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Monday Fulham Stuff (10/05/10)…

Started by WhiteJC, May 10, 2010, 07:23:05 AM

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Injuries and travel worries cause concern for Fulham ahead of Europa League final

Roy Hodgson is hoping both the latest travel chaos from the volcanic ash cloud and Fulham's own injury problems clear up ahead of Wednesday's Europa League final with Atletico Madrid in Hamburg.

The Cottagers, who field a much-changed side for Sunday's 4-0 defeat in their last Barclays Premier League game at Arsenal, are scheduled to head out to Germany tomorrow morning.

However, a new eruption form the Icelandic volcano which forced Fulham to make an arduous journey to the Continent by coach and train for the first leg of their semi-final after European airspace was shutdown threatens to once again hamper travel plans.

The latest burst of ash is now drifting across areas of France, Spain, northern Italy and Germany bringing more disruption as several airports - including Munich - have been closed.

Forecasts suggest the volcanic cloud could disrupt UK airspace again over the next few days.

Hodgson maintains if the situation worsens, then Europe's footballing governing body must take a stance.

"It could be very problematic and I only hope we have the luck to see the ash cloud disappear from the airspace between England and Germany," said the Fulham manager, who admits striker Bobby Zamora faces a race against time to be fit from an Achilles problem.

"It is a very, very complicated matter and while our administrative team are working on it as best they can, to some extent we are going to be very much in the hands of the aviation authorities. What we can and can't do will be decided by them, not us."

Hodgson admitted: "We are worried, because they are always talking about changing wind direction, and having to play at Arsenal on Sunday did not give us too much alternative.

"It is all very well people saying change the flights, but we are talking about 40 people and a lot of kit - it is not like someone going on a package holiday, it is a major operation."

With the ash closing Spanish airports, Atletico are likely to face similar problems.

Hodgson said: "If Madrid are also in that situation, UEFA should show some transigence, rather than the usual intransigence, and trying to find a solution which helps us both by postponing the game until we both can fly there.

"I do not think it is quite that simple to say 'the game is Wednesday, you have to get there', if Madrid are facing a 20-hour journey and we are facing a 30-hour journey, because I do not think this is what the finals are about - they are a great occasion.

"You would be placing the game with thousands and thousands of English and Spanish fans not able to go, which I would say is another reason for UEFA to reconsider.

"It would be harsh, especially on a team like ours who have had to do it once already."

Hodgson hopes his injury problems will clear up ahead of the Europa League final.

Paul Konchesky (ankle), Brede Hangeland (knee), Aaron Hughes (groin) and Damien Duff (leg) are all expected to train later today.

Defender John Pantsil (thigh) and Bjorn Helge Riise, who complained of stomach cramps, were both substituted at the Emirates Stadium.

Hodgson is keeping his fingers cross Zamora can play some part against Atletico.

"The more time he needs, the more difficult it makes my team selection because he has not trained or played since coming off against Hamburg," said the Fulham boss.

"But if Bobby was lucky enough to be involved for England, then by the time that group get together after the FA Cup final, it would not prevent him from taking part in that."


Admin error handed me Euro lifeline, says Fulham's John Pantsil

May 10 2010 By Jacob Murtagh

JOHN Pantsil thought his Europa League dreams were over - now, after defying the odds twice, the Fulham defender is 90 minutes away from a winner's medal.

The Ghanaian feared missing the rest of the season and this summer's World Cup after suffering a nasty knee injury in the derby defeat to Chelsea in December.

But the former West Ham full back made a miraculous recovery and returned to action four months later. Then, after missing the first leg of the semi-final in Hamburg, he was given a second chance in the return leg at Craven Cottage seven days later because of an administration error.

Now he is hellbent on going all the way against Atlético Madrid on Wednesday.

He revealed: "I was worried I might miss the rest of the season, but even when I did recover, I thought I wasn't going to be able to play in Europe.

"Everyone thought they had taken me off the squad list because of my injury, so I missed the first leg in Hamburg. But, fortunately, they forgot to take me off, so it's fate."

