Author Topic: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)  (Read 3896 times)

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Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« on: May 13, 2010, 01:26:07 AM »

Fulham v Atletico Madrid: Roy Hodgson did not deserve this cruellest of defeats

Booted and suited as ever for his big night, this really shouldn’t have happened to a good guy like Roy Hodgson.

By Ian Chadband

Published: 11:44PM BST 12 May 2010

There were moments when it really felt this night was going to be the defining milestone on a coaching journey which had taken him through eight countries, the fitting reward for all those 34 years of often unsung excellence.

Instead, it ended in the most brutal anti-climax again, Fulham’s 10-month fairytale rudely spoiled in the 116th minute of their 63rd game of a season which kicked off 10 months ago. No-one had more deserved a European title as a symbol of his contribution to international football but, just as he was deprived of a similar exclamation mark when reaching the Uefa Cup final at Inter 13 years ago, Hodgson was denied in the cruellest fashion.

Everyone knew he would accept his fate in the pouring rain in the same style with which he would have achieved victory, which he fancied his side could have nicked in a penalty shoot-out. Of course he did, as usual, with the grace and dignity of one of football’s true gentlemen. Yet he was not about to conceal the pain.

Football disappointments do not really come any more deflating than that night in the San Siro when his Inter side capitulated in front of their own fans, but that moment in extra-time when Sergio Aguero’s persistence and skill was rewarded and Diego Forlan found a yard on poor Brede Hangeland, felt almost as wounding.

Ultimately, the brilliance of this pair proved the key difference. Hodgson could instil discipline, organisation and magnificent teamwork but not that extra touch of individual quality.

“I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams last July that it would end here, but it doesn’t help unfortunately at this moment,” he said afterwards. “The players are very, very down. We’ve suffered a bitter blow and it will take a bit of time before that pain passes over.

“No matter how much comfort I try to find, at this moment it’s very difficult to find any comfort, joy and enthusiasm.”

So, today we should salute him and remind the conductor that he had orchestrated one of the most romantic football stories for many a day. And even in ultimate defeat, he had only enhanced his standing as a coach because his side, plainly inferior in terms of technical quality, were, during see-sawing spells in the match, every bit of a match for Atletico, who, in Aguero, had a player who demonstrated touches of his father in law, one Diego Maradona.

Hodgson, as captain Danny Murphy had warned, had no magic dust to sprinkle; his results are achieved with discipline in preparation and training ground drills which drive players to distraction. Shape is everything and, even after being betrayed by nerves early on, they maintained that discipline for almost the entire match.

What Atletico did not account for after Forlan’s first was Hodgson’s ability to instil belief into his troops when embarrassment threatened. We saw it against Juventus and against Hamburg. His lads do not panic; they rally; Atletico had the superstar, but Hodgson had the team.

He watched it all unfold with no histrionics, just the usual calm confidence, inspiring his team to attack purposefully after the break and defend with total commitment when Atletico took the initiative in extra-time.

Penalties loomed, the chance to atone for that most painful San Siro night. At least he was spared that nightmare again; being the man he is, he simply appreciated that this time it should be the quality of Forlan, not some lottery, which won the day.

Outside the ground, the deflated Fulham brigade sang his name, hoping beyond hope that Hodgson’s exploits this year would not see him whisked off to a bigger club next season.

“I’ve been fully committed to Fulham; I still have a contract with the club and as far as I know that’s where I shall be,” he said. The word of a gentleman. Supporters deserved this comfort at the end of the great adventure.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2010, 01:29:52 AM »

Fulham 1 Atlético Madrid 2 aet: match report


By Henry Winter at the HSH Nordbank Arena

Published: 10:10PM BST 12 May 2010

Fulham had dealt with everything thrown at them in Europe this season, from the Old Lady of Turin to Mother Nature’s volcanic eruptions, but on Wednesday night they were finally undone when Lady Luck, a Spanish hussy for the evening, shamelessly smiled on Atlético Madrid. How cruel, how utterly unfair.

The moment that made a mockery of sporting justice arrived deep into extra-time. Sergio Aguero crossed, Diego Forlan flicked on and the ball clipped Brede Hangeland, beating Mark Schwarzer and breaking Fulham’s hearts. Nobody, just nobody connected to Fulham Football Club deserved this iniquity.

Not Roy Hodgson, who had again set his team up brilliantly. Not his players, who were magnificent from Paul Konchesky at the back to Danny Murphy and Simon Davies in midfield and the outstanding Zoltan Gera, first up front, then midfield but pretty much everywhere.

Not their fans, who sang their hearts out for two hours, chanting “stand up if you still believe”. A whole stand rose to its feet in salute.Their flags said it all: “England Expects, Fulham Believes”. And they did.

The Fulham family had come from far and wide for this, from Dubai and Australia as well as south-west London, and they were not going to fall quiet simply because a Manchester United discard had scored. They chanted again and again, attempting to console Hodgson’s stricken players from afar.

As Hodgson embraced his coaching staff at the final whistle, as Atlético’s poured on to the pitch, Fulham’s players slumped to the floor.

Davies, who had equalised Forlan’s first-half strike with a memorable volley, sunk to his haunches. Gera, tireless all evening, sat there on the grass, emotionally and physically drained. None of them deserved this cruellest of late blows.

All of Fulham’s qualities had been on display in the first half, particularly the resilience to fight back from Forlan’s goal after 32 minutes with Davies’ spectacular riposte within five minutes. Davies’ equaliser was vitally important as there had been signs that Atlético, and particularly their high-speed raiders, could run away with the game.

Fulham fans waved a banner proclaiming “Roy for Prime Minister’’ but the No 10 they needed to focus on was Aguero. Forlan took the goal but Aguero caught the eye.

The stocky, spinning top of an Argentine striker shimmered with menace in the first period, seizing on a rare poor piece of control by Murphy, darting down the inside-left before releasing Forlan. The Uruguayan tamed the ball with his left and then swept a low shot from left to right, clipping a post. This seasoned scourge of English defences was merely setting his sights.

Jose Antonio Reyes began the move for Forlan’s goal, racing down the right before cutting inside and sweeping a crossfield pass to Simao. Atlético’s left-winger knocked the ball back inside to Aguero, who flicked it up before scuffing a shot that appeared to be heading harmlessly through to Schwarzer. Desperately for Fulham, Forlan diverted it at speed into the goal.

Frustration briefly bit into Fulham, who must have suspected Forlan was offside but all the officials signalled a goal, arguing that Hangeland played the Atlético forward on. Yet there is a strength of character to Fulham under Hodgson, a belief in their ability to overcome adversity as witnessed so thrillingly against Juventus and Hamburg in earlier rounds.

