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Wednesday Fulham Stuff (27.01.10)

Started by White Noise, January 27, 2010, 06:19:16 AM

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White Noise


PULIS: Still looking for new talent


STOKE boss Tony Pulis has been sniffing around two Italians as he continues to seek attractive reinforcements to his squad.
A bold move for Ruud van Nistelrooy failed when the Real Madrid striker opted for Hamburg instead and a move for David James has taken far longer than expected.

Pulis wants to add a touch of quality to his hard-working side and a couple of Italian players have crossed his radar.

As things start getting hectic ahead of next Monday's deadline, Pulis is believed to have been offered the chance to land Roma's Stefano Okaka.

The promising Italy Under-20 forward is available on loan and has been expected to join Fulham.

Roy Hodgson has reopened discussions with Roma about Okaka as the move is being resurrected after being held up, but Stoke have emerged as an alternative option after Portsmouth's money troubles ruled them out of the race - although their transfer embargo has now been lifted.

Graziano Pelle, 24, is another striker rumoured to be attracting interest from Stoke, as well as Blackburn, Chievo, Catania and Udinese.

The AZ Alkmaar target man played for Italy's Olympic side in 2008.

"We are working on a couple of things, but they will only happen if they are right for this club," said Pulis.

White Noise


Tottenham 2 Fulham 0


DAVID BENTLEY made the most of a rare Spurs start after Niko Kranjcar pulled out through injury.
The former Blackburn midfielder added a second goal to Peter Crouch's opener to see off Fulham at White Hart Lane.

Spurs won a succession of early corners but it took a mistake to lead to the breakthrough.

Mark Schwarzer failed to punch a routine cross and Bjorn Helge Riise tried to allow the ball to run out of play. Luka Modric nipped in cleverly, hooked the ball away from the Norwegian and centred acrobatically for Crouch to notch his second goal in two home games.

After three games without a win, Spurs never looked truly fluent but they earned some breathing space when Bentley's free-kick deflected home off the unfortunate Riise to make it 2-0.

Fulham struggled to make an impact and the impressive Michael Dawson headed over a Bentley set-piece late on in a bid to add to the advantage.

With Liverpool held to a draw at Wolves, this was a good result for Harry Redknapp's side.

"It's up to him," Redknapp said of Bentley. "If he shows a good attitude and comes to work every day and plays well and works hard then I have no problems with him.

"That's all you ask."

Gareth Bale, again impressive at left-back, was just pleased to finally get the monkey off his back regarding the remarkable statistic that he had never been in a winning XI for Tottenham in the Premier League.

"It's a strange statistic," said Bale on Sky Sports. "I'm happy to get it off my back and go on from here. It was one of those freak things.

"It didn't really bother me but I'm happy to get the win."

White Noise

Then there's been all this talk of Chris Smalling. Supposedly we've lost out to United for his signature. Who cares? The guy has played most of his professional football for a non-league side, and the highlight of his Fulham career was an own goal at Stamford Bridge. Is that really all we have to get excited about this January?

And the main non-issue has been strikers. Will he or won't he? He, being Wenger of course, seems dead set on NOT signing a striker, as he's reminded us a couple of times now. Obviously you have to take everything he says with a pinch of salt, but I don't think anyone would be surprised if no one was brought in.

White Noise

Win VIP Tickets for Villa

Wednesday 27th January 2010

Lucozade Sport is the Official Sports Drink of the Barclays Premier League and has been fuelling Fulham FC players since 2001. To celebrate this long-standing relationship, Lucozade Sport are offering one lucky Fulham supporter the opportunity to receive the full VIP treatment with two places in the George Cohen Restaurant at this weekend's match against Aston Villa!

Meeting and dining with an England World Cup winner and watching the action from the Directors' Area is not an everyday opportunity, but this is what awaits the winner!

The man described by George Best as the best full-back he ever played against will greet you personally as you receive a champagne reception and canapés, before sharing his memories of a glittering career which included more than 450 appearances for Fulham and 37 caps for England whilst you and your guests indulge in an exceptional four-course á la Carte menu.

