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Sunday Fulham Stuff (21.02.10)

Started by White Noise, February 20, 2010, 07:48:44 PM

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White Noise

U18s lose five goal thriller at Arsenal

by Dan on February 20, 2010

Fulham's youngsters were beaten 3-2 at Arsenal this morning. Matthew Reece and striker Stefan Payne grabbed the goals for the U18s in a spirited showing.

Fulham's U16s were a bit more successful, winning 2-1.

White Noise

Abdeslam Ouaddou ends international career 

Morocco defender Abdeslam Ouaddou has announced he is retiring from international football to concentrate on his club commitments.

The 31-year-old, who made his international debut in 2000, won 60 caps for the Atlas Lions.

Ouaddou, a member of the side that reached the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations final, said that it had been a difficult decision to take.

"I've made the decision to quit the international stage," Ouaddou said.

"This decision was very difficult because to play for one's country gives one enormous pride and is an honour.

"However, after 12 years in the national team it is time for me to leave the door open to younger players and to devote myself entirely to my club."

Morocco failed to qualify for this year's World Cup in South Africa.

Ouaddou began his career at French side Nancy before enjoying spells at among other teams Greek giants Olympiakos and English Premier League outfit Fulham.

White Noise

Fulham Vs Birmingham    

DATE:Sun 21 Feb 2010


VENUE:Craven Cottage

Fulham defender Nicky Shorey will return for Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with Birmingham City at Craven Cottage.

Shorey, on loan from Aston Villa, was ineligible for the 2-1 Europa League victory over Shakhtar Donetsk but will replace Stephen Kelly at left-back against the Blues.

Paul Konchesky could figure on the bench after recovering from a foot injury, but long-term casualties Kagisho Dikgacoi (ankle), Andrew Johnson, Clint Dempsey and John Pantsil (all knee) are out.

The Cottagers are nearing the end of a five-week period which has seen them play a match virtually every three days yet defy the workload by continuing to challenge for silverware on two fronts.

They have reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup while on Thursday night they humbled 2009 UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 in the first leg of their Europa League last 32 match.

But rather than complain about the fixture list, veteran stopper Mark Schwarzer is pleased the matches are arriving thick and fast.

"If you don't enjoy this as a footballer then when are you going to enjoy your football?" the Australian said.

"This is what it's all about, playing games, and playing in Europe and playing in the FA Cup and playing in the Premier League.

"It's the best life to have and I'm enjoying it, at the young and tender age of 37."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish has no fresh injury worries ahead of the clash.

McLeish is to keep faith with the 18 players on duty in last Saturday's FA Cup fifth round win over Derby at Pride Park.

The former Scotland boss has more midfield options after the arrival of Craig Gardner and Michel during the January transfer window.

He left out James McFadden and Sebastian Larsson for the previous league game at West Ham 10 days ago and brought in Gardner and Keith Fahey as the wide players.

Blues are occupying a top 10 spot in the Barclays Premier League and are through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

They have struggled to attain their best form in recent games but the fighting spirit which has been their trademark has been to the fore.

City scored a last-gasp equaliser against Tottenham, rescued victory from the jaws of defeat with two late goals against Wolves and also came from behind to defeat Derby in the FA Cup.

Boss Alex McLeish said: "The players have done better than was expected and stood up as the expectation levels have grown and grown.

"They have responded to those expectations, the demands from fans and pundits.

"People say 'the bubble will burst' but they have been sensational, the spirit and the mentality, and I know what they have got in their locker.

"It is now about going on another run and challenging them to be even more consistent than they were in the first section of the season through until May.

"If they can do that, it will be a season to remember and we will try to take something in all the remaining games.

"I have total trust in the players who have been so good for Birmingham so far this season."

White Noise

Roy watch: Hodgson at Fratton Park

by Dan on February 20, 2010

The ESPN cameras have spotted Roy Hodgson at Fratton Park this evening. Evidently, the Fulham manager's diligently scouting Stoke ahead of their forthcoming visit to the Cottage, even though it has been postponed because of our FA Cup participation.

Or he could be checking on potential new signings. Post any groundless speculation in the comments box ...

White Noise

Keane fires celtic to victory

Mark Henderson

ROBBIE KEANE netted his first goal at Celtic Park to give the Hoops a deserved three points against Dundee United. He struck with 20 minutes on the clock, latching on to a superb through ball from Diomansy Kamara and slotting the ball under the advancing Dusan Pernis.