Rather than dwelling on iniquity, they hit back. Fulham fans increased the volume, singing their hearts out for Hodgson’s lads. Feeding on the supporters’ energy, Murphy stepped up a gear, driving his team forward. Bobby Zamora, demanding one more shift from his creaking Achilles, suddenly stormed into life, cutting in from the left, overrunning the ball but managing, while falling off-balance, to nudge it on to Damien Duff near the penalty spot.

The Irishman, composure personified, transferred it neatly to Gera, who lifted the ball towards the six-yard box. With Zamora lurking, Paulo Assuncao had to intervene, the Brazilian leaping up to head the ball away from Zamora but on to Davies, whose response was utterly mesmerising.

The Welshman’s volleying technique had already been seen: the head still, the ball leathered, the save made by David de Gea, Atlético’s highly-regarded young keeper. The Spanish teenager had no chance this time, Davies connecting so sweetly with the ball that it disappeared in a blur into the net. Davies’ celebration matched the quality of the goal, almost emulating Marco Tardelli with his wild-eyed, fist-pumping slalom run.

Fulham’s players were certainly standing up and being counted. Konchesky, never the most elegant of left-backs, still began teasing some good passes forward. In front of him, Davies was dynamism personified, tracking back to assist with Reyes and breaking forward.

Over on the right, Chris Baird played his part, linking with the hard-working Duff. Murphy and Dickson Etuhu anchored diligently. Gera moved with intelligence, now supporting Clint Dempsey, Zamora’s replacement.Gera was tireless, closing down Luis Perea, keeping Atlético deep.

Playing with real maturity, showing the tactical nous they have acquired under Hodgson, Fulham began to frustrate Atlético, whose players took to lifting aimless balls towards a grateful Hangeland and whose fans took to whistling when Fulham had possession. Some compliment.

Right to the end, Fulham battled. When Aguero tried to shimmy through, Konchesky blocked. Atlético threatened in bursts and Forlan sent a half-volley flying over. But still Fulham fought hard, defending well and taking the game to Atlético.

When Davies crossed, the substitute Erik Nevland swivelled and sent a shot over in the outstretched arms of the crowing Atlético fans. But then came Forlan. Lady Luck should be ashamed of herself.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2010, 01:32:00 AM »

Fulham v Atletico Madrid: Diehard keeps in touch by text via Duke of ale and apathy

Fulham might have been entering the uncharted waters of a first European final on Wednesday night, but for their alleged followers in the bars of south-west London the experience was stranger still.

By Oliver Brown

Published: 11:18PM BST 12 May 2010

At the Duke on the Green, an upper-crust pub within a forehand smash of the Hurlingham Club, the clientele could at least enjoy some big-screen Hamburg drama but preferred not to tear themselves from their gastronomic pork pies.

What might you call a casual Fulham fan? A Sloane Ranger? The sylvan idyll of the Craven Cottage ground, framed by the Thames and £1 million Edwardian homes, gives the first impression that Fulham are traditionally, well, different.

Naturally they attract an average quota of diehards but these were all enduring a night of pain at the Nordbank Arena. There was scarcely a black-and-white shirt to be seen in SW6.

With exquisite incongruity, the one person paying undivided attention to Simon Davies’ first-half strike was an American. And female.

Elizabeth Dangio had come especially to keep husband Phil, an internet security expert, abreast of the score while he conducted a high-level meeting in Washington. Phil, apparently, was glancing at his text updates underneath the boardroom table.

All so impeccably white-collar. You cannot imagine, had West Ham ever been in Fulham’s situation, such an exchange taking place from the grimier hostelries of Green Street.

“It’s so sad, I thought people would be more excited,” said Dangio, who had walked over from her home by Chelsea Harbour Club. “Phil’s a season-ticket holder. But tonight he’s in a conference room. I suppose we’ve always liked to support the smaller, family club, the underdog.”

The Duke had a family atmosphere: as half-time approached there was even a baby in the corner, having his evening feed. Elsewhere a profile of the punters yielded figures of familiar ilk: the Alice-banded blondes, the Chardonnay-quaffing suits, the slick blokes in polo shirts who wished they were watching rugby.

“Maybe it’s just a higher class of pub,” said Neil, with not a trace of irony. Neil, admittedly, was down from Oxford for a meeting and had not come to Fulham for so vulgar a diversion as football, but you get the picture. As the tension built in the second half, so a steadier trickle of latecomers began, even though one had rather missed the point, wearing as he was the shirt of the British Lions.

Dangio, though, was still enjoying herself. As an Anglophile, she would know that there is a café in her native New York called Tea and Sympathy. In her futile quest for fellow Fulham fans she could have rechristened the Duke of Ale and Apathy.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2010, 01:35:05 AM »

Roy Hodgson proud of Fulham battlers after Europa League final defeat

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson could not hide his disappointment after the London club were beaten 2-1 in the Europa League final thanks to a 116th-minute goal from Diego Forlan.

By Telegraph staff

Published: 10:57PM BST 12 May 2010

Forlan had given the Spanish side the lead before Simon Davies equalised soon after and the game appeared to be heading for penalties before the former Manchester United striker pounced.

Hodgson said: "We have to give them real credit but I thought we played well. It looked for all the world to be heading for penalties which is a bit of a lottery but we would have been happy to take that lottery.

"I thought we looked comfortable for long periods of the second half and extra time.

"All through the season they have performed against the odds and pulled out performances. You can't be happy after any sort of defeat, even after extra time, but I don't have a word of criticism for the team."

Hodgson was loath to describe Fulham as the best squad he has ever coached, given his long and illustrious career, but he did pay tribute to their spirit.

"They are certainly best in terms of attitude, desire, organisation and commitment," he said. "I wouldn't like to say the best because that is negative to other squads I have had.

"They have every reason to be very proud of the season and tonight even if they are not lifting the trophy.

"We wanted to win and that shone through in everything we did out there. Everyone realised we gave our best.

"I thought we kept Forlan and (Sergio) Aguero pretty quiet considering how good these two players are, but we didn't keep them quiet quite long enough."

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2010, 01:37:48 AM »

Fulham v Atletico Madrid: how the players rated

How the Fulham players rated in the Europa League final against Atlético Madrid.

