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Tuesday Fulham Stuff (27.04.10)

Started by White Noise, April 27, 2010, 09:33:38 AM

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White Noise

Ian Rush: UEFA have got it wrong over Europa League final tickets

Apr 27 2010 by Ian Rush, Liverpool Echo

IF Liverpool get to the Europa League final they will only get 12,000 tickets and that's wrong.

The two finalists have to be given a bigger proportion of tickets but also UEFA should take into account clubs' home attendances.

Our crowds are a lot bigger than Fulham's and if we meet in the final the allocations should reflect that.


Ian Rush need not worry as the scousers won't be there anyway   :005:


Quote from: White Noise on April 27, 2010, 11:15:53 AM

Ian Rush: UEFA have got it wrong over Europa League final tickets

Apr 27 2010 by Ian Rush, Liverpool Echo

IF Liverpool get to the Europa League final they will only get 12,000 tickets and that's wrong.

The two finalists have to be given a bigger proportion of tickets but also UEFA should take into account clubs' home attendances.

Our crowds are a lot bigger than Fulham's and if we meet in the final the allocations should reflect that.

How would that be remotely fair..... what a dick! If we get into the final we should both be allocated the same, if anything with Fulham being in the semi who are treated as the home team for the final we should have the most. I hate that attitude of we're a bigger club and deserves special treatment - what a dick. If we both get in the final we have got there because we deserve it and should both be treated fairly! love t - I want to see Athletico get through now! fcuk Liverpool - what a dick.

White Noise

West Ham 1 Fulham 0!

Filed: Tuesday, 27th April 2010

By: A Different Staff Writer

The club has won an early round in the latest arbitration battle resulting from the Tevez affair.

Fulham are the latest club to seek easy money out of the affair, claiming that they lost out on Premier League prize money solely as a result of the club's selection of Carlos Tevez during the so-called "Great Escape" season.

The Cottagers had hoped to capitalise on the widely-derided decision of Lord Griffiths that Tevez, and Tevez alone was solely responsible for the club staying up. However, the initial arbitration panel considering Fulham's case has ruled that Fulham will not be able to rely on Griffiths' lapse of sanity and will, instead, have to actually prove their case. This is something that they may find more difficult against a different legal team more able to point out the major flaws in Sheffield United's "case", which would no doubt have been overturned had the club been afforded the right of appeal.

White Noise,19528,11681_6119246,00.html

Gera - Roy right to rotate

Fulham midfielder backing boss with Europa glory in sight

Last updated: 27th April 2010   

Fulham midfielder Zoltan Gera has backed manager Roy Hodgson for rotating his squad with Europa League glory in his sights.

Hodgson's men tackle Hamburg at Craven Cottage in the second leg of their semi-final showdown on Thursday having returned from Germany with an admirable 0-0 draw.

The Cottagers boss has used the full depth of his squad this season due to their impressive European adventure, but that has irked some Premier League rivals, most notably West Ham.

But with little to play for in domestic competition and the club just 90 minutes away from an unprecedented Europa League final appearance, Gera believes it is vital that the key men are kept fresh.

"I didn't play against Everton, what's more I didn't even travel with the team. Our manager let me know after the Europa League game (in Hamburg) that I'll be rested in the Premier League with some of my team-mates," he wrote in his blog on Hungarian football website Pepsifoci.


"I would be lying if I said I didn't like this rest as our past weeks have been very tough. All the games have been very speedy and I could regenerate well during the weekend, especially after our long journeys.

"Our game in Hamburg was quite interesting. Everyone thought - me too - that we'd be tired after our day-long travel but I was fresher than ever."

Gera admits he was disappointed not to find the net in the first leg against Hamburg and hopes Fulham are not left to rue their missed opportunities.

He added: "I enjoyed the game. I was just a bit unhappy because I didn't manage to score though I had the chance for it at least two times. It's a pity because an away goal, an away victory could've been very good.

