Author Topic: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)  (Read 9643 times)

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2010, 06:33:39 AM »
http://football.fanhouse.co.uk/2010/02/28/sunderland-0-fulham-0-steve-bruce-still-waiting-for-overdue-vic/

Sunderland 0 Fulham 0: Steve Bruce Still Waiting for Overdue Victory



28/2/2010 11:51 AM GMT

By John Wardle


Sunderland must beware the sides of March after another miserable match that exposed the shortcomings of Steve Bruce's team.

They now face three home games in March and it's essential they locate a few wins to ease relegation fears that won't be swept away with performances such as this one.

Sunderland have now gone 14 games without a Premier League win and never looked likely to end that dismal record against an unambitious Fulham side, who were happy to settle for a draw.

Fulham's Bobby Zamora went closest to breaking the deadlock when his first-half header beat keeper Craig Gordon but drifted wide in a rare break by the Londoners.

Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer was not seriously troubled by a Sunderland team who largely relied on long-range efforts from Darren Bent, Kenwyne Jonesand Alan Hutton for their only threats.

But they were inches away from an undeserved winner when Benjani just failed to connect with a cross from Bolo Zenden nine minutes from the end.

REACTION:
Bruce remains confident that Sunderland can claw their way out of trouble before the end of the season.

But he pulled no punches about a dismal game when asked what he could say about it. "If I'm being honest, not a lot," he said.

"We need a little break and the players have to handle the expectations of playing here. It's not easy. We were very sound defensively, but offensively it takes a different type of courage. Basically we lumped it up the pitch which happens when you become edgy.

"I don't want to see my teams thumping it forward, but that's what we did. We are not set up to play that way and it becomes a frustration. We had the best chances in the game - and there weren't a lot. We didn't create a lot in terms of getting the ball down and trying to play.

"We're paid to handle these situations and at the moment we have too many not playing well enough. we have to get out this run. weve got to stick together and learn from it. It's a difficult time but I still think we wil be okay. When you are up against it, all you can do is keep working and believe you are doing the right thing."

Roy Hodgson's mood was very different as they ended a successful month with another solid performance.

The Fulham manager said:"The good thing is nobody can take away what February has done for us. With 38 points we can be reasonably confident we will have another year in the Premier League and that was our major goal.

"The only minor criticism is that we didn't do enough with our possession and we didn't find that final pass, but I'm delighted with our week's work.

"But this was our eighth game in a month using basically the same players. I did have fears about this game because this is where Sunderland get their points. We arrived back in the early hours of Friday morning and it's always a a good point when you get one after a European game."

Fulham now enter a March when they face Juventus twice in the Europa League, Tottenham in the FA Cup and the two Manchester clubs in the league. "Rather than fear those matches and fear we will be knocked out, we should be delighted we have come so far," he said.

HOW IT HAPPENED:
In mind-numbing fashion. Fulham, who have won only once away from him this season, were content to sit back and leave with a point after their exertions in midweek in the Europa League. And Sunderland lacked the quality to open up a well-organised defence as their early control soon turned into a a desperate desire to hit the ball forward to Jones and Bent, who chased far too many lost causes. Fulham failed to mount a genuine threat once Zamora's header drifted wide early in the game, but should wonder what might have happened if they had been more ambitious.

WHAT IT MEANS:
More trouble for Bruce as Sunderland fans continue to question the shape of a side that looks woefully short of ideas, particularly in a midfield which is strong on destruction, but weak on contruction. They have a chance to ease their worries with three successive home game, but there is little optimism about their prospects among troubled supporters. Fulham's mood is vastly different and they face an exciting month in the FA Cup and Europa League. Hodgson is right to point out that they can concentrate on the cups in the knowledge that they are safe in the league.

QUOTABLE:
"We don't have the Sword of Damocles hanging over us where you worry whether you can marry the cup with the league."
Hodgson delves into Greek mythology to explain the current position.

SUNDERLAND 0 FULHAM 0

PLAYER MARKING:
Sunderland (4-4-2): Gordon 6; Hutton 9, Turner 6, Mensah 7 (McCartney 84,5), Ferdinand 6; Campbell 6, Cana 5, Cattermole 5 (Zenden 56,5) Richardson 5; Jones 5, Bent 5.
Substitutes not used : Carson, Bardsley, Kilgallon, Benjani, Da Silva.
Fulham (4-5-1): Schwarzer 5; Baird 6, Hughes 6, Hangeland 9, Shorey 6; Duff 5, Murphy 5 (Greening 58,5), Etuhu 6, Davies 6; Gera 5; Zamora 6 (Elm 84,5).
Substitutes not used: Zuberbuhler, Kelly, Okaka, Riise, Smalling.

ATTENDANCE: 40,192

NEXT UP:
Sunderland v Bolton (Home), Premier League 09/03, 1945 GMT
Fulham v Tottenham (Home) FA Cup 06/03, 1720 GMT

MAN OF THE MATCH:
Brede Hangeland (Fulham): The giant central defender was in total control in the air and on the ground, although the lack of imagination shown by Sunderland's forwards made his life easier than usual. His assurance on the occasions he was tested showed why Arsenal are among his admirers.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2010, 06:36:40 AM »
http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/fans-turn-against-bruce-as-winless-run-goes-on-1913711.html


Fans turn against Bruce as winless run goes on


Sunderland 0 Fulham 0

By James Mellor


Monday, 1 March 2010


After more than a decade in management, Steve Bruce insists he's developed the toughened exterior of a rhinoceros. Such was the vitriol aimed in his direction from his own supporters after a 14th Premier League game without a victory, the Sunderland manager must wonder if there is anywhere left to go in terms zoological/dermatological metaphors required to deal with the increasing scrutiny his future is now subject to.

A share of the spoils from a contest which, if anything, was even more of a non-contest than the tepid stalemate here with Stoke earlier in February, re-establishes their three-point cushion from the relegation places. That, however, is where the positives come to an abrupt halt.

"What can I say about that? If I'm honest, not a lot," Bruce admitted. "We just need a break but we were edgy, we didn't handle the ball well enough and resorted to lumping it up the pitch."