Chances continued to flow for Tony Mowbray's men throughout the game, but Keane's intervention was enough to secure a vital victory which closes the gap with Rangers at top of the table to seven points.

Tony Mowbray made several changes to the team that drew with Aberdeen last week. Thomas Rogne made his first start for the Hoops, partnering fellow teenager Josh Thompson in central defence. Andreas Hinkel returned from injury at right-back, while Ki Sung Yueng took the place of the suspended Aiden McGeady in midfield.

The opening minutes were largely devoid of incident, but Celtic looked the more likely to open the scoring. With United sitting deep, like so many visiting teams at Celtic Park, many of the Hoops' best openings came on the counter-attack through the pace of Keane, Marc-Antoine Fortune and Diomansy Kamara.

Fortune in particular continued his recent good form by creating havoc down United's left straight from the kick-off. On several occasions, he beat his marker and cut the ball back across goal, winning a number of corners free-kicks from desperate defending from the visitors.

The door remained bolted, however, to the 20 minute mark when Keane scored his first goal at Celtic Park. Kamara picked the ball up on the halfway line and played a perfect pass in behind the United defence for the Irishman who beat the offside trap and coolly rolled the ball under the body of Dusan Pernis, before taking the adulation of a jubilant home support.

On the balance of play it was certainly a deserved lead for the Hoops. The visitors, who had barely threatened, won a corner, which Jon Daly headed wide of the far post.

But it was the home side who looked the more likely to add to their tally. Fortune won another free-kick on right in the 33rd minute. Kamara took it quickly, playing a low ball to Keane around the penalty spot, but his effort was blocked by the United defence.

Rogne, who had looked composed and assured at the back on his first Hoops start, also came close to opening his account two minutes later, rising highest at the back-post from a Ki corner, but his header crept agonisingly wide.

As the half drew to a close, the play continued to flow towards the United goal and only Pernis' reflexes kept the score at 1-0. Keane's clever movement had caused the Terrors backline all sorts of problems. This time he found space on the left, before finding Fortune with a low pass. The striker's shot was blocked into the path of the onrushing Scott Brown who stung the United stopper's hands with a rasping drive.

The Hoops looked determined to continue where they left off in the first-half after the break, with Keane again at the centre of the action. His looping cross picked out Fortune in the six-yard box, but he failed to make a good connection with his shot.

As the half progessed the Terrors began to show more ambition and Buaben had their first strike on goal, firing over from the edge of the area, before Jon Daly dragged another shot wide from distance.

As the visitors grew more adventurous though, it also created more space for the home side to exploit. Kamara rifled in a powerful shot from 25 yards which Pernis struggled to grasp, then Scott Brown collected a loose ball in the box, but shot over with his left foot.

On 62 minutes, Celtic set off on a wonderful counter-attack. One-touch passing saw Kamara rive down the left. His low cross-field ball was picked up by Brown, who played in Keane, but Pernis was equal to the Irishman's powerful shot, pushing the ball wide for a corner.

A series of substitutions took place from both sides as Celtic looked to consolidate their lead and United pushed for the equaliser.

With 15 minutes remaining, one of the new arrivals, Zheng Zhi showed good composure on the left, timing a ball through for the impressive Landry NGuemo. The Cameroon internationalist raced into the box and drilled a low shot which looked destined for the far corner, until Pernis' showed great athleticism to turn the ball past the post.

In truth, Celtic had looked secure at the back, but Daly could have stolen an undeserved point when he found himself with just Artur Boruc to beat in the six-yard box with just 10 minutes remainging.

But the Polish keeper, who was also celebrating his birthday, was equal to the task, spreading himself well to pull off an important save. After that the Hoops held on comfortably for a vital three points.

White Noise

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Lost in translation" after Fulham loss by Shakhtar Donetsk Manager?

What is great about writing is I can get different opinions on my entries. I had the pleasure of being on the website. This is a great site and I recommend it highly for all fans of the club. I decided to put my entry " Sour Grapes and Disrespect from Shakhtar Donetsk Manager after loss to Fulham" on their messageboard. I was curious how this entry would be received by the fans of Fulham. What I have learned from this entry is that their could be different perspectives on the comments by the Shakhtar manager. I welcome different opinions on everything I write that involves Roy Hogdson's team and their competition.

