Author Topic: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)  (Read 5194 times)

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Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« on: May 11, 2010, 09:37:59 PM »

All the Best

Tuesday 11th May 2010

Fulham FC News

Former Fulham star Ray Houghton has joined the long list of names wishing Roy Hodgson’s side well ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League Final date with Atletico Madrid.

The midfield schemer began his playing days at Craven Cottage, making more than 145 appearances for the Whites in the early 1980s, before going on to achieve great success with Liverpool, Aston Villa and the Republic of Ireland. And speaking to Fultime Magazine for a forthcoming World Cup special edition, he described his pleasure with the Club’s current success.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” he enthused. “Especially with the news that Roy Hodgson has been named Manager of the Year, which he says is the pinnacle of his career. It’s absolutely sensational. For a club like Fulham to get to a European final is just dreamlike.

“I think anybody associated with the Club will have pinched themselves after the win over Hamburg, and the thousands that will travel there are very lucky indeed. To be there and see your team play in a major European final will be tremendous, and I wish the team every success.”

Houghton played for Fulham when we were a second tier side, and although under the stewardship of Malcolm Macdonald and Ray Harford the Whites were regarded as a team with some promise, the thought of the Club as a future European force would have been the stuff of wild fantasy.

“I don’t think anybody saw it coming, even in all the years they’ve been a Premier League club. It seemed such an elite thing to get to,” he said.

“They’ve had to get through 18 games to get to this final, which is crackers, so to remain so consistent throughout is tremendous and the reward is there now with the final.

“Now you just hope the players go out and perform and they don’t freeze on the night, because they’ve been so good so far. Whenever they’ve been called upon they’ve always come up with good performances. Now they only need one more, so let’s hope they can do it.”

The 73-cap Irishman who claimed multiple League championships and FA Cups, still reflects fondly on his time in SW6 with Fulham who first gave him the break in football that didn’t materialise at the club he played for as a youth, West Ham.

“Terry Mancini, the then reserve team manager, was pivotal in bringing me to the Club after he saw me playing for West Ham against Fulham reserves,” he recalled.

“Malcolm Macdonald and Ray Harford were the ones that gave me the opportunity at First Team level and that helped flourish my career. They gave me a good grounding, taught me my trade and gave me the confidence to believe in myself as a First Team player.

“I’ve got an awful lot of love for the Club and a lot to thank them for.

“So it’s great to see Fulham in the position they’re in, and let’s hope they finish it off with a victory over Atletico Madrid.”

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2010, 09:39:27 PM »

One More Step

Tuesday 11th May 2010

Fulham FC News

Fulham Captain Danny Murphy reflected on an incredible journey to the Final of the UEFA Europa League on Tuesday evening before praising the Club's supporters for their incredible show of support throughout the Club's European campaign.

“The situation this year with Fulham has been remarkable in many ways," Murphy explained. "As far as we’re concerned, to write our names in the history books of the Club, and what we’ve achieved already, has been special.

"To go that one step further and win it would stay with us, and everybody involved with the Club, forever. The supporters could look back in years to come on a wonderful achievement.

“It’s because of the supporters we’re here and we do it for them. You play football for the Manager, the Club and the supporters.

“The biggest compliment I can pay to the supporters is on a difficult journey to Hamburg in the Semi Final, they still managed to get here and fill the allocation, despite the difficulties.

“That said so much and they’ve been there by our side throughout. They’ve been unbelievable. The elation I saw at the Cottage in the Semi Final is something that will live with me for a long time."

Murphy has enjoyed a memorable few years at the Cottage and the former England international will clearly be busting with pride when he leads the Whites out in Hamburg on Wednesday night.

I’ll be very proud," admitted Murphy. “It’s been a fantastic couple of years for myself and the Club. I’ll be proud but focused as we have the desire and hunger to win this trophy. We’ve not come here to make up the numbers.”

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2010, 09:41:05 PM »

Final Team News

Tuesday 11th May 2010

Fulham FC News

Roy Hodgson delivered some positive news on the fitness front on Tuesday night, regarding Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff, before taking the Club's final training session ahead the UEFA Europa League Final.

“They [Zamora and Duff] trained yesterday [Monday] and that was very positive. Hopefully they’ll train this evening. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s any reaction from yesterday’s training session.

“I’ve been given no indication that they’re suffering any reaction so my hope is they’ll train tonight [Tuesday] and therefore be available to play tomorrow."

Hodgson is planning to crown a remarkable European campaign by bringing the UEFA Europa League Trophy back to SW6 but is well aware of the threat Atletico Madrid will pose in Hamburg on Wednesday night.

“At the moment we’re planning not to be second best. We want to win the competition. If we do that we’ll be very, very happy.

"Whatever happens tomorrow night it’s been a very good season but we’re all determined to crown the season by bringing home a trophy.

“You work hard to get to Finals and play a lot of important games along the way and then you get to the Final and it’s between two teams. It’s you or the opponent.

“You know at the end of the evening one team is going to leave the pitch smiling and the other will leave with tears in their eyes.”

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2010, 11:20:49 PM »

Fulham cast as people's champions ahead of Europa League final

• John Terry sends good luck message to Fulham

• Roy Hodgson waits on Bobby Zamora's fitness

    * Jamie Jackson in Hamburg
    *, Tuesday 11 May 2010 22.30 BST

Fulham's manager Roy Hodgson and Danny Murphy during training at the HSH Nordbank Arena today. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA

Danny Murphy believes Fulham will have the whole nation behind them when they face Atlético Madrid in the Europa League final tomorrow. The Fulham captain's claim was backed up by John Terry, the Chelsea captain, who said he hoped their west London rivals would triumph at Hamburg's Nordbank Arena.

"I think the support we've received, or I've been getting – phone calls, meeting people in the street – has just been amazing, phenomenal really," Murphy said. "It's kind of everybody's second favourite club at the moment because of maybe our spirit, our unusual position this season, that we've overcome the odds and beaten so many good teams.

"I think people enjoy watching us – the spirit and also the way we play. I think supporters appreciate good football and over the course of the competition we've certainly tried to play the right way. It's nice to have the encouragement because it gives you the extra incentive to take the trophy home."

Asked who had sent good luck messages Murphy said: "The usual friends, they've all been wishing me all the best. I think all the other lads are the same. We've all been surprised and overwhelmed really, with all the support we've had."