The fixture computer is clearly doing its best to help extricate Sunderland from a predicament they find themselves in courtesy of a three-month winless streak, with this the first of four consecutive home games, starting against a Fulham side without a Premier League away victory since the opening day of the season and with legs wearied by a draining return trip to the Ukraine in the Europa League.

Even with such advantages flung their way, Sunderland never remotely looked like recording their first three-point return since 21 November, and had an unmarked Bobby Zamora not made a hash of a clear early header from an inviting Simon Davies centre, the post-match abuse aimed the way of Bruce would have been even more lacerating.

The Sunderland squad had almost fallen over themselves during the week to pledge their backing for their beleaguered manager, but their unconvincing actions spoke far louder than any of their words.

With Brede Hangeland again commanding at the back for the visitors, the few openings Sunderland created were at best half-chances, as Kenwyne Jones fired over from Darren Bent's knock-down, while Mark Schwarzer shovelled away Bent's 20-yard free-kick, before smothering a low Alan Hutton effort at the second attempt.

John Mensah, the injury-prone defender who again succumbed to his ailing body, was among the few of those clad in red and white to emerge with credit, while Bolo Zenden injected a modicum of urgency following his second-half introduction, finding the side-netting with a cheeky cross-shot, before sending a low centre across the penalty area, which just begged to find a touch. The out-of-touch Fraizer Campbell summed up Sunderland's afternoon three minutes from the end, firing over from Hutton's cross.

"I keep expecting us to hit the wall," Roy Hodgson, the Fulham manager conceded after his side's 44th game of a season now into its ninth month. "This is where Sunderland take their points and I was concerned that if ever a game was going to take its toll then it would be this, so I'm delighted." After a chastening January, Fulham were unbeaten last month, winning five of their eight games. Hodgson added: "I wish February would last for ever."

Sunderland (4-4-2): Gordon; Hutton, Turner, Mensah (McCartney, 84), Ferdinand; Campbell, Cana, Cattermole (Zenden, 54), Richardson; Bent, Jones (Benjani, 80). Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Bardsley, Kilgallon, Da Silva.

Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Shorey; Davies, Murphy(Greening, 58), Etuhu, Duff; Gera, Zamora (Elm, 84). Substitutes not used: Zuberbühler (gk), Kelly, Okaka, Riise, Smalling.

Referee: M Atkinson (Yorkshire).

Booked: Sunderland Turner, Hutton, Richardson; Fulham Baird, Murphy, Zamora.

Man of the match: Mensah.

Attendance: 40,192.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2010, 06:39:21 AM »
Sunderland 0 Fulham 0

From STEVE BRENNER at Stadium of Light

Published: 28 Feb 2010


 Add a comment (2)

YOU know things are bad when even the booing at full-time is half-hearted.

Sunderland's fans, to their credit, stuck by Steve Bruce's strugglers all game.


When the whistle blew to mark the hosts' 14th Premier League game without a win, the expected cat-calls were delivered from the stands.


But they came with a whimper, not a blast - a bit like Sunderland's performances right now.


The Mackems faithful are clearly growing so tired of the dross being served up they are struggling to voice their anger with any real purpose.


These are worrying times on Wearside, with Sunderland slumping at an alarming rate.


Darren Bent worked hard for the hosts and John Mensah showed that, when he is fit, he is a colossus at the back.


Just ask Bobby Zamora what it was like to take on the Ghanaian yesterday.


But the underlying problems are there for all to see.


Bruce has precious little creativity in midfield, meaning the supply line to Bent and Kenwyne Jones is non-existent.


And, boy, it makes for grim viewing.


If the midfield are not squandering possession, the defence are lumping it forward.


Bruce can still turn it around - but time is running out.


Lorik Cana and Lee Cattermole are battlers not playmakers in a side desperate for one.


Kieran Richardson made little contribution and Fraizer Campbell played as a winger, despite the fact he is a striker.


While Bruce is having a nightmare, Fulham boss Roy Hodgson continues to work his magic.


Into the last 16 of the Europa League and the last eight of the FA Cup, the Cottagers are having the season Sunderland hoped for after their lightning start in August.


Yet while Fulham have pushed on, Sunderland have crawled backwards.


It took the home side 37 minutes to register a shot yesterday.


Before that, Fulham had created the two best openings.


Zoltan Gera shot wide on six minutes and Zamora wasted his only chance on what was a frustrating afternoon.


In reply, Jones blasted over the Black Cats' first chance before Bent tested Mark Schwarzer with a free-kick that was scrambled away by the Aussie.


Half-time came and went, yet still there was nothing to get excited about.


After the break, Fulham put together an 18-pass move which resulted in Damien Duff screwing wide on 68 minutes before sub Bolo Zenden toe-poked into the side-netting.


With four minutes left, Campbell fired over but that was that.


It is now 100 days since Arsenal were shot down 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.


The way things are going right now, with Sunderland just three points off the drop zone, it will be another 100 before the natives are smiling once again.

DREAM TEAM

STAR MAN - JOHN MENSAH (Sunderland)


SUNDERLAND: Gordon 6, Hutton 6, Turner 6, Mensah 8 (McCartney 6), Ferdinand 6, Campbell 4, Cana 5, Cattermole 5 (Zenden 7), Richardson 5, Jones 5 (Benjani 6), Bent 6. Subs not used: Carson, Bardsley, Da Silva, Kilgallon. Booked: Hutton, Richardson, Turner.


FULHAM: Schwarzer 7, Baird 6, Hughes 7, Hangeland 8, Shorey 6, Duff 6, Etuhu 7, Murphy 6 (Greening 6), Davies 6, Gera 7, Zamora 7 (Elm 6). Subs not used: Zuberbuhler, Kelly, Okaka, Riise, Smalling. Booked: Baird, Greening, Zamora.



Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/2871682/Sunderland-0-Fulham-0.html?OTC-RSS&ATTR=Football#ixzz0gu8eWS7O


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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2010, 06:42:29 AM »
http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Sunderland-0-0-Fulham-Black-Cats-bad-run-continues-after-dour-stalemate-The-Daily-Mirror-match-report-article339551.html

Sunderland 0-0 Fulham: The Daily Mirror match report


Published 22:45 28/02/10

By Simon Bird
 
 
There are days when the beauty, skill and unpredictability of a good football match leaves you uplifted.

Then there is watching Sunderland during their miserable 100 day run without a win.

Witnessing afternoons like this at the Stadium of Light of such mind numbing, life-sapping tedium, leaves you wondering why anyone would ever want to pay money to watch 22 men kicking around a piece of leather.

The home crowd couldn’t even be bothered to boo with much fervour as a 14th game slipped by without victory on a run that is sucking Steve Bruce’s men closer to the relegation zone and fraying already fragile bonds between manager and locals.
 
If a good day out consists of seeing a Sunderland defender hoofing a football 60 yard ball down the throat of a 6ft 6in opposing centre half then Bruce’s side is for you.

Shorn of confidence and unable to string a series of passes together, this is a long term malaise. Bruce has conjured just two wins in 21 games, and one of those was in the FA cup against non-league Barrow.

No other top flight side is without a win this year, and therefore no one else in worse form.

Fulham couldn’t find the killer ball to finish the game off, but Roy Hodgson’s side made it look like culture versus cloggers. They went close with a stunning 18 pass move across the pitch only for Damien Duff’s shot to be saved. Bobby Zamora also nodded a free header high and wide early on.

Where does Bruce go from here? He doesn’t seem to know. The excuse of having key players injured or suspended has not held for a few games. There has been no discernable lift in form since players like Michael Turner, Anton Ferdinand and Lee Cattermole returned.

This is the squad - only Andy Reid is out injured - that he spent £30 million on last summer in the hope of making the Mackems relegation proof, and pushing on to the top half.

The trials of previous top flight campaigns have not been shaken off. Players are nervous in possession, even though yesterday’s 40,192 crowd were magnificently patient throughout.

The balance of the squad means a central midfield full of enthusiastic tackling, but little guile, and two fine strikers lacking in any sort of service. No wonder Darren Bent’s World Cup dream was ended this weekend by Fabio Capello’s snub.

Sunderland’s best chance was an Alan Hutton shot on 56 minutes, and sub Bolo Zenden produced two moments of danger down the left late on.

Bruce said: “My teams have never resorted to lumping it up the pitch, but that’s what we resorted to. That becomes a frustration.

“We’ve got to handle the expectation of playing here. We’ve got to give the crowd something to shout about. You’re paid to handle these situations and at the moment we’ve got too many not playing well enough.

“I am the manager and the buck stops with me. I brought 5-6 of them here and anything levelled at them I will protect them. It is my responsibility. It has not been easy.

“I am not going to shy away from it. I’ve been decent at the job in the past and I’m sure I can still do it.”

Fulham recovered well from their UEFA Cup success against Shaktar Donetsk and Hodgson said: “It was a good point, always. The quality of it is exaggerated after our exertions in midweek. I did fear for this game because we got back so late on Friday morning. I thought it could take its toll but we defended well used the ball well but didn’t do enough with the possession. I wish February would last forever!

“We have a quarter final of the FA Cup and we are delighted to come so far in it. We have 38 points ten games left and not got that sword of Damocles hanging over us that the cup will effect us and it looks like we will have another year in the Premier League. The aim for us is to keep that run in the top flight going.”.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2010, 06:48:03 AM »
http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Sheffield-United-4-3-Plymouth-Stockdale-learns-valuable-lesson-after-keeping-cock-up-The-Daily-Mirror-match-report-article338857.html

Sheffield United 4-3 Plymouth: The Daily Mirror match report


Published 05:00 01/03/10



By Sarah Winterburn
 
David Stockdale will probably get a sackful of football blooper DVDs for Christmas featuring David Stockdale in a starring role after his 'keeping cock-up at Bramall Lane.

The DVDs might end up in the bin, but Plymouth's on-loan Fulham keeper will have learned a valuable lesson: Always look behind you before dropping the ball as there may be a sneaky striker lurking.

Shay Given always has a glance after being embarrassed in an identical incident by Dion Dublin, so Stockdale is in good company after gifting Richard Cresswell a goal.

"You don’t see goals like that too often but it was a nice one to get and a vital one too," said Cresswell. "I had a feeling their goalkeeper was going to drop it so I hid behind him.

"I am sure he will only make that mistake once and never again in his career."

What makes it worse for Stockdale is that his teammates had fought their way back from 3-0 down to the unlikely scoreline of 3-2 when he committed the cardinal sin of goalkeeping.

Argyle were starting to sniff the whiff of a miraculous point from a bizarre game which the Blades appeared to have in the bag after 47 minutes.

United were cruising thanks to Jamie Ward's well-struck double and a classy opener from Henri Camara, who was sent scarpering towards goal by the impressive Mark Yeates.

But a minute after Ward made it 3-0, Plymouth struck back through substitute Yannick Bolasie after a mix-up in the Blades defence.

That looked like a consolation goal until 18-year-old striker Joe Mason scored his first ever senior goal as panic set in for promotion-chasing United.

Plymouth threw everything at the Blades in pursuit of an equaliser but Stockdale's moment of madness once again put the game beyond the Green Army.

Or so we thought. Jamie Mackie had other ideas and his impressive 20-yard finish set up a frantic final few minutes, with the Blades hanging on for dear life for three points they thought they had sealed before the break.

Blades boss Kevin Blackwell might have nightmares about his side's attempted capitulation but he believes they may have learned a valuable lesson ahead of their play-off-chasing run-in.

"I wish we didn't have to go through it to learn, but we have learned something today," said Blackwell. "We were comfortably coasting in a game and almost threw it away.

"We are building on the hoof all the time but we showed character and we have learned about each other.

"Sometimes you have to go through those situations to learn things. The next time we're 3-0 up I can say to them 'remember Plymouth' and they will know.

"Knowledge is acquired through experience, which is why experienced players are always valuable, and the youngsters will have learned something today.