Some of the comments I was reading involved "lost in translation." Some of the members were saying in their comments that since the manager speaks another language that his comments from the translator could have been " lost in the translation." This is a possibility that could be true. When you are commenting about an event with 2 different languages the content could be perceived in 2 different ways. However, the comments are pretty consistent from what I have read on before the match by the press office of Shakhtar Donetsk. Again all of these comments are open to interpretation. Don't get me wrong as I mentioned in a prior post, Shakhtar's manager had some complimentary comments about Roy Hogdson's Cottagers. Also, to be fair in a prior article the press office on the Shakhtar official website had some nice things to say about Bobby Zamora as well.

Some other opinions I read by members involved that the comments were mild into comparison to Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourihno, and Arsegne Wenger. I can definitely see this perspective on the subject. My counter to this opinion is that Roy Hogdson is far more gracious in defeat than those 3 managers. I am also a fan of the New England Patriots. I am used to Bill Belichick blaming himself and his coaching staff for a loss. He would never say " we shouldn't have lost the game." He would tell the media after the loss that the New England Patriots need to make the proper corrections before the next game.

I guess I was hoping the Shakhtar manager to be more humble after the match. Fulham have come so far in the last 2 years I was just expecting something different from the Shakhtar manager. What I have learned is that there are different ways to look at comments. I stick by my comments and still believe that the Shakhtar manager was being arrogant. I am open to the idea that this is my opinion and there are other opinions on the subject. I thank the members of and plan to return to the site often. We all have different opinions on Roy Hogdson's team. What is great though in the end we all support the Cottagers.

Posted by Fulham-Pats Fan at 11:12 AM 


Quote from: White Noise on February 20, 2010, 07:51:44 PM

Abdeslam Ouaddou ends international career 

Morocco defender Abdeslam Ouaddou has announced he is retiring from international football to concentrate on his club commitments.

The 31-year-old, who made his international debut in 2000, won 60 caps for the Atlas Lions.

Ouaddou, a member of the side that reached the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations final, said that it had been a difficult decision to take.

"I've made the decision to quit the international stage," Ouaddou said.

"This decision was very difficult because to play for one's country gives one enormous pride and is an honour.

"However, after 12 years in the national team it is time for me to leave the door open to younger players and to devote myself entirely to my club."

Morocco failed to qualify for this year's World Cup in South Africa.

Ouaddou began his career at French side Nancy before enjoying spells at among other teams Greek giants Olympiakos and English Premier League outfit Fulham.

I thought he was quite good, but not rated by most.

White Noise

Recently there have been rumours regarding a potential Champion's league play off place instead of the fourth spot, in the same way that it occurs within the lower English league for promotion, which has been positively backed from many managers within the said league.

I believe that this can only take from the superiority of England if the opportunity to take part in the Champions League is based essentially on a couple of games at the end of the season. Had this been imposed last year, a little bit of luck, a controversial decision from a referee or an un-characteristic slip up from Arsenal or Everton could have led to Fulham (who finished 19 points short of the fourth spot) taking part in the Champions League instead of Arsenal.

That 19 points is huge, and is the clear difference between a team entering the Champions League that our continental rivals will be desperate to avoid, or in contrast the team that everyone is crossing their fingers in desperation that they will be drawn against. To draw an equivalency it would ask the question as to whether you would be looking to draw Fiorentina, the team that twice beat Liverpool, or alternatively playing Udinese, the answer to which is blindingly obvious.

I completely understand the success that the play-offs have had within the football league, the excitement and financial benefits it can bring, and the newly found drive for all those mid-table teams that usually flounder within the doldrums of the league. But from a perception that looks for the best for English and European football, surely the idea of creating a play-off place for the pinnacle of all the prestigious competitions is farcical?

White Noise

Fulham beating Shakhtar was 'result of the week'

by Dan on February 20, 2010

High praise from ITV:

They may not have played a game for a couple of months, but make no mistake Shakhtar Donetsk are a very fine footballing team. So for Roy Hodgson's Fulham, who have been hit by their fair share of injuries, to score an impressive 2-1 win over the Ukrainians was a great result. The smart money will be on Shakhtar overturning the deficit next week in Donetsk, but Fulham have already surprised us a number of times in Europe this year.