By Jason Burt

Published: 10:37PM BST 12 May 2010

Mark Schwarzer: Unsung hero of the campaign and showed his importance by juggled Reyes dangerous free kick and saving alertly from Forlan. 8/10

Chris Baird: Preferred to John Pantsil for his greater discipline and held his position well without offering an attacking threat. 6/10

Aaron Hughes: Turned twice by Aguero (no shame in that) and was often dragged out of position on a difficult evening. But kept calm. 6/10

Brede Hangeland: Two clever early interceptions but lost Forlan for his goal before showing his strength to steady the defence under pressure. 7/10

Paul Konchesky: Got forward well and tenacious in the tackle. Energetic display after a long season, he provided width down the left. 7/10

Damien Duff: Ran tirelessly, played part in Davies’ goal, and turned nimbly to set up Gera. Shook off his own injury concerns before coming off late on. 7/10

Dickson Etuhu: Asked to be the defensive shield, he had his work cut out and, on occasions, his limitations were exposed. But stuck to task consistently. 6/10

Danny Murphy: Sloppy pass almost led to goal with Forlan striking post. But then, twice, superbly picked out Gera and grew in influence with his creativity. 8/10

Simon Davies: Wonderful volley for his goal; another great strike saved by de Gea. Confidence has returned for a player transformed under Hodgson. 8/10

Zoltan Gera: Clever running, creating space, indefatigable attitude but heavy touch when through on goal wasted a golden chance. 7/10.

Bobby Zamora: Led the line with courage and skill. However clearly hampered by his Achilles injury – but deserves extra marks just for being out there. 8/10

Roy Hodgson: A model of restraint and organisation, he rallied his team at half-time after a nervy start against dangerous attackers. 8/10

Subs: Dempsey for Zamora (55): Brought fresh impetus to the attack but service dwindled. 6/10

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2010, 01:46:19 AM »

Heads Held High

Thursday 13th May 2010

Fulham FC News Powered by LG Electronics

Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer insists the Whites can and must take the positives from Wednesday night’s crushing UEFA Europa League defeat to Atletico Madrid.

The 37-year-old, who was beaten twice in the 2-1 loss, also believes it was luck rather than superior skill or tactics that undone his side’s remarkable European adventure.

He told “I think the most disappointing thing was the way that we conceded - totally unlucky. Look at both goals; the first was from a shot that was initially going in the wrong direction, only to fall straight to Diego Forlan. For me, it was also debatable whether he was on side or not.

“Then the second was also very fortunate on their part, where with the ball going clearly wide, it takes a cruel deflection off Brede [Hangeland] and goes in. What can you do? In the end it just wasn’t our night.

“I think they were lucky, without a doubt. But you always need a bit of luck, don’t you? It was just unfortunate for us, that it ran in their favour.”

Uruguay international and former Manchester United striker, Diego Forlan, ultimately decided the outcome, with his late extra-time winner settling the tie and dismissing the need for a penalty shoot-out.

“It was a very late goal, but until that whistle is blown there is still time to play, and that time is crucial – as it proved,” he said. “It’s hugely disappointing because I would like to think we would have gone on to win the game.”

Despite the numbing defeat, the players will hopefully take heart from what has been a remarkable 19-game, 10-month journey.

“It’s very difficult to say, maybe in a couple of days we might,” he said. “It’s just the way in which we lost that makes it very difficult to take in at the moment.

“This was a very good team, with some very good players that we faced. This was a one off game, unlike the rounds leading in to the final. It just wasn’t meant to be I suppose.

“But we can still take a hell of as lot of positives from this – which is vitally important. It’s just at the moment, it’s very difficult to comprehend, when the bitter disappointment takes over. However, we have to try and look back and realise what an amazing accomplishment this was.

“To come that far and reach the Final of the UEFA Europa League, after the amount of games we have played and the quality of teams we have faced is incredible. But when you play in a final of course, you hope that it is your team that makes the difference.”

In another unforgettable season, Fulham secured a 10th successive Barclays Premier League campaign, reached the quarter-final of the FA Cup and the final of a European cup – a first in a 131-year history.

Schwarzer added: “We walk away with our heads held high. For me, the masterstrokes of Roy Hodgson have only just begun and hopefully they will continue for a long time to come.”

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2010, 01:47:51 AM »

An Incredible Journey

Thursday 13th May 2010

Fulham FC News Powered by LG Electronics

Bobby Zamora once again brushed aside his injury woes on Wednesday evening to put in another heroic performance in the UEFA Europa League Final in Hamburg.

Zamora’s Achilles injury eventually called time on his evening after 54 minutes play but after the match the striker spoke proudly of his Team’s performance despite a heartbreaking finale to Fulham’s European adventure.

“We’re extremely disappointed to lose, but on the whole, we’re so proud of our performance this evening,” said Zamora late on Wednesday night.

“To go to extra time and 117 minutes shows exactly what we’ve been all about this season – we’re hard to beat, determined and have a will to win.

“It’s been extremely disappointing but I’m really pleased with the way the season’s gone. We’ve worked so hard and this has been such a great achievement for Fulham.”

Zamora’s Achilles injury has evidently caused the striker great frustration in recent weeks and the Club’s leading scorer will also now sadly miss out on the opportunity to join up with the England squad this summer.

“It’s been a bit depressing not being able to train but there was no way I was going to miss the Final. We worked all season to try and get here and I’d have been happy with ten minutes to be honest.

“I think half time killed me to be honest with sitting down and it stiffening up but on the whole I’m extremely proud of all the boys and myself this year.

“I’m going to speak to the medical guys in the next couple of days and see what’s happening. I’m not doing England justice or myself by going out there. It’s very disappointing but you’ve got to look at the bigger picture."

Zamora has quite rightly earned high praise this season following a truly memorable campaign and despite Wednesday’s European heartbreak the striker is clearly proud of his achievements this year.

“It’s been a lot of hard work and determination to prove people wrong," explained Zamora. "I just wanted to work hard and do well for the Club. I knew the goals would come.

"I’ve managed to hold the ball up and bring people into play and score goals this year - so I’m extremely pleased with the whole season. Everybody this year has been unbelievable."

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2010, 01:49:08 AM »

Hodgson's Pride

Wednesday 12th May 2010

Fulham FC News Powered by LG Electronics

Fulham’s bid to lift the inaugural UEFA Europa League title ended in disappointment on Wednesday evening when Diego Forlan’s strike late in extra time snatched the victory.

The former Manchester United player put Atletico Madrid in front in the first-half but a Simon Davies equaliser minutes later ensured the game would go to extra time. The decisive goal was scored with little over four minutes remaining – barely enough time for the Whites to mount a response.

“Obviously the players are very disappointed because I thought they put up a very good show here tonight – I thought the game was heading towards penalties,” Roy Hodgson said after the game.