"Young Kyle Bartley, who's on loan from Arsenal, has come off the pitch upset with himself because he made some mistakes, but he will have learned something."

Sheffield United now sit just one point outside the play-off positions and Cresswell knows what it might take to seal that place.

"We need to get on a run now and hopefully go unbeaten from now until the end of the season - that is the aim," said the striker.

"It has been difficult this season with the amount of players who have come in and gone. There have been 20 debuts this season so praise is due to the gaffer for shuffling his pack.

"Hopefully, we can get a settled team from now until the end of the season and that will give us a better chance."

At the other end of the table, Plymouth are five points from safety with 14 games still to play.

"We put together a little mini-run - a win and two draws - which was pleasing and we genuinely thought we were going to get something today," said boss Paul Mariner.

"We have got to go on another run, there's no two ways about it."

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2010, 06:51:07 AM »
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/article7044414.ece


March 1, 2010

Steve Bruce calls for brave Sunderland hearts to fight drop


Sunderland 0 Fulham 0


George Caulkin, Stadium of Light
 

Steve Bruce shrugged his shoulders and blew out his cheeks. It is now 14 games and 100 days since Sunderland last experienced victory in the Barclays Premier League and Bruce’s air of punch-drunk resignation was evident.

At the end of a life-sapping episode at the Stadium of Light, Bruce’s moribund team remained fourteenth in the table, three points clear of the bottom three. They are the only side in the division not to have won a league match in 2010 and their annus horribilis is in danger of becoming an annus muchworseius.

Three consecutive home matches — against Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City and Birmingham City — offer a chance for respectability, but the concern on Wearside is that the club’s mediocrity and lack of confidence is entrenched. “I’m sure we’ll be OK,” Bruce said. “I’m the manager and the buck stops with me.”

For Fulham, it brought a satisfying close to a satisfying month. “I wish February would last forever,” said Roy Hodgson, whose side has progressed to the last 16 of the Europa League and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. “That point takes us to 38 with ten games to go,” the manager said.

The 18-pass move that concluded with Damien Duff shooting wide was the highlight of a quite dreadful fixture. “We resorted to lumping the ball forward, but we have to be braver than that,” Bruce said. He also talked — again — about the expectation of North East crowds, but the only expectation is that if something can go wrong, it will. At present, it is.

Sunderland (4-4-2): C Gordon 6 — A Hutton 6, M Turner 6, J Mensah 6 (sub; G McCartney, 84 min), A Ferdinand 5 — F Campbell 4, L Cana 4, L Cattermole 4 (sub: B Zenden, 55 5), K Richardson 5 — D Bent 7, K Jones 6 (Benjani Mwaruwari, 81). Substitutes not used: T Carson, P Bardsley, M Kilgallon, P Da Silva. Booked: Hutton, Richardson, Turner. Next: Bolton Wanderers (h).

Fulham (4-4-2): M Schwarzer 6 — C Baird 6, A Hughes 7, B Hangeland 7, N Shorey 6 — D Duff 5, D Etuhu 5, D Murphy 5 (sub: J Greening, 58 5), S Davies 6 — Z Gera 6, R Zamora 6 (sub: D Elm, 84). Substitutes not used: P Zuberbühler, S Kelly, S Okaka, B H Riise, C Smalling. Booked: Baird, Greening, Zamora. Next: Manchester United (a).


White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #26 on: March 01, 2010, 11:43:06 AM »
http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11681_5996874,00.html

Amauri blow for Juve


Striker sidelined for 25 days


Last updated: 1st March 2010   
 

Juventus have confirmed that Amauri will be out of action for much of March with a thigh injury.

The 29-year-old striker lasted just 14 minutes of Juve's 0-0 draw with Ajax on Thursday, which saw them prolong their Europa League adventure.

He now appears set to sit out both legs of a last-16 tie with Fulham, while also missing crucial domestic fixtures.

"Amauri underwent tests following the injury suffered during the match against Ajax," read a statement on Juventus' official website.

"The tests confirmed the diagnosis made after the match. The prognosis is of 25 days."

Amauri joins Gianluigi Buffon on the sidelines at Stadio Olimpico, with the talismanic keeper set to be out of action for

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #27 on: March 01, 2010, 11:50:24 AM »
http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/opinion/columnists/stan-collymore/Stan-Collymore-column-Why-John-Terry-can-serve-his-country-best-by-following-Wayne-Bridge-s-lead-and-quitting-England-s-World-Cup-squad-article338533.html

I would have liked to see Bridge wait a little longer until he made his decision though - he could have dropped out of the squad for the Egypt game only initially.

Now he has opted out though, it does not leave long for Capello to look at left-backs as Ashley Cole is crocked.

Aston Villa’s Stephen Warnock has had a fantastic season, Everton’s Leighton Baines is quality and then there is Fulham duo Paul Konchesky and Nicky Shorey.

Shorey is an interesting one because he couldn’t get into Villa’s team and has been loaned out to Nottingham Forest and now Fulham.

But he would be the one I would go for because he has played for England before.

He is not a dynamic, bombing-forward full-back but he won’t let anyone down and I wouldn’t discount him.

He concentrates on his defending and, more often than not, doesn’t get flustered.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #28 on: March 01, 2010, 11:51:40 AM »
The formation of a Premier League TV channel, starting next season, will interest BBC football commentator Jonathan Pearce, who is hugely frustrated at the Beeb’s shock decision to choose Guy Mowbray as their No 1. Over at Sky Sports, they continue to make great play about policing rogue screenings of live matches in pubs. Yet unofficial coverage of Sunderland’s goalless draw with Fulham yesterday was available on the Sky website during the Carling Cup final.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/article-1254494/CHARLES-SALE-London-2012-medals-China.html#ixzz0gvPYokzo


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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #29 on: March 01, 2010, 11:54:18 AM »
http://www.dailystar.co.uk/football/view/124321/Fulham-in-Sunderland-stalemate/

FULHAM IN SUNDERLAND STALEMATE


1st March 2010

By Ian Murtagh

IT IS now 100 days since Sunderland won a Premier League game and judging by their latest confidence-shot performance, they may face a long wait for their next.