Terry, who played with Fulham's leading scorer, Bobby Zamora, and Paul Konchesky, the left-back, in the same youth team, Senrab, said: "I wish the Fulham guys a lot of good luck because they have done brilliantly this season, probably unexpected from everyone, but I wish them well.

"I wish Fulham, Paul Konchesky and Bobby Zamora good luck in the final. I know Bobby has been struggling with his achilles but I wish him well. He texted me after we won the title and I would be delighted for him if Fulham went on to win the Europa League."

Zamora, who has scored 19 goals this season, watched the squad's final training session, which was held at the Nordbank Arena, last night, although Damien Duff had recovered enough from a leg injury to take part.

Hodgson said: "They trained yesterday [on Monday] and that was very, very positive and, of course, I hope and we'll have to see if there's any reaction. I've been given no indication there's going to be any reaction so hopefully they'll be able to play tomorrow."

Hodgson, who was head coach of Internazionale in 1997 when they lost to Schalke 04 on penalties in the Uefa Cup final, said of his side's prospects of defeating Atlético: "You work hard to get to a final. You play some very, very important games along the way, then the big day arrives when it's down to two teams: it's either you or your opponent.

"You know one of you is going to go smiling and one's going to leave the field with tears in their eyes. That's the nature of things. I think all the people out there know how we're going to feel: if we win or if we lose."

Atlético should present a formidable challenge. They are also in the final of the Copa Del Rey, Spain's major domestic cup competition, and are ninth in La Liga, following a difficult start which led to Quique Sánchez Flores replacing the sacked Abel Resino in October.

Diego Forlán, whose extra-time goal at Anfield knocked Liverpool out in the semi-finals and who has won two European golden boots, should pose Madrid's major attacking threat. "To score at Liverpool was nice because I am a United fan," the former Manchester United striker said. "But if I score against Fulham it will mean even more. We intend to win and become champions."

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2010, 10:12:30 AM »,19528,11096_6148636,00.html

Arrogant Atletico

Cottagers are favourites, argues Guillem

Last updated: 12th May 2010   

They look at the Fulham side and players such as Zamora and Murphy, and say they are rejects.

Guillem Balague told Revista that Atletico Madrid are "overconfident" heading into Wednesday night's Europa League final against Fulham, who he believes could come away with a first major trophy in their 131-year history.

Both sides rested players ahead of the Hamburg decider, with the strike duo of Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero set to return. And having defeated Liverpool in the semi-finals Guillem says Atletico think they have beaten the strongest of the two English sides.

"Their feeling is one of overconfidence," Guillem told Revista. "They look at the Fulham side and players such as Zamora and Murphy, and say they are rejects. But they shouldn't forget that against Liverpool they were inferior. I think Fulham could be favourites."

However, Terry Gibson feels it could be a tough night for the Cottagers if Atletico can hit top gear in Germany, and states they are stronger at the back since the arrival of Quique Sanchez Flores.

"It will be a difficult game for Fulham if Atletico Madrid perform at their best," said Terry. "It's a big game and Forlan, Simao, Aguero and Reyes are all big-game players.

"Atletico are loaded with attacking talent and since Flores came in they've been more consistent and harder to break down in defence. He's sorted out the back four and brought in 20-year-old Álvaro Domínguez, which has solved their central defensive problems."

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2010, 10:18:43 AM »


Mark Schwarzer's superb form has helped Fulham clinch an amazing Europa League final showdown

Wednesday May 12,2010

By Frank Wiechula 

AS well as being the last line of defence for Fulham and Australia, Mark Schwarzer is a successful co-writer of children’s books featuring a football character called Edward ‘Megs’ Morrison.

But accomplished author and inspirational goalkeeper Schwarzer would be hard pushed to classify the correct section for Fulham’s fantastic story – fact or fiction – after their record-breaking run to a first European final.

Tonight’s Europa League showpiece against Atletico Madrid in Hamburg offers Schwarzer, 37, and his team-mates a unique opportunity to write the final chapter of a classic old-fashioned English adventure, which has contained as many twists and turns, thrills and spills as any bestseller.

And Schwarzer admits he could even be moved to record his own personal recollection of an epic journey which has spawned tens of thousands of newsprint words already. Schwarzer, the hardy perennial among Fulham’s marathon men this season, said: “I might end up writing a book about this one day.

“Which section? You’ll have to wait and see – stranger than fiction.”

Schwarzer could be forgiven for thinking he had read this particular football episode somewhere before.

Just like Fulham, who have confounded the odds in virtually every round, Schwarzer helped a small, unfashionable club reach their first European final – Middlesbrough’s 2006 UEFA Cup final against another Spanish side, Sevilla. The resemblance between the two tales is not lost on Schwarzer.

“It’s like a mirror image of the two clubs,” he said.

“The accomplishment with Boro was remarkable, just to make the final in the circumstances we did – although it was a bitter disappointment not to take it one step further [they lost to Sevilla].”

Boro got through the last 16 by beating Roma on away goals, while Fulham dispatched Juventus 5-4 after being 4-1 down at home. In the 2006 quarter-final Boro were 3-0 down at home on aggregate against Basle before storming through 4-3.

In the second home leg of the semi-final against Steaua, they were once more 3-0 behind on aggregate before clinching another incredible 4-3 result.

As the competition and quality intensified, Fulham have responded in similar style. They drew at Shakhtar Donetsk to knock out the holders, won away in the quarter-final in Wolfsburg and came from behind at home to beat Hamburg in the semi-finals.

Schwarzer said: “Look at our opponents throughout the campaign, and especially after the group stage, it has probably been a bit more remarkable in the sense of who we’ve beaten.

“Shakhtar Donetsk are probably one of the best teams I’ve ever played against, yet we got through. And then we beat Juventus from 3-1 down, with the great players they have, Wolfsburg, the German champions, and Hamburg, a top club.”

Every time Fulham were written off, they came back even stronger.

Schwarzer, who will keep goal for Australia in the World Cup in South Africa next month, said: “The more that the outside world sort of said, ‘Finish and forget about it’, the more we were determined to go further.

“At the beginning of the season it was close to 1,000-1 on Fulham making the Europa League final. Those high odds were just ridiculous.”

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2010, 10:20:19 AM »


Wednesday May 12,2010

By John Dillon 

ROY Hodgson has been here before.

Not just to the Nordbank Arena, where Fulham pulled off the goalless draw against Hamburg which propelled them to their improbable European final tonight, but to the very cusp of triumph in the same competition.

As a football adventurer mostly unsung in his homeland until recently, Hodgson’s achievement in leading Inter Milan to a painful defeat on penalties in the 1997 UEFA Cup final against Schalke went virtually unnoticed in England.

