Author Topic: Saturday Fulham Stuff (27.03.10)  (Read 4578 times)

White Noise

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (27.03.10)
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2010, 07:15:47 AM »

Murphy calls for focus on league

Fri, 26 Mar 14:42:11 2010

Fulham skipper Danny Murphy has told his team-mates not to forget their Barclays Premier League duties as they go in search of silverware.

Roy Hodgson's men were knocked out of the FA Cup this week but they are still in the Europa League and expectations have risen following their famous victory over Juventus to earn a place in the last eight.

They face German side Wolfsburg on Thursday but Murphy is focused on the trip to Hull at the weekend and he believes Hodgson's squad is capable of coping with the demands of extra fixtures.

"Regardless of what is going on in other competitions, we still want to kick on and maintain our top-half placing," Murphy said.

"All through the season I've talked about our character and strength and every member of the squad deserves credit because over the past eight months everyone has played their part.

"When you look at the difference between now and last season, when we played a similar team for the majority of it, it shows how much the squad has developed. I think it has made us a stronger club."

White Noise

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (27.03.10)
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2010, 07:17:52 AM »

Defending Stephen Kelly

Filed under: General — weltmeisterclaude @ 2:28 pm

At the Fulham fans’ forum a couple of years back, Roy Hodgson was asked about backups for Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland.  At the time we didn’t know about Chris Smalling, so the cover essentially came down to an as yet unreformed Chris Baird.

People were concerned about this, but Roy had a good answer.  While he could see why this would be a concern, he noted that it is not always easy to find good backup players.  If a player is good enough to start for a mid-table Premiership team he will want to do so, after all.  So how do you find players who are on the one hand good enough to play for your team, but on the other, won’t mind not doing so?

The short answer is that you can’t find these players really.   Or that it is, at least, hard to find them.  Therefore we ended up with a young player, Chris Smalling, and a utility player, Chris Baird.  Which worked well.

But back to this backup player concept.   What sort of a player would be a realistic understudy to John Paintsil? We thought Fredrik Stoor might be a good alternative, but for whatever reason, he has not figured in the first team.   There is no obvious youngster who is ready to play a series of games at the top level.  And Chris Baird remains (probably rightly) convinced that right back is his third best position.  So Hodgson has turned to Stephen Kelly. 

Kelly is, I suspect, fairly typical of a lot of good but not great footballers.   At this point in his career he can (depending on demand for his services) opt to be a reserve player in the top division, or he can drop down to the Championship as a regular player.  There are shades of grey in between, but that’s essentially what a backup player for a mid-table team amounts to, I think.   Teams need players like this.   It would be lovely if we could have a Konchesky/Shorey situation at every position, but that is not remotely realistic.  People might tolerate such an arrangement at Chelsea, where wages might make up for lack of pitch time, but at Fulham?  No, the good players will come to Fulham to play every week.  If they wanted to be a reserve they would aim higher.

So I wonder what people expect from a backup full-back at Fulham?   Is it reasonable to expect him to play really well every game?  No, because if he did that he wouldn’t be a backup full-back at Fulham.   He might take his chance and show that he’s been miscast all along (Chris Baird did this in midfield), but the chances are he’ll have some good games, some not so good games, and much in between. 

This is exactly what Stephen Kelly has done.   When he first broke into the side he had a few shaky games without really doing any harm, but he has had a few really first class games, too, especially in Europe.   On balance he’s been okay, given his role in the team.   Roy hasn’t been desperately keen to use him, but hasn’t banished him to the reserves either. 

You would expect your first choice player to be a bit more consistent than this, and, not surprisingly, John Paintsil is more consistent than Kelly.   That’s why he’s first choice.   But if you were to look at clubs of about our stature, and see who their reserve right-back might be, I don’t know that the player in question would be a better player than Stephen Kelly.  In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the opposite were true.

White Noise

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (27.03.10)
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2010, 07:22:39 AM »

Dowie vows to be Hull's human punchbag to save players from flak

Published 05:00 27/03/10

By Jeremy Cross

Iain Dowie is starting to resemble a human punchbag for his players – but the Hull chief admits he could not be happier provided they land the knockout blow and keep City in the Premier League.

Dowie has come in for some flak since succeeding Phil Brown at the top-flight strugglers.

The new manager has not been a popular choice with sections of fans, who are convinced he is not the man to keep up their side.

Dowie will take charge of his first home game today when in-form Fulham are the visitors to the KC Stadium.

But he admits he could not care less what people think or say about him and is happy to take the flak if it eases the pressure on his squad.

Dowie insisted: “It’s been my job to reinforce the message to keep ­positive, no one wants the manager to be downbeat and glum.

“People can write what they like about me, but it’s not about me, it’s about the players and what they do.

“I’m a positive person and I’ve got big enough shoulders to take it.