Forget the fact their next three games are also at the Stadium of Light. The harsh truth is Sunderland probably couldn’t win a one-horse race right now.

They may be three points clear of the relegation zone with a superior goal difference over those teams below them.

But try telling the 40,192 unfortunates who witnessed this grim stalemate that they are not in danger of going down.

It is now 14 league games since they beat Arsenal 1-0 and they remain the only side not to have won this year.

They have drawn four of the last five but Steve Bruce would be a brave man to cite that stat as a reason to be cheerful.

Fulham arrived on Wearside via a gruelling Europa League trek to Ukraine and Sunderland could not have asked for a better fixture. Yet at times in the second half Fulham ran rings round their hosts.

Twice in the space of three minutes, they strung together 20 or more passes. The Black Cats’ best sequence throughout probably didn’t reach double figures!

They did have two chances in the final 15 minutes with Bolo Zenden’s cross driven into the side-netting by Alan Hutton while Fraizer Campbell scooped a shot over the bar.

But victory was more than Sunderland deserved and for the third home game in a row, they were booed off.

“We just need a break,” said Bruce. “The big frustration is that we haven’t turned one of our recent draws into a win. If we had, I think you would have seen a different team.

“Unfortunately, on a difficult pitch, we did not handle the ball well enough and resorted to lumping it up the pitch, which is what happens when you are edgy.”

If Hodgson’s game plan was for his side to take the sting out of Sunderland and silence the crowd early, it worked. The Black Cats were, as they so often are, fast out of the blocks but once their initial flurries came to nothing, anxiety set in.

Fulham created the first decent chance when Bobby Zamora, passed fit before kick-off, raced in front of Hutton to meet Simon Davies’ flighted ball only for his header over the advancing Craig Gordon to drop the wrong side of the upright.

Some meaty tackles from Lorik Cana and Lee Cattermole introduced some zip into Sunderland’s game.

Jones and Bent linked up effectively on 38 minutes with the big Trinidadian connecting to his partner’s pass without being able to keep his volley down.

Mark Schwarzer was tested moments later when Bent’s set-piece curled around Fulham’s wall and though the 37-year-old keeper was unable to hold on to the ball, no-one was on hand to get the rebound.

Cattermole, plagued by injuries in recent months, came off within 10 minutes of the restart and Zenden contributed to a flowing move, before Hutton’s shot was saved by Schwarzer.

The Aussie keeper, however, will rarely have enjoyed such a quiet afternoon.

“I did fear for this game,” said Hodgson, whose side have now played 44 times compared to Sunderland’s 32.

“Sunderland are strong at home while we did not get back until the early hours of Friday morning so if ever a game was going to take its toll, this was it.

“But the players surprised me by standing up to them so well. It’s a good point and I don’t want February to end because we’ve emerged from a difficult month unbeaten in eight games.”

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #30 on: March 01, 2010, 11:55:39 AM »
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/60283,sport,football,transfer-talk-deal-to-bring-marouane-chamakh-to-arsenal-is-progressing-well-but-raheem-sterling-joins-liverpool

But one player Arsenal have missed out on is 15-year-old sensation Raheem Sterling who has chosen to sign for Liverpool, despite keen interest from a host of other clubs inlcuding the Gunners, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Fulham.

The youngster who is on QPR's books but has never made a first team appearance for the Hoops is said to be as good, if not better, as Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott were at the same age.

Liverpool have made an initial payment of £500,000 for the player and the fee could rise to as much as £2m depending on how he develops and the number of performances he makes.

The Mirror reports that the teenager will also get a £300,000 contract when he turns 17 - which may have influenced his decision.

The initial fee is less than some others had offered, City were reportedly prepared to pay £1m and offered players as well and QPR's local rivals Fulham thought their £1.5m offer would secure the signing.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #31 on: March 01, 2010, 11:56:44 AM »
http://hammyend.com/?p=5746


What we learned from the Premier League this weekend

by Dan on March 1, 2010

1. High drama at Stamford Bridge even before the kick off. Wayne Bridge was never going to shake John Terry’s hand, but more revealing was Craig Bellamy’s reaction as he walked past the adulterer. Just in case anyone hadn’t heard him, the Welshman reinforced the point during his post-match interview. The football showed that Terry’s come very close to being a liability at the heart of the Chelsea defence. Only days after being embarassed by Diego Milito at the San Siro, the deposed England captain looked all at sea against Carlos Tevez, committing another error to allow the Argentine a run on goal. Amongst all the Bridge/Terry hype, there’s been little focus on Tevez, who delivered a superb display only hours after returning from his homeland to attend to his premature daughter. Quite astounding.

2. You could understand Arsene Wenger and Arsenal’s outrage on Saturday night. Immediately after the game is obviously a difficult time to calmly rationalise what had just happened at the Britannia Stadium and Arsenal have lost three players to serious injuries from terrible tackles over the last few years. But nobody should castigate Ryan Shawcross. There’s plenty of people who describe Stoke’s style as an affront to the Premier League, but they are after all only upholding the traditions of the English games. It was a mistimed rather than malicious challenge from a distraught defender, whose tears won’t have been quelled by news of his England call-up. One can only hope Aaron Ramsey, a seriously bright prospect, recovers fully.

3. The Welsh midfielder won’t play any part in the title run-in but in this topsy-turvy season you suspect Arsenal just might. They showed real character to get a result at Stoke after all that had happened and close to within three points of Chelsea. They have the easiest closing schedule of any of their title rivals and this would the ideal way for Wenger to deliver a riposte to all those pundits who have been barracking him for not winning a trophy since 2005. Given the mesmorising quality of Arsenal’s football, they have the ability to go one of those league unbeaten runs that could make the title race very interesting indeed.

4. Portsmouth’s suffering supporters deserved some cheer and, on Saturday at Burnley, they got it. Pompey’s players might just revel in the absurdity of their situation and they produced a remarkably professional performance in light of what’s been going on around them to record an excellent win. One of the Pompey fans I spoke to on Saturday night talked of how highly they regard Avram Grant, who sometimes comes over as aloof. There was nothing detached about his joy at the final whistle.