Thirteen years on and some glaring statistics which existed that night in the San Siro are still in place, pointing out how little regard there has been throughout most of the game for the qualities of English coaches.

The last of them to win a major European trophy was Sir Bobby Robson, also in 1997, who lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Barcelona, while Steve McClaren was a beaten finalist with Middlesbrough in 2006.

If Hodgson claims the Europa League trophy tonight, he will be the first Englishman to win with an English club since Howard Kendall’s Everton took the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1985.

All kinds of unlikely football romance surrounds Fulham’s presence here as unexpected entrants to the European elite. From Stevenage Road, SW6, to the Reeperbahn, with Juventus beaten along the way, is fantasy football made real. As the club captain, Danny Murphy pointed out last night, however, Hodgson did not make it happen by “sprinkling magic dust on us”.

He did it by the sound practice of management and coaching; the relentless drilling in of principles about team shape and discipline formed in the manager’s mind during a career which placed him in dugouts all across Europe.

If that part of the story – the goalless draw ground out in the semi-final first leg in this stadium being the prime example – does not fit in with the format of a fairy tale coming to life, it is because Hodgson is not a story weaver.

He is a technician, and a rarity because he practised and honed his craft in so many locations where Englishmen have been largely unwanted at the helm.

Hodgson spooled back to the narrow defeat with Inter in 1997 last night and said that for all the grandeur of the club he managed then, his sortie across 20,000 miles and nine previous ties to this final with Fulham has given him more satisfaction.

“We have been much less fancied in the tournament than Inter were back then,” he said. “We’ve had a tougher passage to the final. I was very proud to get to that final, but in some ways I will be even more proud to be here tonight.

“And I’m hoping that 13 years on, I’m a little more philosophical and more able to take what comes my way. I’m hoping the bad memories of 1997 can be expunged.”

Hodgson’s pedigree and the way he and his coaches have shaped their side suggest that a large part of their plan will involve the containment of Atletico’s more expansive talents like Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero.

Even so, Atletico have won only two of the eight matches they have played to get here since dropping out of the Champions League into the Europa League’s round of 32. Murphy summed up Fulham’s presence here, saying: “It has been special to write our names in the history books already. But to go one step further and win this would be something we would remember for ever.”

Hodgson, asked to address the long wait for an English coaching triumph at this level, added: “The best English teams don’t have English managers. The best foreign teams don’t have English managers. Therefore, you are looking for an English manager to win a trophy with an unfancied team.”

The reasons for that are for another day. A football odyssey could end in glory here tonight. The team who often so nearly went bankrupt may complete a true epic. At the climax of such a story and even with a coach who has travelled so widely, it would be a very English one

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2010, 10:21:26 AM »

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson eyes Europa League glory

Europa League final: Atletico Madrid v Fulham

Venue: HSH Nordbank Arena, Hamburg Date: Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Kick-off: 1945 BST Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, live on Channel Five and text commentary on BBC Sport website

Fulham's route to the final

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson believes his team are perfectly primed to lift the Europa League trophy on Wednesday.

Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus and Hamburg have all been beaten by Fulham en route to the final, with Spain's Atletico Madrid now standing in their way.

And manager of the year Hodgson believes they can defy the odds again.

"If the question is whether we really want to win, have we prepared as best we can, will we give our all - the answer is a big, big yes," he said.

Fulham arrived in Hamburg by plane on Tuesday after airspace reopened following disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland.

Hodgson is fond of using a phrase he heard during his time in Sweden about "the self-playing piano" - a term applied to his Malmo team that won the title five seasons in succession
Hodgson had suggested on Sunday that European football chiefs Uefa should postpone the match until it was clear both teams could fly to the venue.

However, with a dreaded 570-mile road trip avoided, Hodgson was in an altogether more relaxed mood about the fixture as he spoke to reporters before his team's training session at the Hamburg Arena.

"Whatever happens this has been a very good season," reflected Hodgson, who when he was in charge at Inter Milan saw his team lose on penalties to Schalke 04 in the two-legged final of the competition's former incarnation - the Uefa Cup - in 1997.

"This is a greater occasion [than in 1997] because it's a one-off final. Playing the final at home and away wasn't the same.

"Of course, my memories of that final are very vivid. If you lose on penalties in front of your own crowd the memory will stay with you - and it won't be a happy one.

"I'm proud of reaching that final but I hope Inter Milan will forgive me for saying that I'm even prouder of this."

Murphy ready to make Fulham history
Hodgson's carefully crafted team of modest buys (Zoltan Gera from West Brom for £1.5m), obscure European finds (Brede Hangeland from FC Copenhagen) and rejuvenated 'Big Four' cast-offs (Danny Murphy, ex-Liverpool, and former Chelsea winger Damien Duff) have negotiated 14 games on their way to their maiden European final.

Former Anfield playmaker Murphy played all 117 minutes of Liverpool 5-4 Uefa Cup final win over another Spanish side, Deportivo Alaves, in Dortmund in 2001.

And Fulham captain Murphy, who only two seasons ago scored a goal at Portsmouth to keep the then struggling west Londoners in the Premier League, sensed his team were ready to seize a historic moment.

"It's been a fantastic couple of years for both the club and myself and to captain the team during one of its most successful times has been a very proud spell of my career," said the former England midfielder.

"This final will be the highlight of that - sorry, getting ahead of myself there!"

Favourites Atletico opted to travel to Hamburg a day early on Monday in order to avoid any possible travel disruptions.

And their logistical caution was mirrored in coach Quique Sanchez Flores's pre-match thoughts.

Flores's team lie ninth in La Liga
"Fulham have excellent players," said Flores, who has also guided his side to a Spanish Cup final against Sevilla since taking over from Abel Resino, who departed in the wake of the club's 4-0 Champions League drubbing at Chelsea last October.

"The physical aspect and strategy come together. We have to take some risk but not open ourselves to dead-ball situations.

"There are many reasons to be optimistic but we have to be careful. And we need to be courageous."

Two players Flores no doubt hopes do not feature on Wednesday are Fulham striker Bobby Zamora, who faces a race against time to overcome an Achilles tendon problem, and winger Duff, who is recovering from a leg injury.

Zamora, who has scored eight times during Fulham's European odyssey, which began on 30 July against Lithuania side FK Vetra, has not played since the 2-1 semi-final, second leg win over Hamburg on April 29 at Craven Cottage, when Duff was also hurt.