“I’m happy to take all that pressure off the players. It’s up to me and my staff to shield it and let the players go out there and perform.

“Football is a game of enjoyment, people forget that sometimes and that’s the key.

“Of course it’s difficult under this pressure, but let’s hope we send the Hull folk home happy on Saturday night. The fans that went to ­Portsmouth saw a positive response and they were magnificent and supported me very well.

“They care about the club and they know what it’s all about to be in the Premier League. Their response will be fantastic, I’m sure, but it’s up to us to give them a performance that reflects the fans’ passion.

“They’re a passionate, vociferous group of fans and I expect exactly that against Fulham.”

White Noise

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (27.03.10)
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2010, 07:26:45 AM »,16368,1838_6055418,00.html

Rovers chief set to keep the faith

Bristol Rovers boss Paul Trollope will keep faith with the same squad against Southend after failing in his attempts to bring in any new faces.

Trollope was unable sign West Brom striker Chris Wood before Thursday's loan deadline after the Championship outfit decided not to let him leave the Hawthorns.

On-loan Fulham midfielder Wayne Brown has picked up another knock and will not be returning to the Memorial Stadium this season.

The Pirates, who lost 2-1 at Southend in October, are nine points away from the play-off places in League One and will be looking for a second successive win following last weekend's impressive 3-0 drubbing of rivals Yeovil.

White Noise

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (27.03.10)
« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2010, 07:34:32 AM »

Revealed: Michel Platini’s plan to end spending of Premier League giants

Click to download the image above as a full-sized PDF file

Matt Dickinson, Chief Sports Correspondent

Michel Platini’s plan to regulate football and curb its worst financial excesses has few outspoken opponents — after all, who wants to be seen to be championing outrageous transfer fees and spiralling player wages?

But as English clubs pore over the most significant changes to the game since the start of the Premier League era, they are approaching the new restrictions with ill-concealed concern.

The regulations, spelt out in a draft 60-page document seen by The Times, mark a massive cultural shift from a competition in which anything goes to one in which Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour will be barred from splashing out on superstar players by Uefa inspectors.

No more Sheikh Mansour lavishing more than £400 million to secure a place in the Champions League unless he can square the outgoings with Manchester City’s income. No Mohamed Al Fayed propping up Fulham, or Randy Lerner at Aston Villa, unless their cash injections are beneath the limit — to become less than "10 million (£9 million) a year on average — that a sugar daddy can spend.

It is a world, according to Uefa, of “discipline and rationality”, and an end to inflated wages and £80 million transfers such as that which took Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. It will stop clubs such as Portsmouth going into administration by forcing them to live within their means. So far, so much common sense.

But while even the richest of club owners have talked of encouraging greater financial restraint, it is one thing to want to limit their losses — perhaps another to be told by Platini what they can, or rather cannot, spend in the quest for success.

English clubs are already voicing private concerns about whether regulation to this microscopic level will be possible. Their accountants and lawyers are scouring the complex rules for loopholes.

For example, Uefa has introduced safeguards to stop a rich owner “sponsoring” his team beyond a fair market price to inflate the club’s income but already some clubs are expressing doubts about how effectively this can be policed.

There are fair questions to be asked, too, about whether there will be undeserved victims such as Fulham or Wigan Athletic, where owners have been propping up their clubs to moderate levels without distorting the transfer market or the competition. Is break-even necessary for all or should those owners be allowed to indulge their interest?

Already the European Club Association (ECA), led by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, has secured some concessions and continues to fight for more.

While eager not to be seen to be obstructing moves towards more moderation — particularly in the present financial climate — the Premier League has been defensive of those club benefactors who have helped to turn the competition into the most successful in the world.

“The idea of preventing what the likes of Dave Whelan, Jack Walker, Steve Gibson, Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour have done to take their clubs on is not something that appeals to us,” a source said.

They can expect little let-up from Platini, who has made it his mission to introduce “financial fair play” into European football. He expects to see the draft proposals set out in the March 2010 Uefa Club Licensing paper to be implemented by the executive committee this summer, although negotiations continue with the leading clubs.

There is a concession to those clubs reliant on sugar daddies with a weaning-off period; each club can lose up to ¤45 million over an initial three-year spell so long as the owner pumps in the cash to cover it. By 2015, the maximum loss permitted will be ¤30 million over three years provided it is paid off by the owner.

But Platini is determined to move towards break-even and has set strict levels of “acceptable deviation”. Without the support of an owner, the losses are restricted to a meagre ¤5 million over three years. Clubs exceeding those limits over a three-year cycle — something the ECA wants changed to five years — could be barred from the Europa League and Champions League.

