Author Topic: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)  (Read 11747 times)

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #40 on: March 20, 2010, 07:11:45 AM »
A Dream Come True

Friday 19th March 2010

Fulham FC News

Brede Hangeland celebrated his 100th appearance for Fulham in style on Thursday evening as the Whites defeated Juventus 4-1 and the Norwegian defender's pride in victory was palpable after a sensational night of European football at the Cottage.

I didn’t know that was my 100th appearance!” said Hangeland after the match. “Well, it was a great way to celebrate it - the perfect, perfect way!

“To reach the Quarter-Final of a European competition is a dream come true for me – we’ve come really far and no one can take this away from us no matter what happens. It’s great to be a Fulham player.

“It’s probably the best feeling I’ve had as a Fulham player together with the final day of the 2007/08 season at Fratton Park - it was unbelievable and one for the record books.

“It seems like a long time ago but it’s just over two years since I joined and to think how far we’ve come to be able to beat a top European side 4-1 at the Cottage – it’s something we’re all really proud to be part of.”

Despite an early setback on Thursday evening when David Trezeguet fired Juventus ahead, Hangeland and company kept the faith and the defender praised the effort and desire of his Team to keep the Club’s European dream alive.

“I felt that even when it was 11 against 11 we dominated them," said Hangeland. “When we went 2-1 up I knew it was possible. The way we managed to do it in the end - it couldn’t have gone any better.

“Roy told us at half time to keep playing and don’t rush it because if we rushed forward like headless chickens they could nick one back and it would have been more or less over. It was important for us to keep playing the same way and we managed to do that.

“It’s hard playing like that for 90 minutes but I thought we did really well. Because of the way we played we got really tight to them up front and in midfield so they didn’t manage to get behind us which made it a lot easier defensively.

“We worked extremely hard and got our reward in the end and it’s unbelievable to be part of. I think everyone was really tired at the end but when you see the other 10 guys working their socks off you just want to do the same.

“The crowd really got behind us. I thought the atmosphere was first class and for everyone associated with Fulham it was a great night.”

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #41 on: March 20, 2010, 07:13:47 AM »

Fulham    v    Man City

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Sunday, 21 March 2010

Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Fulham v  Man City 15:00

Fulham 50% Man City 50% Attempts on target
Fulham 0 Man City 0 Attempts off target
Fulham 0 Man City 0 Corners
Fulham 0 Man City 0 Fouls
Fulham 0 Man City 0 Barclays Premier League
Venue: Craven Cottage Date: Sunday, 21 March 2010 Kick-off: 1500 GMT
Coverage: BBC Sport website, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Manchester & highlights on Match of the Day 2

Fulham welcome back Jonathan Greening and Danny Murphy, who were both suspended against Juventus in midweek.

Andrew Johnson and John Pantsil are out with knee injuries, while Dickson Etuhu and David Elm are both doubtful.

Javier Garrido is expected to start for Manchester City in place of injured left-back Wayne Bridge.

Striker Emmanuel Adebayor remains suspended, accompanying knee victims Martin Petrov and Michael Johnson on the sidelines.



Doubtful: Elm (illness), Etuhu (unspecified)

Injured: A Johnson & Pantsil (both knee)

Man City

Suspended: Adebayor (two matches)

Injured: Bridge (hernia), M Johnson & Petrov (both knee)

Neither Roy Hodgson nor Roberto Mancini claim to be The Special One, but both men are former managers of Chelsea's Champions League conquerors Inter Milan. Just like current incumbent Jose Mourinho, Hodgson and Mancini have their eyes on respective end-of-season rewards.

 We want to finish fourth as badly as anyone, but I think we've shown we can battle as well as play good football

Patrick Vieira, Man City midfielder
It is hard to believe that just 17 months ago, Mancini was being linked to the Fulham hot-seat after Hodgson's side accrued only seven points out of a possible 21 at the start of the 2008/09 campaign.

Hodgson's legacy at the club will now go down as one of the greatest in Fulham's history. Their stunning 4-1 win over Juventus in the Europa League on Thursday night will live with fans forever. Fulham can also look forward to an FA Cup quarter-final replay against Spurs next week.

Just hours before David Beckham's World Cup dream ended last Sunday, Manchester City's Adam Johnson showed a glimpse of his England potential with a fabulous stoppage-time leveller at Sunderland.

The 22-year-old was certainly City's super-sub at the Stadium of Light, a role earmarked for Beckham in South Africa. He also demonstrated a knack for curling the ball home from distance to secure a valuable last-gasp draw. Now, where have we seen that before?


• Fulham are without a home win against Man City since November 2005, when a Steed Malbranque double helped them to a 2-1 win at Craven Cottage.

• Seven of the last 13 Premier League fixtures have ended in draws.

• Both teams have scored in each of the last 11 Premier League fixtures between the clubs.

• The two managers have clashed once before - Mancini's Fiorentina won 2-1 at Hodgson's Udinese in Serie A in October 2001.

 606: DEBATE
Is victory at Craven Cottage a must for Champions League-chasing City? 

• Roy Hodgson's side have a fine recent record at Craven Cottage, winning each of their last three Premier League home games.

• Fulham have scored only two first-half goals in their last 10 Premier League games.

• If selected, Dickson Etuhu will be facing the club where he started his career.

Man City

• City have won only four of 15 away league games this season. However, just three of their nine remaining fixtures after this one will be away from Eastlands.

• Manchester City have drawn 11 Premier League games. Only Stoke (12) have drawn more.

• No club has lost fewer league games than Manchester City this term. The Eastlands club have been beaten just four times.



Zamora: 16 goals (8 league); Gera: 9 goals (2 league)

Man City

Tevez: 21 goals (15 league); Adebayor: 9 goals (9 league);
Bellamy 9 goals (8 league)

Referee: Lee Probert

Assistant referees: Andy Newbold & Nick Kinseley

Fourth official: Darren Deadman

Fulham (L0-3 v Man Utd, a): Schwarzer; Kelly, Hangeland (Greening 62), Hughes, Shorey, Davies (Duff 46), Murphy, Baird, Dempsey (Nevland 72), Gera, Zamora. Subs not used: Zuberbuhler, Okaka, Stoor, Dikgacoi.

Man City (D1-1 v Sunderland, a): Given; Richards (Vieira 64), Kompany, Lescott, Bridge (Santa Cruz 32), Wright-Phillips (A Johnson 72), Zabaleta, De Jong, Barry, Bellamy, Tevez. Subs not used: Taylor, Ireland, Sylvinho, Toure.


