Author Topic: Monday Fulham Stuff (16.05.11)  (Read 5597 times)

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (16.05.11)
« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2011, 06:40:16 AM »

http://www.express.co.uk/football/view/246988/Birmingham-0-Fulham-2-McLeish-s-nightmare



BIRMINGHAM 0 FULHAM 2: MCLEISH’S NIGHTMARE   


Monday May 16,2011


By John Wragg


BIRMINGHAM are on the verge of becoming the first club in Premier League history to win a cup and be relegated in the same season.

The Blues’ last home game of what should have been a year of celebration was a disaster.

St Andrew’s echoed to boos as Birmingham left the pitch one goal away from dropping into the Premier League’s bottom three, 77 days after beating Arsenal to win the Carling Cup.

In 1985, Norwich beat Sunderland to lift the League Cup but were relegated from the old First Division.

They are the only club in English football history to be so acutely embarrassed and Birmingham are going to have an anxious last day at Tottenham on Sunday fighting not to join them.

Since winning the Carling Cup, Birmingham have triumphed only twice in 11 league games, plunging them into this perilous situation. There are a number of paths open at White Hart Lane for them to save themselves.

Winning and maintaining their goal difference over Wigan and Blackpool is the obvious best option, but they could also draw and even lose and stay up, depending on what their relegation rivals do.


 We’ll pick ourselves up and face the battle to retain our Premier League status 
Alex McLeish
 

Injuries and suspensions decimated Birmingham yesterday, the team playing the last 12 minutes with 10 men after Alexander Hleb went off injured and all the substitutes had been used. But it did not explain such an inept performance.

Birmingham have been limping along for weeks with one point out of the last 15 and this time nerves intruded.

Fulham seized on that, manager Mark Hughes saying it was their plan to try to hit Birmingham early and use the apprehension in the team and crowd.

Fulham easily earned only their third away win of the season with two goals from centre-half Brede Hangeland, the first after just five minutes and the second three minutes after the restart. 

Manager Alex McLeish could not save Birmingham from relegation in his first half-season in charge.

He brought them back within a season and is in his second year in the Premier League.

It has been success up until now with a ninth-place finish last season, their best for 51 years, and the Carling Cup win, their first major trophy in 48 years. But Championship football is on the agenda again. “I’d be disappointed if anyone said the players didn’t try,” said McLeish. “The injuries, suspensions and tired legs just caught up with us.

“We’ll pick ourselves up and face the battle to retain our Premier League status.

“These players have shown their character time and again. I’ve been in situations before where it has looked impossible, but it has worked.”

Birmingham were in trouble after four minutes, goalkeeper Ben Foster misjudging a long kick from Fulham stopper Mark Schwarzer and having to desperately push the ball over the bar.

Foster blew his cheeks out with relief, uttered an expletive and had a smile with Bobby Zamora, before Jonathan Greening sent over the corner.

The smile did not last long. Hangeland powered in to reach Greening’s cross and headed past Foster and Birmingham almost became paranoid.

Fulham, sensing the state Birmingham were in, kept looking for goals.

Andy Johnson headed wide, Zamora headed against the post and Foster held on to a Greening shot.

Early in the second half, Zamora headed at Foster and Clint Dempsey drove a shot against the post. Then Hangeland scored his second. Zamora’s header from Greening’s corner was cleared off the line by Barry Ferguson but Hangeland drove in the shot from six yards.

Birmingham defender Martin Jiranek did chest a shot wide but it was no wonder less than 1,000 fans stayed behind for the team’s end-of-season lap of honour.

BIRMINGHAM (4-4-2): Foster 5; Carr 4, Jiranek 4 (Davies 67, 5), Johnson 4, Parnaby 4 (Beausejour 56, 5); Larsson 6, Ferguson 6, Bowyer 5 (Hleb 49, 5), Bentley 4; Derbyshire 4, Phillips 4.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer 6; Hughes 6, Senderos 6, Hangeland 7, Salcido 6; Dempsey 6 (Gera 88, 5), Murphy 6 (Etuhu 71, 5), Sidwell 7, Greening 6; Zamora 6 (Gudjohnsen 49, 5), Johnson 6. Booked: Murphy, Gudjohnsen, Dempsey. Goals: Hangeland 5, 48.

