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Thursday Fulham Stuff (29.04.10)

Started by White Noise, April 28, 2010, 10:10:33 PM

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White Noise

Fulham v Hamburg: Bobby Zamora fitness verdict is closely guarded secret

Fulham will keep Hamburg guessing over the fitness of Bobby Zamora ahead of tonight's Europa League semi-final, second leg at Craven Cottage.

By John Ley

Published: 11:47AM BST 29 Apr 2010

A decision on whether Zamora is fit to face the Germans was due to be made at noon, but it will not be made public, leaving Hamburg to play a guessing game.

Zamora's presence would be crucial to the club's hopes of reaching their first major final since 1975, and hope remains that for such an important game, the striker will be able to play.

But Roy Hodgson, the Fulham manager, also insisted that he would not take a chance on Zamora's Achilles heel if it threatened his future fitness.

Hodgson admitted Zamora, who has scored eight of his 19 goals in Europe this season, could need a minor operation, which could put in doubt his availability for England at the World Cup finals.

But even if Zamora is not fit, Hodgson believes he has the men capable of beating Hamburg. Just one goal would take Fulham back to Hamburg for the final, against Liverpool or Atletico Madrid, following last week's impressive 0-0 draw.

"We will be happy if he can play but if he can't we will accept that as part and parcel of football, injuries occur," said Hodgson, who was without Zamora for the 2-1 defeat at Everton last weekend.

"We know we have other players in the team who can keep our play going as we saw on Sunday.

"There are a lot of options. There is Clint Dempsey and Erik Nevland, and David Elm is now fit again. I will make the decision when I have got to make it but I know those players are there for me."

White Noise,22162,14289_6122923,00.html

Dikgacoi is still living the dream sits down with Kagiso Dikgacoi, who hasn't looked back since joining Fulham from Golden Arrows - a switch he described as his dream move.

We speak to the midfielder about life in London and the first World Cup on African soil, which is edging closer...

It took about a year and a half for you to complete the transfer from Golden Arrows to Fulham, was it worth the wait?

Absolutely, because it meant that things were done in a more patient way and therefore I had time to fulfil all the conditions they set for me, including gaining greater fitness levels and getting to play more international games in order to qualify for the work permit.

You went straight from the PSL into the Premier league, a feat which has never been done before, how did your transfer come about?

Well, I must say that I am very proud about this achievement because like you say, it does not happen that one makes such a direct switch. Usually players go through other European leagues or to the lower leagues before they are able to make the transfer into the Premier League. Basically everything happened out of the blue and very fast because my management informed me in 2008 that I had to prepare for a trip to the UK in two days time to train with Fulham. I think the club may have taken interest in me at the time because I was playing good football for Golden Arrows and leading the team as captain at the time. Then came the delays but ultimately my management managed to seal the deal after the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

How similar or different are the training methods you were accustomed to as opposed to the ones at Fulham?

Basically the Fulham trainers consider strength very important, we work a lot more in the gym on the upper body because the game over here is a lot more physical. Also, what I have learnt from the other players is that when one has some spare moments after training then it would be best to spend them doing extra work and not rush home. I benefit a lot from that because I can focus better, whereas before we would just simply pack our bags and go straight home after training. It is not hard to see the benefits of extra training, players like David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo practice their free kicks almost every day after training, and that's partly why they are so good at taking them.

There's been an influx of African players in the European leagues in the last decade following in the footsteps players such as Liberia's George Weah. Do you think this phenomenon has led to the weakening of the standard of play in local leagues on the continent?

No I don't think so, in fact this may be on the contrary because these players are able to test themselves against the best and are able to plough that experience back into the home countries in different ways. Some players such as (Shaun) Bartlett have chosen to play their retirement days off in the PSL, making some valuable contribution because the young players feel honoured to play with them. Look at Matthew Pattison, I mean he is playing his heart out for Mamelodi Sundowns and his experience with Norwich City is there for all to see - which hopefully the younger players at his team are learning from. Also the players in the leagues will want to play well in order to gain that coveted move to the European leagues. I am sure that many youngsters in Kenya will one day want to be like McDonald Mariga, who has signed for Inter Milan - so they will try their best to impress at local club level, which will increase the standard of play.

Turning to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, some commentators have already declared that the event will be the defining moment for Argentina's Lionel Messi and have dubbed it 'Messi's World Cup'. What's your take on that?

Look he is undeniably the best player in the world at the moment, and will do well in the competition. I would not however go as far as saying he will be the only player to watch because that will be a big mistake. If you watched the second leg Champions League match between Arsenal and Barcelona you'd realised that Arsenal put all the focus on him, and therefore opened up gaps for his team-mates to enjoy more ball possession, they were emotional with their marking instead of being sensible. Experience shows that if players do this they become less rational, and are therefore likely to pick up yellow and red cards, so this is what can weaken them in the World Cup matches against Argentina.