But Hodgson's latest report on the pair was upbeat and he added: "Both players trained on Monday and that was very, very positive.

"I've been given no indication that they're suffering from a reaction so my hope is that they'll be available."

Uruguay international Diego Forlan and Argentina star Sergio Aguero are likely to spearhead Atletico's attacking threat.

Forlan scored a goal in both legs of his side's semi-final - the second an extra-time away goal - to end Liverpool's hopes of reaching the final.

But the former Manchester United player preferred to envisage lifting the trophy than reproducing his scoring heroics.

"I am part of a team and the designated forward, so it is my job to score goals," stated Forlan, who also knocked out Galatasaray with an extra-time strike in Istanbul at the last-32 stage.

"The most important thing is that we perform well and win - it doesn't matter who scores. Getting a goal is always beautiful and something I enjoy - getting two against Liverpool was wonderful and not just because I played for Manchester United. But now all I want is to win the trophy."

Italian Nicola Rizzoli, 39, will be the referee for the final. He took charge of the quarter-final return leg between Manchester United and Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

29 July 2009 - Q3 L1: FK Vetra 0-3 Fulham
6 Aug 2009 - Q3 L2: Fulham 3-0 FK Vetra (agg 6-0)
20 Aug 2009 - FQ L1: Fulham 3-1 Amkar Prem
27 Aug 2009 - FQ L2: Amkar Perm 1-0 Fulham (agg 2-3)

17 Sept 2009 - Grp E: CSKA Sofia 1-1 Fulham
1 Oct 2009 - Grp E: Fulham 1-0 Basle
22 Oct 2009 - Grp E: Fulham 1-1 Roma
5 Nov 2009 - Grp E: Roma 2-1 Fulham
3 Dec 2009 - Grp E: Fulham 1-0 CSKA Sofia
16 Dec 2009 - Grp E: FC Basle 2-3 Fulham

18 Feb 2010 - L32 L1: Fulham 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
25 Feb 2010 - L32 L2: Shakhtar D 1-1 Fulham (agg 2-3)
11 Mar 2010 - L16 L1: Juventus 3-1 Fulham
18 Mar 2010 - L16 L2: Fulham 4-1 Juventus (agg 5-4)
1 Apr 2010 - QF L1: Fulham 2-1 Wolfsburg
8 Apr 2010 - QF L2: Wolfsburg 0-1 Fulham (agg 1-3)
22 Apr 2010 - SF L1: Hamburg 0-0 Fulham
28 Apr 2010 - SF L1: Fulham 2-1 Hamburg (agg 2-1)

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2010, 10:22:24 AM »

Up next: Atletico Madrid

by Dan on May 12, 2010

And so we’re here. Improbably, Fulham’s European tour, which has already spanned some 18,000 miles in ten months, ends tonight in Hamburg with a major trophy within touching distance. It says something about the remarkable job Roy Hodgson has done that just reaching the group stage of the inagural Europa League was seen as an achievement. I remember the sigh of relief that greeted the final whistles in Perm, Basel and Donetsk as a resilient Fulham side proved their worth.

Fulham’s run to the final – much like Middlesbrough’s a few years ago – has been a victory for the little guy. Neither team had been expected to progress much beyond the initial stages of the tournament but they have shown just how far you can go with shrewd management, good organisation and plenty of hard work. Hodgson has plenty of European experience (though he’ll want to experience a happier ending than losing on penalties, as he did with Inter in the UEFA Cup final back in the mid-90s) but the LMA’s manager of the year has already indicated that getting to a showpiece final with Fulham outstrips anything he’s achieved in an impressive managerial career.

The wily old coach might have a tactical plan to deal with a dangerous Atletico attack but he shouldn’t have to worry about a team-talk tonight. Sergio Aguero’s ill-advised broadside might have done the job for him. It’s precisely because Fulham lack a European pedigree and they aren’t one of the leading lights of the English game that makes this such a fairytale as well as making the unfashionable side by the banks of the Thames so dangerous.

Atletico are the favourites, even with the British bookmakers, and they will have already noted that they might have history on their side. Their only European trophy was won on German soil and they even have the edge in terms of a lack of fraught preparations. Quique Sanchez Flores is only missing reserve goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo through injury and has a wealth of attacking talent to pick from. Both Augero, the pint-sized Argentine and Diego Forlan, the former Manchester United striker whose extra-time goal knocked Liverpool out in the semi-finals at Anfield, have scored eight goals between them in Europe this season. Former Arsenal winger Jose Antonio Reyes will be a real threat down the wing tonight. With Simao and Jurado oozing class in midfield, Hodgson will no doubt be hoping that skipper Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu are able to impose themselves on an important midfield battle.

Hodgson’s team selection, as ever for our European fixtures, remains uncertain as we get closer to kick-off. Damien Duff and Bobby Zamora both trained on Monday although Zamora, who apparently turned down the chance to be named in Fabio Capello’s provisional World Cup squad in order to have an operation on his troublesome Achilles tendon over the summer, missed Fulham’s final training session at the HSV Nordbank Arena last night as a precaution. His fitness will be monitored over the course of the day and Hodgson will be hoping that he can field his Gera-Zamora axis this evening.

Duff’s European experience would also be a handy boost and the word is that the Irish international should start. Whether Clint Dempsey, whose majestic goal against Juventus will live long in the memory as perhaps the single most memorable moment of this European adventure, starts remains to be seen as Hodgson has favoured introducing the American from the bench since he returned from a knee injury.

Given that Fulham were in the fourth division when Hodgson narrowly missed out on lifting the UEFA Cup with Inter in 1997, you’d forgive those who have travelled for treating this as a day out. Whilst watching the Whites in a European final is still something to get your head around for some of us, Hodgson’s made it clear that Fulham are here to win it. Both Murphy and Mark Schwarzer have emphasised in recent days that Fulham’s victories in the knockout stages of the competition mean they have no fear of any opponent and will head out onto the field this evening full of confidence.

Atletico do have considerable ability going forward but their domestic form has been undermined by a rather frail defence. Whereas Fulham’s journey to Hamburg has been characterised by defensive discipline and durability, Atletico have largely made it on the back of scoring goals. Opportunity must certainly knocks for Fulham tonight. Let’s hope they take it.

MY FULHAM XI (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Pantsil, Konchesky, Hughes, Hangeland; Etuhu, Murphy, Duff, Dempsey; Gera; Zamora. Subs: Zuberbuhler, Smalling, Baird, Greening, Davies, Riise, Nevland.