Referee: P Walton (Northants).

Birmingham 0 Fulham 2



Read more: http://www.express.co.uk/football/view/246988/Birmingham-0-Fulham-2-McLeish-s-nightmareBirmingham-0-Fulham-2-McLeish-s-nightmare#ixzz1MUVJ4qkQ

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (16.05.11)
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2011, 06:45:13 AM »

http://www.skysports.com/football/match_report/0,19764,11065_3293542,00.html



Blues fate in the balance


Hangeland the hero as Fulham dominate at St Andrews



Last updated: 15th May 2011   



Hangeland powered home the opener after Foster failed to come.


Man of the match: For all Fulham's chances, centre-half Brede Hangeland was the most clinical, netting with his only two chances of the game.

Goal of the game: Most of Hangeland's goals come from his head, but the defender showed skill with a controlled finish for his second.

Battle of the match: Fulham's Andrew Johnson came out on top of a fantastic duel with his namesake Roger of Birmingham.

Moment of the match: Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer came close to scoring from a goal-kick as Ben Foster almost allowed it to bounce over his head at the opposite end.

Talking points: Will Birmingham's lack of firepower up front cost them their Premier League status? What is different about Fulham's away form under Hughes?


A goal in either half from Brede Hangeland sealed a 2-0 win for Fulham over Birmingham, who are just one goal clear of the Premier League relegation zone.

The Blues will head into the final day of the season in 17th position, one goal better off than Blackpool and two clear of Wigan.

Fulham controlled Sunday's game at St Andrews from start to finish, breaking the deadlock after just five minutes following a positive start.

Birmingham rarely threatened, and they suffered a similar start to the second half as they did the first, with Hangeland doubling his tally four minutes after the restart.

The Blues played out the final ten minutes a man short, as an injury to Alex Hleb forced the Belarusian off with Alex McLeish having made all three changes.

Injuries
Carling Cup holders Birmingham, lacking several key players through injury and suspension, produced arguably their worst performance of the season.

City visit Tottenham next Sunday while the Tangerines are away to Manchester United and Wigan travel to Stoke.

Fulham boss Mark Hughes could not have imagined his players having such a stroll to victory and only poor finishing prevented them from at least doubling the final victory margin.

The Blues defence was at sixes and sevens and could not cope with Bobby Zamora, Andy Johnson and Clint Dempsey.

They were not allowed to settle in midfield and posed the minimum of threat up front without the pace and energy of the injured Cameron Jerome as an outlet.

To add to their woes Lee Bowyer, Stuart Parnaby and Martin Jiranek all had to be substituted through injury even before Hleb limped out.

Dempsey missed a great chance to put Fulham ahead after two minutes.

Former City striker Andy Johnson sent a low ball across the six-yard area and Dempsey spooned his shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

The Blues looked nervous and Ben Foster had to parry aside a massive clearance from Mark Schwarzer at full stretch.

But from the resulting corner Hangeland put the Cottagers in front.


Opener

The Birmingham defence was undone by Jonathan Greening's corner and the unmarked Hangeland powered home a header from close range.

Fulham were now threatening to score everytime they ventured forward and Andy Johnson glanced a header wide from Greening's cross.

They came close to doubling their lead after half an hour when Zamora crashed a header against the post from a Greening free-kick.

Against the run of play, City almost levelled after 34 minutes when Martin Jiranek's flick grazed the outside of a post from Parnaby's left-wing centre.

Kevin Phillips had his first chance after 41 minutes and his header was deflected wide from Sebastian Larsson's first decent cross of the game.

Blues were back-pedalling from the start of the second period and Zamora missed two great chances in quick succession.

He got on the end of an Aaron Hughes square ball but directed his header straight at Foster from close range.

Then Zamora found himself with only Foster to beat but his attempted chip was easily read by the Blues keeper.

Fulham were in complete control and moments later Steve Sidwell crashed a low shot against the post with the home defence in disarray.

And it came as no surprise when Hangeland made it 2-0 after 49 minutes.