For a chance to win this great prize, simply e-mail the answer to the following question to |* including your name and contact phone number.

Who is the Club's current top goal scorer?
a) Bobby Zamora
b) Danny Murphy
c) Zoltan Gera

For full terms and conditions, contact |. The competition expires at 5pm on Thursday 28th January. 

For more chances to win VIP Barclays Premier League tickets throughout the season visit |, where you'll also be able to get expert football advice from our team of former top flight professionals and win Lucozade Sport products.

Read more:

White Noise

Hodgson voices Smalling disappointment

Fulham, 13:43, January 27, 2010

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson admits there was little he could do to prevent defender Chris Smalling making the switch to Manchester United.

Fulham accepted United's bid, believed to be around £8million, for the 20-year-old defender earlier this week and Hodgson confirmed the player would be leaving Craven Cottage.

He said: "I knew from some time ago that Manchester United had made the offer and as far as I know terms have been agreed and as far as I know he is going for a medical tomorrow (today) and will be a Manchester United player next season."

Hodgson expressed his disappointment at Smalling's exit and admitted he was powerless to stop the player making the switch to Old Trafford.

He added: "It's disappointing because we're losing a great talent who has a very exciting future and I would have loved him to play in a Fulham shirt,

"But when United come calling it's not that easy to stand in a player's way."

White Noise

Fulham boss Hodgson: No blocking Smalling from Man Utd move

28.01.10 |

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson says there was no chance of preventing Chris Smalling from joining Manchester United.

Smalling is believed to be in Manchester today for a medical and could even stay to take in the Carling Cup semifinal.

"The club has accepted an offer from Manchester United and as far as I know that is where he is going to be going," Hodgson told Sky Sports.

Asked if Arsenal had also agreed a fee with Fulham, Hodgson replied: "You will have to ask (chief executive) Alistair Mackintosh about that, I don't know anything about that.

"I knew from some time ago that Manchester United had made the offer and as far as I know terms have been agreed and as far as I know he is going for a medical tomorrow (today) and will be a Manchester United player next season."

Hodgson admits he will be sad to lose Smalling to United in the summer as he believes the 20-year-old, who started against Spurs, has the potential to become a fantastic player.

"It's disappointing because we're losing a great talent who has a very exciting future and I would have loved him to play in a Fulham shirt," said Hodgson.

"But when United come calling it's not that easy to stand in a player's way.

"I've got to congratulate Alex (Ferguson). He'll (Smalling) go on to do great things for Man United and it's a pity I'll be watching him do it for them and not Fulham."

White Noise

Fulham's Clint Dempsey Will Be Back to Win Over Doubters in the USA

26/1/2010 12:01 AM GMT By Jason Mellor

An almost audible sigh of relief could be heard from Fulham when it emerged that Clint Dempsey's knee injury is nowhere near as bad as first feared.

Yet conversely, large sections of US fans met the welcome news with what could at best could be described as apathy.

One of Bob Bradley's main weapons in the bid to scupper England's World Cup hopes this summer will be primed and ready for action after all. The answer from the stands from so many who hold their nation's footballing exploits so dear? A resounding so what?

It appeared Dempsey's Premier League season and World Cup dreams had been left shattered when the forward suffered the injury at Blackburn earlier this month.

Yet subsequent scans revealed far less damage than at first thought, and the Texan hopes to be back in action in the next month or so. If ever there was a good time to suffer this type of injury, then this was it.

Dempsey can enjoy the benefits of a restorative six-week break and return refreshed for the final quarter of the season to ensure he's fully back up to speed in plenty of time for the big South African jamboree.

Had Wayne Rooney or a similarly prominent member of of Fabio Capello's England squad enjoyed a similar inury escape, the celebrations at disaster being duly averted by the USA's first World Cup opponents in Rustenburg on June 12 would have raged long and hard for weeks.