Man City 2-2 Fulham (25 October 2009)

Man City scorers: Lescott 53, Petrov 60

Fulham scorers: Duff 62, Dempsey 68

White Noise

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #42 on: March 20, 2010, 07:18:44 AM »

20th March 2010

By David Woods

FABIO CAPELLO has been told he cannot ignore the damage Bobby Zamora has ­inflicted on teams across Europe.

The Fulham star has jumped into England contention with the best run of form of his career.

And Capello was on hand at Craven Cottage on Thursday night as Zamora, 28, ran ­Juventus ragged.

He scored in the 4-1 victory – which earned a 5-4 aggregate win – and was so dominant against World Cup winner Fabio ­Cannavaro that the frustrated centre-back was sent off in the 27th minute for hauling down Zoltan Gera as he burst through on to Zamora’s pass.

The reward for Roy Hodgson’s men is a mouth-watering Europa League quarter-final tie with German champions Wolfsburg.

Team-mate Gera has hailed former Spurs and West Ham star Zamora as one of the best forwards England have to offer.

He said: “Bobby has done very well this season and I think Mr Capello is clever enough to see who are the best strikers in ­England.

“So I don’t need to say he’s good enough or not. ­England have a lot of good strikers and Bobby is one of them.

“He’s playing fantastic this ­season.

‘‘He was great last season, but the difference is he’s scored more goals this time.”

And Zamora, who has already booked a holiday in Las Vegas this summer when the World Cup is on, will be watched by SDHpCapello’s assistant Franco ­Baldini when Manchester City visit Craven Cottage tomorrow.

Meanwhile, defender Brede Hangeland said Fulham’s ­amazing win on Thursday was the perfect way to celebrate his 100th appearance for the club.

He said: “To reach the quarter-final of a European competition is a dream come true for me.

“We’ve come really far and no-one can take this away from us no matter what happens. It’s great to be a Fulham player.

“It seems like a long time ago, but it’s just over two years since I joined and to think how far we’ve come to be able to beat a top ­European side 4-1 at the ­Cottage ... it’s something we’re all really proud of.”

But Gera insisted there was little chance to revel in a victory which has been described as the best in the club’s ­history.

He said: “We don’t have too much time to celebrate because we play ­another important game on Sunday, then there’s Spurs in the FA Cup on Wednesday.”

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #43 on: March 20, 2010, 07:21:35 AM »

Zoltan Gera ready to repel Wolfsburg at Fulham's fortress

• Compact Craven Cottage gives Fulham the edge in Europe

• Hodgson relishes quarter-final meeting of 'two similar clubs'

David Hytner,

Saturday 20 March 2010 00.11 GMT

Fulham's Zoltan Gera, left, celebrates with Bobby Zamora after scoring Fulham's third goal against Juventus. Photograph: Joe Giddens/Empics

Zoltan Gera believes Fulham have created a fortress at Craven Cottage and it can give them the edge in their attempt to make further inroads in the Europa League.

Everyone connected with the club remained on a high after Thursday's 4-1 home win over Juventus, which secured a 5-4 aggregate last-16 triumph, not least Gera, who scored twice in the fightback that has been hailed as the club's finest of all time.

Roy Hodgson, the manager, is keen for the players to remain grounded, before tomorrow's Premier League home game against Manchester City, yet the excitement of Europe continues to bubble. Fulham's reward for their dismissal of Juventus, which followed that of the holders Shakhtar Donetsk in the previous round, is a quarter-final against the German champions, Wolfsburg.

"It was an unbelievable night," said Gera, who missed the post-match celebrations in the dressing room because he had been selected for doping control. "I think Juventus were a little bit unsettled andput off by the ground. Craven Cottage is not a big stadium. The fans are very close to the pitch, so much closer than you see elsewhere, especially at Italian stadiums.

"The atmosphere was great, too. So I think it is a good thing for us to have a ground like this and it can help us. I think it was maybe the best game ever played at Craven Cottage. For the players, the fans and for everybody involved with the club." Fulham have claimed some notable scalps at home this season, including Manchester United and Liverpool, but the victory over Juventus, particularly as they had fallen 1-0 behind on the night, topped the lot. "There's just something about playing at the Cottage," said Clint Dempsey, who scored the winning goal with a breathtaking chip. "You always want to do special things in your career and I think we are on another step to something very memorable. It would be nice to think that our European adventure can keep on track for a while yet."

Wolfsburg represent testing opposition. "They had a fantastic season last year," said Hodgson, "and [Edin] Dzeko and Grafite cleaned up in the Bundesliga; they scored about 50 goals between them. This year things haven't gone quite so well. I think this is a meeting of two similar clubs."

Europa Cup quarter-final: Fulham v Wolfsburg; Hamburg v Standard Liège; Valencia v Atletico Madrid; Benfica v Liverpool. The first legs will be played on 1 April, second legs on 8 April.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #44 on: March 20, 2010, 07:24:12 AM »


Roberto Mancini was impressed by Fulham

Saturday March 20,2010

By Richard Tanner 

ROBERTO Mancini is hoping Fulham suffer a hangover after their epic Europa League win over Juventus.

Manchester City boss Mancini was a spectator at Craven Cottage and left full of admiration for the way Roy Hodgson’s team turned a 4-1 deficit into a stunning 5-4 aggregate victory.

But he hopes the physical and emotional strain of the game – and the fact they have an FA Cup replay against Tottenham next Wednesday – will lead to a dip tomorrow when City go to Craven Cottage.

Mancini said: “When it was 3-1 to Fulham, I was praying for extra-time. It didn’t happen but they still had to put a lot of effort into the game.

“They have only two days to recover before meeting us, so I hope they will be tired. They also have a big FA Cup replay next week, so maybe they will change some players.

“But it will still be a difficult game for us. They will still have a strong team and I’m sure their approach won’t change.

“They played well against Juventus and I was very impressed with them.”

Mancini says Thursday’s win will have enhanced Hodgson’s reputation in Italy, where he spent two years in charge of Inter in the mid-Nineties.

“I know Roy from Italy,” he added. “He’s a good person, a good manager. He has done very well at Fulham and he has a lot of respect in Italy.

“We need to win because we lost two points at Sunderland. We need to play like we did in the second half when we had seven or eight chances.”

Mancini dismissed reports that he could become the next manager of Italy if Marcello Lippi steps down after the World Cup finals.