Zamora's header was cleared off the line from Greening's corner but Hangeland pounced to flick the rebound into the far corner.

Zamora picked up a knock and was replaced by Eidur Gudjohnsen, who was quick to test Foster with a low drive.

Andy Johnson, Carlos Salcido and Danny Murphy were booked in quick succession for dissent, time-wasting and fouling David Bentley respectively.

Gudjohnsen became the fourth Fulham player to be yellow-carded for tripping Hleb, which resulted in the Belarusian being forced off.

Thereafter, the Cottagers controlled the final minutes with greater ease, strengthening their chances of a top half finish.

.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (16.05.11)
« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2011, 06:46:23 AM »

McLeish concedes Blues never recovered from Cup win



Published 20:31 15/05/11


By MirrorFootball




 
Manager Alex McLeish admits Birmingham's Carling Cup triumph and a catalogue of injuries and suspensions may have taken its toll as his side prepare for a last-day-of-the-season relegation battle.

Birmingham are only out of the Barclays Premier League bottom three on goal difference after losing 2-0 at home to Fulham this afternoon, Brede Hangeland grabbing both goals.

City have won only two of 11 games since their shock cup final win over Arsenal at Wembley.

But they have also been hit by injuries to key men and, against Fulham, four players - Lee Bowyer, Martin Jiranek, Stuart Parnaby and substitute Alexander Hleb - limped out of the action.

It meant Blues finished with 10 men and now they have to equal or better the results of Blackpool and Wigan when they visit Tottenham next Sunday to stay in the top flight.

McLeish said: "Maybe mentally since the Carling Cup final, it took its toll for a while.

"Then we picked ourselves up for while with a couple of great victories against Sunderland and Bolton back to back.

"We got a draw with Wolves with 10 men which was one of those magnificent spirited performances.

"But today we seemed short in terms of legs and presence as well.

"I think the suspensions and injuries has caught up with us a wee bit today.

"But once we lick our wounds over the next couple of days, we will be bang at it.

"We've got to believe and I've been in situations before where it's looked impossible and it's worked and happened for us."

Blues were again guilty of conceding sloppy goals but also looked devoid of inspiration.

McLeish said: "We were second best. Fulham were the better team and I'm disappointed we lost goals at set-pieces the way we did.

"They were two soft goals again really.

"You can say the first goal we conceded smacked of nerves but I didn't think they were nervous in the dressing room beforehand."

McLeish added: "It is a tough task for us to go to Spurs and win but we've done it before.

"The evidence is there it can be done and it is about picking ourselves up and getting off the floor because that dressing room is hurting in there.

"They know that today was not one of their best performances and they also know we now face a battle to retain Premier League status."

Fulham boss Mark Hughes was delighted with the response of his side after the 5-2 home loss to Liverpool on Monday.

He said: "I was pleased to get the reaction I got. I didn't doubt the players in fairness.

"We found ourselves on Monday where we were 3-0 down and had to chase the game against a good side and they picked us off.

"Today was about showing we hadn't switched off for the end of the season.

"We've got targets we set ourselves and we intend to reach them.

"Today we were fully focused and I think you can see that from the way we approached the game and we were able to get another away win which have been hard to come by.

"It's our third, back to back away wins, so we've made a marked improvement in terms of what we can produce on the road."

Hughes felt the opportunity was there for Fulham to take advantage of Birmingham's precarious position.

He said: "As a club, you don't want to be in the situation Birmingham find themselves in today.

"We knew that could be to our advantage and if we started positively and put them under pressure - then there is apprehension in the opposition and crowd.

"That was to our advantage and you could see that at times. We were able to capitalise on a bit of nervousness."



Read more: http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Alex-McLeish-concedes-Birmingham-never-recovered-from-Carling-Cup-win-article736645.html#ixzz1MUX17sWQ


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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (16.05.11)
« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2011, 06:47:33 AM »

http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/16052011/58/premier-league-fulham-drag-blues-mire.html



Premier League - Fulham drag Blues into mire



Sun, 15 May 17:58:00 2011



The Norway defender scored from corners early in each half as Fulham dominated at St Andrew’s, with the hosts barely putting up a fight aside from a 15-minute period before half-time.