Yet despite Dempsey's clear importance to the USA national effort, a significant section of fans have been, at best, lukewarm in their reaction. Not that Bradley will be swayed by their cynicism.

Echoing the sentiments of Fulham manager Roy Hodgson, Bradley insisted: "The news about Clint's injury is positive, especially given the fact that he'll not require surgery. We're confident he'll be ready to be an important part of our team during the World Cup. He's a player we can count on."

Dempsey suffers somewhat from a problem with perception from US fans who see him regularly standing out in for Fulham on TV highlight packages, and yet feel he never quite reaches those same heights when he pulls on the national jersey.

Admittedly, the 26-year-old did endure an eight-game, 10-month goal drought which saw the criticism reach its peak until he rectified that in last year's memorable Confederations Cup campaign.

In his defence, he played a big part in the march to the finals of that particular competition, and his goal against El Salvador in September helped to clinch a sixth straight World Cup Finals' appearance.

And yet the forward still seems to be the fans' scapegoat when things aren't going well. Some point at the way his body language can start to look on the negative side as frustration sets in when the going gets tough, and that his work-rate soon drops when the situation calls for it to be upped.

They are accusations which would be met by more than a raised eyebrow by the majority of Fulham fans, who have seen Dempsey regularly excel this season, weighing in with seven goals into the process.

The at times harsh criticism hasn't deterred Bradley from making a player with 17 goals in 59 international appearances one of the first names on his team sheet. He simply refuses to accept that Dempsey is somehow more committed to club rather than country.

Imminent friendlies against El Salvador and Holland may just come a little too soon for the forward to take his latest shot at proving his international critics wrong. But with his knee healing well, he will be afforded every opportunity to put the record straight once and for all in South Africa. And England had better watch out.

White Noise

Hangeland fires warning ahead of Villa clash

Jan 27 2010 By Yann Tear

A LONG-AWAITED return to Craven Cottage on Saturday is no guarantee that Fulham will revive their stalled league campaign as long as injuries continue to bite, admits Brede Hangeland.

The Whites have suffered in the absence of several first teamers like John Pantsil, Paul Konchesky, Clint Dempsey, Dickson Etuhu and Andy Johnson and were again found wanting at Spurs in midweek.

Away defeats are nothing new to a team that have not won three points on their travels since the opening day at Portsmouth, but Hangeland said the 2-0 defeat at White Hart Lane had nothing to do with awayday phobia.

"Returning to play home game might be a relief, but it's not automatic that we will win at home just because we normally do better," said the big defender.

"It's going to be a very tough game again against Aston Villa on Saturday and obviously we'll have the same problems with injuries, so we'll have to see if we can come up with something special.

"I hope the medical staff will work really hard to try and get as many players fit as possible. While we wait for them to come back, we will have to try and grind out some results."

Fulham looked particularly troubled on the flanks, where Aaron Hughes and Chris Baird were made into reluctant full-backs who could not get forward enough to aid sporadic attacks.

"I thought Bairdy and Hughsey did well, but obviously they are not the kind of attacking full-backs that Konch [Paul Konchesky] and Johnny P [Pantsil] are, so that mostly affected our attacking," Hangeland said.

"The way we play is very much dependant on the full backs joining in the play going forward.

"All things considered, with all the injuries, I thought we did all right. But the first goal we should have defended better and the second was very bad luck. It feels like the luck's not really been on our side this past few weeks and hopefully that will change."

White Noise

Danny Murphy says Chris Smalling can make big leap

Tom Collomosse


Danny Murphy has tipped Chris Smalling to become a star of the English game after Fulham agreed to sell the centre-back to Manchester United.

Smalling was playing for Maidstone United in the Ryman League less than two years ago, and has made only nine first-team appearances for Fulham. However, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has seen enough to believe the 20-year-old can be the heir to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Smalling played in last night's 2-0 defeat to Tottenham but was due to undergo a medical at Old Trafford today. He will remain with Fulham for the rest of the campaign and although the move will be a huge step up, Murphy feels his team-mate is ready.