Pantsil is a firm favourite with the Craven Cottage faithful, with his customary lap of honour at home games if they win.

But the 28-year-old admits he doesn't know what he'll do if they cause another upset in five days' time.

"The semi-final was a special day," he added.

"I did two laps because the fans deserve it - time will tell how many I do if we win!"

Fulham weigh up £3m offer for Borussia Dortmund hitman Nelson Valdez
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is considering a £3million move for Borussia Dortmund striker Nelson Valdez according to reports in Germany.
Bild claims Hodgson is interested in bringing Valdez, who is set to play for Paraguay at the World Cup, to Craven Cottage next season.
Fulham are also said to be tracking Lech Poznan striker Robert Lewandowski but feel they have a much better chance of signing Valdez.

Fulham-bound? Dortmund striker Nelson Valdez is a target for boss Roy Hodgson

Valdez has recently said he would 'love' to play in the Barclays Premier League or Spain and it is thought £3m would be enough to tempt them Dortmund to sell.

Read more:

Where American Fulham Fans will be watching the Europa League Final.
Looking for a place to settle down on Wednesday afternoon (after you've snuck out of work of course) and take in the UEFA Europa League Final between Atletico Madrid and Fulham FC?

Here is a shortlist compiled by our FulhamUSA members of places around the country showing this European Final.

The Brewhouse Café
401 Moreland Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 525-7799

Austin, TX
Mister Tramp's
8565 Research Blvd
Austin, TX 78758
(512) 837-3500

Sláinte Irish Pub and Restaurant
1700 Thames St
Baltimore, MD 21231
(410) 563-6600

The British Bulldog
2052 Stout St.
Denver, CO 80205
(303) 295-7974

Los Angeles
The Fox and Hounds
11100 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604-3133
(818) 763-7837

New Orleans
Finn McCool's Irish Pub
3701 Banks St.
New Orleans, LA 70119
(504) 486-9080

New York
Nevada Smith's
74 Third Ave (Between 11th & 12th St.)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 982-2591

San Antonio
The Lion and Rose
5148 Broadway
San Antonio, TX 78209
(210) 822-7673

Washington, DC
Kitty O'Shea's
2403 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
Courthouse Metro-Orange Line
(703) 522-5295

If you're location is not shown, try: 

Fulham striker Zamora to get Capello call

Fulham striker Bobby Zamora is set to be named in England's provisional World Cup squad.

The Sunday Telegraph says Zamora has received a letter from the FA requesting he is available for the provisional squad - which is named on Tuesday.

Zamora - who has hit 18 goals this season - is facing a race against time to be fit for Fulham's date with destiny against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday due to a long-term Achilles injury.

But should he shake off the complaint, Zamora is expected to be handed the chance to cement his place in Capello's final 23-man squad in the forthcoming friendlies against Mexico and Japan.

Capello must name his World Cup squad by midnight on June 1.

Hodgson enjoying personal high point
Veteran manager Roy Hodgson admits Fulham FC's run to the inaugural UEFA Europa League final "matches anything I've done" as he looks forward to taking on Spain's Club Atlético de Madrid.

Roy Hodgson has enjoyed his fair share of success since beginning his managerial career with a Swedish league title, including leading an unremarkable FC Internazionale Milano side to the 1997 UEFA Cup final. But, he says, nothing is greater than his run to the inaugural UEFA Europa League final with Fulham FC.

"I'd have to say it really matches anything I've ever done," said the 62-year-old. "Reaching the final with Inter was a great achievement because we had so many injuries, but we didn't really meet the same level of opponents along the way. You know, we met Guingamp, Anderlecht, Sturm Graz, and Monaco: all good teams, but, quite frankly, not Roma, Basel, CSKA Sofia, Shakhtar, Juventus, Wolfsburg, Hamburg. With respect, I think that Inter team would have had a harder job eliminating those."

It is some achievement for a club who were 14 minutes from Premier League relegation two years ago after a fraught first five months at the helm for the former Finland and Switzerland coach. The Lazarus act has been re-enacted a few more times during this UEFA Europa League campaign, only Fulham's second season of European football. "We finished seventh last season after many years of avoiding relegation on either goal difference or by winning a couple of games at the end to lift us out of the bottom three," said Hodgson. "Our aim was to be a much more solid, respected Premier League team and then give it our best shot at every Europa game and see how far we get."