“Despite the obvious fatigue that the players were feeling I thought they were still well organised, well disciplined and looking good value for the result. Unfortunately, Diego Forlan popped up to score a very typical goal scorer's goal to put them in the lead – he popped up close to the end to get a second and we had no time to recover from that.

“So it’s a bitter disappointment because I thought we deserved, at least, to go to penalties but it wasn’t to be. But I really am unbelievably proud of the players’ performance yet again. It’s been a magnificent achievement, everyone wants to finish first but I’ve still got to say that finishing second at this level of competition and after 63 games is also something we can be proud of.

“I hope the players will quickly recover, that they’ll have a good holiday and will be ready to start again next season. At the moment the players are very, very down because they thought they had a good chance of winning this. Penalties is always a lottery but they certainly fancied their chances there – so to concede a goal so late was a bitter blow.

“I think you would be a bit surprised if my attitude was anything other than of bitter disappointment and great sadness to see yet another good performance from the players go unrewarded.

“It’s been a great competition and we can only say good things about it, we’ve played some fantastic teams and there have been some magnificent occasions. Both at Craven Cottage and many other interesting places.”

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2010, 01:51:11 AM »
Atletico Madrid 2 - 1 Fulham

Fulham returned to the HSH Nordbank Area for their first major final since the 1975 FA Cup Final, where, from the moment they arrived in their numbers the Fulham faithful were at their vociferous best.

This was a night that those loyal followers had dreamed long and hard, and another that would unfold against the backdrop of uproarious drama.

The Whites had played 18 matches to reach this stage of the UEFA Europa League, this was their 19th and 63rd of a long, eventful campaign – one that kicked-off in July against Lithuanian hopefuls FK Vetra.

Roy Hodgson had been deservedly named manager of the year going into the game, and rightly so. At our helm is England’s most astute manager; keeping his side up on the final day of the 2007-08 season was remarkable, guiding them to a European cup final - staggering.

Fulham, boosted by the inclusion of Bobby Zamora, who had not played since the 2-1 semi-final, second-leg win over Hamburg, started in vibrant fashion, keeping the ball and forcing Atletico into a number of early errors.

That said, Mark Schwarzer did have to make one brave punch under the advancement of Diego Forlan, with Danny Murphy showing his commitment to the cause and charging down Raul Garcia’s subsequent follow up.

Atletico coach Quique Sanchez Flores had deployed an air of apparent caution during his pre-match press conference and claimed that his side needed to be ‘courageous’.

The side from La Liga were spearheaded by former Manchester United striker Forlan and talented Argentine Sergio Aguero. And with Jose Antonio Reyes and Simao on the flanks, it was clear the Spaniards had attacking potency in abundance.

Evidently clear, when Forlan broke on the left of the Fulham box and rattled the foot of the far post with a low strike across the goal. A surging run from Tomas Ujfalusi then drew a foul from Dickson Etuhu, with Reyes’ curled free-kick expertly handled by Mark Schwarzer.

Zoltan Gera, a player that has enjoyed an impressive European adventure of his own, fired over at the other end as Fulham battled intently to wrestle back their initial momentum, while Simon Davies arrowed a stinging drive into the hands of David de Gea.

With 25 minutes gone, Atletico were certainly enjoying the run of the pitch, with Aguero twice tricking his way past Chris Baird and Aaron Hughes. Fortunately for the Whites, twice Brede Hangeland was on hand to clear to safety.

But there was little the Norwegian could do six minutes later, when Forlan slipped in to turn home Aguero’s scuffed shot. A cruel blow, but the Whites had been here before.

And that undoubted spirit and self-belief would be needed more than ever, with thoughts of Juventus and Hamburg surfacing to the fore.

And so it did. Bobby Zamora slipped past two challenges to find Damien Duff, whose pass to the right gave Gera time to deliver. The Hungarian lofted the ball to the back post, where Davies was waiting crash in with a sumptuous finish on 36 minutes.

Atletico replied with confident swagger; four quick corners and a testing strike from Forlan penning Fulham back. But the Whites held firm, with Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli’s half-time whistle bringing respite.

The second period opened positively, with Fulham enjoying their best passage of play as Murphy, Gera and Duff drove the Whites forward. The most promising of which saw a fabulous pass from our captain free Gera, who was unlucky to be denied by de Gea’s brave smother.

With his Achilles injury clearly playing up, Zamora was replaced with Clint Dempsey on 54 minutes, with the American making a lively introduction.

As the Fulham fans sang ‘stand up, if you still believe’, Davies drew a fantastic low save from de Gea, while at the other end Hughes did well to dispel Forlan’s teasing pull-back from the left.

A slalom run inside from the right saw Duff strike wide, with the Irishman almost picking out a diving Gera at the back post as Fulham looked to threaten further.

Aguero forced Schwarzer into action from another set-piece with 15 minutes remaining, while Ujfalusi blazed over from the edge of the box.

Into the final five, an understandable urgency took over, with only a Murphy free-kick and a break from substitute Erik Nevland suggesting that an additional half an hour would not be needed. But it was.

In a tentative first period, Schwarzer did well to block Forlan’s hopeful effort from an angle, with Etuhu doing even better to shoe the ball into touch, all while both Aguero and Eduardo Salvio were ready to pounce.

Paul Konchesky also did well, blocking Aguero’s certain strike at goal, while from a goal mouth scramble moments later, the Argentine international stabbed the ball wide with the goal in sight.

The second period kicked-off to a resounding chorus of Fulham hope, with the faithful again, urging their side into ascendency.

A floated free-kick from Murphy almost found the head of Etuhu, while another probing delivery sought Dempsey.

Davies then crossed from the right, from which, on the turn Nevland flashed high and wide, with Fulham the side showing the greater ambition and craving for a second.

Then from nowhere, and against the run of play, Aguero centred another teasing delivery where Forlan guided the ball home with gut-wrenching conviction.

With that Fulham’s great European adventure came to end. Heads and hearts had been sunk, but Roy Hodgson and his valiant players bowed out with unquestionable admiration - transformed from relegation fodder to European cup finalists in little more than two emotional and exciting years.

Despite the result, this was still one of football’s great fairytales. From front to back, Hodgson’s Heroes have done us proud, with their courage, desire and unrelenting commitment emboldening this great Club.

This season, Fulham secured Barclays Premier League football for the 10th successive year, reached the quarter-final of the FA Cup and the final of the UEFA Europa League. The drama of the latter has been inexorable.