   SEARCH FOOTBALL for:     

Mancini and Fiorentina’s Cesare Prandelli are favourites for the job but Mancini said: “Not now. Maybe in 10 years. Prandelli would be a good choice. I want to stay with City.”

Emmanuel Adebayor is still banned and Wayne Bridge (hernia) and Martin Petrov (knee) are both injured.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #45 on: March 20, 2010, 07:28:58 AM »

Fulham 4-1 Old Lady

By: timmyg | March 19th, 2010
I think I’ve sobered up. Fulham rallied to put four past Juventus and will play Bundesliga Champions Wolfsburg in a few weeks.

Wait, no. That still doesn’t read right.

One nugget of information I’ve noticed little mention of is the absence of Juventus defender Nicola Legrottaglie. Last week he manhandled Bobby Zamora. Thankfully for us he was suspended last night and Bobby managed to have a field day — even before Fabio Cannavaro was sent off. How Capello doesn’t pick him for a friendly is no longer funny.

Juventus fans may feel hard done, but the Dutchman Bjorn Kuipers refereed the game very technically. The sending off did impact the course of the game, but, technically, it was the right call. There were also many other muggings inside the box that were not called — even Phil Schoen and Ray Hudson took notice and voiced their disgust — that we could exchange and still have a similar result.

Was there one Fulham player that put in a poor or even mediocre performance last night? Everyone clicked. Roy finally let the boys off the leash and they devoured all second chances. Even after going down 1-0 within 90 seconds I still had a feeling we might be able to at least force extra time because there was just so much drive and energy. It made me wonder why Roy doesn’t go for (or allow?) this attacking strategy more often (particularly on the road).

There’s hope yet for Wednesday. To think, on March 19, we’re a step away from Wembley and still in Europe.

White Noise

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #46 on: March 20, 2010, 07:30:43 AM »,16368,1775_6037960,00.html

Kostner keen on Wolves' chances

Wolfsburg coach Lorenz-Gunther Kostner has welcomed his side's draw against Fulham in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
However, he is aware the German champions are coming up against a proven force in the competition this season.

The Wolves travel to Craven Cottage on April 1 before hosting the Premier League club at the VW-Arena a week later with a potential all-German semi-final against Hamburg on the cards.

But for that to become reality, Kostner knows his side, who pushed Manchester United close on two occasions in the Champions League earlier this season, will have to be on their toes.

"This is a good draw," he said. "We will do all we can to reach the next round.

"English football could suit us. But of course we are warned - Fulham have beaten Basle and Juventus already.

"Therefore, we are going to have to put in a top performance."

The club's managing director Dieter Hoeness, who was present at the draw in Nyon on Friday, cannot wait for the trip to England on April Fools' Day.

"It is always fantastic to play in English stadia," he said on his club's website.

"I am really looking forward to our visit to Craven Cottage.

"Maybe it could be a small advantage for us to play the return leg in the VW-Arena. That has proven to be lucky for us against Villarreal and Rubin Kazan."

But he too has warned about the threat of the Cottagers.

"They have not only beaten teams like Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk, but they have beaten Manchester United 3-0 already too," he added.

"Fulham have some really strong players like Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff."

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #47 on: March 20, 2010, 07:40:36 AM »,sport,football,acclaim-at-last-for-fulham-football-gentleman-roy-hodgson-juventus-thrash

Acclaim at last for football gentleman Roy Hodgson

After a nomadic career Fulham’s multi-lingual manager is finally getting the respect he deserves

By Jonathan Harwood

LAST UPDATED 1:54 PM, MARCH 19, 2010

After 34 years as a coach and manager in eight countries, football's gentleman Roy Hodgson is finally the toast of the English game after masterminding one of the most incredible comebacks in the history of European football on Thursday night.

His Fulham side's victory over the Italian giants Juventus could count as one of the great upsets in football history - yet it chimes perfectly with Hodgson's career, which has seen the affable 62-year-old repeatedly turn around the fortunes of unfashionable clubs and make them a force to be reckoned with.

Hodgson's men lost the first leg of their Europa League cup tie in Italy 3-1, and then fell behind after three minutes of the return leg in London. But they recovered to win 4-1 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate to send the tournament favourites out of the competition.

The Fulham boss has now been installed as favourite to take over from Fabio Capello if he steps down from the England job, and is being lauded to the rafters by the press.

But despite the sensational scenes at Craven Cottage, Hodgson only allowed himself a brief smile before he began reminding all and sundry that there was another game to look forward to on Sunday. He is too long in the tooth to be carried away on the wave of euphoria washing over the rest of Fulham.

Hodgson is not cut from the same cloth as most modern managers: he rarely questions refereeing decisions, does not lose his temper with interviewers and is never seen ranting and raving in the dugout. Even more unusually for an English football manager he is multilingual, thanks to his nomadic career. He speaks fluent  Norwegian, Swedish and Italian as well as some German, Danish and Finnish. Not bad for a boy from Croydon.

After an undistinguished playing career with Crystal Palace and various non-league clubs, Hodgson began his managerial career in Sweden in 1976. That was the same year that Brian Clough was taking Nottingham Forest into the top tier of English football, and Sir Alex Ferguson was cutting his managerial teeth at St Mirren.

In his first season in charge of unfancied Halmstad, who were seen as certainties to be relegated, Hodgson guided them to the league championship. The achievement is still regarded as one of the greatest-ever shocks in Swedish football. But just to prove it was no fluke he repeated the feat in 1979. He was even dubbed "the nicest man in the world" by his fans.

Later he won five successive Swedish championships with Malmo before taking the Swiss national side to the 1994 World Cup, the first time they had appeared in the tournament for 30 years. After qualifying them for Euro 1996 he took over at Inter Milan in Italy.

In 1997 he moved to Blackburn Rovers. It was his second crack at management in his homeland after an undistinguished spell in charge of Bristol City in the early 1980s. Once again he failed and was sacked after a disastrous start to his second season. The press crucified him and it destroyed his reputation in England - he was overlooked for the England manager's job in 2000.

Those on the continent knew better, and he had spells in Denmark, Italy and Norway and as the national coach of the United Arab Emirates and Finland before returning to England for a third attempt in 2007. This time he took over a Fulham side who most people believed were already relegated. But Hodgson somehow kept them in the Premier League and subsequently guided them into Europe, and to last night's improbable victory.

But although Hodgson admitted that, as a former Inter Milan boss, he had enjoyed getting one over on Juventus, he is unlikely to rest on his laurels.