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2010, 10:23:23 AM »

Nevland aiming to finish Fulham career with a flourish

May 12 2010

By Paul Warburton

ERIK Nevland has already picked out the wall back home in Norway where his Europa League medal will get pride of place.

The 32-year-old striker will appear on a Fulham teamsheet for the last time when he takes a seat on the bench for the final against Atletico Madrid in Hamburg tonight.

And when the dignitaries drape the ribbon around his neck at the end - Nevland is not going to mind too much whether the medal has winner or loser on it.

He said: "It will go on the wall in my hometown, Stavangar, because, whatever we do, it’s a great achievement just to get there.

“It’s a marvellous way to finish my time at Fulham, and we’re all very proud of our achievements."

But the man who tends to come with the cavalry every time Fulham need late-match reinforcement is none too impressed with the idea they have a headstart in the match because the Whites got the feel of the Hamburg stadium in the semis.

He added: "It doesn’t matter that we’ve already played there.

“This will be a a totally different game against a different side, and more important - a one-off game."

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2010, 10:25:03 AM »

Fulham v Atlético Madrid: Roy Hodgson's fairy-tale ending is firmly rooted in reality

The fairy-tale of the season opens its final chapter in Wednesday night's Europa League showdown, but it is a saga that is firmly grounded in reality.
By Jason Burt in Hamburg

Published: 7:00AM BST 12 May 2010

 Making history: Roy Hodgson embraces Danny Murphy after reaching the Europa League final Photo: REUTERS
“There is no magic dust he sprinkles on us before every game,” Danny Murphy said on Tuesday night. The “he” in question is Fulham manager Roy Hodgson, the manager of the season who is on course to become the first Englishman to lead a team to a European trophy in 13 years.

Fail to do so against Atlético Madrid, Hodgson said, and there would be “tears” but there is a sense that this Fulham side enter the Europa League final with more than hope to take them along. Although striker Bobby Zamora failed to train on Monday night, he is expected to play before having an Achilles operation.

 There is expectation, too, and expectation that has, at its core, a framework of hard work and organisation. Team shape is the mantra and it has defined this extraordinary campaign in which Fulham have conquered the holders, Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, Wolfsburg and Hamburg in a campaign that began last July.

“He is a manager who works hard and makes sure we know our jobs,” said Murphy, whose own dwindling career has been transformed. “It’s a joy to be at the club at the moment. There is a confidence that is down to the manager and his staff and he introduced his style and made some astute signings.

“It’s been a mix of a lot of things but primarily hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight and doesn’t happen because you want it to happen.”

Hodgson, 62, shrugs when he is asked the formula for success. He is a coach, first and foremost, with a remarkable CV stretching back 35 years which has transported him from club and country jobs in Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, Finland and England.

It is why Hodgson prefers to go back to 1979 when he is reminded that it was Sir Bobby Robson who was the last Englishman to triumph, in 1997, when he led Barcelona to the European Super Cup. Before that, in 1985, Howard Kendall, won the Cup-Winners’ Cup with Everton. But in 1979 Hodgson’s friend, Bobby Houghton, led Swedish part-timers Malmo to the European Cup final against Nottingham Forest. Malmo lost but Hodgson wanted to “redress the balance” and pay tribute to the achievement.

Victory tonight would be the greatest feat of Hodgson’s career with even the Atlético striker Diego Forlan, once of Manchester United, paying tribute to the style and approach he has brought to Craven Cottage. “They [Fulham] are not a typical English team, they like to play football,” the Uruguayan said, with perhaps unintended acerbity.

The achievement of reaching this final, and earning the goodwill of the Premier League – tributes coming from Sir Alex Ferguson and John Terry – is in itself more impressive than his previous comparable final, with Inter Milan in 1997.

“This is a greater occasion because it’s a one-off final and not over two legs,” Hodgson said, referring to that Uefa Cup final which was lost on penalties. It is also greater, of course, because this is Fulham, not Inter. I’m even prouder to be here with Fulham,” Hodgson said. “Firstly, we were much less fancied in the tournament than Inter were in ’97. And, secondly, we have had a tougher passage to the finals.”

Hodgson, for all his measured approach, is aware that he can make a mark on history, a history he has been writing throughout this campaign. It would be an indelible mark for Fulham. “The best English teams don’t have English managers, and the best foreign teams don’t have English managers,” he said.

“Then you have to look at an English manager winning it with an unfancied team. It’s not very often that a team like ours gets to the final.”

Murphy, the captain, articulated it best of all. “We have the desire and hunger to win this trophy,” said the Liverpudlian who won this competition with his home-town club nine years ago. “We are everyone’s second favourite club at the moment, maybe because of our spirit and because we have overcome the odds this season. We also play football in the right way and fans want to see that.”

The odds will be against them again. But, as with all the best fairy-tales, it was ever thus

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2010, 10:27:46 AM »

Fulham v Atletico Madrid: match preview

By Jeremy Wilson

Published: 10:13PM BST 11 May 2010

The key for Fulham will be to contain Atletico's obvious attacking threats, notably Jose Antonio Reyes, Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero. It means that Roy Hodgson will require major midfield performances from Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu. Atletico, however, do have a suspect defence and have conceded 57 goals this season in La Liga.

Roy Hodgson v Quique Sanchez Flores: With their teams settled in mid-table of the respective domestic leagues, the Europa League has developed into the priority this season from both Hodgson and Flores. Fulham look to have a decisive advantage in the dugout, both in terms of Hodgson’s experience and tactical acumen. Flores has endured domestic disappointment in what is his first season at Atletico following spells with Benfica, Valencia and Getafe.

Key clash:

Diego Forlan v Brede Hangeland: It is his unpredictability than can make Forlan, the former Manchester United centre-forward, so dangerous. His pace and movement are other major assets, as Liverpool found to their cost in the semi-final, meaning Brede Hangeland will need to rely on much more than his commanding aerial presence.

What they are saying:

Atletico coach Quique Sanchez Flores said: "They have excellent players. The physical aspect and strategy come together. We have to take some risk but not open ourselves to dead-ball situations. There are many reasons to be optimistic but we have to be careful. And we need to be courageous."

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson: "If we lose then I hope it means we've been beaten by a better team and not that we've been very unlucky or been hit by some decisions that are controversial. At the moment we're planning not to be second best, we're planning to try and win the competition. Whatever happens it's been a very good season for us and we're determined to crown that season by winning the trophy."