"I was fortunate enough to see players like Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard when they were young lads," said the midfielder. "Being a defender, Chris is different, and he is not quite on their level yet, but he is potentially a wonderful player.

"He has great pace is calm on the ball and good in the air. What more do you need from a good centre-half? He'll be a great asset to his new club, and he won't look out of place.

"It has been a big few days for him, but he's handled it brilliantly.Considering what is going on in his life, his performance against Tottenham was very good."

White Noise,19528,11681_5888513,00.html

Costa could stay at Wolfsburg

Change of manager may convince defender to stay put

By Thomas Zocher   Last updated: 27th January 2010   

Wolfsburg defender Ricardo Costa admits that he could now remain with the Bundesliga club.

The 28-year-old centre-back looked all but certain to be on his way out of the Volkswagen Arena, but a change in manager has altered the situation.

Costa was not happy under former boss Armin Veh, but following his departure on Monday the Portugal international may fight for his place in the team.

He has been strongly linked with a move to Spanish club Valencia, with English sides Fulham and Aston Villa also in the frame, but says he has changed his mind regarding a transfer.

"The fact the manager has been sacked is creating a brand new situation for me," he told Wolfsburger Nachrichten.

"(Caretaker manager) Lorenz-Gunther Kostner is a perfect manager.

"If there would be players signed by the club now I would have to go on thinking about a transfer, but generally I think that I will stay on at Wolfsburg now."

Meanwhile, Wolfsburg are close to agreeing a deal for Brazilian central defender Rever.

The 25-year-old, who currently plays for Gremio, looks set for a move to Germany, according to Gremio's sporting director Luiz Onofre Meira.

He said "Negotiations have not been brought to an end just now. But we would probably have an agreement on Wednesday."

White Noise

Maidstone United revel in Chris Smalling windfall 

Cash-strapped Maidstone United are celebrating a cash windfall after Chris Smalling's move to Manchester United.

The 20-year defender played Ryman League football for the Kent side until 2008 when he moved to Fulham.

Stones have been unable to pay their players since 5 December, but Smalling's transfer from Fulham has triggered a compensation agreement.

"To say the money will come in handy is an understatement," Stones chairman Paul Bowden-Brown told BBC Radio Kent.

He paid tribute to the club's youth development staff for 20-year-old Smalling's emergence as a Premier League player.

"The guys who brought him through deserve all the credit. I only wish we could gain greater financial benefit for their work," he said.

Joint-manager Alan Walker, a former Millwall and Gillingham central defender, believes Smalling could go all the way and become an England international.

He said: "His attitude has always been first class and I know he will go a long way because he is so willing to listen.

"There is no reason why he shouldn't one day play for England."

Smalling is not the first Maidstone youngster to join Manchester United. Sean McGinty, who was on Charlton's books, left The Valley for Old Trafford last summer.

Stones received another cash injection earlier in the week when they were awarded £5,000 from the FA Trophy pool after Histon were expelled from the competition for fielding an ineligible player against them.

White Noise

Lost at the Lane

by Dan on January 27, 2010

Plenty of sober reflections to what was a disappointing result at Tottenham last night on the messageboards.

Quite a few people getting stuck into Roy and his lack of adventure away from home. I'm not entirely sure what Hodgson should be doing in the eyes of some of these supporters. His first priority when he came to the club was to strengthen the side and stop the flow of goals – and soul-destroying defeats – away from home. He managed it and we stayed up by the skin of teeth.

2008/09 was something of a strange season on the road. We were cautious at first away from home, only really becoming more adventurous when Roy seemed certain that we wouldn't be heading for the drop. There was a certain verve about our football at Bolton, but for a while in that game it looked like one point rather than three. Even at Manchester City, we showed signs of fragility (conceding first and trailing at the break) before staging our usual fine finish at Eastlands. We grabbed a win at Newcastle, too, but not without frenzied pressure from the home side towards the end.