As he told the BBC in 2001: "The thing I'm most proud of is that I still enjoy getting up every morning and working with a group of players and feeling that I can do a good job. That is a better testament to my career and any qualities I may have, than any individual Championship." 

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #48 on: March 20, 2010, 07:43:08 AM »

Humbling of Juve highlights Hodgson calibre

Reuters - Yesterday, 12:55

LONDON - In a 30-year coaching career that has taken him to Inter Milan and the Swiss national side, Roy Hodgson thought he had pretty much seen it all until Fulham's extraordinary comeback against Juventus on Thursday.

Seemingly dead and buried after losing the first leg 3-1 in Turin and going 1-0 down in the opening minutes at Craven Cottage, Hodgson's Fulham stunned the two-time European champions with a 4-1 win that propelled the mid-table Premier League club into the Europa League quarter-finals.

"We should just do a Rocky Marciano and retire now because it is not going to get any better than this," Hodgson joked after his players etched their names into folklore with a 5-4 aggregate victory.

"This must come close to the greatest night in the club's history. On a personal note I am not sure I can recall such a recovery, I am on top of the world."

It started badly for Fulham when David Trezeguet added to Juve's first-leg advantage, but Fulham responded with an astonishing fightback with two goals from Zoltan Gera and one each from Bobby Zamora and substitute Clint Dempsey.

Dempsey's 82nd-minute, long-range chip sealed one of the most remarkable turnarounds in European club competition.

Fulham's victory ranks with some of the most eye-catching comebacks yet few will be surprised that a manager of Hodgson's calibre could manufacture such a triumph.

"When I reached the final (as manager of Inter Milan in UEFA Cup final v Schalke in 1997) our European campaign was nowhere near as long as this one has been, I think it encompassed 12 games including a two-legged final.

"By the end of the next match we'll have played 16 games now and I think it is a remarkable achievement that the boys have done so well."

Juventus may not be the force they once were but they boast a phenomenal pedigree, twice being champions of Europe, along with winning 27 Serie A titles and nine Italian Cups.

Fulham have never won a major domestic honour and lost in their only FA Cup final in 1975.

After losing their place in the old First Division in 1968 they spent 33 years in the lower divisions before returning to the top flight in 2001.

Managers have come and gone since then, including former England manager Kevin Keegan and French icon Jean Tigana, but no-one has had an impact like Hodgson.

Apparently doomed to relegation when he arrived in December 2007, last season Fulham achieved their highest Premier League finish of seventh -- and, after beating holders Shakhtar Donetsk in the last round of the Europa League, have now humbled true European aristocracy.

A night that started so well for Juve ended in abject disgrace as they finished with nine men following the dismissals of Fabio Cannavaro and Jonathan Zebina, and for the last hour of the match they could not live with Fulham's pace, power and verve.

Wolfsburg, Fulham's opponents in the last eight, will need no reminding of the west London side's qualities nor of the pedigree of their vastly under-rated coach.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #49 on: March 20, 2010, 07:45:36 AM »

Preview: Fulham v Manchester City

19th March 2010

Following their heroic achievements against Juventus, it’s to be hoped Fulham are a little partied out for the match on Sunday. Roy Hodgson has previously spoken about the importance of their midweek FA Cup replay against Tottenham, so this could be a good time to visit Craven Cottage.

City will still need to be at their best against a team that give little away at home, and who will still show the trademark Hodgson discipline. We saw that earlier in the season, when our full strength side still required extra-time to see off a weakened Fulham in the Carling Cup.  Surely Zoltan Gera can’t score as good a goal again?

Kolo Toure bagged the winner that day, but the club captain would be a surprise starter now. The physically imposing partnership of Lescott and Kompany looks better suited to the demands of the Premier League than any pairing featuring Kolo. Lescott and Kompany may lack a bit of pace, but that’s not such an issue against Fulham where we’re unlikely to be defending high up the pitch.

With Wayne Bridge absent, the question of who plays at left-back has made an unwelcome return. It’s tempting to go with Sylvinho for the more tactical battle against Fulham and Garrido for the physical demands of Everton. Zabaleta may be better than either of these defensively, but as we’re looking to win both games, a natural left-footer is better going forward. Garrido is the best crosser, while Sylvinho is least likely to waste possession.

The Brazilian’s lack of pace is less likely to be exposed on the small Craven Cottage pitch and Damien Duff isn’t the quickest these days. Having said all that, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mancini station Zabaleta at left-back for some portion of the game – he has a fondness for moving the Argentine around. Hopefully it will be to close out a victory.

Again it will be interesting to see if Vieira starts, and whether Mancini begins with two up front. Leaving Tevez isolated ahead of three defensive midfielders was catastrophic against Sunderland. The Italian will risk the wrath of the fans if he starts with Vieira or Zabaleta alongside de Jong and Barry.

Vieira currently looks better coming on from the bench, and it could be useful to save some of his energy for the Everton fixture. Adam Johnson did enough against Sunderland to warrant starting ahead of Wright-Phillips in what is becoming a keenly contested duel for the right wing – having genuine competition can only be good for the team here.  No doubt Bellamy will be on the left, unless Mancini decides to save his knees for Everton.

Will Santa Cruz get to start? His finishing was woeful against Sunderland, but his presence as a target man did change the game in our favour. The only alternative striker is Bellamy, and the Welshman wouldn’t give us any added aerial presence.

Roberto Mancini:

“It’s going to be difficult for us on Sunday, but maybe they will be tired.

“But I still think they will go with a strong team. They may change some players, but I am sure that they won’t change their approach, and they will be taking this game just as seriously.”

There’s a danger of it being a low key game, as we rarely start games at a high tempo, while Roy Hodgson is unlikely to send out his tired troops with all guns blazing. Hopefully Mancini will look to go at Fulham early. If we get a couple of goals ahead then they are unlikely to have the energy to come back and thoughts could start to drift to their FA Cup replay.

For City, a win is essential following the two dropped points last week. With our most difficult fixtures yet to come, it’s imperative we pick up victories in the meantime, if we’re going to claim fourth place.

Blue Days line-up: Given, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Sylvinho, de Jong, Barry, A Johnson, Bellamy, Tevez, Santa Cruz.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #50 on: March 20, 2010, 07:53:56 AM »

Hangeland Realises Dream

Fri, Mar 19, 2010


Brede Hangeland had more reason to celebrate on Thursday night than most. The giant Norwegian made his 100th appearance for Fulham, who made an amazing comeback to beat Juventus 4-1 (5-4 aggregate), and knock the Italian giants out of the Europa League.