5. Spurs are buzzing around that fourth place with intent. They dominated the first half at White Hart Lane yesterday – and – worryingly given our FA Cup date with them next week – look irresistable going forward. Little Luka Modric will be a real problem come Saturday and he scored a delightful second goal that seemed to put the game beyond Everton. That reckoned without the fighting qualities of David Moyes’ side and were it not for a truly stupifying miss from Landon Donovan then the visitors would have walked away with a point. Forcing Tottenham onto the defensive will be key at the weekend.


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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #32 on: March 01, 2010, 12:03:19 PM »
http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/football/danny-murphy/article/3799/

Zamora worth an England call-up

Thu Feb 25 01:01PM 

 I do believe that Bobby Zamora is a genuine contender for an England World Cup place, but it depends on what the manager is looking for.
If he is looking for someone who is strong, can hold the ball up, can get in behind the back four and has the ability to finish then Bobby certainly fits that mould, but it would be a bold decision given his lack of international involvement to date.

I rate Bobby very highly, and he has been our best player to date this season. He could certainly cope on the international stage and I am sure he will continue to produce the goods, which will give him the best opportunity possible.

He has responded fantastically well to the negative criticism he received from a minority of Fulham fans, but their general opinion of him and vice versa is certainly very positive given his form this season. It shows the strength of Bobby's character that he has used the negativity to motivate him and produce some outstanding performances.

Fabio Capello was at Craven Cottage on Sunday but I don't think it affects the players knowing he is there. You have to be level-headed, and, as I mentioned, focus on what you can control which is what happens on the pitch. Ironically he missed Zamora's late winner, his 15th goal of the season.

I don't think that managers do undervalue experience in a side. The important thing is that you have a good blend of both experience and youth, which ideally should complement one another. At Fulham, we have built a team that is certainly competitive and it just happens that there are a number of very experienced players within our line-up.

From a long-term perspective, it is important to develop and nurture youth, but the experienced core within our side has certainly been pivotal to our success so far this season. Despite being so experienced, we certainly don't lack athleticism with the likes of Simon Davies and Damien Duff being tremendously fit.

It is a massive game for us away at Shakhtar in the Europa League, and one of the biggest in the club's history. The great thing about the game is that we are certainly underdogs, so we can go there with a real belief that we can claim a major scalp. The fans have been absolutely fantastic this season, and we really believe that they deserve this win, so we can't wait for the opportunity.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #33 on: March 01, 2010, 12:05:19 PM »
http://www.tribalfootball.com/fulham-face-west-ham-pressure-over-zamora-contract-675201


Fulham face West Ham pressure over Zamora contract

02.03.10 | tribalfootball.com


Fulham are desperate to open new contract talks with Bobby Zamora.

The People says the red-hot striker has just 16 months to run on his current deal.

West Ham's new owners David Sullivan and David Gold have let it be known that they wish to tempt Zamora back to Upton Park in the summer. Several other clubs have been monitoring the player's outstanding form as he spearheads Fulham's progress in the Premier League, FA Cup and in Europe.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson was ready to sell Zamora to Hull last summer - only for the striker to reject the move after a fee was agreed.

But now the Craven Cottage club will pull out all the stops to tie Zamora to a longer deal with improved terms.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #34 on: March 01, 2010, 12:39:26 PM »
http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/sport/football/5033977.Hodgson_hopes_magic_continues/


Hodgson hopes magic continues



11:00am Monday 1st March 2010

By Simon Fitzjohn »


Roy Hodgson is hoping for a March to remember as Fulham continue their unexpected progress on three fronts.

An unbeaten run of eight games through the month of February has left the Cottagers facing a mouth-watering FA Cup Quarter-Final against Tottenham and an Europa League clash with Juventus.

And Hodgson insists there will be no inferiority complex from the Londoners.

He said: “The brilliant thing is that we have a chance.

“At this stage of the season a lot of teams are left watching these competitions on the television but we are still in there kicking.

“We are competing and the team is performing extremely well.

“We are also hopeful that one or two players should be back in the near future and that will make our squad even stronger.

“So, after the month we had we should look forward with confidence.”

Fulham returned from their heroics in Ukraine to earn a battling point in a 0-0 draw at Sunderland on Sunday.

And the Fulham boss heaped praise on his side for their display.

Hodgson added: “I was a bit concerned that after our flight back on Friday we were heading to this game but the players responded magnificently.

“Sunderland are difficult to play at home and I thought we were well worth a point.

“I did worry whether some of the players would be up to the task but they all put their hands up saying they wanted to play.

“It has always been my belief that it is better to let people play if they want to.

“We were watching them very closely and if they showed any signs of flagging we would take them off, like we did with Danny Murphy.

“But everyone is really giving for the cause and I cannot say enough how proud of them I am.”

Fulham’s next three matches: Mar 6 Tottenham (FAC, h), 11 Juventus (EL, a), 14 Manchester United (a )


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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #35 on: March 01, 2010, 12:40:41 PM »
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/leagues/premierleague/sunderland/7344012/Sunderland-fans-urged-to-get-behind-team-despite-threat-of-relegation.html


Sunderland fans urged to get behind team despite threat of relegation


Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn launched a charm offensive today as he issued a rallying call to the club’s supporters with the threat of relegation looming over the Stadium of Light.
 
By Rob Stewart

Published: 10:14AM GMT 01 Mar 2010

 On the slide: Steve Bruce's Sunderland have gone 100 days without a win in the Premier League Photo: PA
Quinn urged Wearsiders to continue backing the club which has now gone exactly 100 days since its last Premier League victory as Sunderland announced details of a package of incentives for next term's season tickets as the prospect of a return to the Championship grows.

The popular Irishman made the plea for supporters to remain faithful following the 0-0 draw with Fulham that left his club hovering just three points above the relegation zone that extended Sunderland’s sequence of games without a win to 14.

Quinn said: “Home form is vital in ensuring the success of our football club and this season we’ve had the backing of almost 30,000 season card holders which is something that has given me a huge sense of pride.