"Our goalless game is not the best omen because so far we could score on all of our away games in the Europa League.

"Now it'll be another game, after the goalless draw we have to win on home soil. If we don't win then we just can go through with penalties. Of course I'd accept this [winning on penalties] if it meant that we could go into the final."

White Noise

IS there anyone looking forward to the possibility of a Liverpool v Fulham Europa League Final?

No, I thought not. Two of the dullest, defensive sides imaginable will show the rest of Europe what an average competition the Premier League now is.

That's if anyone is watching.

ITV have ditched polished professional Steve Rider from their World Cup coverage this summer in favour of Adrian Chiles, the hero of all couch potatoes, possibly because he looks like one.

There are no positives to this move unless you work for the BBC. Chiles is an irritating, arrogant presence who mistakenly believes that we are interested in his support of West Brom.

Actually there is a positive to the television transfer. The BBC will presumably ditch their policy of never failing to show Chiles and Frank Skinner (is it compulsory to be ugly to support The Baggies?) in the crowd when screening a West Brom match.

MIND you television wins over radio any day of the week, especially if Alan Green is behind the mic.

I had the misfortune to be tuned in for five minutes of the Birmingham derby on Sunday when the insufferable Green and his sidekick Steve 'Clueless' Claridge spent the entire time debating safety issues in South Africa, while there was a game going on in front of them.

Green may be a hero to the nerds and nutters who inhabit phone-ins, but to us fans actually interested in how a game is developing, he is a disgraceful waste of time.

WATCHING Blackpool celebrate their likely play-off place at London Road on Saturday made me realise that following football in this country is an utterly futile experience.

No-one should begrudge 'Pool' their achievement in finishing in the Championship top six and, given the sheer ordinariness of the other teams in the play-off fight, they could reach the Premier League.

But what would be the point? They would be hammered every week in a way that would make Burnley's Premier League campaign seem a roaring success and, from my own experiences with Posh this season, few fans would enjoy that.

It's a sad state of affairs, but financial bias is making it more sensible, and more enjoyable, for clubs to stay where they are truly competitive.

Dreams quickly turn to nightmares. Ask Hull, Portsmouth, Burnley and Posh.

White Noise

Why neutrals should support Fulham's euro charge rather than snipe about weakened sides

By Darren Lewis

Published 13:15 27/04/10

The lack of neutral support for Fulham's bid to reach the Europa League final is not only surprising, it's a disgrace.

Roy Hodgson's men have done magnificently this season. You all know the calibre of sides they have beaten – Roma, Juventus, holders Shakhtar Donetsk.

They have been on the go in the competition since July last year. Clocked up 19,000 travelling around the world and still managed to make a decent fist of it in the FA Cup, reaching the quarter-finals, and the League.

They did magnificently to hold their nerve in Hamburg last week to get a semi-final, first leg draw.

Now all they need to do it repeat the giant-killing heroics at Craven Cottage that have seen them claim a number of scalps – including Manchester United – at home this season.

And yet they put in their team-sheet at Everton last Sunday and people start moaning about the fact that they have made nine changes.

Er, what do they expect? It's the game between the two most important matches in the club's 131-year history.

Do they really expect Roy Hodgson to flog the living daylights out of his players by fielding an unchanged side?

It's ridiculous and a lack of respect for what Fulham are trying to do.

Liverpool fielded some of the players that had featured in their Europa League first-leg tie against Atletico Madrid but Rafa Benitez had no choice. European football is expected, no, demanded, on Merseyside every season and so he HAS to push for the three points at every possible opportunity.

In addition, despite the deficiencies in Liverpool's squad preventing them from challenging for the title or the Champions League, games against Burnley these days are more like a light workout than a full-throttle hammering.

It was different for Fulham against a tough-to-beat Everton side who – despite all of the Cottagers' changes – only managed to see off Hodgson's men courtesy of a late, late controversial penalty.