The pride of the former Valerenga man was visible for all to see after the emphatic victory sent the Cottagers through to the Europa League Quarter Finals “I didn’t know that was my 100th appearance, it was a great way to celebrate it, the perfect way” beamed Hangeland after the match. 

“To reach the Quarter-Final of a European competition is a dream come true for me – we’ve come really far and no one can take this away from us no matter what happens. It’s great to be a Fulham player.

“It’s probably the best feeling I’ve had as a Fulham player together with the final day of the 2007/08 season at Fratton Park – it was unbelievable and one for the record books.

Hangeland couldnt hide his delight  after the magnificent achievement,“It seems like a long time ago but it’s just over two years since I joined and to think how far we’ve come to be able to beat a top European side 4-1 at the Cottage – it’s something we’re all really proud to be part of.”

 Fulham suffered an early setback as a David Trezeguet goal seemingly put an end to their European aspirations. However they came back strong with Bobby Zamora and Zoltan Gera finding the back of the net to send Roy Hodgson`s side into the interval 2-1 up and a man to the good after Fabio Cannavaro was dismissed for hauling down Gera  .

 The Norwegian international was quick to praise the hunger of his team mates  “I felt that even when it was 11 against 11 we dominated them,” said Hangeland. “When we went 2-1 up I knew it was possible. The way we managed to do it in the end - it couldn’t have gone any better.

“Roy told us at half time to keep playing and don’t rush it because if we rushed forward like headless chickens they could nick one back and it would have been more or less over. It was important for us to keep playing the same way and we managed to do that“.

 Gera scored his second of the night from the penalty spot to level matters before American Clint Dempsey executed a sublime chip in the 82nd minute to secure a famous win. Jonathon Zebina was also sent off in the dying moments to further add to  Juve`s woes.

 “It’s hard playing like that for 90 minutes but I thought we did really well. Because of the way we played we got really tight to them up front and in midfield so they didn’t manage to get behind us which made it a lot easier defensively.

“We worked extremely hard and got our reward in the end and it’s unbelievable to be part of. I think everyone was really tired at the end but when you see the other 10 guys working their socks off you just want to do the same.

“The crowd really got behind us. I thought the atmosphere was first class and for everyone associated with Fulham it was a great night.”

Fulham`s path to Europa League glory is now mapped out after this morning`s draw in Nyon, Switzerland. The Cottagers will tackle German side Wolfsburg in the quarter finals, hosting the first leg  at Craven Cottage on April 1st. The return leg will be one week later and should Fulham advance, then the winners of  the Hamburg and Standard Liege tie stand between them and a place in the Europa League Final.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #51 on: March 20, 2010, 07:55:43 AM »

Defoe tears a hamstring

by Dan on March 19, 2010

Away from Europe and Juventus for a second, Radio 5 Live are reporting that Jermain Defoe has torn a hamstring and will be out for action for a few weeks. That will make the replay at Tottenham a little more interesting.

Of course, Roy wouldn’t like us to get ahead of ourselves. One game at a time

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #52 on: March 20, 2010, 07:57:58 AM »

Alan Hansen’s Premier League Preview: Fulham v Man City

Fulham will be on cloud nine after their amazing comeback against Juventus on Thursday night. To score four goals against a team packed with experienced stars was incredible enough but to show the character to come back from conceding in the 2nd minute was simply sensational. This is surely one of the greatest results in the Cottagers history and much of the credit must go to Roy Hodgson who has been a revelation for the club. He has shown what can be done with sound management on a relatively low budget and small squad of players. Next up for Fulham is a Manchester City side that has also had problems overcoming the Londoners in recent years.

The Cottagers are unbeaten in their last five league meetings with City. Fulham have won two of those clashes with both victories surprisingly coming at Eastlands. The last two meetings at Craven Cottage have resulted in draws and I would not be surprised if this match followed suit. Roberto Mancini’s team may not be playing the most fluent football in the world but they have shown they are a hard team to beat. They are unbeaten in their last five league games (won two) but need to improve on their away form if they are going to finish 4th.

City have only won two of their last 13 away trips in the Premier League. However, they are unbeaten in their last three including that monumental 4-2 victory at Stamford Bridge. The Citizens have drawn too many away games this season. In fact, no other side has drawn more than their seven this season (Stoke have also drawn 7). If City can start picking up a few wins on the road then their chances of Champions League qualification will increase dramatically as they possess an excellent record at Eastlands. Unfortunately they face a Fulham team that has shown that they are a match for anyone at Craven Cottage this season.

The Cottagers have been excellent at home this season in all competitions. Their only defeat in the last 19 home matches was against Aston Villa. In this time they’ve beaten the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Birmingham and Juventus, so cannot be underestimated. Roy has built a very efficient, organised outfit which is strong defensively and has some real threats in attack. He has totally transformed the careers of a number of players but particularly Damien Duff and Bobby Zamora who are enjoying their football again, which shows in their performances.

Bobby has matured as a footballer and is now adding goals to his good all-round game. His hold up play is as good as anyone in the Premier League at the moment and his confidence will be boosted by his midweek display against one of the world’s greatest defenders Fabio Cannavaro. If he is not rested ahead of the quarter-final replay with Tottenham, Bobby will prove to be a major handful for the City defenders.

Because of the size of the Fulham squad, Roy is likely to make a few changes but the team is so well drilled, they should not be weakened too much by this. City will struggle to break the home side down and I can see this one ending in a very low scoring draw. The Citizens have not won a league encounter with Fulham since April 2007 and have only managed to win two of the last 13 league clashes with the Cottagers. Seven of those games ended in draws and I am tipping another stalemate on Premier 10 this weekend. With an estimated £30,000 jackpot to be won this weekend, who will you back?

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #53 on: March 20, 2010, 08:01:52 AM »

Now You Know Who Fulham Are
 Europa League match-winner Clint Dempsey may have been quick to share the plaudits, but there was no doubting the importance of the American’s 82nd minute strike.

In what transpired to be another unforgettable night at Craven Cottage, and arguably the Club’s finest ever moment, Fulham fought back to record a famous win against Italian giants and two-time European champions, Juventus.

A 3-1 first-leg defeat in Turin left Roy Hodgson’s side with a mountain to climb, with David Trezeguet’s goal after just two minutes seemingly ending our hopes of progression.