Probable teams:
Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky; Davies, Murphy, Etuhu, Duff; Gera; Zamora.
Atletico Madrid (4-4-2): De Gea; Valera, Dominguez, Perea, Antonio Lopez; Reyes, Paulo Assuncao, Raul Garcia, Simao; Aguero, Forlan.

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2010, 10:29:32 AM »

Fulham v Atletico Madrid: Mark Schwarzer says victory would be like winning World Cup

Mark Schwarzer has told his team-mates to seize their chance of history on Wednesday night in a match that he describes as Fulham’s equivalent of a World Cup final.
By Jeremy Wilson

Published: 7:30AM BST 12 May 2010

The occasion has already been widely billed as the biggest in Fulham’s history but Schwarzer, who was in the Middlesbrough team who lost in the 2006 Uefa Cup final, is acutely aware that this could be his final opportunity to win major silverware.

“When everything is done and dusted, regardless of the result, people will still be thinking about what an unbelievable occasion it was that a club like Fulham would be in such a major tournament final,” he said.

 “The chance to make history is something that we will be reiterating among the players. In particular for someone like myself who’s been there and experienced it. You’ll be saying to players: ‘Listen — who knows if this opportunity will ever come along again?’”

Schwarzer is already a prolific children’s author and admitted that this season’s Fulham fairy-tale would be the subject of a future book.

“It’ll definitely be involved somewhere in the future in something that I might do – it’s stranger than fiction,” he said. “At the beginning of the season if you looked at the odds of Fulham making the Europa League final, I think it was close to 1,000-1.”

Schwarzer is also anxious to put behind him the rather chastening final experience with Middlesbrough, who were beaten 4-0 in 2006 by Sevilla.

“There are remarkable similarities with what happened through the tournament at Middlesbrough,” said Schwarzer.

“Just to make the final in the circumstances that we did was truly remarkable. Maybe that’s something that the club will never achieve again and a lot of the fans are now realising how good those times really were.”

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2010, 10:32:49 AM »

Fulham's Roy Hodgson flies the flag for the radical English coach

The Fulham manager is on a mission for a forgotten breed in tonight's Europa League final in Hamburg

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Paul Hayward The Guardian, Wednesday 12 May 2010

Roy Hodgson, the Fulham manager, oversees a training session ahead of the Europa League final against Atlético Madrid in Hamburg. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty

A subtext to tonight's Europa League final between Fulham and Atlético Madrid is that Roy Hodgson is whistling the battle hymn of the downtrodden English manager. It is a tune not much heard these days, because the Premier League has never been won by an English coach and only two (the late Ray Harford and Sir Bobby Robson) have sent English teams out in the Champions League in which Harry Redknapp will join them if Tottenham Hotspur survive the qualifiers.

Since Kevin Keegan quit in the Wembley toilets in the autumn of 2000 the England manager's job has mostly been the preserve of lavishly paid tourists – Sven-Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello – with only a brief caretakership by Peter Taylor and Steve McClaren's calamitous interregnum to break the Football Association's habit of dialling international rescue. In this highly cosmopolitan era for the English game it might not seem to matter where a leader slid from the womb. But below the surface of stoical acceptance English managers regarded themselves as representatives of a tradition that has been clobbered by imported expertise.

Hodgson, 62, the Fulham manager, chafes when young football reporters frame questions in a way that suggest he is making a name for himself at Craven Cottage. The truth is that two spells at Internazionale in Milan and 34 years of success at club and international level across Europe and the Middle East had already established him as an elder statesman of the peripatetic coaching fraternity. Be careful with the "elder", though, because Hodgson's other gripe is that commentators refer to him as a "veteran" when age and experience have carried him to a European final and perhaps from there to a grander position with Liverpool or one day England.

Like many English managers – Redknapp is another and Robson was certainly one – Hodgson loathes the idea that coaches in this country were dragging their knuckles through a long-ball wasteland until overseas knowhow arrived to cure them of their ignorance. "It's irritated me to hear 'English people don't do this, it's only Europeans'," he says. "After what went on in Sweden with me and Bobby Houghton in the 1970s – to suddenly have thrown back at us this new way of organising and coaching is a bit hard to take."

Hodgson plants himself in the lineage of Don Howe, Robson, Dave Sexton and Terry Venables, who were encouraged by the Football Association in the 1960s to become the leaders of a new wave of strategists. These tracksuited thinkers maintain that any diminution in English coaching standards can be traced to the 1980s or later and consider it their responsibility to fight the corner of the young English manager, who is consistently ignored in the queue for the best jobs.

The history of the last 20 years makes dismal reading for the upwardly mobile English coach. Robson was the last to win a European trophy – the Cup Winners' Cup in 1997 – but that was with Barcelona. Howard Kendall was the last to lead an English club to a European prize with Everton in the 1985 running of the tournament Robson won in his brief time at Camp Nou. Before Redknapp won the 2008 FA Cup with Portsmouth, Joe Royle had been the last Englishman to raise the old pot, with Everton 15 years ago.

The championship continues to elude English managers since Howard Wilkinson's Leeds won the old First Division before its Year Zero conversion to the Premier League. The five who have won those honours are Scottish (Sir Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish), French (Arsène Wenger), Portuguese (José Mourinho) and now Italian (Carlo Ancelotti). Counter-blows were landed when McClaren took the Dutch title with Twente Enschede and Hodgson was named the League Managers' Association manager of the year on Monday night while Redknapp claimed the Premier League equivalent.

Again many will regard this preoccupation with passports as dinosaur-thinking but the reality, as Hodgson and others see it, is that a thriving football culture needs a line of progression for coaches born into that spirit and tradition. Redknapp is the intuitive talent-spotter, team-constructor and motivator, Hodgson the more prescriptive orchestrator, enforcing his will on the training ground with pattern-of-play routines, repetition exercises and precise drills so that each player knows his mission in defence and attack.

This kind of coaching is hard to impose season after season because players can grow bored, or robotic, but Hodgson's knowledge of character has helped him to poach the right types from bigger-name clubs and persuade those he inherited that adherence to his "principles" would raise them from perennial relegation battles to the kind of thrilling experience that awaits them tonight. Many English managers – some of them prophets without honour in their own land – will feel Hodgson is carrying their torch into Hamburg's Nordbank Arena.

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2010, 10:35:04 AM »

Hodgson looking to emulate Robson achievement

By Soccernet staff

May 12, 2010

Roy Hodgson says that he is hoping to emulate Sir Bobby Robson when he leads Fulham into the Europa League final and the greatest night in their 131-year history against Atletico Madrid in Hamburg on Wednesday.