I for one hope Fulham go on to reach the Final. They deserve every bit of credit going for they have achieved already.

White Noise

Adrian Leijer set for Socceroos reign

Grantley Bernard From: Herald Sun April 28, 2010 12:00AM

MELBOURNE Victory coach Ernie Merrick has tipped defender Adrian Leijer to be a big part of the Socceroos' plans after the World Cup.

Capped once by the Socceroos, in 2008, Leijer regularly represented the Young Socceroos and Olyroos and is expected to figure in preparations for January's Asian Cup finals after a strong return season in the A-League.

"I think he might be considered for the Asian Cup," Merrick said yesterday from South Korea, where Victory was preparing for tonight's final Asian Champions League game against Seongnam Ilhwa.

"There might be two or three of our boys involved, but Adrian has been coming on in leaps and bounds as a player and a person."

Two seasons in the shadows at English Premier League club Fulham did not help Leijer's international ambitions before he came home to help Victory to the A-League grand final.

But there may be several factors in the 24-year-old's favour as the Socceroos leave behind the World Cup and focus on the Asian Cup.

It is likely the Socceroos' preferred central defenders may be unavailable for Qatar 2011, with Craig Moore likely to retire, Lucas Neill committing to club football, Patrick Kisnorbo constantly battling injury and Mark Milligan yet to gain a regular place.

A new coach to replace Pim Verbeek after the World Cup might also pave the way for Leijer's inclusion along with fellow Geelong-raised defender Matthew Spiranovic, who is with Japan's Urawa Reds.

"I rate Adrian very highly," Merrick said.

"He is the quality of player and person with the character needed to represent your country. Things didn't go all that well at Fulham, but he's back on track and looking for a spot with the Socceroos."

Leijer has been tipped to succeed Kevin Muscat as Victory captain.

Veteran Rodrigo Vargas is being rested tonight, leaving Leijer and Muscat to be partnered at the back by Matthew Foschini, Leigh Broxham and Evan Berger.

Marvin Angulo will likely start up front with versatile Tom Pondeljak, while Carlos Hernandez, who is still battling a virus, and Nick Ward will play attacking midfield roles.

Victory has taken seven young players to South Korea and there is a chance three or four will get a run.

s to gain experience as Melbourne starts looking towards next season after the disappointment of finishing runner-up for the A-League premiership and championship and failing to advance in Asia.

"Last Monday was the start of our pre-season in a way, so this is the start of our pre-season games," Merrick said.

"We're starting to figure out who's going to be recruited, learn how to hold the ball in midfield and the things we need to do better."

White Noise

5. Central Midfield If Coyle is to implement the passing game he wants, then he must find a central midfielder in the mould of Paul Scholes at Manchester United or Danny Murphy at Fulham to build a team around. He would love Jack Wilshere to be that man but, even if Arsene Wenger allows the on-loan Arsenal youngster to return to the Reebok next season, it is a huge ask to expect an 18-year-old who had not started a top-flight game until joining Wanderers to pull the strings. Should Wilshere remain at the Emirates, then Sean Davis, who was brought in to perform that role under Megson before a serious knee injury ruled him out for the season after just four games, could be Coyle's playmaker. Either way, a midfield maestro to play alongside the combative Fabrice Muamba is a essential.

White Noise

The Question: How do Fulham do it?

By adhering to modernist methods and melding disciplined shape with hard work, Fulham have exceeded expectations

Posted by Jonathan Wilson Tuesday 27 April 2010 14.47 BST

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The Fulham manager, Roy Hodgson, has instilled in his players a tight defensive system. Photograph: Vassil Donev/EPA

There is something endearingly old-fashioned about Fulham, about their ground, about their manager, even about the way they set about winning European ties. Which is not to decry their achievements; rather it is to acknowledge that wherever the tides of tactical evolution take football, certain virtues remain constant.