Fulham's mindset switched from 'lets give a good account of ourselves' to 'we can hold our own here' with victory against UEFA Cup holders FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 32. That became 'hold on, we can actually win this' with their remarkable comeback against Juventus in the next stage, Clint Dempsey sealing a four-goal swing with a memorable late chip. "The players really just played so well that day and the crowd was so unbelievably supportive throughout, that we ended up getting a victory that none of us could really have imagined before the game started," continued Hodgson.

There was similar disbelief when Fulham ended Hamburg's ambitions of a final on home soil. Instead, the Cottagers will line up against Spanish side Club Atlético de Madrid. "As we get closer we get more and more excited about it," said Hodgson, who is looking to add to his haul of six Swedish titles, two Swedish Cups and the 2001 Danish championship he won with FC København. "It's been a magnificent season that will live long in the memory. Reaching the final is in itself an achievement, but I don't think any team would ever get to a final and think 'now we've done enough, we can take our foot of the pedal'. We're going to be as desperate to win the final as we were to win the semi-final."

Atletico Madrid Coach Quique Sanchez Flores Looking Forward To Fulham Europa League Final
The Atletico coach is eagerly anticipating Wednesday's Europa League final...

Primera Division side Atletico Madrid have been performing rather disappointingly this season, but the Rojiblancos can still save their season by winning the Europa League. They lock horns with Fulham in the final this Wednesday and head coach Quique Sanchez Flores is eagerly anticipating the upcoming match.

"Everything comes down to this one match. There'll be so much euphoria, while every goal and every mistake will be decisive. It'll be different to any other game," said Sanchez Flores on the UEFA website.

"In a final, there isn't any margin you can take with you, so we have to maintain our level and improve. It's a privilege for any team to be in the final. We're there now, so we want to take advantage and finish well.

"Fulham are a well-organised team with a good manager. I've learned that they have a good English player in Bobby Zamora and their three midfielders Clint Dempsey, Simon Davies and Zoltan Gera can make life dangerous for us.

"But we have players who can make it difficult for them too, like Jose Manuel Jurado, Jose Antonio Reyes and Simao. We'll have to see what happens."

Forlán primed for final push
Diego Forlán is excited about the "unique" occasion of playing in a European final as he bids to help Club Atlético de Madrid finish an often frustrating season on a high against Fulham FC.

It was a tricky first half of the season for Club Atlético de Madrid, but after bowing out of the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish club have made amends since the turn of the year and will contest the UEFA Europa League final against Fulham FC on Wednesday. The club's top marksman both domestically and in Europe, Diego Forlán tells that he is looking forward to finishing an often frustrating season on a huge high. What was your experience of the Liverpool semi-final?

Diego Forlán: Those are the types of games you dream about – and they were two intense matches. The team played well in the first leg and deserved to score another goal. It was a result that didn't allow us to relax, and we still needed to play a tricky match at Anfield, which we knew would be hard. We needed to score a goal; it was key to score. Maybe it came very late, but we did score, and so made it through. Anfield is somewhere you have won in the past at Manchester United FC. Did that knowledge give you a psychological lift?

Forlán: No, not at all. Yes, I have played there, won there and scored goals. In this case we actually lost, but we went through, so it doesn't matter ... but we knew it would be a very difficult game. We know that they are a team with a lot of history, that it's difficult to play on that pitch and that is how it turned out. Now you face Fulham in the final – are they your preferred opponents from the other semi-final?

Forlán: It doesn't matter to me who we face, but the main difference between Hamburg and Fulham is that Hamburg would have been playing in their own stadium – this could have made a difference, because it's your own surroundings, your city. Now, though, there will be two teams playing on a neutral ground, so in this sense I prefer Fulham as final opponents. What do you know about Fulham?