“Our attendances are already among some of the highest in the top flight but it’s my goal to see this stadium full to the rafters for every game.

“We’re making progress and that is in no small part is down to our supporters. I’m looking forward to 2010-11 and the sharing the next part of the journey with them.”

Quinn looked anxious when television cameras focused on him at the end of the Fulham game but today it was business as usual as he appealed for supporters to pledge their loyalty to the club he runs for Irish-American owner Ellis Short.

Despite the investments of tens of millions of pounds by Short the club’s future is now looking uncertain thanks to manager Steve Bruce’s inability to inspire his team to victory so Quinn will know that he is asking fans to take a leap of faith over season-tickets.

The former Republic of Ireland international added: “I believe we’ve achieved a good balance with our prices between keeping football affordable and bringing in the revenue we need to help us continue to progress and improve on and off the field and I hope this will encourage even more fans to join us for the 2010-11 season.

“We’ve continued our ethos of welcoming families and young supporters with a realistic pricing structure.

“For an under 16 to be able to attend a game for less than £3 represents fantastic value for money and is something that I’m sure will help us to welcome the next generation of Sunderland supporters to the Stadium of Light.”

The club have created an incentive for Sunderland supporters to part with their hard-earned cash with those who commit to renew an existing seat or to purchase a new season card by April 3 can secure a whole season of football at the Stadium of Light at 2007-08 prices.

The initiative means seats for under 16s will be available from only £49 - less than £3 a game. Adult seats will be priced from £380 and reduced prices are also available for over 65s and under 22s, starting at £265.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #36 on: March 01, 2010, 12:41:37 PM »
Stockdale made a 'once-in-career error'

Monday, March 01, 2010, 07:00


2 readers have commented on this story.


ARGYLE goalkeeper David Stockdale made what head coach Paul Mariner described as a 'once in a career error' in the game against Sheffield United.

And, ultimately, it proved very costly for the Pilgrims as they lost out in a seven-goal thriller at Bramall Lane.

Argyle had rallied from a three-goal deficit to 3-2 when Stockdale made his blunder in the 82nd minute.

The on-loan Fulham 'keeper dived on top of the ball after United striker Richard Cresswell had raced into the penalty area.

Cresswell was still behind Stockdale when he got up, moved forward a couple of yards and bounced the ball once.

 
Then the Argyle 'keeper tossed the ball onto the ground and prepared to make a clearance.

However, before he could do that, Cresswell had pounced. He darted past Stockdale and rolled the ball into the empty net.

It must have been one of the easiest – if not the easiest – goals of his career.

Mariner said: "It's probably a once-in-career error. I could see he (Stockdale) was going to do it. I think everybody in the stadium could see he was going to do it, and he did it."

Mariner revealed Stockdale had apologised to his team-mates in the dressing room after the game.

"He feels as though he could shoot himself, but he's a young goalkeeper and he's learning his trade," said Mariner.

"I would think that (Fulham goalkeeping coach) Mike Kelly has told him a million times, when you get the ball and you are going to roll it out, have a little check behind you to see who is there.

"On that occasion, because of all sorts of things that are going on, he didn't do it."

Former Argyle goalkeeper Kevin Blackwell, now the boss of Sheffield United, had sympathy for Stockdale.

Blackwell was relieved he had not made a similar error during his career.

He said: "Cressy saw something that nobody else saw. He bided his time, and young Stockdale (pictured right) , to be fair, is learning his trade.

"Unfortunately, it has cost Plymouth today. If you take young players on loan, you pick up their learning curve.

"From now on, for the rest of his career, he will always look over his right shoulder, and if he's on the other side of the pitch he will look over his left."

Blackwell believes Stockdale's mistake, which was highlighted on the BBC's Football League Show, will be heeded by 'keepers across the country.

He said: "You watch them now, a lot of 'keepers will have the ball in their hands and they will be scanning all around them.

"It has been a long time since something like that has happened, and I think it's a good warning now for everybody else.

"You have got to give Cressy credit. He waited and waited. Unfortunately, the kid, at some point, just didn't see him.

"I'm thankful he didn't," added Blackwell, whose side moved up to seventh in the Championship table after beating Argyle.



Read more: http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/sport/Stockdale-career-error/article-1872372-detail/article.html#ixzz0gvc51hwu

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #37 on: March 01, 2010, 12:44:08 PM »
http://hammyend.com/?p=5744

Monday morning musings


by Dan on March 1, 2010

Roy Hodgson described yesterday’s point at Sunderland as ‘a good zero zero’ on MOTD2 last night, which proves that there’s something Italian about him. This was almost your archetypal Serie A performance, which proves why British TV companies have stopped queuing up to screen Italian football of late. Fulham were all the things you expect away from home now. Organised, disciplined, determined and tough to break down, which is quite some turnaround from the shambles Hodgson inherited.

We still can’t seem to win away from home now. It’s something that holds back our bid to gain a permanent place in the top ten rather than temporarily joining English football’s elite and being commended for ‘overachieving’ rather than being recognised as an established top flight side after nine years. Just the opening day win at Portsmouth, which at least got the awayday monkey off our backs early, and – apart from a couple of promising counter-attacks, we didn’t look like scoring at Sunderland.

No matter. We normally concede up there, especially to Kenwyne Jones, but Fulham managed to successfully nullify the threat that both he and Darren Bent, no longer as lethal in front of goal as he seemed to be at the start of the season, posed. It was only when the clever Bolo Zenden appeared in the second half that Sunderland threatened to get in behind us, but Fulham were stoical in the face of a late home onslaught.