Watching Fulham beat Shakhtar Donetsk at Craven Cottage earlier this season, you could have been watching almost any game between an English side and an eastern European team from the 70s or 80s, as pluck and organisation eventually overcame technically superior opponents. It was a similar story in their 0-0 draw with Hamburg last week, methodical patient obduracy eventually breaking the will of opponents who, if football were merely a test of skill, would surely have won quite comfortably. Yes, Mark Schwarzer made a couple of useful late saves, but Fulham were never subjected to the sort of onslaught to which, for instance, they subjected Juventus.

Had Bobby Zamora been fully fit, they might even have nicked the away goal they'd managed in Donetsk, Turin and Wolfsburg. In the tale of them training on the hard shoulder after being caught in a traffic jam, there even seemed a nod to Clough-like eccentricity, he having made Peter Shilton train on a Madrid roundabout before the 1980 European Cup final. It's the sort of story that, should Fulham reach the final, will echo through the ages, a quirk of management that will be deemed to have drawn the squad together, as perhaps it did.

As Phil Brown, Roy Keane and others – perhaps even Clough in his later years – have discovered, team-building eccentricity is not an easy trick to pull off, for it requires both a fine judgment of the mood of the squad and that the squad should have absolute faith in their manager. If not, the manager just looks rather silly and the players feel resentful. It's hard not to be reminded of Steve Archibald's comment that team spirit is an illusion brought on by victory when considering the difference in reaction of Hull's players to having their half-time team-talk on the pitch at Eastlands, and Fulham's to running up and down the side of an autobahn.

Hodgson's method

That Fulham's players responded positively, seem even to have regarded it as rather a laugh, is evidence of the esteem in which they hold Hodgson. Given the job he has done, though, that is natural. The narrative arc of his time at Fulham feels like the plot of some unpublished Michael Hardcastle novel, perhaps called something like "Manager", in which one of the kids brings in a friend of his dad who looks a bit like an owl and has done something ill-defined abroad for 30 years. There is widespread suspicion, but gradually the team adapts to his methods, avoid relegation in thrilling circumstances, and two seasons later find themselves on the brink of a European final. Actually, that's pretty much how it sounds when Simon Davies describes it as well. "We're two and a half years down the line now, so we're all converted," he said, hinting that there were doubts about Hodgson's methods at first.

So what is it that Fulham do? The easy answer is that they keep their shape, and certainly that was in evidence against Hamburg, who passed and passed and passed and found navy shirts thwarting their progress wherever they went (a more complete analysis of that game is given here on the excellent zonalmarking website).

But why? Everybody knows that teams who keep their shape are harder to break down; why and how are Fulham better at doing it than other sides? There is, sadly, no easy solution; it's all down to hard work. "We work on it every day," said Davies. "Every day in training is geared towards team shape. I've been working with the manager three seasons now and every day is team shape, and it shows."

A faint smile suggests the work isn't necessarily particularly interesting. "We have a little laugh about it now and again," Davies said, "but when he [Hodgson] came in we were fighting relegation and now we're in the Europa League so you take it. If you're going to play for him you've got to put a shift in and perform, work to a system and be tight defensively."

So what is it exactly that they work on? "I don't want to give any secrets away," Davies said, "but he gets the 11 that he wants and he drills everything in that he wants. We've got the ball – it's never unopposed. It's certain drills defensive, certain drills attacking and we work very hard at it. There's no diagrams, it's just all on the pitch. We do a lot of work after every game on analysis, sorting the bad things out, sorting the good things out. It's nice to know what you work hard on works so well. It's just working on little things now and hoping we can still get better."

Often those who work hardest in such a system go unnoticed, as the likes of Stephane Guivarc'h have found. He was derided by outsiders for his finishing at the 1998 World Cup, but revered by those within the France squad for his work-rate and his intelligent running. According to Davies, Zamora suffered a similar disregard last season, before some high-profile and spectacular goals this season won him the acclaim he deserves.

