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Saturday Fulham Stuff (03/04/10)

Started by WhiteJC, April 03, 2010, 07:51:13 AM

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Fulham - Chatting With Wigan!
With the Premier League fixture, against Wigan, fast approaching, we got all cosy with the Vital Wigan editor, worbo.

Putney - Hi worbo, how`s life up in the north? How would you sum up your season post Steve Bruce?

worbo - Hi Putney, life`s good just a bit cold and wet. The season with the new gaffer has been interesting, Steve Bruce left in May and we brought in ex-Latics player Roberto Martinez from Swansea who immediately vowed to change the playing style of the team from the harem scarem type of football we witnessed under Brucie to a more cultured possession based game.

We have had some excellent results this season and some very poor ones as well though I really admire Martinez for the way he wants us to play, it would have been very easy to follow type but he is sticking to his guns and we certainly do try and keep possession of the football rather than just hoof it up field.

We have been unlucky with a few refereeing decisions and we have failed to kill off some games when they were there for the taking otherwise we would be sitting a lot more comfortably than we are at the moment but I am sure that we will be safe this season.

Putney - Looking down to the old River Thames, what have you made of our season, especially our cup heroics in Europe?

worbo - A fantastic season for you guys, Roy Hodgson has certainly worked his magic with you sitting comfortable in the table and your assault on Europe has been inspiring, the victory over Juventus at Craven Cottage in the last round was superb to watch and well done for the victory over Wolfsburg, I would love Fulham to go all the way and win it, a victory for the smaller clubs and it would give us all a bit of hope that we could fall in your footsteps.

Putney - Rumours are once again linking us with a close season move for Paul Scharner, is he for sale and if so what`s your view on him?

worbo - Scharner is a real character and nothing that he does or is rumoured to have done surprises me, his contract is out in the summer but he does have the option of another year, this is a situation that`s been ongoing for the past couple of years now and he always threatens to leave but ends up signing the extension, I think he just needs to feel wanted.

He is a great player to have in your squad, he can play midfield, which he has done for most of this season with us, but his true position is centre back, he prefers midfield himself because he says he sees more of the play but sometimes he can be a little like a headless chicken and the game can pass him by

Scharner is our longest serving outfield player, a former player of the season, much loved by the fans and daft as a brush, he is out of contract in the summer, personally I would love him to stay but you can never tell what he will do.

Putney - What do you make of all this West Ham rubbish whereby the jellied eel lovers reckon we took liberties fielding a weakened side up at Hull last Saturday?

worbo - I think Gold and Sullivan are turning West Ham into a bit of a joke club, they are a right couple of nutters, all the talk of the Olympic Stadium, then the way they undermined Zola and now this, it looks like they are just trying to grab a bit of the limelight for themselves.

They should concentrate on keeping their own house in order and leave how other clubs are managed to the other clubs, I wonder what West Ham would have done if they`d have been in the same position as Fulham safe in the league and a massive European game just a few days away?

Will there be a few rested on Sunday? It would be nice

Putney - Who are the danger men in your side and who do you fear in our side?

worbo - Charles N`Zogbia if he is fit will be our danger man, he has been on top form all season and opposing sides have doubled up on him, he is fast, skilful and direct, stop him if you can, also watch out for Hugo Rodallega and James McCarthy, you have been warned

For you Damien Duff is always a handful and Bobby Zamora this season has been quite prolific so they`d be the two that I`d be wary of

Putney - What is your verdict, score wise, this weekend?

worbo - It depends on what sort of team you put out and how determined Fulham are ahead of the second leg, normal circumstances I would say 1-1 but if you have a couple of players rested and one eye on next Thursday I will go 2-1 to the Latics

Our thanks go to worbo for taking time out to talk to us, thanks mate.

BOBBY ZAMORA has backed Fulham boss Roy Hodgson in the row with West Ham over resting players for Premier League fixtures – but asked him to ink his name on the team sheet to play against Wigan.

Zamora, above, was one of six players rested for the trip to Hammers' relegation rivals Hull- a match Fulham lost 2-0- which led to West Ham lodging a complaint with the Premier League.

But while Zamora undoubtedly showed the benefit of his break with a terrific display against German champions Wolfsburg in the Europa League quarter-final first-leg win on Thursday, he has insisted he wants to play tomorrow.

He said: "I'll have to ask the gaffer whether I'm playing but the way I look at it, it's another game, another chance for me to score.

"I want to play, I want to score goals. Our long season is beginning to take its toll and I suppose our league form is fading a bit but if we win the Europa League and finish on 42 points we'll take that all day long.

"If we lose a few and win one or two in the league, we will be happy."

Having played the team directly below West Ham last weekend, the fact Fulham face a Wigan side directly above them this weekend will hardly soothe tensions.