A nervous victory in Amkar Perm secured our passage in to the group stage, while a brave win in Basel booked our place in the last 32. The subsequent defeat of the impressive Shakhtar Donetsk trailed, while the comeback against Juventus still sends shivers down the spine. A fine quarter-final dismissal of German champions Wolfsburg ensued, with another memorable comeback seeing off Hamburg in the semi-final.

It was an adventure filled with glory and elation, but one that ultimately ended in frustration. Fulham surprised many by qualifying for the UEFA Europa League, few would be so shocked to see them back on European shores in seasons to come.

Stand up, if you still believe

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2010, 01:52:16 AM »

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2010, 09:32:08 AM »
Pain and pride for Fulham's Hodgson


Roy Hodgson did everything in his power to let pride dull the pain but it was a futile exercise, condemned to join Fulham's Europa League final defeat as a gallant failure.

The wound inflicted by Atletico Madrid's Diego Forlan, just four minutes from the conclusion of a 63-game season stretching back 10 months to the start of Fulham's European odyssey in Lithuania, was still too raw.

Hodgson, as decent in defeat as in victory, tried to find solace for himself and his players, who have captured the imagination of the nation and beyond with their European exploits.

Pride will come, as it must, but as Hodgson sat in Hamburg's Nordbank Arena to reflect on the sad end to this remarkable Fulham story, there was no consolation.

He admitted: "It doesn't matter how much comfort I try to find, there is not a lot to be found. It is difficult for me to find any real joy and enthusiasm - and you would be surprised if my attitude was anything else in among the bitter disappointment and great sadness at seeing another good performance go unrewarded."

Hodgson admitted on the eve of the game that if Fulham were to lose he hoped it would be to the better team and not as a fallen victim to the fates. The Cottagers were beaten by the better team in Atletico, but the agony still looked almost unbearable.

As the final whistle sounded and Atletico's substitutes and staff sprinted on to the pitch to join the celebrations, Hodgson turned to shake the hands of his trusted backroom and support staff, as well as those who had not figured in the final.

He then consoled the tearful Zoltan Gera and stopped to tend to other players slumped heartbroken on the rain-sodden turf, players who had once again given everything only to run out of fuel just inches from the finish line. Mutual respect.

Hodgson embraces goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer after the game. Photo: AFP

Hodgson lavished praise on the men who almost made up for another night of torment in this competition. Thirteen years ago, his Inter Milan side lost the Uefa Cup final on penalties, beaten by Schalke 04 in the San Siro.

This whole Europa League run is rightly a source of pride to Fulham, not just because of deeds on the pitch and victories against teams of the calibre of Shakhtar Donestk, Juventus, Wolfsburg and Hamburg.

Fulham's supporters have played their part in adding colour and atmosphere to a competition that is viewed by many as the Champions League's unloved brother. That opinion is not shared at Craven Cottage, where "Stand Up If You Still Believe" has become an enduring anthem.

Hodgson's tactical acumen makes him aware of the fine margins that decide major finals - and Fulham lost because Atletico had two strikers of genuine menace in Forlan and Sergio Aguero, while their own main weapon was operating below 100%.

Bobby Zamora could not have given more, but this was not the man who spearheaded Fulham's campaign earlier this season. His lingering Achilles tendon injury meant his race was run by 55 minutes. How Hodgson needed him fully fit.

Fulham were also, more than usual, guilty of carelessness in possession. Rare indeed - but it is churlish to aim any harsh criticism at the team when all serious expectations in Europe were exceeded long ago.

Forlan entered the media arena moments after Hodgson's departure to receive his man-of-the-match award, still in his kit and draped in a club flag. What a charming and polite chap. What a gigantic pain in the neck if you are a Premier League club.

The Uruguayan is the smiling assassin of a striker. Not content with wrecking Liverpool's hopes in the semi-finals, he scuppered Fulham's fairytale with two poacher's goals either side of an equaliser from Simon Davies.

Forlan seems too nice to carry a grudge, but he seems intent on making Premier League opposition pay for his fruitless time at Manchester United. If we did not rate him then, he is going to make sure we rate him now.

For brief spells of a largely undistinguished final, especially at the start of the second half, Fulham looked like they would have the finale of their dreams. But the double act of Forlan and Aguero proved too much.

Talk swiftly turned to Hodgson's own future in the aftermath of defeat, but he reassured Fulham's supporters that his plan was to be at Craven Cottage next season.

There is no escaping the reality that his work this season, not to mention his experience and expertise gained over decades, may make him a target for other clubs this summer.

And with no chance of a repeat of the European run that added such gloss to this campaign, there is a school of thought that Fulham could be vulnerable to an approach for their manager. Hodgson and his players will undoubtedly miss what the Europa League has given them this season.

It is a debate for another day, but the other side of the argument is that Hodgson is nobody's fool and he will know he has a good thing going at Fulham. He is too sensible to sacrifice it lightly.

Fulham's feats saw partisan Premier League fans unite behind a common cause to wish them well against Atletico, this fact alone illustrating the range of their achievement.

The final fling ended in failure. Defeat yes, but not a shred of disgrace.

Fulham and Hodgson may have left the Nordbank Arena empty-handed and without a trophy to show for their efforts this season, but rarely has a season without silverware been such an outstanding success.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2010, 09:35:26 AM »
BBC Sport - Football - Roy Hodgson to stay at Fulham despite 'bitter' defeat
Roy Hodgson to stay at Fulham despite 'bitter' defeat

Roy Hodgson insists he remains fully committed to Fulham despite the "bitter blow" of his side's loss to Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final.

A penalty shoot-out looked likely until Diego Forlan's 116th-minute strike sealed a 2-1 win for the Spanish side.

And boss Hodgson, linked with a host of big clubs thanks to Fulham's success this term, said: "It's a bitter blow.

"But as far as my future goes, I have never given it a thought. I've always been committed to Fulham and still am."

Hodgson has led a remarkable turn-around in his two-and-a-half years as Cottagers manager, saving the club from relegation in his first season, leading them to an eighth-placed finish last season, and taking the club to its first European final this campaign.

In tribute to his success, he was named the League Manager's Association manager of the year this week.

And it has led to speculation linking the 62-year-old former Inter Milan, Blackburn and Finland national team manager with a move to replace Rafael Benitez at Liverpool and even as a possible successor to England coach Fabio Capello.

But speaking after the defeat in Hamburg on Wednesday, he said: "It has not even crossed my mind. I still have a contract at the club, and as far as I know here is where I shall be [next season]."

The veteran boss admitted, however, that it was hard to draw comfort from his side's remarkable European run in the immediate aftermath of their cruel extra-time defeat.