The result puts Fulham eighth, while Birmingham are only out of the drop zone on goal difference, ahead of Blackpool and Wigan who also have 39 points.

Birmingham started like a team battling the drop, with goalkeeper Ben Foster looking like a player in no position to throw his England toys out of the pram as some calamitous errors blotted his copy book.

Clint Dempsey had already missed a gilt-edged chance, poking over from close range after meeting Andy Johnson’s cut-back, when in the third minute Foster badly misjudged a long punt from his Fulham counterpart Mark Schwarzer: it almost bounced over the former Manchester United keeper, leading him to clamber back and tip it behind for a corner when it should have been an easy take.

From that set piece Fulham took the lead, Hangeland powering a trademark towering header into the ground to bounce the ball into the roof of the net.

They should have added to the lead when Johnson, playing against his former club, flicked a close-range header wide after an excellent cross from Jonathan Greening, while Steven Sidwell fired straight at Foster when played in.

Bobby Zamora, as ever near unplayable in the air, struck the post with a header from Greening’s superb free-kick from the right, while Foster again made a boo-boo when he spilled Greening’s shot, saved by his defenders as a host of white shirts looked to pounce on the rebound.

That was around the half-hour mark, until which Birmingham had barely turned up.

But they rallied afterwards and had by far the better of the final quarter-hour of the first half, peppering the Fulham box with high balls and winning a series of set pieces, one of which saw defender Martin Jiranek shave the outside of the post with an improvised chest-down from Stuart Parnaby’s cross.

Their best chance came on 41 minutes as a superb centre from Sebastian Larsson was met by the head of an otherwise-quiet Kevin Phillips: his finish struck Hangeland and flew just wide.

Birmingham started the second half in a similar vein but they were open at the back, with Fulham exploiting this on numerous occasions.

A limping Zamora, who had just picked up an injury, could only fire weakly at Foster when played clean through by Danny Murphy, while Sidwell hit the post seconds later after Dempsey slid him in.

It was 2-0 soon afterwards when Birmingham again failed to deal with a Fulham corner, Hangeland volleying in his second after Jiranek cleared Zamora’s effort off the line, the giant stopper helped by some terrible defending from the hosts as they floundered instead of clearing their lines.

Eidur Gudjohnsen was brought on for Zamora and he almost scored with his first touch, drawing a decent save from Foster after Johnson’s cut-back, while Sidwell fired over after good play again from Johnson.

Just after the hour Gudjohnsen repaid the compliment to Johnson with a super through ball, with Foster denying the former Birmingham forward, while the last 30 minutes saw Fulham ‘do a Barcelona’ by playing some lovely one-touch passing as Blues barely felt the ball.

Dempsey in particular was revelling in the freedom, showing some great touches and appearing to provoke the early departure of dozens of home fans after showboating with a backheel.

Blues barely threatened Fulham’s half let alone the goal, any deliveries well fielded by Schwarzer and the impressive new central defensive partnership of Hangeland and Philippe Senderos.

And as news of a last-gasp Wigan win filtered through, Alex McLeish’s side may well need to win at Tottenham Hotspur on the last day of the season if they are to avoid becoming the first League Cup winners to be relegated since Norwich in 1985.

Reda Maher / Eurosport

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (16.05.11)
« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2011, 06:48:35 AM »

Birmingham 0-2 Fulham: Daily Mirror match report



Published 22:33 15/05/11


By Neil McLeman

On the day the winners of the other two domestic trophies made merry back in Manchester, the holders of the Carling Cup were battered and bruised in Birmingham.

Norwich City back in 1985 were the last League Cup victors to be relegated in the same season.

But Alex McLeish’s side have now won only two games in 11 since their Wembley triumph back on February 27.

And after a shambolic and gutless performance yesterday, they are now out of the bottom three by a single goal and playing like a team that deserves to go down.

Scoring six would not have flattered Fulham given the number of chances they created.

Birmingham’s Scottish manager had called on them to fight like “rotweillers” before the game but instead they rolled over like poodles.

And injuries to four players even meant they played the final 12 minutes with only ten men.

Birmingham, who travel to White Hart Lane on Sunday, still have their fate in their hands.