White Noise


It's only football but I like it

Filed under: General — weltmeisterclaude @ 9:22 pm

It was a marvellous game wasn't it?

One of the fascinating things – as discussed at length below – was the clash of styles and the changes Roy Hodgson had to make to get the game back on track.  The diagram below shows a crucial part of this:

In the first half we got pushed right back.   We had to defend narrowly because to stretch the defence leaves gaps, and Shakhtar would've been through those in seconds.  When people talked about the defensive unit shifting back and forth together this is what they meant:  the defence had to stay as a compact four to keep the attacking players outside the area.

Such was the attacking prowess that the midfield got sucked into all this too, and we had two banks of four essentially squashed into the penalty area.   This allowed the likes of Kelly and Davies to double up effectively, allowed us to ensure that there were always white shirts in the way of Shakhtar shots, but it left us with a big problem:  when we did get the ball, where could we go with it?

This is that American notion of field position again.   If you win the ball in your own area you have the small problem of being about 70 yards away from the opposing goal.    You can make up some of this distance by hoofing the ball clear, but 90% of the time it'll be back again in seconds.    If Zamora wins a clearance he has to hope that Gera or Duff are nearby to help him.   And even if they are, you still need more men than this to build an attack.   So the ball comes back.

If you try to play your way out you run into difficulties too.   Most passing moves – even from the very best teams – don't go on for very long.   Say (for the sake of argument) that you string seven passes together before someone makes a mistake or it's won back by the opposition.   If this passing move starts in your own area then, by the time your notional seven passes are up, you'll probably still be in your own half.  And here comes another attack.

Of course, the opponents are over the moon with the situation.   They have the ball in your half pretty much continuously.   If they make a mistake there's no way you'll score because you're too far away from their goal.   They can afford to keep prodding away, and if you lapse just once they're in.    If your entire team is defending around the edge of your area you have limited margin for error; if your defence is up on the halfway line mistakes are much less lilely to go unpunished.

Under these circumstances we can see how the latter part of the first half played out as it did.   We couldn't get the ball, allowed ourselves to be frightened into massing around our penalty area, so when we won the ball back we had nowhere to go, and on came another attack.

Roy had to do two things:   move his team further up the field to give them some breathing space, and make them keep the ball better to take advantage of this.

Easier said than done, of course, but we managed to make it work.     It was immediately noticeable that Hangeland and Hughes were setting up much further up the pitch, that the midfield wasn't dropping so deep, and that the team were trying to keep the ball more.    While Shakhtar still saw much of the ball, it wasn't the relentless whirlwind of one-touch attacking football around our penalty area, it was a much more stretched game played all over the pitch.

It gives us another opportunity to praise Danny Murphy.   Murphy looked like a fireman organising the evacuation of a burning building out there.   His demeanor was very much of the "yes, this is serious, but we can deal with it.  Follow me" variety.    He knew that the principles Hodgson had insisted on would work, but that the team had to have patience, had to believe in itself.   Murphy was massive in the second half, leading to an awesome degree.   There was a moment when we had a goal kick and Murphy turned and screamed at Stephen Kelly to get himself onto the touchline to give Schwarzer a short (possession maintaining) option.  Schwarzer didn't take that option, but Murphy knew what Kelly should have been doing and told him so.   He was at it all half.

I have embroiled myself in several discussions in the last few days, discussions in which the word "best" has been used by myself in relation to Thursday's game, and the teams involved.   I got very carried away.   I accept the counter arguments here:  rjbiii rightly insisted that Shakhtar are not the best team we've seen, for example.    He's right.

And so am I.

The best gig I've ever seen was Juliana Hatfield at Bush Hall, London, in 2005.   It was the best gig I've seen because, as a long-standing fan, I had, at that point never seen Hatfield live.  I – and many other fans – had been waiting a long time for the gig.   Myself, Hade, and my mate Dan traipsed up for the show.  Dan had listened to Hatfield at uni too.   His (then) girlfriend, Sally, had had some of her albums as well.    Our housemates were all Lemonheads fans (half of them could play all the songs on guitar too:  Dan did a very good 'Being Around', for instance).   It was quite the appreciation thing we had going.