How do you think your absence from the camps in Brazil and Germany would affect the preparations for Bafana Bafana?

Things have gone okay so far, I am constantly in touch with the guys in the camps and they are saying that all is well. I think I will fit in quite swiftly in the team because I know the set up and have been involved for a while including in the Confederations Cup. I am gaining a lot of invaluable experience at club level and I think we can build on the experience of the Confederations Cup. My dream is for the team to do well, like all South Africans wish - it is not going to be easy but it is possible.

White Noise

Hamburg defender Joris Mathijsen determined to beat Fulham and reach Europa League final

HSV defender vows to 'do everything' to stop Cottagers...

By Stefan Coerts

29 Apr 2010 13:11:00

It has been a hectic few days for Bundesliga side Hamburger SV, with the departure of head coach Bruno Labbadia earlier this week, but the Rothosen have to shift their focus back onto the pitch this evening, as they get set to lock horns with Fulham in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final.

"Last season we were also in the semi-finals, but this season we have the added motivation of the final being at our own stadium so we're going to give it our absolute all," said defender Joris Mathijsen to UEFA's official website.

"Monday was not good due to the change of coach, but yesterday we trained well and life goes on. How many times in your career do you play in a European semi-final? We will do everything we can to win.

"Fulham played very defensively last week but they travelled for a long time and that's perhaps a reason.

"They're at home this time, so they have to come out and do more, but it [defending] might still be their tactic because they have a great defence. The pitch is not that big and, of course, that's an advantage for Fulham."

White Noise

Fulham have come a 'full circle' under Roy Hodgson's guidance - Danny Murphy

Midfielder delighted with European campaign so far

By Adithya Ananth

29 Apr 2010 12:58:00

Fulham captain Danny Murphy believes that his side have come a "full circle" under the management of Roy Hodgson, as they are now just 90 minutes away from reaching the first European final in the club's history.

Hodgson's men play host to Hamburg in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final, having carved out a goalless draw away from home last week.

The Cottagers have also vanquished last season's UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk, as well as Serie A giants Juventus and Bundesliga title holders Wolfsburg en route to their semi-final showdown with Hamburg.

"Roy brought a freshness in and to get to this level shows we have come full circle," Murphy told the press. "We have become victims of our success, because when we are not playing so well, you can hear the fans and then just a few years ago we were desperate for a win at the Cottage and now they are amazed if we lose a game there.

"The players deserve some credit, the squad players have made a big impression come to the fore."

The former Liverpool midfielder believes that the gaffer has channelled his vast experience to turn Fulham into a tactically astute side, and drew a parallel with the boss' days in Serie A.

"The way we play seems to suit a more European style," said Murphy. "We play a patient way, in a way it has come from Roy's Italian roots, it is an Italian style.

"We don't mind keeping possession and trying to break the other teams down, but even when the team has to change the other players have come in and done well."

Many teams rally around a big name player on the pitch, but the 33-year-old believes that his side play more as a team, instead of employing a player-centred game.

"There are no stars, perhaps Bobby [Zamora] has become the star this season because of the goals he has scored, but if you ask people about Fulham they will say we will play as a team," he said.

As the skipper is in the evening of his career, he insists that the hugely successful European campaign has been a profoundly rewarding experience.

"I have tried to enjoy this experience because I do not know if it is the last time I would be playing in Europe," he added. "I think that is the case for a lot of the players who have enjoyed it because there has not been a lot of pressure on us and as I have got older I know these things are the moments to savour."

Murphy could be up against his former club Liverpool, if they should beat Atletico Madrid and qualify for the final of the competition.

White Noise

Fulham v Hamburg preview and betting tips

Bettingpro Staff - 29 Apr 2010

Cottagers can pull off ultimate shock by making Europa League final

Fulham have enjoyed a fairytale first season in Europe, and they can fulfil their supporters fantasies by beating Hamburg this evening (6/5, SkyBet) and qualify for the final of the competition.

A goal-less draw in the first-leg wasn't ideal for the Cottagers, who would have preferred an away goal, as now a score draw will see Hamburg progress, but Roy Hodgson's side are excellent on home turf, and will go into the game confident of beating the German side.

Fulham's talisman, Bobby Zamora (6/1, Boylesports), is set to return to the straing line-up this evening, and he will be focus of all of the home side's attacks. Clint Dempsey (7/1, Ladbrokes) and Zolta Gera (8/1, SkyBet) are excellent foils for the England hopeful, and with Damien Duff (12/1, Ladbrokes) supporting from midfield, there are goals in the Fulham side.