This season started with a win at Portsmouth that might have been more convincing that it was. We were very close to holding on at West Ham and that performance was particularly bright considering that were a goal and a man down at the break. There was very little caution at Manchester City but having gone two goals down that comeback was a bonus. Factor in the point we got at Wigan and that win in Basel, plus a spirited showing at Chelsea, and our showings on the road aren't as hopeless as some would believe.

Losing at Tottenham in the manner we did was disappointing, but hardly unprecedented. This wasn't a Boxing Day massacre like the one under Lewington that finally convinced the board to turn to Hodgson a couple of years ago. Indeed, with key performers missing and Bobby Zamora clearly not 100% fit, getting something at the Lane probably would have ranked amongst one of our best results of the season.

Hodgson's selection last night was interesting. Kelly and Kallio weren't particularly impressive at Accrington – and paid the ultimate penalty. Hughes and Baird were most definitely square pegs in round holes: that much was evident in their reluctance to cross the halfway line to offer any kind of attacking threat. Dikgacoi and Murphy found it despairingly difficult to pass to each other, let alone anyone else in a red shirt.

Timmy points out the Guardian chalkboard looks like a damning indictment of Damien Duff, but he eventually got so sick of waiting for receive the ball that he went looking for it. He was much more influential in the 'hole' after the break. I'd suggested Riise might be ready for a run in the Premier League but he looked completely ill-at-ease in his surroundings. Gareth Bale remains a real talent but he's not the best defensive left back and Riise's attempts to take him on were undermined by some woeful crossing.

Where do we go from here? We'll have to pick ourselves up and rediscover our A-game for Aston Villa on Saturday. You can bet that the training sessions today would have been full of home truths.

White Noise

Maidestone happy for Smalling over Man Utd move

28.01.10 |

Maidstone United will not receive any money from Fulham defender Chris Smalling's move to Manchester United.

Although Fulham were not bound to pay any transfer fee to Maidstone when they signed him last season, they did pay a small amount known as a "training progression payment" in respect of the work that the Kent club had done to develop him, most notably under youth-team coach Peter Nott. Maidstone are currently trying to raise £750,000 to build their own stadium; they currently share Ashford Town's ground.

Maidstone chairman, Paul Bowden-Brown said yesterday that the club were delighted for Smalling but sad that they had not been able to earn anything out of his success.

"He [Smalling] is a great guy but we couldn't get him to sign a professional contract because you can't stop a boy playing for England. So when Middlesbrough and then Fulham came in we couldn't do anything about it.

"I'm pleased for Chris but I'm just disappointed that as we try to build a new home, the big boys in football can take a player and we do not benefit. I am not blaming Fulham because they were fair but it is a shame for us."

Because of his schoolboy status and his commitments with the ESFA team and the Kent county side, Smalling only played 11 games for Maidstone's first team, scoring one goal.

The former Maidstone secretary, Darren Lovell, said that Smalling would not be the first player to start his career at Maidstone and go on to Manchester United; the 1968 European Cup winner David Sadler was an amateur at Maidstone before going to Old Trafford.

White Noise

Stoke are also interested in Stefano Okaka from Roma but Fulham may yet revive that option.

And London plus former Inter Milan coach Roy Hodgson may hold sway in Okaka's mind - who figured for Roma in Italian Cup action last night.

Read more:

White Noise

Scouting Report : Manchester United's new signing Chris Smalling

Date: 27th January 2010 at 3:00 pm

To say Chris Smalling's rise from non-league football obscurity to starting the 2010-2011 season possibly taking the field at Old Trafford to play at the heart of Manchester United's defence, is meteoric would, for once, be something of an understatement. Manchester United's new £7m signing from Fulham, who he only joined in June 2008 and for whom he has made a grand total of 4 league appearances, was snatched from under the noses of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who was believed to be unwilling to match the valuation placed on the player by Roy Hodgson.