A cool finish from Bobby Zamora levelled proceedings on the night, while Zoltan Gera’s 39th minute strike offered hope going into the interval. With the momentum, the Whites pushed forward after the break and their endeavour was rewarded, with Gera stepping up and slotting home a confident penalty four minutes in.   
With the game there for the taking, chances fell for Fulham, before Dempsey stepped off the bench for a sumptuous finish that floated over Antonio Chimenti and into the far corner of the goal. With eight minutes left on the clock, the Cottage was bouncing with euphoria.

“It was a fantastic night, especially when you consider the fact a lot of people had already counted us out,” said Clint, talking exclusively to “It was a great performance and the players, the Manager and the coaching staff all deserve a lot of credit.

“We took our chances and that was important. Bobby scored another brilliant goal, while Zolly showed his class with two great finishes, particularly the one from the spot. That set it up nicely for me, and I did what I needed to do. But without those strikes from the other guys, I wouldn’t have been in that position.

“This was a great comeback and is without doubt up there in the Club’s greatest ever victories – and it’s amazing to have played a part in that.”

Fans have got used to big name casualties at Craven Cottage, with Manchester United and Liverpool dismissed with relative ease this season. Thursday's result, perhaps takes the 2009-10 season to even greater heights.

“There’s just something about playing at the Cottage,” he explains. “It seems to bring out the best in us. We are always able to create chances here and now we’ve added Juve to a list of great clubs to come unstuck here. We’ve made a bit of a habit of that and it’s a nice feeling.

“We have a lot of confidence at home and tonight was always going to be difficult. That said, we knew we were very much in this game and even when we went a goal down after a couple of minutes we had the belief to turn things around. This is a team that just never gives up.”

It was a welcome return for the 27-year-old, who had missed seven weeks of action following a knee injury. Having returned in first-leg, Dempsey was back to his best, and timing his return to perfection.

“It’s always great to score a goal,” says Clint. “I have said in the past that it is a difficult feeling to describe. That was certainly one of the best goals that I have scored.

“It’s just good to be back and playing my part again. I’ve been working hard in getting back and tonight was a reward for several weeks of frustration – it had been a long wait. But I’ve put the injury behind me, and all I want to do is finish the season strongly.”

With Fulham continuing to impress in the League, and with a FA Cup Quarter-Final Replay with Tottenham up next on Wednesday, the Whites now have another Quarter-Final to look towards, reaching the last eight UEFA Europa League.

“It’s an incredible achievement for the Club,” adds Clint. “You always want to do special things in your career and I think we are on another step to something very memorable. Hopefully we can keep going, and it would be nice to think that our European adventure can keep on track for a while yet.” 

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #54 on: March 20, 2010, 08:04:59 AM »

What A Night To Be A Fulham Supporter

Posted by Ian on Mar 19, 2010

Spring is in the air, and the good news stories just keep coming. Former Chester City supporters seem to have a decisive upper hand in their battle to get their own club, run on their own terms. Durham City of the Unibond League end a run of twenty-nine successive defeats with two wins in a row. And now Fulham have beaten Juventus in the UEFA Cup. It wasn’t just a victory, of course. It was a monumental night of drama that started disastrously for them and could have swung either way until the closing seconds, but ended with a sublime goal, one of the best of the season anywhere and the sight of a small (by Premier League standards) club getting to the last eight of a major European competition.

When David Trezeguet gave Juventus the lead in the second minute, it seemed to puncture the atmosphere at Craven Cottage. What might, with a tea-time kick-off, have been expected to be a slightly dislocated atmosphere, proved to be anything but, though. Perhaps it the accumulated caffeine imbibed by twenty-odd thousand office workers and the like was still coursing through their veins as kick-off arrived. It took just seven minutes for Bobby Zamora to bring Fulham level, and even then the feeling that there was something in the air was starting to crackle even through the television screens of those watching at home.

There were times at which they rode their luck – there is a case for saying, for example, that the sending off of Fabio Cannavaro could just about half been decreed a yellow card offence – but with the benefit of hindsight theere never really felt as if there was any significant danger of Juventus etting back into the match once Cannavaro had gone. Fearful of the gaps at the back if they threw caution to the wind, Juventus continued with the slow, slow, quick, quick, slow approach, which might have worked but for the fact that any significant danger was snuffed out before they got to the “quick, quick” part of it all. Fulham were level aggregate within five minutes of the start of the second half, but they didn’t chase the critical fourth goal with everything they had,choosing instead to bide their time and, press cleverly and demonstrate a patience in their build-up play which indicated the extent to which they had come to understand Juventus’ players. When it mattered, though, they were direct and to the point. It was a joy to watch.

And then came the fourth goal, from Clint Dempsey. Quite what can be going through the head of someone that, in an absolute pressure cooker of a match, can coolly calculate such an angle and loft the ball so delicately and so out of reach of any of the opposing players defies most rational logic. However, Dempsey managed it, looping the ball over and round, hanging in the air for what felt like forever before dropping just inside the near post. It was an exquisite moment, one worthy of winning just about any match, and it thoroughly deserved to win this one for Fulham. Juventus pushed forward with the level of desperation that one might have expected from a team chasing a late goal in a European tie, but there was really no way back. The Fulham defence dropped back five or six yards and calmly swept up every pass that entered their third of the pitch.

The reaction to the result has been a curious one, almost unseen in England over a European match for a considerable amount of time. It was almost universally positive. For those that watch the Champions League now half hoping for the English leviathans to get eliminated, it was a refreshing throwback to a simpler time to be able to get behind an English team in a European competition. There is something intrinsically likeable about Fulham. It could be the idiosyncracy of Craven Cottage, which is a “ground” and not a “stadium”, and which offers a view of the potential for football clubs in England should they choose to take a little care over what they do rather than simply erecting a tin hut and bolting some tip-up plastic seats into it. Perhaps it is about Roy Hodgson, a thoroughly modern manager who at the same time remains a throwback to a bygone age in dress, mannerism and politeness. It is one of the sad refelctions of modern football that we are unlikely to see too many of his like again.

What Fulham have tapped into this evening is a fundamental truth of football, which is that nights like these cannot be bought. They may only happen once or twice in a lifetime, but it is in the back of the mind of every football supporter that isn’t lucky enough to experience perennial success that nights like this take the majority of their value from their very rarity. It was a night to say, “I was there”, whether “there” was inside Craven Cottage, watching at home or in a pub, or listening on a car radio whilst stuck in traffic during London’s ever-horrific rush hour. Fulham may get knocked out in the next round. They may even go on and win the whole damn competition. This much, however, we can say for certain: they’ll be talking about the night they came from three goals down to beat Juventus on Fulham Broadway for a very long time indeed. What a night to be a Fulham supporter.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #55 on: March 20, 2010, 08:07:38 AM »

Juve win proved people wrong, says Fulham star Paul Konchesky

Mar 18 2010 By Jacob Murtagh

PAUL Konchesky reckons Fulham's fightback against Juventus has proved their doubters wrong.