Forlán: They are a team that work very well and have good players. Defensively, they are very solid. They have a player in their midfield [Danny Murphy] who is very experienced, and who has won titles. And up front, they can create danger and score goals. Do you feel Atlético are favourites to win the final?

Forlán: No – I think it is 50-50. Of course we'll go there believing in ourselves and in the way we are playing. We know that we have improved a lot, are more solid and working well as a team. It is a final, so it's the details that will decide whether we win or lose. Will you play a great game and win the final, or the opposite? These are unique games, and different circumstances can occur, so you never know. I think the day of the final will be spectacular with a great atmosphere and plenty of our fans there. Why have Atlético been more successful in cup competitions this season?

Forlán: It's difficult to say. We started badly in the Liga, and that cost us dearly. In the other competitions, the Europa League and the Copa del Rey, the team has been much better. What difference has Quique Sánchez Flores made?

Forlán: Well there's always a new dynamic with a change of coach, but as time passed we started working in this new way, with the new technical team and now we are seeing the results of that. The team is doing much better, and that is proved by our results and the way we are moving forward.

Hodgson's Europa League final fears

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has called on UEFA to postpone the Europa League final if the volcanic ash causes more travel chaos ahead his team's clash with Atletico Madrid in Hamburg.

The latest burst of ash from a volcano in Iceland is now drifting across areas of Europe bringing more disruption and several airport closures. Hodgson maintains if the situation worsens, then Europe's footballing governing body must take a stance.

"We are worried, because they are always talking about changing wind direction, and having to play this game on Sunday does not give us too much alternative," said the Fulham manager.

"We are talking about 40 people and a lot of kit - it is not like someone going on a package holiday, it is a major operation."

With the ash closing Spanish airports, Atletico are likely to face similar problems.

Hodgson added: "You would be placing the game with thousands and thousands of English and Spanish fans not able to go."

Hodgson hopes his injury problems will clear up ahead of the Europa League final.

Paul Konchesky, Brede Hangeland, Aaron Hughes and Damien Duff are all expected to train on Tuesday.

But Striker Bobby Zamora, however, faces a race against time to shake off a niggling Achilles problem.

Soccer-Fulham aim for final fling against Atletico

Fulham and Atletico Madrid, two proud clubs living in the shadow of more illustrious city rivals, take centre stage on Wednesday in Hamburg when they meet in the Europa League final.

Two years after saving their Premier League skins on the final day of the season, homely Fulham are hoping to complete a remarkable journey under much-travelled manager Roy Hodgson by beating the nine-times Spanish champions.

Midfielder Simon Davies described Fulham's sensible, well-organised style as "not very exciting" at the club's training ground last week but their path to the showpiece in the German port city has been pure fantasy.

After starting in the qualifying competition against Lithuanian side FK Vetra on July 30 last year, Fulham made it out of a tough first round group containing AS Roma, CSKA Sofia and Basel, and then began toppling some of Europe's big guns in the knockout rounds.

First, holders Shakhtar Donetsk were felled, then Juventus and they followed that by beating German champions Wolfsburg before breaking SV Hamburg's hearts in the semis.

"Since staying up on the last day at Portsmouth the transformation has been film-like really," midfielder Danny Murphy, a UEFA Cup winner with Liverpool, told reporters.

"If you had written it as a book, you would laugh at the speed of it and the surrealness of it and that's all credit to Roy and the staff."

"I was suspended for the Juventus game and when they scored I felt like going home. But after that fightback we all started to believe it could a special year. We thought, we've beaten Juve, so we can beat anybody."


Englishman Hodgson, the former Inter Milan coach, has done a remarkable job moulding a bunch of players that were bit-part players at former clubs into a tight-knit unit that has proved formidable at their Craven Cottage ground beside the Thames.

Bobby Zamora, a striker who had mixed success at Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United, has bagged eight goals in the competition although he is struggling with an Achilles injury.

Zoltan Gera, the Hungarian midfielder signed from West Bromwich Albion, has chipped in with six, including two on an incredible night in March when Fulham came back from the dead against Juventus, overturning a 4-1 aggregate deficit.