Smalling is unusual in that he never received his football education coming through the ranks at a professional club. Instead Smalling continued in full time education at Chatham Grammar School and played for Maidstone United in the Isthmian League. It was here that he was noticed by the English Schools FA who promoted him into their schoolboy squad. In April 2008, Smalling played for England schoolboys against Scotland schoolboys at Wembley stadium. If he thought that this may be the pinnacle of his career, he would be proven wrong.

Two months later, despite facing fierce competition from several league clubs including Middlesbrough, Charlton Athletic and Gillingham, Fulham snapped up the youngster and placed him in the care of Youth team boss Billy McKinlay. It wasn't long before the 6ft 4″ defender was impressing his manager enough to have him named captain of the team. His performances also caught the eye of first team boss Roy Hodgson who capped a fine year for Fulham in May 2009 by handing Smalling his league debut in the final game of the season against Everton.

His appearance at the end of last season has been followed by nine more appearances this time around, though many have been in domestic cup and European competitions. Indeed Smalling's name may well have only been brought to a wider audience for the first time on 28th December 2009, when he made his first full start for Fulham in the London derby against Chelsea and was unfortunate to see a parry from 'keeper Mark Schwarzer bounce back off his leg and into the net to hand Chelsea a somewhat undeserved victory.

Despite this setback, Smalling has continued to impress the scouts that have been paying frequent visits fo Craven Cottage to see the youngster in action. A tall, powerful centre back who has great pace and is surprisingly adroit with the ball at his feet, Smalling has all the physical and technical attributes to become a top class defender. It is this potential that has seen Manchester United invest a reported £7m in the player.

While some may argue that £7m for a player who has played just four Premier League games is a gamble, for Sir Alex Ferguson's men it may not be. With question marks over the long term fitness of Rio Ferdinand and the future of Nemanja Vidic, who has been linked repeatedly in past weeks with a move away from Old Trafford, signing Smalling makes excellent sense. He seems to be a ready made replacement for either player long term and will no doubt improve his skills further under the tutelage of the coaches and staff at Carrington.

Only time will tell if the signing of Smalling is a great piece of business for Manchester United or not, but certainly all the evidence seems to suggest that Sir Alex Ferguson may well have snapped up another gem to add to his fulsome list at Old Trafford.

White Noise

The Cottage by Night

Wednesday 27th January 2010

You can't beat the buzz, drama and excitement of an evening kick-off at the Cottage!

The fantastic atmosphere at Craven Cottage during evening games has seen Fulham win six of their seven games so far this season and the Whites will be looking to add to their tally with two evening matches in the space of six days in February.

First up Portsmouth visit Craven Cottage on Wednesday 3rd February before our vital game against Burnley just six days later ( Tuesday 9th February ). Both matches kick-off at 8pm.

You can experience the unique atmosphere of evening football at Craven Cottage from just £25 Adults and £5 Juniors by calling the Ticket Office on 0870 442 1234 (option 1) , booking online | or in person from the Ticket Office during normal opening hours.

More information and prices |

Read more:

White Noise

Full-on Sale

Wednesday 27th January 2010

The 'Full-on Sale' is now on, and with up to 60% off| selected items this is the perfect time to pick up your Official Fulham merchandise. Your purchases can be made at the official online store| , or either of the Club's retail stores found on Fulham Road and at Craven Cottage.

Recently added items include the Club Zip Training Top| , which is available in both black and red, and in a wide range of sizes.

This is a great opportunity for any fan to pick up discounts on a large selection of items including the Home Kit polo shirt| , Europa League Baseball cap| , the Fulham FC Season Review Book| and much, much more!

With items in limited supply now is the time to buy all the latest Fulham FC merchandise.

Such great prices, and so much variety, treat yourself today as this sale will end soon.

Read more:

White Noise,17033,8652_5888781,00.html


Posted 27/01/10 15:34

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is ready to showcase Chris Smalling for the rest of the campaign after losing the "diamond" unearthed from non-league football less than two years ago.