Wigan sit four points clear of Gianfranco Zola's side and while it might not go down well at Upton Park, Hodgson is expected to take a similar view tomorrow, with Zamora likely to be told to rest along with Damien Duff, Danny Murphy and Simon Davies.

Hodgson will hope it has the same effect next week when they defend a slender 2-1 advantage in Germany in the second leg after Zamora scored one and made the second for Duff in the victory.

And he has made it clear he will make no apologies for rotating his squad. Hodgson said: "Is anyone questioning Manchester United or Chelsea when they use the players they have in their squad?

Up next: Wigan Athletic (h)
by Dan on April 3, 2010

While Fulham fans plot their journey to Germany and wonder whether the Whites might be able to prolong our extraordinary European adventure, Wigan Athletic come to town on Easter Sunday. When people rather to the league as our bread and better they are trying to state just how important it is to us – as Fulham's first priority each year to stay in the Premier League – but right now it compares a little unfavourably with the continental caviar.

Fulham looked a little leggy against Manchester City at the Cottage the other week, which was perhaps understandable given the drama of that unforgettable comeback against Juventus a few days earlier, but the level of distraction at Hull last weekend was less tolerable, especially as a few of the players who Roy Hodgson bought in for the trip to the KC Stadium had a point to prove. The Whites will have to be much sharper tomorrow afternoon with Wigan desperate for points to ensure their top-flight survival.

The headlines this week over West Ham's complaint to the Premier League will meant that there will be plenty of talk about who eventually ends up on Hodgson's teamsheet. That away goal by Alexander Madlung might mean there is a bit more rotation than there could have been had Fulham managed to avoid the all-too-familiar trap of sitting back on a lead too early. That's not to say the tie would have been over at 2-0 but Hodgson might have felt able to give a couple of his key peformers a rest.

Given how essential Hangeland and Hughes are to Fulham's defensive security, there's a fair chance that Chris Smalling might come in again. The young defender has had to take a fair bit of criticism for some costly lapses of concentration since he finalised a big money money to Manchester United and the clumsy challenge on Jozy Altidore last weekend wasn't one of his finest moments. The boy's still learning at this level – which makes Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to part with around £10m for him all the more surprising – but should he step into central defence on Sunday, Fulham will be looking for a bit more composure in his decision making.

Stephen Kelly was left out on Thursday in favour of Simon Davies, who didn't do a bad job at right back, and the Irish full-back could get a run in that position against Wigan. His omission was somewhat surprising as he had been left out at Hull and the experiment of playing Shorey and Konchesky as full-backs didn't really work. Kelly might have been punished for an ill-timed challenged at Tottenham in our FA Cup replay but his European performances have been pretty solid.

Perhaps the man who could have most cause to feel a little deflated by his recent spell out of the side is Chris Baird. For me, he continues to offer just that bit more than Dickson Etuhu in central midfield: he's got a better range of passing, snaps into tackles, is confident enough to go forward and – most importantly – moves the ball more decisively. Even if Etuhu were to preferred there (or should Jonathan Greening or Kagisho Dikgacoi come into the equation), Baird would still have a decent shout of appearing at right back again, where most of his Sanchez-era jitters seem to have evaporated.

We were all rather looking forward to seeing a little more of Stefano Okaka up at Hull, but the Italian loanee's been limited to substitutes appearances since his debut for Fulham. Whether that's because Hodgson doesn't fancy him or just that he needs a little more time to adjust to the English game is a question this correspondent simply can't answer, but his loan seems a little pointless if he doesn't get a bit more gametime soon. He's got the size and pace to be an effective lone frontman and his looked lively enough in his last couple of appearances from the bench, so maybe now's the time to give him a go.

Don't be fooled in thinking Wigan will be easy opponents tomorrow afternoon. Roberto Martinez is a promising manager, who has been pragmatic enough to relax a few of his flowing football principles Fulham fans would have first seen in the FA Cup at Swansea last year, and the Latics are still searching for a win or two – as they sit four points above the drop zone having played a game more than Hull. Hugo Rodallega's popped up with a few crucial goals this season and former Newcastle winger Charles N'Zogbia, so impressive in our previous meeting at the JJB this term, could keep the defence busy. The visitors might be without Gary Caldwell but Fulham will do well to get past the excellent Chris Kirkland, who should return to the Wigan goal, having recovered from a virus.

MY FULHAM XI (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Kelly, Shorey, Hangeland, Smalling; Baird, Greening, Riise, Davies; Dempsey; Okaka. Subs: Zuberbuhler, Hughes, Dikgacoi, Murphy, Gera, Zamora, Nevland.


Fulham may make a move for Fenerbahce's 26-year-old Turkish international striker Semih Senturk.
Full story: Daily Mail