Fulham have beaten the likes of Juventus, Hamburg, Wolfsburg and holders Shakhtar Donetsk to get to the final of the Europa League and Hodgson - who has just picked up the LMA Manager of the Season award - can become the first English manager to lift a European trophy in 13 years since the late Sir Bobby led Barcelona to the Cup Winners Cup.

"To follow a manager like Bobby Robson would be fantastic because as you know, we were friends for many years," Hodgson said. "He was a great man, a great manager and it would be very nice to think I could follow him."

Ironically, Hodgson led Inter Milan to the UEFA Cup final earlier that same year (a penalty defeat to Schalke), but says he believes that his efforts in guiding Fulham to this year's final out-weights that of 1997.

"I was very proud to get to that final with Inter but I'm even prouder to be here with Fulham because we were much less fancied in the tournament than Inter were in 1997," he said.

"Secondly we've had a tougher passage to the final. When I think back to the teams Inter eliminated along the way, they weren't the big names that we've beaten here. I'm hoping the bad memories of 1997 will be expunged by a good victory."

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2010, 10:37:14 AM »

Fulham's Europa League dream

Page last updated at 6:39 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 7:39 UK

By David Garrido
Newsbeat sports reporter
Bobby Zamora scored six goals in the competition in the run up to the final Let's face it - the Europa League is nowhere near as glamorous as the Champions' League.

Some people call it the Mickey Mouse Cup, or simply the Big Vase, because that's what the trophy looks like. It doesn't even have any handles.

While teams will sweat blood and tears to finish in the top four and get into the Champions' League, the race for seventh place at the end of the 2008-09 season was a bit of a joke.

No-one really wanted to qualify for the Europa League because it was thought to be an unwelcome distraction the following season.

Oh how wrong we were. The tournament that was previously known as the UEFA Cup has provided one of the stories of the season for Fulham… and it needed total commitment from the word go.

Not the sexiest start
Footballers never like having their summer holidays cut short, so instead of sunning themselves in Florida or Tenerife, Roy Hodgson's squad might have been a bit miffed to find themselves in Lithuania for their third qualifying round first leg against total minnows FK Vetra back in July 2009.

Not the sexiest start to their European adventure, admittedly. They could never have imagined still being in the competition ten months later.

The noise was deafening, they'd never seen anything like it down by the River Thames. Craven Cottage had become "Fortress Fulham".

Having got past Vetra and Russia's Amkar Perm (not a made-up name) in the play-offs, Fulham were then drawn in a hellish-looking group with FC Basel, Roma and CSKA Sofia, all of whom had played in the Big Cup, or Champions' League.

Hodgson maintained that the Europa League was at the bottom of his priority list, so no-one batted an eyelid when Fulham looked on their way out.

They needed to win in Switzerland to reach the knockout stages, but incredibly they did just that.

'Different kettle of fish'
Another toughie awaited in the last 32 against the holders, Shakhtar Donetsk, which involved a tricky trip away for the second leg.

But Brede Hangeland scored in Ukraine and produced one of his best performances to guide them through.

Juventus in the round of 16 was a different kettle of fish - the team who were twice European champions won comfortably 3-1 at the Stadio delle Alpi, and then an early away goal looked to have killed off the tie.

 Fulham fans have watched the roller-coaster ride with baited breath But that's when Fulham came of age.

A sending-off for Juve's Fabio Cannavaro was a stroke of luck, Zoltan Gera's two goals got the hosts back into it, and Clint Dempsey's chip eight minutes from time completed the most astonishing of turnarounds.

The noise was deafening, they'd never seen anything like it down by the River Thames. Craven Cottage had become "Fortress Fulham".

Quarter-final opponents Wolfsburg proved harder to break down, but a 2-1 home win set up an intriguing second leg in Germany. Bobby Zamora grabbed his sixth goal in the competition to seal the victory.

And so to a first-ever European semi-final. After a goalless draw in Hamburg, it was back to the Cottage for another nervy night.

The Germans got the away goal, and again it looked like curtains for Fulham, but no. This time, it was Simon Davies who started the comeback, and Gera clinched it.

At the final whistle, cue more pandemonium - fans jumping around, complete strangers hugging each other.

And all of that has led to this - a first European final in Fulham's 131-year history. From 192 teams at the very beginning, we've now only got two left.

Their opponents are Atletico Madrid, who knocked out Liverpool in the last four.

No matter the result, it's been quite some run but having got this far, those hardy Fulham fans who've made the trip from south west London will be desperate not to fall at the final hurdle.

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2010, 10:38:25 AM »

Atletico Madrid coach Quique Flores calls for bold approach against Fulham

Colchoneros aiming to end 48-year European drought...

By Paul Madden

12 May 2010 07:48:00

Atletico Madrid coach Quique Flores has insisted that his side will approach the Europa League final against Fulham with the same intensity and enthusiasm that has seen them reach the Hamburg showpiece.

Flores is aware of the significance of the final for Los Colchoneros, who have not won a top flight trophy since 1996 with their only European success coming 34 years earlier.

"We feel the responsibility to make things right. We have become aware of how important this final is in the history of this club and we're not going to change anything in what we are doing in this competition. We will try to play with intensity and enthusiasm. This game gives meaning to everything we have done so far,' he told reporters.

The coach also dismissed talk of being favourites going into Wednesday night's game at the HSH Nordbank Arena, stating that his side are only concerned with giving a good performance.

"We do not feel like favourites. We are only concerned about having a good game. The players are pumped up and what motivates us is trying reach the hearts of everyone. Fulham are a good team and if they are in this final, that is something. They can play the ball and they know how they want to play.

"Their coach [Roy Hodgson] has had a very impressive career path and they won't want to let us play," he remarked before noting that he wants his side to express themselves in the game and not feel any pressure.

"We're approaching it [the final] normally. Finals are not for pressure, they are to be played with great boldness."

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2010, 10:40:17 AM »

Europa League Special: Roy Hodgson - much more than just manager of the year

How the Fulham boss has earned his place in football's spotlight...

By Richard Parry

12 May 2010 07:40:00

Much has been said in recent weeks of the impact that a new manager can have on a side; how a squad of underachievers, or simply players of a ‘lower’ calibre, can be orchestrated into a powerful ensemble.