Hodgson says it took very little time before realising the centre-back signed from Maidstone was a player heading for the top, something Manchester United also identified before making their move for the 20-year-old at the weekend.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is also a fan of Smalling but United agreed a fee with Fulham and the youngster headed straight to Manchester after the defeat by Tottenham on Tuesday evening, with the defender set to start his Old Trafford career in the summer.

"When it was put to me that I must resign myself to losing the player because Manchester United put in a very good bid that the club have accepted, I was then told the one piece of good news is that he won't be going until the start of next season," Hodgson said.

"Why that was decided, you'd have to ask Manchester United. I think (chief executive) Alistair Mackintosh, when the deal was proposed, wanted that to happen and Manchester United accepted it.

"It's obvious that it's much better but it wasn't assistance from my part."

Hodgson has no problem with fielding Smalling for the rest of the season and the centre-back will be among the likes of Michael Dawson and James Tomkins looking to force their way into the reckoning for England.

Smalling has already impressed during his three Under-21 appearances this season and has helped keep clean sheets in the last two matches under coach Stuart Pearce, who reports directly to Fabio Capello and recommends players to the England boss.

Smalling's background includes a grammar-school education, four A levels and being accepted on a business management degree course at Loughborough University before being offered the chance to go full-time into football.

The move to Fulham came in 2008 and the match against Tottenham was only his second Premier League start, but Hodgson revealed: "We've known we had a diamond in our midst but unfortunately when you are Fulham and you produce a diamond you are aware that diamond can be taken away from you by clubs with more power.

"Sir Alex Ferguson doesn't make mistakes when he identifies a young player. He pays a lot of money for that player because in years to come he realises it will look very cheap. You'd expect the player to be of that quality.

"We thought he had great potential. He should take a lot of credit himself for the work he's put in while he's been with us.

"He has improved his game in that time, he's a good learner and learnt from the players around him - he's certainly a better player than when we took him from the non-league.

"We recognised his ability. I don't know who it was who scouted him to the club, he was introduced to me as a player we should take on board and I was happy to do so.

"It didn't take long for me to realise in training that he had something special. We've had him in the first-team squad ever since."

Fulham skipper Danny Murphy has tipped Smalling for the top.

"I was fortunate enough to see players like Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard when they were young lads," said the former Liverpool midfielder. "Being a defender, Chris is different, and he is not quite on their level yet, but he is potentially a wonderful player.

"He has great pace is calm on the ball and good in the air. What more do you need from a good centre-half? He'll be a great asset to his new club, and he won't look out of place.

"It has been a big few days for him, but he's handled it brilliantly. Considering what is going on in his life, his performance against Tottenham was very good."

Maidstone are expected to receive a cash windfall when Smalling's move is completed.

"To say the money will come in handy is an understatement," Stones chairman Paul Bowden-Brown told BBC Radio Kent.

White Noise

United complete £12m Smalling deal

Published 17:42 27/01/10

By John Cross

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson last night struck an amazing £12million deal for Fulham defender Chris Smalling.

Ferguson agreed to pay that fee after another frantic day of drama surrounding the 20-year-old, as United upped their original offer to fend off Arsenal.

United had an £8m bid accepted at the weekend for Smalling, who was playing for non-league Maidstone just two years ago.

That included a clause which stated any other club would have to bid £10m to be given permission to talk to him, and yet Arsenal met that demand on Tuesday night.

However, United then went back, matched Arsenal's offer and finally settled on a £12m deal which will include clauses for appearances and success.

It represents an incredible fairytale rise for Smalling who only made his Premier League debut last month having joined Fulham two years ago from Maidstone for just £10,000.

Smalling was on just £5,000-a-week at Fulham, where he will stay for the rest of the season, before going to United in the summer where he will quadruple his salary.

But Maidstone will not get a penny from the incredible bidding war between Arsenal and United as he was a non-contract player when he left and Fulham paid the transfer fee out of goodwill.