"Last year playing with him you could see what he brought to the team but only maybe playing could you appreciate that," he said. "The fans obviously look at and judge strikers by goals, and last year he didn't get his fair share, but this year he's absolutely on fire. He shoots all the time and they're going in at the minute. Confidence makes a massive difference.

"Everyone last year was talking about Emile Heskey and what he brings to the team. It was the same with us last year, with [Zamora's] work rate and bringing the midfielders into the game all the time. When you don't have somebody like that you really miss him, and this year he's added goals to it and he's looking a top player. It's just a shame people sometimes overlook that there are other things you look for in a striker than goals."

Second-order complexity

Hodgson's philosophy has remained more or less unchanged since he joined Maidstone as Bobby Houghton's assistant coach in 1971. There they implemented the ideas of Allen Wade, the modernising technical director of the FA, who, in a quite literal way, rewrote the coaching manual. Wade saw no point in drills that weren't specifically related to game play, and so formulated a whole theory of coaching based on specific match situations.

Houghton and Hodgson moved to Sweden, Houghton at Malmo and Hodgson at Halmstad, and it was there that Wade's ideas took root, as Sweden was divided between the modern, English method – which favoured pressing, zonal marking and counter-attacking with direct passes – and the more traditional German school with a libero and man-marking.

As the Swedish academic Tomas Peterson put it, "they threaded together a number of principles, which could be used in a series of combinations and compositions, and moulded them into an organic totality – an indivisible project about how to play football. Every moment of the match was theorised, and placed as an object-lesson for training-teaching, and was looked at in a totality."

Traditionalists, including Lars Arnesson, who had been appointed as a de facto technical director to work alongside Sweden's national manager, called the English approach "dehumanising" and said it turned players into "robots", but it was undeniably effective. They won five out of six league titles between them, while Houghton took Malmo to the 1979 European Cup final, where they were narrowly beaten by Clough's Nottingham Forest. More than that, they changed the mindset of Swedish coaching, inspiring, among others, Tord Grip and Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The football their sides produced may not have been as obviously aesthetically pleasing as what had gone before, but Peterson compares it to listening to Charlie Parker after Glenn Miller or viewing Picasso after classical landscapes. "The change does not just lie in the aesthetic assimilation," he wrote. "The actual organisation of art and music happens on a more advanced level." Naivety is gone, and there is a second order of complexity; football, as other cultural modes had since the dawn of modernism, began to work with an overt knowledge of its workings.

The second leg

The early Swedish critics who condemned the sterility of some of the English school may have had a point. Certainly when two Wadian 4-4-2s meet – as they did in Hamburg last Thursday – the result can be unspectacular, something perhaps exaggerated by the use of inside-out wingers. Their possibilities may be thrilling from an attacking point of view , but when both sides use them cautiously – Davies and Damien Duff for Fulham, Piotr Trochowski and Jonathan Pitroipa for Hamburg – with an absence of attacking full-backs the effect can be stifling. Part of the game-plan of both sides is to compress the effective playing area vertically by playing in three compact bands; inside-out wingers also compress it horizontally, by constantly coming inside.

In fact, if there is a criticism of Fulham this season that it is not explicable by the slenderness of their squad, it is that in defensive mode they seem to struggle to pose any sort of threat. Of the last 12 games in which they've kept clean sheets, seven have finished 0-0, and in only one – against Manchester United — have Fulham scored more than once. In the absence of an away goal for the first time in a knockout European this season, that must be a concern (which is one of the reasons the away goals rule is such an excrescence).

Given the sacking of Bruno Labbadia after Sunday's 5-1 defeat to Hoffenheim and his replacement with Ricardo Moniz, once a skills coach at Tottenham, it is difficult to know how Hamburg will line up on Thursday, although given Labbadia's apparent unpopularity they will presumably be mentally buoyed, but we can be sure that Hodgson will be sticking to the familiar programme, remaining loyal to a mode of play that has served him well for almost four decades.