Bush Hall's a small place in QPR land, and by now I was in "don't let the tubes break down; don't let me have an accident; don't let anything happen; I have to see this" mode.    As a now unsigned artist with no major lable backing it was a fairly understated show, Hatfield, an electric guitar, and a hall full of fans.    It was extraordinary.   I was on cloud nine.   She was better than I could have imagined.  The loud bits rocked, the quiet bits sent me to heaven.   Dan loved it.   Hade smiled politely.   Perfect evening.

That was the best gig I've been to.

Shakhtar Donetsk were, I think, the best team I've ever seen.    Now, they are not the best team I've seen in the literal sense.   But the dark side or Manchester United or even Arsenal are just really good versions of us, or of themselves, or of everything else we've seen so much.    Shakhtar Donetsk and their laser beam passing were what I'd been waiting for for years, what I had never expected, what I didn't know could happen.    It was Bush Hall all over again, dumbfounded, electrified, thrilled.

And we stopped them.   The Ali-Foreman fight was on my mind as I left the ground (and someone mentioned it in the comments on, too, so clearly I wasn't alone), and I think that there's something in that.

I would advise you to watch the whole fight if you can, but the above is a thrilling summary.   Foreman came at Ali for five rounds.  Ali took it all, swaying into the ropes, doing his best to ensure that whatever contact he took wasn't clean, and doing whatever he could to stay in the fight.  As the commentator says, Foreman was bigger stronger, and a very able fighter.    But Ali took it, and then, wonderfully, turned the fight on its head with some phenomenal punches.     Just as the Hangeland/Gera/Zamora payoff had a thrilling, violent, surprising element to it, so too did Ali's awakening in the fight against Foreman.

Most boxers could not have survived five rounds of punches from George Foreman.  It just doesn't work that way.   But Ali, a supremely skilled fighter, did what he had to do and finished the encounter with a wonderful counter.   Similarly, that Shakhtar onslaught was like nothing we've seen, but somehow the lads survived it, and, by making the necessary adjustments, found a way to turn the game on its head later on.   Foreman, like the Shakhtar players, will think back on the battle and wonder at its unfairness; Ali, like Fulham's players, will be looking back with satisfaction at at job done, against the odds, to perfection.


But the recipient of one of the best FFC songs ever.

Quote from: White Noise on February 20, 2010, 07:51:44 PM

Abdeslam Ouaddou ends international career 

Morocco defender Abdeslam Ouaddou has announced he is retiring from international football to concentrate on his club commitments.

The 31-year-old, who made his international debut in 2000, won 60 caps for the Atlas Lions.

Ouaddou, a member of the side that reached the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations final, said that it had been a difficult decision to take.

"I've made the decision to quit the international stage," Ouaddou said.

"This decision was very difficult because to play for one's country gives one enormous pride and is an honour.

"However, after 12 years in the national team it is time for me to leave the door open to younger players and to devote myself entirely to my club."

Morocco failed to qualify for this year's World Cup in South Africa.

Ouaddou began his career at French side Nancy before enjoying spells at among other teams Greek giants Olympiakos and English Premier League outfit Fulham.

White Noise


Fulham ace performs Wales U-turn

DAVIES: Performed an international U-turn

By Darren Witcoop, 20/02/2010

SIMON DAVIES has shelved retirement plans after being inspired to extend his Wales career into the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Davies, 30, was ready to call time on his nine-year international stint following a nightmare year on the sidelines.

The Fulham midfielder made a U-turn after confessing his desire to pull on a Dragons' shirt again had overpowered his injury fears.

Now Davies has confirmed his sixth qualifying campaign - which includes glamour clashes with England - WILL be his last hurrah in a Welsh shirt.

He said: "With the year I've had, I was feeling down and retiring for Wales certainly did crossmy mind. But I was watching the draw on TV and I immediately got the buzz back.

"It's a great draw for us and facing England is something nobody would want to miss.

"It wasn't just that, though. It was like something was telling me to give it another crack.

"I was still burning to play for my country and I know I've still got plenty more to give. I knew it wasn't time to pack it in if my hunger was still there."

Injuries have taken its toll on Davies after the Premier League star was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot last year. He has missed the last seven internationals.

Haverfordwest-born Davies, who won the last of his 56 caps last April, added: "It will probably be time to move on in a couple of years. This will be my last chance of reaching a major finals.