Ireland's Damien Duff and American Clint Dempsey have also been vital cogs as has Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer who is hoping to make up for losing to Sevilla in the UEFA Cup final when playing for Middlesbrough.

"It's been a remarkable achievement to reach the final but I for one will be telling the boys that this opportunity might not come round again," Schwarzer said. "I've been lucky and this is my second and I want a positive conclusion."


Unlike Fulham, Atletico have a rich European pedigree but have not appeared in a continental final since the now defunct Cup Winners' Cup in 1986.

Often regarded as the scruffy relations in the Spanish capital where Real reign, they are seeking their first trophy since their league and cup double in 1996, ending years of inferiority for the fans appropriately known as "los sufridores" (the sufferers).

In Diego Forlan, Antonio Reyes and Sergio Aguero, they have a formidable looking strike-force and will start as favourites but they have hardly blazed a trail in Europe this season.

They began it in the Champions League where they failed to win a group game and after dropping into the Europa League they won three of their four ties on away goals, including the semi-final victory over Liverpool courtesy of Forlan's late effort.

However, like Fulham, they have prospered under a new coach.

Quique Sanchez Flores was appointed in October with the club in the relegation mire and he could end it with two trophies, first the Europa League and then the Copa del Rey next week when they play Sevilla.

"We have to be on our best form. We respect Fulham," he told reporters. "When a team gets to a final having knocked out some very strong opposition that shows they have some tools they use very well. We should not underestimate them."

Fulham fears ease over flight to Europa League Final

FEARS that travel chaos from the voclanic ash cloud could spell a nightmare for Fulham and their fans travelling to Hamburg for the Europa League Final eased today.

Airports in Germany re-opened last night after a nine-hour closure caused by the ash from Iceland.
Flights from London to Frankfurt, the route which the majority of Fulham's supporters will be taking, were operating as normal this morning with German air traffic control saying it did not anticipate any problems today.

As a result Roy Hodgson (left) will continue with his plans to fly out tomorrow ahead of Wednesday's match against Atletico Madrid.

The developments are a relief to Fulham, who endured a 12-hour coach trip to Hamburg last month after the ash cloud grounded their flight for the first leg of their semi‑final.

Yesterday Hodgson had asked UEFA to consider postponing the final if neither team could fly there.

"If Madrid are also in that situation, UEFA should show some transigence, rather than the usual intransigence, and try to find a solution which helps us both," he said.

However, Atletico have brought forward their trip by 24 hours and were flying to Germany this afternoon. On Saturday, they went by bus to their league game at Sporting Gijon because several airports in the north of Spain were closed.

Italy's Nicola Rizzoli To Referee Atletico Madrid-Fulham Europa League Final
Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli will be the man with the whistle on Wednesday...

The UEFA Referees Committee has named Italian official Nicola Rizzoli as the referee for the first ever Europa League final between Atletico Madrid and Fulham to be played on this Wednesday in Hamburg.

The 39-year-old Rizzoli has been an international referee since 2007 and has officiated in a total of 28 UEFA matches in his refereeing career. The Italian has handled eight Champions League matches during the current season.

Rizzoli will be assisted by his fellow countrymen Cristiano Copelli and Luca Maggiani. The fourth official will be another Italian, Gianluca Rocchi.

The referee team will be complemented by two additional assistant referees, Paolo Tagliavento and Andrea De Marco. This is a continuation of the experiment which has seen the trial of two additional assistant referees behind the goal-lines at all Europa League matches since the beginning of the current season.

Atletico Madrid v Fulham – player efficiency comparison

The Europa League final on Wednesday night, if it is not postponed due to volcanic ash cloud, looks set to be one of the most intriguing games of the season.

Fulham have been the revelation of the tournament so far, seeing off the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk (the holders), Juventus, Wolfsburg (German champions) and Hamburg (where the final will be played).

Atletico Madrid meanwhile beat Liverpool in the last round and have some terrific players including feared front pair Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero . As well as one of the top up and coming keepers in European football in David De Gea – who was named as an IMScouting Player to Watch in January.