Platini has also said that he will target clubs carrying excessive, unsustainable debts — as best he can given the vast liabilities sustained by sides as popular and successful as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United.
Related Links

    * Uefa’s plan will help avoid another Portsmouth

    * Fans may pay price of Platini’s daft proposal

The inspectors reserve the right to target those clubs where debt is in excess of annual turnover, although it remains to be seen whether Platini’s Club Financial Control Panel will have the bite to go with its bark. While the debt level at United would fall foul of Platini’s guidelines, the club will argue that repayments are sustainable.

Similarly, the new regulations state that players’ salaries should not add up to more than 70 per cent of that annual revenue figure — but will sanctions be enforced at a club such as Manchester City where wages are well in excess of 100 per cent?

Those clubs who fail to comply with the rules — which are effective from the 2013-14 season, although a club’s books will be examined back to 2012 — risk being barred from European competition but there are already expectations of drawn-out legal battles that Uefa can ill afford as the competitions move quickly between one campaign and the next.

While the rules apply only to those competing in Europe, Platini is encouraging domestic leagues to introduce the standards for all clubs.

Platini denies that his plans are anti-English; simply that the Premier League has more clubs that are guilty of spending beyond their means. In the 2007-08 season 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs made a loss, including United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

To support his proposals, Uefa recently published The European Club Footballing Landscape report, which revealed that 47 per cent of Europe’s top clubs made a loss in 2008 despite record revenues. Although the Premier League clubs reported the highest revenue, they also owed almost £4 billion. Platini is a fan of the German model in which at least 51 per cent of every club must be owned by the supporters, ruling out private speculators.

He is insistent that his rules do not thwart ambition. For smaller clubs with rich owners, he claims that there is a route to success because the regulations do not limit spending on infrastructure or youth policy.

It makes sense on the surface — but the devil will be in the detail. Supporters mystified by their club’s lack of transfer activity may want to become experts in profit-and-loss and player amortization.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2010, 07:59:25 AM by White Noise »

White Noise

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (27.03.10)
« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2010, 08:03:45 AM »

Fink Tank: English can be more dominant

The Fink Tank: Daniel Finkelstein


It’s time to fight back. For years we’ve been told that the Premier League clubs are dominating the Champions League and that it’s just not fair. Well, how about this, then — the Premier League isn’t dominating enough and that’s what is really unfair. Sort of.

This thought was prompted by that magnificent win by Fulham over Juventus. Magnificent yes, and surprising after losing so badly in the first leg. But not a giant-killing act. Because the Fink Tank rankings, based on all European games and properly weighted to allow international comparison, show that Fulham and Juventus are of roughly equal quality.

What does that say about the Premier League and its role in European competitions? Dr Henry Stott, Dr Ian Graham and Dr Mark Latham did a little figure work in the margins, while calculating the chances for the remaining clubs in this year’s competition.

By and large we would want the best teams to be in the competition. Right? So it seemed worth looking at the top 18 sides from the top five leagues and seeing the extent to which the country allocations led to those teams being excluded.

There have been five Premier League teams ranked in the top 18 by the Fink Tank in the past three seasons. Yet there have been only four spaces for English teams.

It has been even worse for Spain. For the past two seasons it has had six sides in the Fink Tank 18 but only four Champions League places. France has had only one team in our top 18 and is therefore over-represented by two places. Italy has probably had one too many places this year.

Now, naturally, this doesn’t make an irrefutable case for changing the allocation. There are other considerations. Uefa wants to smooth inequalities and retain international interest. All I am pointing out is that equality measures are already in place. The Premier League is already being kept in its place by a redistributive regulation.

Now, what about this season? I probably don’t need to tell Arsenal fans this, but they have had a very sticky draw. Despite the strength of English clubs there is still a big gulf between Arsenal and Barcelona. Arsenal are the third-best team left in the competition but are still only 61 per cent as good as Barcelona. Their chance of progressing to the semi-finals is therefore 32.6 per cent. This makes progression far from being impossible, but it’s still a hard task.

Manchester United, on the other hand, are strong favourites to go through. They are only 80 per cent as good as Barcelona because, while they can defend almost as well, they are much weaker in attack. But they are a lot better than Bayern Munich, their quarter-final opponents, and have a 70 per cent chance of progression.

Lyons and Inter Milan are favourites in their ties, against Bordeaux and CSKA Moscow respectively, but not overwhelmingly so, with both being roughly 60-40 to go through.

Chelsea had no business losing to Inter, who would not be favourites even in a tussle with Tottenham Hotspur. And Real Madrid? It is extraordinary that a club can spend so much money without stopping to wonder whether they are spending on the right things. Real are 96 per cent of Barcelona in attack — in other words, the second-best side in Europe — but are 62 per cent of Barcelona in defence. As are Aston Villa.

There is now a 39.6 per cent chance of English winners, made up of 28.2 per cent for United and 11.4 per cent for Arsenal. And there is a 33.3 per cent shot that the winners will be Spanish. Made up entirely of Barcelona.