"I would have represented Wales for 12 or so years at the end of the campaign.

"You know when enough is enough and I don't want to block a young player's develop- ment. It gets more demanding the older you get. I can't play 38 games a season in the Premier League and then play six or seven more with Wales. Something has to give."

With the strain of international football becoming greater, Davies is ready to follow captain Craig Bellamy's lead by opting to pick and choose his future Wales games.

Davies, set to be recalled this week for next month's friendly with Sweden, explained: "Everyone knows what I can do, so there's no point turning out for some games as we won't learn anything.

"It's not a case of me deciding when and when not to play, it's about speaking to boss John Toshack and being sensible.

"The specialist says I've got to put my body first if I want to play well into my 30s. If that means sitting out an important qualifier, then so be it.

"I know if I don't rest my foot for a week or so between games, the injury could return and that would rule me out for months."

As well as being paired with England, Wales will have their work cut out to see off Switzerland, Bulgaria and Montenegro.

Davies reckons the men in red are on the march and could click in time for the qualifiers, which start in September.

He added: "We've seen a steady improvement and it's clear the raw talent is in place.

"It's a group we shouldn't be scared of. It's important to get a good start, but there's no reason why we can't challenge."

White Noise


Hodgson's philosophy is shape of things to come

Training-ground discipline puts manager's theories into practice

By Jonathan Wilson

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Roy Hodgson has benefited from the form of striker Bobby Zamora to complement his own deep thinking on the game

The glimmer of a smile crosses Simon Davies's face as he is asked why Fulham are so good at keeping their shape. He had used the phrase earlier to explain how Fulham withstood a battering to beat Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 on Thursday night, and the impression he gives is that he will have heard it said a few more times since. Type "keep", "shape" and "Fulham" into Google and you get 165,000 responses: keeping their shape is what defines them.

It sounds so simple, and yet Fulham are palpably better at it than most sides in the Premier League. Watch Roy Hodgson's players and they have a tremendous ability to make the pitch appear smaller than it is; opponents seemingly never have time on the ball or, if they do, they have no passing options. Fulham close space with remarkable efficiency, which may not be glamorous but it is effective.

It is greatly to Fulham's credit – and to Birmingham's – that the League meeting of the two sides at Craven Cottage today is probably the first irrelevant game of the season. Both are in that clump of a dozen sides whose first priority each season must be to avoid relegation, and with 11 points separating Fulham from the bottom three, and Birmingham three points ahead of them, both are surely safe now. Qualification for Europe through the League remains just about conceivable, but for both the FA Cup probably represents a more realistic route.

So how do you keep your shape? There is, unfortunately, no easy solution – no mind game, no visualisation technique: it just comes from boring repetition on the training field. "We work on it every day," said Davies. "Every day in training is geared towards team shape on the match-day coming up. I've been working with the manager three years now and every day is team shape, and it shows. We have a little laugh about it now and again, but when he came in we were fighting relegation and now we're in the Europa League, so you take it.

"I don't want to give any secrets away, but he gets the 11 that he wants on a match-day and he drills everything in that he wants. It's certain drills defensive, certain drills attacking, and we work very hard at it. There are no diagrams. It's all on the pitch with the ball, nothing unopposed.

"We do a lot of work after every game on analysis, sorting the bad things out, sorting the good things out. It's nice to know what you work hard on works so well. We're two-and-a-half years down the line now, so we're all converted; it's just working on little things now and hoping we can still get better."

They have benefited from the form of Bobby Zamora, whose goal against Shakhtar was his 14th this season. "Last year, playing with him you could see what he brought to the team but maybe only playing could you appreciate that," said Davies. "This year, he's absolutely on fire." Zamora's other work, though, holding the ball up and creating space, remains the core of his job; goals seem almost a bonus.

The same basic principles which were learned at the legendary coaching course run by Allen Wade, the then technical director of the Foot-ball Association, have sustained Hodgson since his first front-line coaching role, with the Swedish side Halmstad 36 years ago. Then the approach was radical, unpalatably so to the local taste, at least until it began to bring success.

According to the Swedish academic Tomas Peterson, Hodgson "threaded together a number of principles, which could be used in a series of combinations and compositions, and moulded them into an organic totality – an indivisible project about how to play football. Every moment of the match was theorised, and placed as an object lesson for training-teaching, and was looked at in a totality." He taught players, in other words, how to keep their shape.