Looking ahead to the mouth watering clash, here at IMScouting we have produced a player efficiency report to analyse which players are most likely to score or assist on Wednesday night.

It will come as no surprise that the two most likely strikers to score or assist in Germany are the Atletico pair of Forlan and Aguero. The Uruguayan has scored or assisted every 106.8 minutes this season whilst the Argentine comes in second on the report below with an efficiency rating of 137.7.

The surprise comes with Erik Nevland securing third place ahead of in-form England striker Bobby Zamora . This can be partly explained as Zamora has scored more goals than the Norwegian and also played nearly a 1,000 minutes more.

The rest of the Special Report highlights the players that could well secure themselves hero status in Hamburg. Damien Duff , Clint Dempsey , Danny Murphy and Zoltan Gera are all potential match winners for the Roy Hodgson's side whilst Jurado and Jose Antonio Reyes could be big players for Atleti.

IMScouting's Player Efficiency reports include players who have appeared in a minimum of 500 minutes in the league and equally values a goal or assist.

Further statistics on the clash between Atletico Madrid and Fulham can be seen at this match preview.

You can also calculate your own reports at the IMScouting report generator, which creates instant comparisons of players and teams from every league in the world.

Atletico Madrid v Fulham – Europa League final preview

Both sides will step out of the shadows of more illustrious neighbours to battle it out for the inaugural Europa League title.  Atletico Madrid will hope to win some silverware, while their arch-rivals Real Madrid will likely finish the season empty handed.  However, most of the pre-match hype has focused on Fulham's improbable European success.  A victory on Wednesday for Roy Hodgson's unfashionable side would mean that Chelsea will not be the only side to parade a trophy through the streets of West London in the coming weeks. Whoever the winners turn out to be, it will be considered a fairy tale success.  Predicting who will be victorious is far from simple.

Fulham come into the game with some impressive scalps to their name in the competition so far.  The likes of Roma, Wolfsburg, Juventus, Hamburg and holders Shakhtar Donetsk have been unable to deal with the mixture of industriousness, physical strength and efficiency which characterizes Hodgson's side.  The likes of Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes provide a solidity at the back in front of evergreen goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to make up the foundation upon which Fulham go forward. 

Hodgson rested midfielders Simon Davies, Danny Murphy and Zoltan Gera for Fulham's 4-0 defeat at Arsenal.  However, all three will likely play a major role on Wednesday and Hodgson will hope that Damien Duff has made a sufficient recovery from injury to take his place in the starting eleven.  Duff's ability to penetrate the opposition's defence will be much needed. 

Another player recovering from injury who Fulham will be desperate to see play is striker Bobby Zamora , who has perhaps been the star of their European campaign.  His goals and all-round contribution have been so impressive that he is expected to be named in Fabio Capello's initial squad of 30 players ahead of the World Cup.  However, the striker has been missing recently with an Achilles injury.

Hodgson commented on Zamora and Duff, saying, "They both have a good chance of playing in the final."

Fulham have been cast as underdogs throughout their Europa League campaign and will take on that mantle again.  Being considered favourites is something that Atletico Madrid will not be used to and it will be interesting to see how they will cope with the weight of expectation from their own fans.  Having defeated Liverpool in the semi-final, Atletico's loyal following will be confident of victory over Fulham.

However, it is worth noting that Quique Flores' side have won only two of their fourteen European matches this season, relying on the away goals rule for progress.  Having said that, they boast a wealth of dangerous and experienced attacking options.  The jewel in their crown is the talented Argentinian Sergio Aguero , who is set to be one of the stars of this summer's World Cup.  They have also been able to rely on the goals of Uruguayan master scorer Diego Forlan , who netted in front of the Kop to take Atletico to the final. Wednesday's match may well hinge largely on how effectively Fulham deal with both Aguero and Forlan.

Flores' side is far from a two man show.  In goal, the outstanding David De Gea is certain to play, especially given the knee injury suffered at the weekend by second choice Sergio Asenjo.  Meanwhile, Forlan and Aguero are ably serviced by former Arsenal player Juan Antonio Reyes and experienced Portugese attacker Simao. 