After staying out of the bottom three since January 4, a win and perhaps a draw will be enough to guarantee survival.

But it was the same yesterday and they were simply not up to the task.

Much has been made of the solid centre to the Birmingham defence which triumphed at Wembley.

Yet yesterday ex-England keeper Ben Foster was a nervous wreck and Brede Hangeland was the top centre-back on display with his two goals.

Mark Hughes’ personal fortune was estimated at £11m by the Sunday Times Rich List yesterday making him No 84 among Britain’s sporting stars.

Keep playing like this and he will be worth a bit more with a bumper new contract.

The Cottagers’ third away win of the season lifted them up to to eighth and a home draw with Arsenal on Sunday should see them finish in the top ten in the top flight for only the third time.

While the West London team played with freedom, the West Midlands club appeared gripped by fear.

Both managers made four changes from their previous defeats but whereas the suspended Liam Ridgewell was missing from the Blues defence, Bobby Zamora made his 350th career league appearance ­alongside former Blue Andy Johnson.

And in the early stages, the reunited old firm of Fulham forwards had the free run of St Andrews against the shaky home rearguard.

In only the second minute, a quick Danny Murphy free kick released Johnson but his low cross was scooped over by Clint Dempsey.

Two minutes later, Foster nearly celebrated his retirement from ­international football with a cock-up of England goalkeeper ­proportions. He completely misjudged Mark Schwarzer’s long punt and had to back-pedal furiously before pawing the bouncing ball away.

But the punishment for the slapdash start still came when Brede Hangeland powered home the resulting corner from Greening’s delivery.

The mood of anxiety around St Andrews was turning to panic with the news of West Ham’s goal at Wigan – and Fulham’s ability to fashion chances at will.

Another splendid Greening cross saw the unmarked Johnson glance his header wide and Steve Sidwell was allowed to sidle up the Blues box before shooting.

And then from another free header inside the box, Zamora powered a header against the post – again from a Greening free kick – before the former West Brom midfielder’s shot was fumbled by Foster. The game should have been all over by the half-hour.

Birmingham finally made their only chance after 34 minutes when Martin Jiranek used his chest to glance Parnaby’s cross onto the post.

Despite the boos which accompanied the home team off the break, they were just as lackadaisical during the opening frenetic minutes of the second half. First Zamora directed a header straight at Foster and the England striker then chipped tamely into the Birmingham keeper’s hands when clean through. Sidwell’s first-time shot then hit the post before Fulham finally found a second after 49 minutes. With Carson lost, Greening’s corner bounced off Jiranek in the six-yard box. Zamora’s header was cleared off the line by Barry Ferguson only for Hangeland to volley home his second.

After injuries to Bowyer, Parnaby, Jiranek and sub Alexander Hleb, Birmingham limped home a man short. It was not the best timing to stage a post-match lap of appreciation.



Read more: http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Birmingham-0-2-Fulham-daily-Mirror-match-report-Carling-Cup-winners-left-facing-final-day-decider-article736162.html#ixzz1MUXbMwZQ

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (16.05.11)
« Reply #25 on: May 16, 2011, 06:49:46 AM »

West Brom prepare £4m bid for Fulham striker



Published 23:00 15/05/11


By MirrorFootball




 
West Brom are set to slap in a £4million bid for Fulham striker Andy Johnson.

Roy Hodgson took Johnson, 30, to Craven Cottage in August 2008 in a £10.5m deal. But the striker has been plagued by injuries and is now considering his future. Now new Baggies boss Hodgson is confident of being reunited with the marksman.



Read more: http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Transfer-News-Fulham-prepare-4m-bid-for-Fulham-s-Andy-Johnson-article736532.html#ixzz1MUXt3jTx


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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (16.05.11)
« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2011, 06:51:44 AM »

Birmingham 0 Fulham 2



By DEAN SCOGGINS


Published: 15 May 2011


ALEX McLEISH had called on his players to be Rottweilers in the relegation dogfight.

They were more like poodles.


A goal in each half from Fulham centre-back Brede Hangeland saw off woeful Brum, who are deep in trouble going into the final game at Spurs.
           

