blackburn, who could give a debut to the former Barcelona B forward Rubén Rochina, were ninth on New Year's Day but are now heading in the wrong direction. James Callow

Venue Craven Cottage Tickets Sold out Last season Fulham 3 Blackburn 0 Referee M Clattenburg

This season's matches 20 Y54, R3, 2.85 cards per game

Odds Fulham 7-10 Blackburn 7-2 Draw 12-5


Subs from Stockdale, Pantsil, Etheridge, Kelly, Briggs, Riise, Halliche, Greening, E Johnson, Dikgacoi, Gera, A Johnson, Gudjohnsen Doubtful Zamora (ankle)

Injured Kamara (back, 12 Mar), Senderos (back, 12 Mar), Sidwell (knee, Apr)

Suspended None Form guide DDDWLW

Disciplinary record Y34 R0

Leading scorer Dempsey 9

Subs from Kalinic, Hoilett, Roberts, Givet, Diouf, Benjani, Linganzi, Goulon, Bunn, Lowe, Doran, Morris, Rochina

Doubtful Santa Cruz (back), Hoilett (hamstring)

Injured Dunn (hip, 19 Mar), P Jones (knee, 19 Mar)

Suspended Nelsen (one match)

Form guide LDLLWL

Disciplinary record Y47 R3

Leading scorer Kalinic 5

Match pointers

• Clint Dempsey has scored four goals in his last four matches against Blackburn

• Chris Samba has scored in his last two games against the hosts

• Fulham have scored with 10% of their shots this season, the lowest conversion rate in the top flight

• Blackburn have not kept a clean sheet in their last 14 away league matches

• Mark Hughes is undefeated as a manager against his former club

• Fulham have not received a red card this season

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2011, 08:11:03 AM »,19528,11681_6794769,00.html

Hughes sets top-half challenge

Fulham boss is looking up the table rather than down it

Last updated: 4th March 2011   

Hughes: Pleased with progress

Mark Hughes believes his Fulham side have a bright future and has targeted a top-half finish this season.

Hughes took over from Roy Hodgson last summer and after a shaky start the Cottagers were in the bottom three on New Year's Day.

But one defeat from their last eight league games has seen Fulham climb to 13th, four points above the drop zone with 10 games left.

And the former Blackburn and Manchester City boss feels they should be even better off heading into the run-in having drawn 14 of their 28 games - more than any other Premier League club.

"I think we are doing well, we've moved on," said Hughes. "The team has added qualities that maybe it didn't have before we came.

"Certainly the way we approach away games and the way we take the game to the opposition away from home is something that is a positive for us.

"In terms of points accumulated, we would say we feel we are probably better than the points we have. We have had a hell of a lot of draws that even if we had converted a very small number of those draws then we would be very comfortably in the top 10, which is where I feel we should be.

"But we are quite calm and reasonably pleased with where we are and certainly next year we feel we can kick on."

Hodgson led Fulham to a seventh-placed finish in 2008/09 to secure a place in Europe and they went all the way to last season's Europa League final while coming 12th in the Premier League.

But Hughes is confident of matching those achievements if his side can become more consistent.

"We have been playing well for a long time," he added. "I would be more concerned if we were showing inconsistent form, struggling in games and conceding poor goals.

"That's not the case in our view and we're playing good stuff, creating chances against top quality opposition.

"I'm very pleased with what we're doing at the moment and that's why I look at the teams above us rather than the ones below us."

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2011, 08:11:37 AM »
Season Tickets

This season has seen an unprecedented demand for Season Tickets with a record number of supporters securing their place at all 19 Barclays Premier League home matches.

Demand for 2011/12 Season Tickets will be high given the significant number of SOLD OUT matches we've seen this season, seats will be extremely limited at Craven Cottage next season so get in early.

All current Season Ticket Holders will be contacted directly via email in the coming weeks with information on how to renew their season tickets online for the 2011/12 season. This will also include all other relevant 2011/12 Season Ticket package information.

For those fans that don't have a 2010/11 Season Ticket who are interested in purchasing a 2011/12 Season Ticket, please register your interest below to be the first in line when 2011/12 Season Tickets are launched.

Make sure you don't miss out!

Register your interest
Register your interest now   .

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2011, 08:12:41 AM »
Bobby's Back
Friday 4th March 2011


On Friday afternoon Mark Hughes revealed some positive news ahead of this weekend's match against Blackburn Rovers, informing the press at Fulham's pre-match press conference that Bobby Zamora is fit and ready for Saturday's game after recovering from an ankle injury sustained during training last week.

“Obviously Bobby wasn’t available for last weekend’s match against Manchester City but he’s okay now," Hughes explained. "He’s an option for us, and apart from Philippe Senderos, who needs a little bit more work, we’re okay.

“He’s [Zamora] been training and it was only a setback last week. He just went over on his ankle and it wasn’t a consequence of his injury. It was just one of those things that happens out there on the training pitch sometimes.

“He’s had a decent few days training and he looks good. Bobby is happy now because he had a long time out and there were obviously times during that period when it was difficult for him.

“He’s come through that and he’s always right in the middle of things and gets things going; the Team has missed that. We’ve got Bobby back basically. He’s loud and he’s shouting so we know that he’s positive in his own mind!

“It was a huge loss for us losing Bobby and to have him back for the run-in is great for us. Even when he came on against Bolton everyone saw, with the way he plays and the quality he has, what we’ve lacked on occasions this year. We have that again now and it’s great that he’s back.”

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (05.03.2011)
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2011, 08:13:24 AM »
Sidwell Injury Update

Friday 4th March 2011

Mark Hughes revealed on Friday afternoon that Steve Sidwell is on course to return to fitness at the end of the month as he recovers from a knee injury sustained in training last week.

“It’s still early days for him and it’s quite an unusual injury, in terms of where it is," Hughes explained. "It’s outside his knee and quite high on the ligament so I’m going to be cautious with him, but he’s on track.

"Hopefully the timescale we’ve been given (2-3 weeks) in terms of his recovery will be okay.”

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