The Whites weren't given a prayer of making the quarter-finals of the Europa League after their 3-1 defeat in Turin last week.

But a stirring fightback at Craven Cottage sealed their place in the last eight after Clint Dempsey's late winner.

"I've never played in a game like that," said Konch. "It was a fantastic night for myself, for the club and every Fulham fan.

"We were 3-1 down and people thought it was game over. We thought it was going to be tough and their early goal killed us.

"It showed the character in the team to come back. We kept going and wore them down and got one quick goal and got stronger."

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #56 on: March 20, 2010, 08:09:32 AM »

Juventus win is the biggest of my career - Etuhu

Mar 18 2010 By Jacob Murtagh

DICKSON Etuhu hailed Fulham's fightback against Juventus as the biggest win of his career.

The Whites looked like they were crashing out of the Europa League after David Trezeguet's early opener left them 4-1 behind on aggregate.

But Zoltan Gera's brace and Bobby Zamora's effort hauled them level before Clint Dempsey sent Fulham fans into dreamland.

"It's the best night of my career," admitted Etuhu. "Everyone thought that it wasn't possible, but in the dressing room we all knew we could get a result.

"The manager asked us to go out there and win the game. Everyone went out there and did their best and we were comfortable in the end."

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #57 on: March 20, 2010, 08:16:11 AM »

Abramovich continues to prop up Chelsea with his fortune

 Saturday March 20,2010

By Brian Radford 

FULHAM are fortunate to have the rock-solid commitment of Mohamed Al Fayed.

Two highly-revealing tables place them second and third in football’s frantic scramble for survival.

Only Chelsea have a bigger debt in ‘total assets minus liabilities’ and only Chelsea and Arsenal in long-term liabilities. Fulham’s potential problems are spotlighted by a projected £168SHrS million long-term liability.

The Daily Express has obtained professional research into leading club finances from Dr John Beech of Coventry University. “Fulham would be highly vulnerable, just like all the other debt-ridden clubs who depend heavily on benefactors,” he said.

“Fulham is a perfect example because everything is theoretically fine while Mohamed Al Fayed is behind them.”

UEFA recently released a damning indictment on Premier League housekeeping with a sharp reminder that its clubs were a staggering £3.4 billion in debt – more than the rest of Europe’s top leagues put together.

The European body want all clubs entering their competitions to be solvent and debt-free. UEFA’s Financial Fair Play initiative will be fully operational in 2015, when clubs will be expected to break even.

With Portsmouth recently plunged into administration – a first for the Premier League – and suffering a nine-point deduction, the outlook looks bleak.

Dr Beech, a researcher for the past 10 years, has access to the financial details of all Premier League and Championship clubs as part of his specialised work.

He told the Daily Express: “There is generally a chronic understatement of the problems of Premier League clubs, mainly due to parent companies being excluded, so large debts are not disclosed. In a table showing long-term liabilities, and another identifying total assets, the worst ‘offenders’ appear at the top. All figures relate to the club’s trading company and debts would be even greater if due to be paid by a parent company.

“Not a single club is free of long-term liabilities. Unless debts are dealt with, it will come as no surprise if several leading British clubs are eventually banned from European competitions.

“The UEFA mantra is, ‘Be free of debt. Trade solvently’. Club accountants are going to be hard pressed to find ways of complying with UEFA’s stringent requirements.” Dr Beech added: “I’m a Portsmouth supporter, which makes my work extremely painful at times.

“The truth is, any club, with the arguable exception of Chelsea and Manchester City, is vulnerable, particularly if relying on benefactors to pump in funds. Some clubs could even be facing extinction if their benefactor is unable, or unwilling, to continue to pour funds in.

“Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, and Manchester City’s owners are so outrageously rich that there is no real threat to these clubs, as they can simply write off loans by taking more shares in the club. And Fulham have the backing of Al Fayed.

“Desperation comes if, and when, the businessmen who are shoring the clubs up hit financial problems with their primary businesses.

“The root cause of financial troubles at most clubs is the unrealistically high wages paid to players and agents. The money taken out of the game is unsustainable as a business model.

“It might be time for British clubs to follow Germany’s lead, where benefactors are not allowed to have overall control of clubs and top foreign players are not generally attracted because wages are lower and every-thing is more sustainable.”

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #58 on: March 20, 2010, 08:51:00 AM »

Roy Hodgson, the new Special One of SW6, overlooked for too long

The FA neglected to hire Hodgson, who would have been as good as the costly foreign coaches

Patrick Barclay, Chief Football Commentator

José Mourinho had only 50 hours in the limelight. At least that was the view on Thursday night from Putney Bridge, which is a short bus ride from Chelsea’s ground and a walk through the park to Fulham’s.

The sparkle in the eyes of passers-by owed less to the Inter Milan coach than one of his predecessors. If Roy Hodgson had wanted to cross the Thames on his way home, he, too, could have walked — but without using the bridge.

Hodgson was the new Special One of SW6. Two evenings after Mourinho had masterminded Inter’s Champions League triumph at Stamford Bridge, the Englishman had supervised an unforgettable Fulham comeback to oust Juventus from the Europa League.

Later, a flushed and lolling fan on a train was asked about it by the enthralled guard. “We were still queueing to get in when [David] Trezeguet scored,” the fan said, using a gift for elegant observation that you could find only in a Fulham drunk. But somehow Craven Cottage had known that, although the odds against four unanswered goals were long, a punt on the spirit of Hodgson’s side might be worthwhile. And somehow, too, it was worthy of the equal attention to skill at his club that Clint Dempsey should secure the winnings with a chip of almost ethereal beauty.

That Hodgson should appear almost an overnight success at 62, having qualified as a coach so long ago that his tutor, Bobby Robson, was regarded as up-and-coming, reflects dismally on his native land. I met him in Sweden in 1978 and he was already winning championships with Halmstad. He went with Bobby Houghton to Bristol City, who were going bust. Returning to Sweden, he won five more titles with Malmö before moving to Switzerland, where he coached first Neuchâtel Xamax and then the national team, guiding them to a first World Cup finals in 28 years.