The Carling Cup winners lie just one place above the drop zone - separated by a solitary goal.


What is worrying for McLeish is that his side not only failed to create a clearcut chance, they also lacked fight.


It was a performance unlike McLeish teams and their worst display of the season on a day when they needed it most.


The facts are these: Birmingham could win on the last day at White Hart Lane and still go down. Or, they could lose and still stay up.


Which simply means the final outcome to an incredible season is no longer totally in McLeish's hands.


Birmingham have won just twice in 11 games since beating Arsenal at Wembley and look shot - mentally and physically.


Just one minute was on the clock when Danny Murphy's quick free-kick found Andy Johnson and his cross was somehow diverted over by Clint Dempsey.


Blues did not wake up and keeper Mark Schwarzer almost got on the scoresheet.


His punt was left by Martin Jiranek and bounced on the edge of the area, catching Ben Foster too far out of his goal. But he back-peddled frantically to push it wide.


Never mind Foster retiring from international duty, if that had gone in, Fabio Capello might have retired him.


But from Murphy's resulting corner, Hangeland headed home from six yards for a fifth-minute lead.


Birmingham were in complete disarray. After 12 minutes, Andrew Johnson headed wide from five yards.


 
And, five minutes later, Steve Sidwell robbed Barry Ferguson inside his own half and was allowed to run 50 yards before firing at Foster.


Then, on the half hour, Bobby Zamora headed against the post before Blues finally created a chance, Jiranek almost diverting home with his chest from David Bentley's cross.


After the break, Zamora twice wasted good chances. Sidwell also hit the woodwork before Hangeland finally got a second after Zamora's header was cleared off the line.


Norwich were the last and only team to win a major trophy and be relegated back in 1985.


On this form, Birmingham could join them and injuries to Alex Hleb, Lee Bowyer and Jiranek deepened the gloom.


 
As for Fulham chief Mark Hughes, he has his eyes on seventh after bouncing back from the 5-2 mauling by Liverpool.


He said: "We feel if we can beat Arsenal, then if Chelsea beat Everton, we could be seventh and that would cap a fantastic season for us.


"Considering all the problems we've had, that would be a real achievement."


DREAM TEAM

STAR MAN - Brede Hangeland (Fulham)

BIRMINGHAM: Foster 6, Carr 5, Johnson 4, Jiranek 4 (Davies 5), Parnaby 5 (Beausejour 5), Larsson 5, Ferguson 5, Bowyer 5 (Hleb 5), Bentley 5, Phillips 5, Derbyshire 5. Subs not used: Doyle, Fahey, Mutch, Asante.

FULHAM: Schwarzer 7, Senderos 8, Hangeland 9, Hughes 8, Salcido 8, Greening 8, Murphy 7 (Etuhu 6), Sidwell 8, Dempsey 7 (Gera 5), Johnson 8, Zamora 7 (Gudjohnsen 6). Subs not used: Stockdale, Kelly, Kakuta, Briggs. Booked: Johnson, Salcido, Murphy, Gudjohnsen, Dempsey.



Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/3581208/Birmingham-0-Fulham-2.html#ixzz1MUYMUL7A

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (16.05.11)
« Reply #27 on: May 16, 2011, 06:57:26 AM »
HUGHES STAYING PUT AFTER BUYING HOUSE

Fulham manager Mark Hughes has demonstrated that he is committed to the club by buying a house in London — as have his management team assistants Mark Bowen and Glyn Hodges. The fact that team shirt sponsors FxPro opted to stay with Fulham but end their deal with Aston Villa might also help explain why Hughes is following suit.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/article-1386950/Charles-Sale-John-Steele-shifts-blame.html#ixzz1MUZeI33a

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (16.05.11)
« Reply #28 on: May 16, 2011, 07:15:53 AM »
Birmingham 0 Fulham 2: Hangeland double leaves Blues on the brink


By Neil Moxley


Last updated at 11:21 PM on 15th May 2011


St Andrew's witnessed a slow, lingering surrender as the spectre of relegation moved ominously into view for Alex McLeish.

The Carling Cup winners are being kept out of the bottom three by a goal difference of just one following a truly abject performance that bore all the hallmarks of a team on their way down.