Having beaten the likes of Juventus and Wolfsburg to reach the final in Germany, Fulham fought back after Forlan's early strike through Simon Davies' volleyed equaliser and looked to be heading for penalties until the Uruguayan scored again with a shot deflected in off Brede Hangeland with four minutes of extra-time remaining.

"At the moment the players are very, very down because they thought they had a good chance of winning this," said Hodgson. "Penalties are a lottery whatever happens, but we certainly fancied our chances there.

Talk swiftly turned to Hodgson's own future in the aftermath of defeat, but he reassured Fulham's supporters that his plan was to be at Craven Cottage next season.

Phil McNulty
"To concede a goal so late was a bitter blow and at the moment I suppose that's the only thought going through our heads and it will take a bit of time before the pain that we feel passes.

"Having been here and having seen the team acquit itself so well, you would've liked to think we could've taken a further, final, step.

"At this moment in time it's hard to find comfort, any joy or enthusiasm.

"I'm sure you would probably be surprised if my attitude was anything other than bitter disappointment and great sadness at seeing yet another great performance from the players go unrewarded."

Hodgson did take time to praise his team in their defence against Atletico's formidable strike pairing of Forlan and Sergio Aguero, saying: "We did very well to keep Forlan and Aguero quiet, but unfortunately not quite quiet enough.

"Their two front players were very good throughout the game but we gave them as good as we got and it looked like it was heading for penalties.

"We were looking very comfortable throughout long periods of the game and it's a real shame to get so close and miss out.

"I could not be more proud of the players. This performance in many ways sums up what we are about at Fulham. Everyone watching on the TV and here in Hamburg will realise we gave everything we had.

"We go a goal down and fight back to take it to extra-time. That shows what we are about and I think the fans will realise we've done the very best we can.

"It's certainly the best squad of players I've worked with in terms of their attitude and commitment. I have to say that no squad has ever surpassed this team in their work ethic and determination."

Davies was also left hugely disappointed at the final whistle.

"We were looking for penalties to try our luck. It's a real shame to get so close but we congratulate Atletico because they're a top side," said Davies.

"Once we get home it will seem like we've achieved something but now it's painful.

 606: DEBATE
You can hold your heads high. What a great European adventure it's been and if Zamora was 100% fit it might've been a different story

"To score in the final of a big tournament is something I'll be very proud of in years to come but now it's just very hard to lose."

Fulham fans' misery, meanwhile, was compounded by having to endure long delays on their way home from Hamburg Airport.

Supporters told of chaotic scenes at Hamburg Airport when thousands of Fulham and Atletico Madrid followers arrived for early-morning flights back to the UK and Spain, while one fan told of how 300 people were taken out to a plane, only to find it had half the number of seats.

"[Hamburg Airport doesn't] seem to have been able to cope with it. They didn't have enough staff," Dawn Dunlop told the BBC: "The whole thing has been a complete disaster."

Dozens of extra flights to and from the UK and Spain were laid on at the airport for last night's showpiece final.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2010, 09:36:58 AM »
Celtic could keep on-loan striker Diomansy Kamara for a cut-price fee of £2.5m as Fulham look to make changes to their attack in the summer. (Daily Record)

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2010, 09:40:53 AM »
Fulham fans face airport delays after Europa final

Fulham fans who watched their team lose the Europa League final in Germany have seen lengthy delays getting home.

Supporters called the scenes at Hamburg Airport a "complete disaster" as thousands tried to return after the 2-1 defeat by Atletico Madrid.

One fan said 300 people were bussed across the airfield to a plane - only to find it had 150 seats.

A spokeswoman for the airport said they were inundated with supporters.

But Fulham fan Dawn Dunlop said the airport was "not able to cope" with the extra supporters.

She told the BBC: "They didn't have enough staff. The whole thing has been a complete disaster."

Ms Dunlop continued: "They decided to bus us out to the plane that was somewhere on the airfield.

  Getting back from Hamburg Airport is not straightforward

Nick Godwin
BBC London match commentator
"Three hundred people were taken out - but there were only 150 seats."

Fellow fan Lyndon Morant posted a photo on social-networking site Twitter of long queues at Hamburg Airport entitled 'Fulham fans in chaos'.

There were still problems on Thursday morning.

Nick Godwin, a member of the BBC London 94.9 commentary team, was trying to catch a flight at 0830 BST.

He said: "It has taken forever to check in. There is a massive queue and it may be a computer problem.

"That is nearly 24 hours after the match finished - if they had these problems last night it would have caused a huge problem."

'Big task'

He added: "I have seen three people who have missed their flights already because of the queue. Getting back from Hamburg Airport is not straightforward."

A spokeswoman for Hamburg Airport said: "We had 100 planes extra and 25,000 supporters came.

"After the game within one hour they were at the airport and wanted to go at once to their planes - it was a big task."

She continued: "We had 1,500 people there to look after them. But one or another of the tasks may have gone wrong."

It was Fulham's first ever European final.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2010, 09:42:34 AM »,19528,11681_6150341,00.html
Hodgson committed to Fulham
Players hope experienced manager stays at the club

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson insists he is committed to the club, as his defeated Europa League players called for him to remain at Craven Cottage.

Atletico Madrid came out on top in Hamburg to beat the West Londoners 2-1 after extra time and win the inaugural Europa League final on Wednesday, although it was a spirited showing from Fulham.

Diego Forlan put the Spaniards in front but Simon Davies equalised with a volley before Forlan scored his second with just five minutes left to play.

Hodgson has led his side through a remarkable run in the competition this season, taking a number of scalps along the way, and was awarded the LMA manager of the year prize earlier in the week.

The experienced tactician has been linked with a move away from the club following his success, but insists he has not even considered a future elsewhere.

"The Premier League, like Serie A, like the Spanish Primera Liga, the Bundesliga, you're talking about the very, very top leagues in Europe and just being a part of it in itself is something very important," he said.

"As far as my future is concerned I have never given it much thought. I've been committed fully to Fulham all the time I've been at the club.

"I still have a contract at the club and as far as I know that's where I shall be."

Meanwhile, Hodgson's players have come out in support of their manager, and defender Brede Hangeland believes the 62-year-old is the key factor behind their excellent campaign.

The Norway international said: "He's the main reason why we're here today, it's as simple as that.

"We've got a good group of players that work really hard but it's all masterminded by him. He's done really well.

"I don't know what's going to happen but I obviously hope he'll stay. He's really important to the success we've had over the last two years so it's probably the most important thing for us over the summer to make sure he stays."