Sweden's national technical director, Lars Arnesson, was an implacable opponent of the "English style", saying it "stifled initiative, and turns players into robots". Peterson prefers to compare it to listening to Charlie Parker after Glenn Miller or viewing Picasso after classical landscapes. "The change does not just lie in the aesthetic assimilation," he wrote. "The actual organisation of art and music happens on a more advanced level." Naïvety is gone, and there is a second order of complexity.

Zamora probably didn't have any of that in mind as he thrashed that brilliant winner on Thursday, but Hodgson's method is still making beautiful music today.

White Noise

But he added: "My problem with it, being manager of Manchester United, is that I've got owners who have never caused me any bother. Any time I've asked for money they've given it to us ... The debt has concerned a lot of people. David Gill [the club's chief executive] has had a lot of chats with the staff to settle them down, to assure them everything's fine. As far as I'm concerned, I bought [Chris] Smalling for big money [£10m for the Fulham centre-back]. So for me, life goes on. As I say, the Glazers have been fine with me, I've never had any problem."

White Noise

Trouble in store of the week

You're visiting London to play Fulham FC (proprietor: Mohamed al-Fayed), so you do what any self-respecting footballer would – go shopping at Harrods. Or not, if you play for Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine. The self-styled "world's most famous department store" (proprietor: Mohamed al-Fayed) turned their squad away as "too big and suspicious". But there's probably always a welcome from his fellow-countryman for Mido and his money. The Egyptian striker is scratching along on £1,000 a week at West Ham, but no need to feel sorry for him; when asked recently: "What would you do if you weren't a footballer?" he replied: "Probably nothing. My family are very rich."

White Noise


Blues to reward boss with bumper deal


ALEX McLEISH can expect a double- your-money pay deal when he opens contract talks with Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung this week.

The Blues boss will be rewarded for bringing stability and ambition to the Midlands club in the form of a bumper new deal.

Big Eck is believed to be the lowest-paid manager in the Premier League, on £15,000 a week.

But Hong Kong businessman Yeung is ready to recognise the progress the Scot has made.

He will get £30,000 a week plus bonuses in a new agreement which will keep him at St Andrew's for another five years.

And just as importantly he will be given full control over Birmingham's transfer dealings and an improvement in training, scouting and medical facilities.

McLeish was desperate enough to prove himself as a manager in the top flight in English football to accept a below average pay deal when he joined Blues just over two years ago.

But he backed his ability to get an improved contract once he had established himself in the Premier League.

McLeish said: "Money has never been my god. When I joined the club I told my lawyers to get the deal done and dusted quickly so I could get on and prove myself in the Premier League.

"But when you make progress you then look for parity with your contemporaries.

"We have not talked about anything in detail yet.

"If I am still at this club in five years time I will know I am doing a good job.

"I don't see why Birmingham City cannot fulfill all of my ambitions in management.

"I don't have a magic wand. It depends on investment and then it will be down to my management skills and those of my coaching staff.

"When Carson Yeung came to this club he said there would be investment in the playing side.

"If he can do that there is every chance we can get the infrastructure of the club right and be recognised as a Premier League team. First we have to get through this season and build on what we have done so far."


McLeish takes his team to Fulham today needing a win to hit the magical 40 points mark - the total generally accepted as the survival target.

But the canny Scot will not take that for granted and scoffs at the suggestion his team can qualify for Europe.

He said: "I am not talking about qualifying for Europe. That's too much to ask. If we do I'll take it but it's too much to ask from this team.

"There are teams coming up behind us on the rails who should be ahead of us and in all likeliehood will finish ahead of us.

"At the start of the season a lot of people did not give us a chance of staying up and now those same people are asking if we can qualify for Europe.

"A successful season for me would be finishing in the Premier League. We have a right good chance of doing that. At the start I would have been happy to finish in the top 17.

"Everyone says 40 points is the safety target but before someone has been relegated with 42 and Colin Todd went down with Bolton on 39.

"I am not counting my chickens. I have been too long in the game for that."