He also saw the Swiss through to Euro ’96 but, by the time they arrived in England, he was with Inter and there also Hodgson did well, the Nerazzurri finishing third in Serie A and losing only on penalties to Schalke in the Uefa Cup final.

Yet still England ignored him. Unlike Germany, whose FA president sounded him out about succeeding Berti Vogts before being persuaded that a foreigner’s appointment would damage the national coaching body. If only the English had been as wise.

After a stint with Blackburn Rovers — they soared, then plummeted — Hodgson became manager of first Mars and then Pluto. Or might have done, given the scant credit awarded here for his achievements, which included a title in Denmark and a fine European Championship qualifying campaign with Finland.

He was considered when Kevin Keegan was given the England job, and again when Sven-Göran Eriksson got it, but each time the FA made the wrong decision, as it has continued to do since. Even when hiring Fabio Capello. For all the plaudits lavished on the Italian, would Hodgson not have been capable of getting England to the World Cup finals? Of course. And for a quarter of the money. And whatever England achieve in South Africa would have been earned, not bought.

The call will come if England flop in June or Capello leaves. But it might be too late, for what Hodgson has done since being beckoned by Mohamed Al Fayed at the end of 2007 would qualify for description as a fairytale were it not more simply the product of exceptional work by a man at the peak of his powers.

Once, during a turbulent spell with Udinese, he warned me that it was likely to be brief with words to this effect: “The money’s great in management those days, but it does make you more short-tempered. You’re less likely to put up with nonsense — because you don’t need to. You can walk away.”

Hodgson has come through that. He is as clever as ever, and as passionate, but less moody.

Before Al Fayed, there was lower-division football. Keegan, Jean Tigana and Chris Coleman are among those who have taken part in the rise and it must be acknowledged that the edge is taken off this modern fairytale by a debt of nearly £200 million that may, in time, cause Al Fayed to seek a valuation of the Craven Cottage site as prime housing land.

Whatever is running at a loss, though, it is not the Hodgson regime. Burnley apart, few clubs have less expensive squads. Yet he has this gift of coaxing the best out of every man. To individualise would miss the point. It was noticeable, especially after Fabio Cannavaro had been sent off and the obligation was to stretch Juventus, that Fulham had been imbued with a communal intelligence. No one took too many touches or too few. Seldom did the ball go forward when it had to go wide.

This is the masterwork of a football man and if his country had not been so perennially misguided, it would be more than SW6 receiving the benefit.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20.03.10)
« Reply #59 on: March 20, 2010, 12:35:34 PM »

Fulham v Manchester City Preview: History Beckons For Hodgson's Side

20/3/2010 7:05 AM GMT By Dean Jones


Roy Hodgson did his best to restore a sense of normality in the wake Thursday's staggering victory over Juventus by hauling his Fulham players back in for training on Friday morning.

The manager was anxious to emphasise the message that, as impressive as that Europa League win was, it merely ushered in a pivotal period of the club's season with Sunday's visit of Manchester City followed by next Wednesday's FA Cup quarter-final replay with Tottenham Hotspur.

If current form is maintained, this could become the most memorable season in Fulham's history – it is already an unforgettable one – and Hodgson is not the kind of manager to allow a stab at glory slip from his grasp.

It's hard to imagine how spirits could be any higher within the Craven Cottage dressing room, and the quality of their football against Juventus means they have no reason to fear either City or Spurs.

The test of their ambitions, however, will be their ability to recover from a draining if exhilarating night in time to counter the threat of a City side eyeing fourth place.

"It was a great night for us and for the club but we were back in training on Friday," said Fulham left back Paul Konchesky.
"We've got a big game on Sunday and we've just got to work hard and concentrate on that now.

"Juventus are one of the best teams in Europe. But football-wise we outclassed them. That's what we've been like all season. Games like the one against Juventus give you loads of confidence.

"If we can play like that again on Sunday against Manchester City then we've got a great chance."

Strategy: Thursday's tactic of conceding inside two minutes is probably an approach best not repeated, but the subsequent display of sustained pressure matched the template laid down by Hodgson's side on many occasions at home this season.

Fulham's well organised defence, protected admirably on Thursday by Dickson Etuhu and Chris Baird, is clearly central to their success. But that alone is not enough and the excellent form of wide midfielders Damien Duff and Simon Davies has added a different dimension to their attacking play and will undoubtedly tests City's vulnerable full backs. CurrentlyBobby Zamora looks capable of unsettling any defence and with Danny Murphy returning to the midfield, the supply line to the England hopeful should be maintained.

Injury update: Murphy and Jonathan Greening are both available again after serving midweek suspensions while Clint Dempsey is pressing for a starting spot following his stunning late goal that secured Fulham's place in the last eight of the Europa League. Nicky Shorey and Stefano Okaka return to the squad after being ineligible midweek. Andrew Johnson and John Pantsil remain long term casualties.


Roberto Mancini is demanding a positive response from his side in the wake of last weekend's draw at Sunderland, when it took a late goal from Adam Johnson to salvage a point for his side.

It remains to be seen if that point eventually proves crucial, but deep down Mancini must know City need to produce a near faultless finish to the campaign in order to secure that sought-after Champions League place.

At this stage of the season teams seek perfection, not least when so much is at stake but City's away form has been less than convincing and Hodgson's side will prove formidable opponents.

Mancini said: "It's important that we play very well in midfield and we have the players to do this.

"We played a good game at Sunderland in the end, but it's also important we start games well if we want to go on and win them.

"We don't want to risk this by not starting well. We lost two points last week so it's really important we win this game. But Fulham did well and showed everyone what a good side they are against Juventus, I'm just hoping they are tired."

Strategy: It is time for Mancini's big-game stars to stand up and be counted, to justify their huge costs to the club by helping them secure Champions League football. The onus is now on the likes of Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz and Patrick Vieira to do their talking on the pitch instead of off it.

Mancini's men have proved vulnerable against the Premier League's more mediocre sides of late, with points being dropped against Hull, Stoke and Sunderland which could ultimately prove costly. City can ill-afford more mistakes because the race for fourth place is so intense and there are rivals queuing up to take full advantage, but Fulham's stunning triumph over Juventus this week shows what they are capable of and that reputations can count for little in this game.

Injury Update: Martin Petrov is out with a knee injury while Adebayor serves the third game of a four-match suspension. Wayne Bridge is also out with a serious knee injury. Kolo Toure, who has been on the bench for the last two games will be hoping for a recall after confirming he is completely recovered from the knee injury which has recently left him sidelined.