Harry Redknapp received rapturous praise after guiding Spurs to a top-four finish; and Jose Mourinho, for leading Inter to their first Champions League (formerly the European Cup) final for 38 years. All impressive feats, but compared to the miraculous fairytale that Roy Hodgson has written at Craven Cottage, they’re not quite in the same league, after taking Fulham from relegation certainties to their first ever European final.

In a career that has spanned the best part of 36 years, Hodgson has been somewhat of a managerial journeyman. In total, the 63-year-old has led 15 different sides, including two spells at the helm of the aforementioned Inter Milan.

His working life has seen him travel the globe, working in no fewer than seven different countries, including stints as the head coach of Switzerland, Finland and the United Arab Emirates, before finding himself walking the touchline at Craven Cottage.

Hodgson has admitted that he won’t enjoy Fulham’s Europa League final, despite the enormity of the occasion for the club itself, insisting that “the only enjoyment you can get is doing your job well – that means winning.”

Such words are a testament to his character. His experience in major competitions leaves him in good stead ahead of Wednesday’s clash in Hamburg, having led Switzerland in both the 1994 World Cup and the European Championships in 1996 – where he faced Terry Venables’ England.

As Inter boss, he led the Nerazzurri to the UEFA Cup final in 1997, eventually losing to Schalke on penalties in the second leg. Hodgson would then embark on his first stint in the Premier League; an up-and-down tenure at Blackburn Rovers which would leave the articulate tactician hungry to prove his worth.

He steered Rovers to a sixth-placed finish and UEFA Cup football in his first season, healing much of the supporters’ disappointments having dropped down the league which they had won in 1995. He received substantial financial backing from the late Jack Walker in the close season, but a poor start to his second campaign left Rovers at the foot of the table, and the horse bolted. Hodgson’s career in England came to an end.

That was until Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed came calling in Decemeber, 2007...

Hodgson’s achievements at Craven Cottage have been nothing short of spectacular. Steering the Cottagers to Premier League safety on the final day of the season, after amassing 12 points from their last five games, Hodgson’s Fulham never looked back.

In his second season, he bolstered his squad, signing players like Middlesbrough 'keeper Mark Schwarzer on a free transfer, and the unheard-of Brede Hangeland from FC Copenhagen, acquisitions that have helped shape the club into the force they are now; taking them to the Europa League after an impressive seventh-placed finish.

But this season has surpassed all expectations. Despite one of the smallest squads in the league, Fulham finished comfortably in mid-table, an even more astonishing achievement when you consider that their Europa League exploits started in July [with a 3-0 victory away to FK Vetra].

In Europe, Fulham have toppled one of Italy’s most prestigious sides in Juventus, while eliminating UEFA Cup holders Shakhtar Donetsk and Wolfsburg, who faced Manchester United in the Champions League earlier in the season.

Hodgson has transformed not only the current squad, but the entire history of the club with an almost Midas touch.

He needed battlers and survivors when he grasped the reins at Craven Cottage, and he helped his players become those necessities. His demanded consistency and work rate in his second season, and he got that. And finally, in a campaign which saw the club embark on the European stage, he needed top class performances, and he managed that as well.

The pinnacle being the transformation of Bobby Zamora, a striker once ridiculed by fans across the country, including his own. Fulham’s No.25 has become a prolific performer both at home and abroad, with a goals return of 19 in 47 matches this season, plus five assists.

Whatever the result come full-time in Hamburg on Wednesday, Hodgson’s name will be sung from the stands by Fulham’s travelling support. Nonetheless, the character of the man is such that he will not acknowledge his achievements unless he sees his players lift the trophy.

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2010, 10:41:30 AM »

Murphy buoyed by 'phenomenal' support

Wednesday 12th May 2010 7:43

The Cottagers' fairytale march to the showpiece at the Hamburg Arena has won near-universal approval in a rare show of unity from English fans.

Murphy believes the commitment his side have shown in defying all odds en route to the biggest match in their history explains their popularity.

"It's a fair point to say that this is probably the first time the whole of England want an English club to win in Europe," said the captain.

"There may be a few Chelsea fans who disagree but the support we've received - phone calls and meeting people in the street - has been amazing.

"It's phenomenal really - Fulham are everybody's second favourite club at the moment.

"Maybe that's because of our spirit and our unusual position this season in that we've overcome the odds and beaten so many good teams.

"I think supporters appreciate good football and, over the course of the competition, we've certainly tried to play the right way.

"It's nice to have that encouragement because it gives you the extra incentive to take the trophy home.

"We've been surprised and overwhelmed with all the support we've had."

Murphy helped Liverpool win the 2001 UEFA Cup but insists Fulham's European adventure is a greater achievement.

"When you play for a club like Liverpool winning trophies every season is expected," he said.

"You become a bit complacent and you think it will happen every year.

"The comments they made recently that winning this competition would have been a consolation to them shows where they are.

"To write our name in the history book by reaching the final has been special, but to go that one step further and win would be something we'd remember forever."

Fulham are sweating on the fitness of striker Bobby Zamora who sat out training last night as he continues his battle to recover from an Achilles injury.

Fears over the availability of Damien Duff has eased, however, with the Republic of Ireland winger expected to start after shaking off a calf problem.

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff (12.05.10)
« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2010, 10:42:38 AM »

Zamora misses training ahead of final

By Soccernet staff

May 11, 2010

Zamora has been suffering with an Achilles injury and required a pain-killing injection to play in the semi-final against Hamburg SV two weeks ago.

The striker, who has netted 19 goals this season, trained on Monday but failed to join his Fulham team-mates for a run-out at the Hamburg Arena on the eve of the biggest match in the club's 131-year history.

Other than Zamora the whole squad participated, including in-form winger Damien Duff, who has been battling with a leg injury.

Earlier, manager Roy Hodgson expressed his hope that Zamora and Duff would be available to face Atletico Madrid but now faces an anxious wait on the former.

"Both players trained yesterday and that was very positive," said the Fulham boss. "I've been given no indication that they're suffering from a reaction so my hope is that they'll be available tomorrow."

Fulham will have to beat Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night to lift the trophy, but Hodgson believes just guiding Fulham to the Europa League final is a massive achievement.

"I was very proud to get to that final with Inter but I'm even prouder to be here with Fulham because we were much less fancied in the tournament than Inter were in 1997," he said.

"Secondly, we've had a tougher passage to the final. When I think back to the teams Inter eliminated along the way, they weren't the big names that we've beaten here.

"I'm hoping the bad memories of 1997 will be expunged by a good victory tomorrow evening."