Having criticised Dickson Etuhu for not being at the level we had come to expect from him since he returned to the team from the African Nations Cup, I’ve got to commend his performance yesterday. He broke up the play diligently and ferried the ball onto his fellow midfielders eagerly. You sense that Sunderland away was just the game that Etuhu was bought for, particularly with two tenacious tacklers in Cattermole and Cana starting in central midfield for the Black Cats. The importance of Etuhu’s contribution can be seen from just how deep he played most of his passes – sitting in front of the Fulham defence, guarding them and finding a team-mate:



by Guardian Chalkboards

Fulham didn’t exactly create much going forward, which may have been a cause for concern for some, but not to Roy. He’ll have known that, after a tough trip to Donetsk and with some weary legs in his side, the first priority was stopping Sunderland. There was some bright link-up play between Gera and Zamora and we looked most dangerous when Simon Davies ventured infield. He played two delicious lofted through balls, one which landed on Zamora’s head, and the other that just eluded the striker. If Davies is returning to the sort of form that punctuated our Great Escape season, that can only be good news for Fulham:



by Guardian Chalkboards

Quite that chalkboard has Nicky Shorey and not Brian McBride scoring our opening at Reading is unclear.


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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #38 on: March 01, 2010, 12:46:40 PM »
http://www.journallive.co.uk/safc/safc-match-reports/2010/03/01/sunderland-0-fulham-0-61634-25934132/

Sunderland 0 Fulham 0


Mar 1 2010

by Luke Edwards, The Journal


AT the start of this embarrassing run Sunderland were seen as a good team playing badly, now they just look like a poor team playing terribly.

Perceptions shift with results and Steve Bruce will continue to argue they are just one good result away from rediscovering the confidence which will unlock their dormant potential. His problems, though, are mounting and his critics grow in number and noise with every game they fail to end a winless run which stretches back to the end of November.

In 21 games, Bruce has guided the Black Cats to just two wins, the second of which came at home to non-League Barrow in the FA Cup. With just Andy Reid missing, he no longer has the excuse of injuries and suspensions to fall back on.

There was very little to endear Sunderland to anyone in a woeful first half yesterday, and even their most ardent supporters must be fearful of what horrors await them without a sudden and dramatic improvement in the quality of their performances.

The one overwhelming positive from an otherwise most depressing afternoon was they did not lose, the draw ensuring they remain three points clear of the relegation places.

If there was one other plus point in a depressingly negative display, it was the defence, a back four which at least managed to defend well, albeit against opposition who lacked the ambition to push the numbers forward having only arrived home from a European game in Russia against Shaktar Donetsk in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Considering Fulham have won just once away from Craven Cottage in the league this season this is not quite as complimentary as it should be, but at least it suggests Sunderland are hard to beat even when they have forgotten how to win.

The message emanating from the Sunderland ranks the last few weeks is that it is unrealistic to expect a club fighting for its lives in the Premier League one season to qualify for Europe the next.

It is, but that does not mean it cannot be done. Fulham just about escaped from relegation two years ago under Roy Hodgson and qualified for the Europa League in his first full season in charge.

Pointedly, he also spent considerably less money than Bruce has, although it could also be argued the Cottagers were already an established top flight club after almost a decade in the division.

And then there is Birmingham City to further dent an otherwise sensible argument.

The Championship runners up last season are flying in the top flight and while they may be newly enriched by Carson Yeung’s investment, they did not have that money to spend in the summer, but are still comfortably out-performing the Black Cats.

If expectations are too high on Wearside, as Bruce has suggested, it is teams like Fulham who help raise them.

Sunderland’s average crowd is double Fulham’s and there would be a similar disparity in the money spent on new players since the Black Cats returned to the Premier League. Money times fan base does not equal success, but that does not prevent people from calculating that it does and if this created the pressure on Sunderland’s manager and players in the first place, they have done nothing to relieve it in 2010.

At the moment, Sunderland look like a team without guile, imagination and flair. They are crying out for a creative spark in midfield, having to rely on little more than effort and commitment, qualities that were unable to prevent Fulham knocking the ball around Lorik Cana and Lee Cattermole with assured ease.

A lack of a consistent supply line reduces Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones to foragers, searching for tiny scraps on a rubbish tip. They are a potentially potent pairing, but they were almost completely impotent against Fulham, with Brede Hangeland and the former Newcastle defender Aaron Hughes dominant.

Neither side had a clear-cut chance in the first period, Jones blasting a rising shot over the bar from the edge of the area after Bobby Zamora had headed Fulham’s best opening wide as he ran on to Simon Davies’ lofted pass.

Mark Schwarzer did need to make a save from a Bent free-kick, but it was a regulation one and things did not get any better after the break in a contest which went from the dull to the tedious.

There were more groans around the Stadium of Light in the second half than the staff room at 10 Downing Street when Gordon Brown’s aides discover the Prime Minister is at home and in a bad mood.

Time and time again, the ball went backwards when it could have gone forwards, before being punted aimlessly in the direction of Jones and Bent by a clueless defender.

Bruce screamed his irritation every time, but the lack of confidence played havoc with his players’ decision making as the closest they came to a chance fell to full-back Alan Hutton, who cut inside before shooting straight at former Middlesbrough keeper Schwarzer.

At least there was something approaching a late rally, with Bolo Zenden – on for the hugely disappointing Cattermole – rolling a shot into the side netting from an impossible angle before firing a low ball across the face of goal, which missed everyone until Hutton arrived at the far post and slide a shot wide.

And, with three minutes remaining, the otherwise anonymous Fraizer Campbell may have snatched the victory Sunderland are so desperate for, but he lifted his shot from 12 yards high over the bar.

We expect better, but he is not the only one we can say that about.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.03.10)
« Reply #39 on: March 01, 2010, 12:48:07 PM »
http://www.sunderlandecho.com/safc/Bore-draw-against-Fulham-went.6112808.jp

Bore draw against Fulham went to form


Date: 01 March 2010


Yesterday's goalless draw at the Stadium of Light means that there have been just two goals in the last four meetings of Sunderland and Fulham.

The Londoners won 1-0 at Craven Cottage in December, with Bobby Zamora on target, while last season it was 0-0 in London and 1-0 to Sunderland in the return, when Kenwyne Jones struck the home winner.

The draw denied Fulham only a third league double over Sunderland – their successes coming in 1958/59 and 2002/03. Sunderland have recorded doubles over the Cottagers five times – in 1949/50, 1973/74, 1979/80, 1985/86 and 1987/88.

Fulham secured their ninth away 0-0 draw of the last two seasons yesterday.