In fact, Simao well summed up the unpredictability of Wednesday final, saying "There is no favourite, this is 50-50."

He may well be right and with finals often cagey affairs, the game could well be decided by a lone piece of magic on either side.

Fulham face contract dilemma over seven senior players

Fulham face a dilemma over seven off contract stars.

The News of the World says skipper Danny Murphy, keeper Mark Schwarzer, Simon Davies, Paul Konchesky, Zoltan Gera, Dickson Etuhu and John Pantsil all have just one year left on their existing deals.

Many of them are fretting over their futures but they have been told to wait until after Wednesday's Europa Cup Final against Atletico Madrid.

Fulham boss has earned his time in the spotlight
Roy Hodgson has become one of the most sought-after managers around

If Fulham pull off the unthinkable and win the Europa League final on Wednesday night, or even if they fall short against Atletico Madrid in Hamburg, the question remains whether the Cottagers will be able to keep Roy Hodgson at the club next season.

Harry Redknapp picked up the Manager of the Year award after guiding Spurs into the Champions League, but surely Hodgson ran the Tottenham boss a close second after masterminding European wins against Roma, Juventus and Wolfsburg on route to the final.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is being linked with a switch to Juventus in the summer and the bookies have installed Hodgson as the favourite to replace him at Anfield should the Spaniard leave.

There are few managers with a CV as wide-ranging as Hodgson's – he has managed at international level with Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates, and also coached Inter Milan and Blackburn.

On top of that, he has also been in charge at lesser clubs such as Bristol City, Copenhagen, Viking, Malmo and Grasshoppers.

Hodgson said: "If the day comes when a big club wants me and I am available, then I would be happy to do it.

"This, I guess, is my period, and the speculation is rife around me. I can't bear not working so whenever I leave a job I have the tendency - probably not always intelligent - to jump at the first half-decent job that comes my way.

"I jump without thinking. How does that affect my position on the ladders of things? I've gone sideways, backwards and then up again."

Hodgson's two-and-a-half year reign at Craven Cottage has coincided with the best run for the club in 131 years – rescuing Fulham from relegation in 2008, guiding them to seventh place last season and now reaching a European final.

And defender Brede Hangeland says the players will be going all out to win the final even if a victory would make Hodgson an even more attractive proposition to suitors.

He said: "I hope Roy stays for a long time. He is a great manager and we all enjoy working with him. I haven't thought about whether our success could cost us our manager and that certainly won't stop us from trying our best.

"Roy is the main reason why we have come from battling relegation to playing in a European final. It's a fairytale for this club."

Final Fan Guide
Monday 10th May 2010

Supporters who are travelling to Hamburg may wish to read or print copies of the official UEFA Fan Guide| to Hamburg and the Europa League Final.

The guide| contains varied and useful information on a number of subjects. These include public transport in and around Hamburg, airport & rail transfers, tourist attractions, ground regulations and the UEFA Fan Zone. The guide also lists contact telephone numbers for the local tourist office, British Embassy & Emergency Services.

There is also an official UEFA Map| highlighting the location of the stadium and other places of interest. There is no private car parking available at the stadium. The UEFA Fan Leaflet outlines details for the matchday Park-And-Ride at Othmarschen. Your match ticket entitles you to use to the local public transport network free of charge on the day of the game.

Please note that we are unable to arrange for match tickets to be reprinted, so please take good care of your ticket. The stadium opens at 18:30 CET on Wednesday evening. Official UEFA merchandise will be on sale during the day at the Fan Zone in Spielbudenplatz and also in the immediate vicinity of the stadium.

If you are arriving and/or leaving the stadium by coach, please note that the Fulham supporters coaches will be located in the Red parking zone. The exact location is outlined on the UEFA Fan Map.

Fan Zone
On the day of the UEFA Europa League Final, a fan zone will be open to all football fans located at Spielbudenplatz on the Reeperbahn.

Spielbudenplatz is located on the legendary Reeperbahn. At the fan zone, you can meet other fans and experience the final atmosphere before kick-off.