White Noise

Europa League Betting: Fulham backers - beware the caretaker effect

Europa League  / Ralph Ellis / 27 April 2010

Fulham earned an excellent goalless draw in Germany last week but their out of form opponents will be galvanised by the sacking of their manager. Ralph Ellis has a very unpatriotic bet of the week...

There's probably nothing more dangerous in all of football than playing a team who have just sacked their manager. All of a sudden a group of hopeless, unhappy players, who have been more interested in arguing with each other than winning, become a band of brothers.

For a game or two it doesn't really matter who is in charge. The guy in temporary control, of course, always claims that an upturn in results shows he deserves a crack at it full time. In reality you could literally put the caretaker in charge - complete with broom, mop and bucket - and the effect would be much the same.

An atmosphere of doom and negativity is lifted, replaced by one of relief and relaxed confidence. Have a look through this season and see some of the evidence. Hull might be getting relegated, but in the two matches after Phil Brown was put on gardening leave they got within a minute of their first away win in 17 months, and then beat Fulham at home. Bolton responded to the departure of Gary Megson by scoring four goals in an FA Cup tie. Manchester City went on a run of four successive wins as soon as Mark Hughes was out of the door. Even rock bottom Portsmouth beat Burnley and Liverpool during the three weeks after Paul Hart left.

There are even more glaring examples of the "caretaker effect" lower down the leagues - Bristol City took 14 points from 18 after Gary Johnson's number two Keith Millen took over. And Brian McDermott stepped up from the backroom staff to transform Reading from relegation certainties to outside play-off hopefuls.

So sorry, any Craven Cottage fans, but the best bet of all the midweek football has suddenly become to lay Fulham at 2.22 for their Europa League second leg against Hamburg. The German club might have been held to a 0-0 draw by Roy Hodgson's side on their own ground, may also have won just four of their last 15 Bundesliga games, leaving them five points off qualifying for Europe again with just two games to play. But they have just sacked their coach Bruno Labbadia and that will change the whole picture.

"It was the last moment for us to react," said chairman Bernd Hoffmann as he analysed a 5-1 trouncing at Hoffenheim on Sunday, before installing skills coach Ricardo Moniz to bring the side to London for Thursday's semi-final second leg.

Labbadia had been in charge only 10 months but had clearly lost his dressing room. Brazilian Ze Roberto came back a week late from his winter holiday; Ruud van Nistelrooy got stroppy - understandably for one of the game's great strikers - about being asked to play as a deep lying midfield man; and his captain and goalkeeper Frank Rost resigned his place on the players' council in protest at being rebuked by the boss for taking five team mates to watch Clash of the Titans the night before a game.

Moniz, who was once on Tottenham's backroom team and was described by some pundits as the "keepy-uppy coach", is hailed by his chairman as being "incredibly enthusiastic". And that spells bad news for Fulham, especially if Bobby Zamora is still not fit. The players will take his mood and be just as keen - and that's a twist that Fulham, going into their 59th game of an epic season, could well have done without.

Five things you might not know about Ricardo Moniz

1. Born June 1964, he played for FC Eindhoven's youth and reserve side as a defender or midfield man but was transferred back to his home town club Haarlem at the age of 20 to make his debut in the Dutch Eredivisie

2. He played a further 162 games in the Dutch League, moving to RKC Waalwijk before returning to Eindhoven to work with the youth teams

3. He studied under skills coach Will Coerver, and was recruited for Tottenham by Martin Jol in 2005 as skills coach to work both with the first team and Academy

4. He fell out with Juande Ramos because he was no longer working with the senior players, so followed Jol to Hamburg in June 2008.

5. In Sega's Football Manager 2010 he's the very best coach to put on your staff if you want to improve set pieces. Maybe that's how Hamburg's chairman got the idea!