Goalscorer Simon Davies gave Cottagers fans hope in the HSH Nordbank Arena and the midfielder expects Hodgson to have attracted interest from other clubs.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he had offers on the table but I think he said before he wants to continue the job here he really likes it in Fulham and he's been a top manager while he's been here," he remarked.

Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is also crossing his fingers that he remains at Craven Cottage.

He added: "He was a major factor in me coming to the club as he was I'm sure for a number of other players coming to this club.

"We're here because of the manager and the manager's done a fantastic job. We all hope he'll stay."

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2010, 09:44:48 AM »
Roy Hodgson's Fulham heroes were proud in defeat by Atlético Madrid
Fulham proved that continental adventures can still be had by clubs who are not called Chelsea or Manchester United

The determination of Fulham's cartoon heroes to stretch this European campaign to infinity and beyond held out for 116 minutes of their 19th fixture. Until the majesty of Diego Forlán intervened it felt as if Roy Hodgson's men had taken out citizenship in the Europa League and would never stop fighting to make it theirs.

Forlán knows a thing or two about time and patience. It took him eight months and 27 appearances to score his first Manchester United goal. Sir Alex Ferguson's players took such pity on him that he was allowed to take a soft penalty at the end of a Champions League tie with Maccabi Haifa to break his duck. But Diego Forlorn, as same came to know him, was always a class act, as important goals against Chelsea and Liverpool eventually demonstrated. Last night in Hamburg's Nordbank Arena he was unplayable, scoring Atlético Madrid's first and then closing the deal four minutes from the end of extra time after Simon Davies had blasted Hodgson's team back into the game. On this showing, Forlán would have graced the other, more celebrated Madrid.

Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, Wolfsburg and Hamburg were all carved on Fulham's tomahawk but this time superior match-winning talent exacted its revenge. Yet only the worst Champions League snob could sneer at the excitement thrown up by Fulham's endless quest to win Europe's lesser prize. At the heart of this final was the sense that great continental adventures can still be had by clubs who are not called Chelsea or Manchester United. The title of the competition hardly mattered. What counted was football's ability to elevate the unsung and spread the joy around.

By the time they gathered for a pleasingly low-key opening ceremony, Hodgson's team were no longer "dear old Fulham" from boat race country.

They were battle-hardened nomads who had come to look blessed in a competition often dismissed as a dumping ground. After 18,000 miles and 10 months of slog in a journey that started out with 192 travellers, they could sense their chance to consign the Tommy Trinder tales to posterity and shed a reputation for valuing conviviality above ambition.

The elevation of the Europa League to near operatic status was not contrived. Clearly there would not have been this fuss had Liverpool been England's representatives. The game would have been written up as another tedious survival exercise for Rafael Benítez. Our imagination would have stretched no further than whether Liverpool could go home to Anfield with a consolation prize to calm the banks.

Instead, a club rich in warmth and spirit embarked on the most momentous night in their history and responded to Forlán's first-half goal the way they have all season, with an equaliser, from Davies, five minutes later.

Through consistent over-achievement they were obliged to stop treating this tournament as a diversion from Premier League survival and start regarding it as a chance to build a new identity. From the start, Hodgson saw that it was time for the Cottagers to stop punting down the Thames and start making waves.

So a trip thick with romance was also deadly serious in its long-term intent. Yet again we marvelled at how far they have risen since 1996, when they traipsed in 85th of the 92 league clubs to post their worst-ever finish. A year later they were bought by Mohammed Fayed and transformed by Kevin Keegan. But as recently as 2002 they were ground-sharing with Queens Park Rangers and looked certainties for relegation in the spring of 2008 before Houdini Hodgson saved them. Mark Schwarzer, Brede Hangeland, Danny Murphy, Damien Duff and Bobby Zamora have at last constructed a new heroes' gallery to compete with the old prints of Johnny Haynes and Rodney Marsh and the brief push-the-boat-out era of Bobby Moore and George Best.

With his achilles injury still troubling him Zamora was out of sorts and limped off on 55 minutes while the marvellous Hangeland was desperately unfortunate to deflect Forlán's winning goal into his own net. Nothing in his résumé (FK Vidar, Viking FK, FC Copenhagen) will have suggested the 28-year-old Hangeland was a defender of such quality but he has been one of the revelations of the last two seasons. Davies, Dickson Etuhu and Zoltan Gera also excelled here.

"Vote Roy prime minister" a banner read. Bit late for that. Privilege has already reclaimed that job. But in Fulham's support you could see a fascinating blend of old diehards for whom Saturday afternoons at the Cottage were part of growing up and newer followers drawn by the chance to watch Premier League football in London football's most atmospheric setting.

No matter what Europe threw at them, Fulham kept on playing their own way and performed like people who decided on some long trip to distant parts that unity and coolness under pressure could conquer anything. It nearly did. Is it the journey or the moment of delivery that constitutes the triumph? In this brutal age it may be heresy, but it was hard to think of Hodgson's side as beaten men as they were finally dragged off this road

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2010, 09:46:33 AM »,19528,11681_6150367,00.html
Zamora confirms England woe
Powerful forward played through the pain in Europa final

Fulham striker Bobby Zamora has confirmed that he turned down the chance to link up with England in Fabio Capello's preliminary 30-man World Cup squad.

Zamora has had a fantastic season for the Cottagers and was looking good for a Three Lions berth before suffering an Achilles injury last month.

The 29-year-old managed 54 minutes of Fulham's Europa League final against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night before being replaced by Clint Dempsey.

He admits he was playing through the pain barrier during the 2-1 defeat, and admits he is putting country before self to reject joining up with England this summer.

"I told Fabio that I was struggling and I knew that, had I gone, I wouldn't have done myself or England justice," he said.

"It was a joint decision made by myself, Capello, our medical team and England's medical team.

"The World Cup's a massive tournament. It's not about myself, it's about England.

"Capello wished me all the best, hoped that I get fit and would be available next season. You could see last night (Wednesday) I was struggling to play.

"It's (the injury) one of those things, it's come at a bad time and the last five weeks have been terrible for me.

"It's been an up and down season because it's been so good on the pitch and I've scored some important goals. To now pick up this injury has kicked me in the teeth.

"It's come during the last couple of weeks and when there was the possibility of going to the World Cup with England.

"That's football, it's a cruel game. Just look at us losing this final in the last couple of minutes."

Fulham put in a brave performance in Hamburg but were technically outgunned by Atletico, although they did take the game right to the wire as Diego Forlan's winning strike came with just five minutes remaining.