Official Fulham FC Final Merchandise
The fan zone will also be an opportunity for fans to purchase Official Europa League Fulham merchandise will be on sale from designated booths. Also, the Official UEFA Europa League match day programme will be available from several locations around the fan zone

Getting to the Fan Zone
S-Bahn: S1, S11,
Reeperbahn stop

If you need to contact the Club during your trip to Hamburg, please telephone Supporter Relations Manager Tommy Guthrie on 07717 225 164. You can also contact the Club in London (UK office hours only) by telephone on 0870 442 1222.

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Davies dreaming of perfect finish
Fulham FC have thrilled fans and neutrals alike in Europe this season, and midfielder Simon Davies says the players are now "really looking forward to the challenge" of Wednesday's final.

Fulham FC have provided plenty of entertainment en route to the UEFA Europa League final and midfielder Simon Davies hopes they can serve up another occasion to remember during Wednesday's meeting with Club Atlético de Madrid.

This may be only the London side's second ever European campaign, but they have regaled fans with a lengthy list of memorable nights on their path towards the Hamburg showpiece. None was more thrilling than the 4-1 comeback win against Juventus in their round of 16 decider, but Roy Hodgson's men also claimed the notable scalps of UEFA Cup holders FC Shakhtar Donetsk and German champions VfL Wolfsburg, before another superb fightback to down Hamburger SV in the last four.

"Everyone's really looking forward to the challenge," said Davies, who summed up the predominant mood in the Fulham camp as "excitement". "We've worked hard enough to get here, so we're really going to go and enjoy it – and just keep playing our game. Hopefully that will take us one step further."

While the Craven Cottage side have undoubtedly given fans plenty to cheer this term, the Welsh international insisted that it has been a reciprocal process. "The European nights have been amazing since the Juventus game, when they got behind us when we really needed them to – and obviously we responded to get back in the game and win it, which was fantastic," he said. "I think it's just created that excitement from then, and every time we've played at the Cottage since it has been a great occasion."

He and his team-mates will now be pulling for similar levels of support at the Hamburg Arena, with the club's allocation sold out. Likewise, Davies hopes that Fulham's tactical approach will again serve them well, their tidy, passing style seemingly suited to European nights. "We like to keep the ball on the floor," he explained. "We like to play [the right way] and keep compact. Playing in Europe, you see teams that play very similarly to ourselves, so both teams tend to get a lot of the ball. And, of course, having got to the final you can say it's definitely suited us this year."

Their experiences over the campaign will also have taught them to stay calm should Atlético take the lead, with much of that composure emanating from manager Hodgson. The well-travelled 62-year-old will be overseeing his second European final after his FC Internazionale Milano side lost the 1996/97 UEFA Cup final to FC Schalke 04 on penalties, and it was his guidance that helped Fulham advance this far after falling behind in their semi-final second leg against HSV.

"At half-time, the manager just said to us: 'Just keep playing your game', because he felt we were playing well enough," said Davies. "There were no panic stations; it was just a case of going out there and continuing to play the way he believes we can. And that's what we did, really. We kept trying to pass the ball around and we got our goals in the end."

Hodgson Confident Over Zamora Fitness

Roy Hodgson has backed striker Bobby Zamora to be fit and firing if he chosen to represent England at the World Cup.

The 29-year-old has never played for his country before but his 19 goals this season have put him in contention for selection despite missing much of the last two weeks with an Achilles problem.

And Hodgson is sure he can be fit for the summer, saying: "If Bobby was lucky enough to be involved for England, then by the time that group get together after the FA Cup final, it would not prevent him from taking part in that."

Who Will Make The 30?
The final 23-man squad for South Africa will be named soon enough, although the initial 30 will be named tomorrow - Vital England asks who you think will, could or should stay or go?

Vital England says: Fabio Capello announces his 30-man provisional world cup squad for South Africa on Tuesday, but who do you think will make it?

Can you see any surprise 1st time inclusions, late recalls or even surprise omissions taking place - in fact who would you like to see go or miss out?

What do you think?

This is just a sample section (feel free to leave comments here and there), read the full article on this link - England - who will make the 30?

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