White Noise


Davies: Bobby's worth a World Cup punt

Dave Kidd

Fulham v BIRMINGHAM Today, kick-off 3PM THE BOBBY Zamora for England bandwagon is gathering pace at Craven Cottage - and nobody is laughing any more.

His Fulham and former Tottenham team-mate Simon Davies insists he is the best target man in the country and should be in contention for England's World Cup squad.

Zamora, 29, made it 14 goals in 31 appearances this season with a spectacular winner against holders Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League on Thursday.

It is a stark contrast to last season when Zamora managed just four goals and Fulham agreed to sell him to Hull last summer before he backed out of a move.

Before today's battle of the Premier League overachievers with Birmingham, Davies has compared Zamora favourably to Fabio Capello's goalshy first choice Emile Heskey. The England manager will be at the Cottage today to take a look at Blues keeper Joe Hart, but it could be Zamora's chance to impress.

Davies (below) said: "If Bobby keeps doing what he's doing there isn't any better player like him in the country. Everyone last year was talking about Emile Heskey and what he brings to the team.

"It was the same with us last year, with Bobby's workrate and bringing the midfielders into the game.

Appreciate "When you don't have somebody like that you really miss him, and this year he's added goals to it and he's looking a top player. Last year, playing with him you could appreciate what he brought to the side.

"The fans judge strikers by goals, and last year he didn't get his fair share but this year he's on fire.

He shoots all the time and they're g o i n g i n - confidence makes a great difference.

"L ast year, he might not have even taken that shot on but he's letting everything go now. He's a top player and we knew that last season, but he went through a bad spell in front of goal.

"It's just a shame people sometimes overlook there are things you look for in a striker other than goals."

Zamora angrily hit out at Fulham fans after suffering stick on internet message boards earlier this season, but Davies insists those frustrations are in the past.

He said: "Bobby was worrying what the manager thought. Everybody goes through bad times but if you worry about it too much you won't stay at a top club. You have to be your own man and carry on.

"He nearly left last summer so it could have been very different, but he's in a great vein of form and coming to the end of the season it's the perfect time."

White Noise

SHAKHTAR DONETSK turned up at [...]

Dave Kidd

Shakhtar Donetsk turned up at Fulham the other night with a leftback called Rat. I thought he played for Chelsea.

White Noise

A Cottage lesson for Benitez & Co

Dave Kidd

The most irrelevant game of the season will be staged at Craven Cottage today when Fulham take on Birmingham City - and that's a huge tribute to Roy Hodgson and Alex McLeish.

By mid-February neither club has the faintest worry about relegation, and both have genuine hopes of a Wembley date in the FA Cup for the first time in decades.

McLeish (above) named an unchanged Birmingham team in 12 successive matches during an outstanding recent run, while Hodgson, during last season's miraculous seventh-placed campaign, boasted 10 players who made at least 28 Premier League starts.

So if consistency of selection clearly leads to over-achievement, why don't Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger or Rafa Benitez ever give it a try?

White Noise

Shore fire hit with Harry


Alan Nixon; Dave Kidd; Steve Bates; Tom Hopkinson; Alan Oliver; Pete Jenson; Steve Goodman

Harry Redknapp is ready to give Nicky Shorey an escape route from his Aston Villa nightmare.

The former England left-back has been in superb form since joining Fulham on loan three weeks ago.

But Tottenham boss Redknapp, who also made enquiries about Shorey in January, is more likely to land the Villa misfit permanently.

Redknapp is a long-term admirer of Shorey and almost signed the player from Reading during his Portsmouth days.

He wanted Shorey to fill in for injured Benoit Assou-Ekotto and is expected to revive his interest in the summer.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill went cold on him soon after a £4million move to Villa Park in 2008 - and he spent the first half of this season on loan at Nottingham Forest. Shorey, 29, expects to be sold in the summer and has also attracted interest from West Ham, the club he supported as a boy.

Fulham sneaked in to sign him on transfer deadine day and Roy Hodgson's men have yet to concede a goal in four games with Shorey in the team.

And now Shorey could make a late dash to be included in Fabio Capello's England squad.

Thanks He said: "The move all happened really quickly. I really loved my time at Forest and was looking forward to going back when this move came out of nowhere.

"It's all thanks to Forest for giving me games otherwise I would still be at Villa kicking my heels.

"I've played for England before and I really enjoyed it but I'll leave that for other people to talk about."