Hamburg (13/5, VictorChandler) are good scorers, and have scored two or more in all three of their away knock-out matches in this season's Europa League. The German side should score at least once tonight, and SkyBet look like they are giving away money by offering 5/6 that both teams score this evening.

It is similarly bizarre to see Bet365 offer odds against (23/20) that there are over 2.5 goals in tonight's match, as all three of Fulham's home matches in the knock-out stages, and all three of Hamburg's away fixtures have gone over that mark.


Both Teams to Score – Yes (5/6, SkyBet)
Over/Under 2.5 Goals – Over (23/20, Bet365)

White Noise

We're Murph our weight in gold


Published: Today

DANNY MURPHY says winning the Europa League with Fulham would mean more than any trophy he bagged at Liverpool.

The Londoners are potentially 90 minutes from their first European final at the end of a 'special adventure' which started last July in Lithuania.

Skipper and midfield general Murphy won the UEFA Cup, two League Cups and the FA Cup in seven years with the Kop outfit.

But it is this season's odyssey with one of the Premier League's smallest outfits that will hold a special place in Murphy's heart.

The Cottagers have got past Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk and Roma and now face Hamburg in the semi-final second leg after a goalless draw in Germany.

The winners will play Atletico Madrid - or Murphy's old club Liverpool.

Murphy, 33, said: "The players are becoming a lot more aware that this is a special adventure. With Liverpool, the expectation is always there.

"We are talking about reaching a final which would be one of the greatest achievements of our history, whereas at Liverpool they are talking about reaching the same final as a consolation.

"That puts it into perspective a little bit.

"Winning trophies at Liverpool were some of the best memories of my life.

"But to do it with Fulham - not that we have won a trophy yet - to get to this level is more satisfying because nobody gave us a chance to do that.

"Sometimes being an underdog is more satisfying.

"Getting to the final would be a great reward for everyone involved, including the supporters. Fingers crossed that will happen.

"You appreciate things more at a club like Fulham. You just assume at Liverpool each year would be a final and as you get older you realise that's not the case.

"As I've got older I know these things are the moments to savour.

"We were dismissed at the start of the tournament for many reasons. To overcome the challenges we have faced in terms of the quality of the teams we have faced, injuries, suspensions - it is hard to put into words what we have achieved."

Murphy added: "The other thing people sometimes forget is we have maintained a healthy Premier League campaign at the same time.

"Playing the weekend after has sometimes been a real effort.To play every three or four days continually is very difficult.

"Gerard Houllier stressed weekends after Europe as the important ones.

"Roy Hodgson has been on our case about this, the importance of digging in when you are a bit tired. In a few home games - Birmingham, Wigan, Everton - we have come from goals behind after Europe and that says a lot about the spirit.

"Certainly it has been a wonderful effort so far and it is not over."

Hamburg sacked their manager Bruno Labbadia in between the first and second legs after a 5-1 League defeat at Hoffenheim.

His assistant Ricardo Moniz has taken over temporarily.

Murphy worked with Dutchman Moniz when he was a skills coach at Spurs four years ago. He said: "He was a good coach and the lads liked him a lot.

"I'm sure he will be attack-minded, because that is the type of guy he is, and they will play for him.

"I just hope he has a bizarre tactical plan that goes horribly wrong."

Read more:

White Noise

Hamburg turmoil not an issue

Thu Apr 29 09:40AM

The fact that Hamburg have sacked their manager is not overly important to the way we prepare for tonight's Europa League semi-final.

From their perspective, the club feel they should be higher up the league and the decision can work one of two ways. It can either have an adverse effect on the squad, who may now feel unsettled and their preparation disrupted, or a galvanizing effect in which the squad will come together and become a tighter unit.  

A change of manager usually has a positive short-term effect on the team, and we know that we will face a strong line-up. Ultimately, it all comes down to the players on the pitch to do the business, and we know it is up to us to take the game to them.

They have proven their undoubted quality in a number of games so far in the competition. It will be an exciting fixture and, as always, we feel very confident at home at Craven Cottage.

Given we are at home in this leg, we will look to play with more adventure and attacking prowess as we need to score. Naturally, it was important for us to go to Hamburg and make sure that we had plenty to play for in the return leg. We are now in an excellent position to progress to the final, and we will continue to play the good football that has got us to this stage of the competition.

The Cottage has been a bit of a fortress for us this season especially in the Europa League, as we have picked up some crucial wins here. We will really look to utilise our home advantage and give the fans something to sing about.