Zamora admits he may not have been at his best because of his injury, but was determined to play some part despite the pain.

"I was struggling but I was desperate to play," he added. "It was touch and go for me to make the final but it's a major tournament and I've worked all season to get there so I wanted to play some part.

"I was disappointed to come off but it was the right decision to get some fresh legs on.

"I'm going to weigh everything up with the medical team now but it looks like I might need a minor operation.

"The decision will be made over the next day or two but the operation is pencilled in for a week's time."

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2010, 09:48:32 AM »
Zamora explains cup omission

Fulham striker Bobby Zamora has revealed his fears over breaking down through injury were behind the decision not to include him in England's World Cup squad.

Zamora was a surprise omission from provisional 30-man squad named by Fabio Capello on Tuesday.

However, Fulham's 19-goal top scorer has admitted that he was largely responsible for the omission due to fears over his fitness.

The 29-year-old has been struggling with an Achilles injury during the second half of the season and lasted less than an hour of Wednesday's 2-1 Europa League Final defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid.

Speaking afterwards, he explained:"I told Fabio that I was struggling and I knew that, had I gone, I wouldn't have done myself or England justice.

"It was a joint decision made by myself, Capello, our medical team and England's medical team.

"The World Cup's a massive tournament. It's not about myself, it's about England.

"Capello wished me all the best, hoped that I get fit and would be available next season. You could see last night I was struggling to play.

"That's football, it's a cruel game. Just look at us losing this final in the last couple of minutes."

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2010, 09:50:52 AM »
British football fans in German airport chaos
Fulham fans mourning their team's defeat in the Europa League have endured more misery thanks to long delays getting home.

Supporters told of chaotic scenes at Hamburg Airport when thousands of Fulham and Atletico Madrid followers arrived for early morning flights back to the UK and Spain.

One fan told how 300 people were taken out to a plane, only to find it had half the number of seats. She blamed a lack of staff at the German gateway for the havoc.

Dawn Dunlop told the BBC: ''(Hamburg Airport doesn't) seem to have been able to cope with it. They didn't have enough staff.

''They decided to bus us out to the plane that was somewhere on the airfield... 300 people were taken out... but there were only 150 seats.

''The whole thing has been a complete disaster.''

Fellow fan Lyndon Morant posted a photo on Twitter of long queues at Hamburg Airport, entitled: ''Fulham fans in chaos.''

Dozens of extra flights to and from the UK and Spain were laid on at the airport for last night's showpiece final.

Premier league side Fulham had been bidding to win the club's first European trophy, but lost 2-1 to Atletico after a heart-breaking extra-time winner.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (13.05.10)
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2010, 09:52:35 AM »
“There’s only one F in Forlan. Fulham had 11 impressive men, Atletico only two: Forlan and Sergio Aguero” - Henry Winter

Quote of the day: “It’s a bitter disappointment as I thought we deserved at least to go to penalties. I really am unbelievably proud of the players. Everyone wants to finish first but finishing second at this level of competition after 63 games is a remarkable achievement. The players are very, very down as they felt they had a good chance of winning this competition. We’ve suffered a bitter blow, but when the pain lifts we can look forward to next season… I never imagined we’d get here in my wildest dreams but that doesn’t help. Having been here and seen the team play so well we wanted to take that extra step. It’s very difficult to find any comfort and any joy and enthusiasm after the season we’ve had… As far as my future is concerned I haven’t given it a moment’s thought. I’ve been fully committed to Fulham as long as I’ve been here and always will be. I still have a contract at Fulham and as far as I’m concerned that’s where I’ll be.” - Roy Hodgson.

Runner-up: “I took a slight knock in training but with such an important match on Saturday the right course of action was to put a protective boot on my right foot and have a CT scan. The scan has shown there is no break and I am hoping to train tomorrow if not Friday and, of course, play in the FA Cup final on Saturday.” - John Terry.

Today’s overview: So there was no fairytale ending for Fulham in the Europa League final as the courageous Cottagers where sunk by a 116th minute winner from Atletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan. Accordingly, wound-licking is the medicine of the day across the backpages.

Patronising Fulham: Oliver Kay slung a comforting arm around the Cottagers suggesting that Fulham over-achieved in Europe this season. “History rarely remembers losing finalists, but, as the sweet memories of this European run turn to sepia over the coming years, Fulham’s players will hope that their efforts over the preceding 9½ months will endure longer after they have settled back into their more familiar role as that nice little club by the Thames… [Fulham] kept their medals on - proud to be a runner-up, rather than a loser, and aware, in most cases, that this was likely to be as good as it gets.”

For Ian Chadband, while Atletico had the extra bit of class, Fulham’s work ethic was a sight to be enjoyed and applauded. “Hodgson could instil discipline, organisation and magnificent teamwork but not that extra touch of individual quality… Hodgson, as captain Danny Murphy had warned, had no magic dust to sprinkle; his results are achieved with discipline in preparation and training ground drills which drive players to distraction. Shape is everything and, even after being betrayed by nerves early on, they maintained that discipline for almost the entire match.”

Similar plucky connotations were outlined by Patrick Barclay as he paid tribute to Roy Hodgson’s work in west London. “Had victory been secured over Atlético Madrid, he would have been, at 62, an overnight sensation. But Hodgson had done enough in supervising Fulham’s progress to the final. Nor did a single player let him down last night. This was a high-class manager in his prime and it is inevitable that, for example, Liverpool will think about him when the time comes to replace Rafael Benítez… What a run it was. What an adventure. You suspect that, whatever Hodgson goes on to do in the rest of his career, nothing will stir more affection in his heart than this.”

Switching the mood up, Henry Winter went a little overboard as he painted the picture that Fulham were robbed by the Rojiblancos. “How cruel, how utterly unfair this defeat was on Roy Hodgson’s relentlessly purposeful side, who lost to two suspect goals from Diego Forlan, the Manchester United discard who once again embarrassed English opposition. There’s only one F in Forlan. Fulham had 11 impressive men, Atlético only two: Forlan and Sergio Agüero… Nobody, just nobody connected to Fulham Football Club deserved this iniquity.”

Rather than focus on the match itself, Tom Dart showered praise on the attitude of the Fulham faithful. “Fulham fans are not the jaded frequent flyers you find among followers of the perennial Champions League clubs, hence the number of silly hats, fancy-dress costumes and commemorative scarves on display around the city and in the stadium yesterday. Easy to mock, perhaps, but the lack of cynicism is refreshing. The words “money” and “pressure” get used a lot these days in football, but rarely do we hear “fun”.