 In the mire: Birmingham players look dumbfounded following Hangeland's opener

Birmingham boss McLeish must now hope his side better the results of fellow strugglers Blackpool and Wigan on the final day with a display that demonstrates just how keen they are to remain in the top flight.

He certainly witnessed nothing of the sort yesterday afternoon as Fulham cantered to a comfortable triumph thanks to two Brede Hangeland goals from corners at the start of each half.


 Brace yourself: Hangeland volleys home Fulham's second

Birmingham v Fulham - match facts
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Foster 5;
Carr 6, Jiranek 5 (Davies 67min, 5)
Johnson 5, Parnaby 4 (Beausejour 55,
6); Larsson 7, Bowyer 5 (Hleb 49, 5)
Ferguson 5, Bentley 4; Derbyshire 4,
Phillips 5. Subs not used: Doyle, Fahey, Mutch, Asante.

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer 6; Hughes 6, Senderos 6, Hangeland 8, Salcido 6; Dempsey 6 (Gera 89), Murphy 6 (Etuhu 72, 6), Sidwell 6, Greening 6; Johnson 6, Zamora 7. (Gudjohnsen 49, 5) Subs not used: Stockdale, Kelly, Kakuta, Briggs.
Booked: Johnson, Salcido, Murphy,
Gudjohnsen, Dempsey.

Referee: Philip Walton 6

Man of the match: Brede Hangeland.

It was not the fact that Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer did not have a save to make of note through the entire game that would have concerned the Scot most.

It was the lack of fight and determination that looked most wor rying, especially as those qualities appeared to be in abundance at Blackpool and Wigan this weekend. It is not as if the writing has not been on the wall.

Since Birmingham confirmed their status in the Barclays Premier League last spring, they have won just nine out of the 47 fixtures to follow. Indeed, in the last 75 games, they have managed to score more than twice only once. Wigan and Blackpool managed that feat this weekend.

Winning the Carling Cup and reaching the last eight of the FA Cup has undoubtedly taken its toll and masked underlying problems.

'I felt it caught up on us a wee bit today,' said McLeish. 'People need to realise the amount of people we had missing.

'Suspensions haven't helped at a crucial stage of the season, and any team would have suffered with the amount of injuries we have had.'


 Murphy's law: The defeat leaves Birmingham battling until the last day to save their Premier League skins

Hangeland barged Philippe Senderos out of the way to head Jonathan Greening's corner into the net for Fulham's first with keeper Ben Foster nowhere to be seen.

Foster was again culpable for failing to command his area when another Greening corner caught him out. Martin Jiranek turned the ball towards his own goal and Barry Ferguson headed off the line, only for Hangeland to hook the ball back in.


 Heads I win: Hangeland nods home the first of his two goal at St Andrews

Fulham boss Mark Hughes must be wondering how it is that his side have won just three times on the road this season.

He said: 'Today was about showing that we haven't switched off for the end of the season. If we win our last home game against Arsenal, there's the possibility of finishing seventh.'


 Thrown it all away: McLeish knows his side will need a big performance in the season finale at Tottenham

To cap a thoroughly miserable day for McLeish, Lee Bowyer limped off with a hamstring problem, Stuart Parnaby hobbled away on crutches with a groin strain, Alexander Hleb was carried off after twisting his knee and Jiranek also picked up an injury. David Bentley cannot play at Tottenham next week as part of the loan agreement.

It is looking bleak for McLeish, despite the fact that history is on his side. Birmingham beat Spurs 3-2 at White Hart Lane in December 2007 in his first match in charge.


 Nail biter: Foster makes a great save to deny Fulham


 Heading in the wrong direction: McLeish is animated on the touchline as Hughes looks on

McLeish said: 'We now have to go to Spurs and win. It's a tough ask. But we have done it before. We need to pick ourselves up off the floor. Those players know we now face a battle to retain our status in the Barclays Premier League.'

Next: Tottenham v BIRMINGHAM CITY, FULHAM v Arsenal (both Sunday).



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1387343/Birmingham-0-Fulham-2-Hangeland-double-leaves-Blues-brink.html#ixzz1MUdP5E5U


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