The support of the fans has been fantastic this season. Every Premier League game and Europa League fixture, the stadium is full to capacity and the vocality is something that really does spur the lads on. I remember being in the stand in the Europa League tie against Juventus, and I was really able to appreciate how good the Fulham fans are.

Their contribution has been extremely valuable to the good season we have enjoyed, and I am sure the level of support will be apparent at tonight's fixture. They have become our 12th man throughout the course of the season, and their support certainly doesn't go unnoticed.

White Noise

Is Etuhu The New Eddie Johnson For Cardiff ?

Cardiff City attacker Kelvin Etuhu has made far from the impression he would have hoped for after a disappointing loan season with the Bluebirds where injury, and form of other players have kept him as a fringe player and limited his contribution to the club.

Both Etuhu and Johnson were exciting prospects, welcomed by the fans and came from established Premiership clubs. Both are tall, yet by no means dominant in the air and neither will have been satisfied by their season in South Wales. Last season's chants of Eddie, Eddie have been replaced by Etuuuuuhuuuu but to similar effect.

Etuhu is yet to score and goes from looking a dangerous and exciting prospect to a frustrating and disappointing entity in a second. His blistering pace and powerful runs are often followed by poor control, a wayward pass or a miscued cross ballooned over the bar.

Just like last season, you sense the entire crowd is willing him to succeed and score but it just isnt happening. He has offered more since operating in his preferred wide midfield role but remains the most likely alternative if (God forbid) Jay Bothroyd was injured.

Etuhu will start against Derby County on Sunday, and will look to impress. However, barring an absolute miracle it will be Whittingham and Burke who are first choices for the wide positions and Etuhu will look-on from the now familiar position on the bench.

Read more:

White Noise

Preview: Fulham v West Ham

29 Apr 2010 - 13:43:15

Preview: Fulham v West HamFulham and West Ham United meet in a all-London affair on Sunday afternoon at Craven Cottage and the Hammers faithful will be celebrating win, lose or draw against their city rivals.

After a turbulent Premier League campaign, Gianfranco Zola's side secured their top-flight status for another campaign after they beat Wigan Athletic 3-2 last Saturday.

Coupled with Burnley's 4-0 loss at home to Liverpool, the Hammers are now mathematically safe with two games to go.

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson can be forgiven for turning his attention to their unlikely European adventure recently while taking his eye off their domestic commitments.

They have collected just five points from their previous five outings but they sit comfortably in mid-table.

West Ham have won two, drawn one and lost one of their last four outings and it is this mini-revival that ultimately staved off the threat of relegation.

Following six successive defeats from the end of February and the whole of March, their turn of the tables arrived at the desired moment.

The visitors will be missing knee victims Jack Collison and Zavon Hines and they will not figure until next season.

James Tomkins (ankle), Kieron Dyer (hamstring) and Herita Ilunga (calf) are also missing for the Upton Park side.

Fulham could rest chief striker Bobby Zamora as he continues to struggle with an Achilles problem.

Fellow frontman Andrew Johnson (knee) is a long-term absentee while USA international midfielder Clint Dempsey is a big doubt with thigh problem.

Earlier this season, a last-ditch leveller from Junior Stanislas secured the Hammers a valuable point against Fulham in October.

Carlton Cole opened the scoring with a fine header on 16 minutes before Kagisho Dikgacoi was dismissed before the interval, but the Cottagers turned the game on its head at the start of the second half.

A penalty from Danny Murphy and a Zoltan Gera effort shocked the home faithful as ten-man Fulham went into the lead.

But Stanislas strike two minutes into added-time tied up proceedings.

White Noise

There is a video interview with Mark on this link as well -

Schwarzer reveals penalty technique

442 Staff - 15 minutes ago

Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has been explaining his technique for facing penalties - on the day the Cottagers could face a shootout to reach a European final.

Roy Hodgson's men face Hamburg in the home leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday – and after drawing 0-0 in Germany, Schwarzer's spot-kick savvy could be crucial.

If it comes down to a shootout, don't expect Schwarzer to panic. Like most goalkeepers, the Australian loves to heap the pressure on the attacker.

He doesn't even agree that goalkeepers should research the penalty styles of players they might face.

"You can't possibly know every single player, the way they take the penalties," he says in an interview with John 'Fenners' Fendley on behalf of Mitre.

"So I stay on my feet as long as possible. Let them make the first move, let them have all the pressure on them."

Asked to nominate the best penalty taker at Fulham, the Australian had no hesitation. "Danny Murphy: I think he's only missed one in his career."

As for the finest penalty taker he's faced in his long career, the vastly experienced custodian comes up with an answer which might not delight his old fans at Middlesbrough.

"Probably Alan Shearer, he was brilliant," he says. "As much as it hurts me to say that being that, you know, he's a Geordie and all that..."