Author Topic: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)  (Read 5789 times)

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Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« on: February 04, 2010, 09:41:21 PM »
Fulham's Nicky Shorey in FIFA probe after playing for third club in one season

By Matt Barlow

Last updated at 9:12 PM on 04th February 2010

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Nicky Shorey is on a collision course with FIFA because he played for his third club this season when he made his Fulham debut against Portsmouth on Wednesday.

The world body are unhappy that English football continues to provide a loophole to avoid their transfer rules, which state that players can represent a maximum of two clubs in one season.

The former England full back played for Fulham after signing on loan from Aston Villa, following an earlier nine-game spell at Nottingham Forest. But Shorey and Fulham are backed by the FA, the Premier League and the Football League, all of whom classify his time at Forest as an emergency loan.

Asmir Begovic will also defy the three-club rule if he makes his Stoke debut against Blackburn tomorrow. The former Portsmouth goalkeeper went to Ipswich on an emergency loan earlier this season.

A FIFA spokesman said: ‘FIFA are concerned about the system of emergency loans in general and have approached the Football Association on various occasions in the past regarding this. FIFA will be contacting them again in order to obtain clarification with regard to this issue.

‘Generally speaking, and with regard to the application of the pertinent rule, ie. Article 5 Paragraph 3 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, the regulation should be applied as stated.’

This rule dictates that a player can be registered with a maximum of three clubs during one season but can only play for two of them — with the sole exception of a move between clubs with overlapping seasons.

Emergency loans were introduced by the Football League to allow players to moveoutside of FIFA’s strict transfer windows and therefore help clubs avoid the expense of stockpiling larger squads.

An FA spokesman said: ‘Emergency loans don’t count when calculating the number of clubs a player has played for as he remains under contract to his parent club.’

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2010, 09:43:49 PM »
Former Fulham star Moritz Volz set to join QPR on short-term deal

By Sportsmail Reporter

Last updated at 2:04 PM on 04th February 2010

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Queens Park Rangers are set to sign former Fulham defender Moritz Volz on a short-term deal until the end of the season.

The experienced German has impressed while on trial at Loftus Road.

He is currently a free agent after leaving Fulham last summer, after a series of hip, shoulder and ankle injuries.

The 27-year-old played for the reserves on Tuesday in their 3-0 defeat against Reading.

Volz will be boss Mick Harford's fifth signing at the club since replacing Paul Hart last month.
Writing on his blog recently, Colz said: 'I’m very grateful they’re giving me the opportunity to build up my match fitness after such a long time out.
'You can train all you like but it's matches you need to really get back to your best.'
Rangers,who are currently in 14th place in the Championship, face Peterborough at London Road on Saturday.

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2010, 09:52:19 PM »
Grant can savour success as he tops our league ... of managers on their way outBy Tom Bellwood

Last updated at 7:14 PM on 04th February 2010

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Avram is still in a job - for now - but the games are running out for him and all the managers in the relegation mire  - so who's next for the exit?

It never rains but it pours: Avram's had a bad week ... and it just got worse
Each week we bring you our latest chart of the managers under pressure, and those on Easy Street.

Here's Sportsmail's sack-race rankings - otherwise known as The Firing Line.

1 Portsmouth - Avram Grant
Oh dear. Avram's side are no good on the pitch and the allegations circulating about his behaviour off it are certainly not helping. What will Pompey's (latest) owners be thinking? UP FIVE

2 Wolves - Mick McCarthyWolves haven't won in the league since before Christmas and defeat away at Palace is sure to sap the confidence. Points are needed in the derby with Birmingham on Sunday. UP THREE

3 Wigan - Roberto Martinez
Martinez's side are on a run of three defeats, the most humbling of those the defeat at the hands of Notts County, Martinez's debut Premier League season is ending in a scrap. UP FIVE

4 Sunderland - Steve BruceAfter starting the season as European hopefuls, things have turned sour for Bruce's side who are now just three points off the drop-zone and are winless in ten. Wigan is a must-win. DOWN TWO

5 Liverpool - Rafa Benitez
Remarkably, Liverpool remain in the race for a Champions League berth but has Benitez got one eye on move to Juventus? A win over Everton could propel them into fourth this Saturday. DOWN FOUR

6 West Ham - Gianfranco Zola
Zola is hoping his flurry of activity as the transfer window shut will be enough to save the Hammers' season - but are the buys good value? We'll know more after the clash at Burnley.  UP THREE

7 Hull City - Phil Brown
Brown's best move this season may turn out to be his ability to keep hold of the influential Stephen Hunt. Can they repeat their performance against Hull during the clash with Man City? DOWN FOUR

8 Blackburn - Sam Allardyce
Unbeaten in three in the league now, whisper it quietly but Rovers may have turned a corner. Still, defeat away at Stoke and they could be back in the mire if results go against them. DOWN FOUR

9 Burnley - Brian Laws
Remember this date - October 31st - it could be the last time Burnley win a top flight match in some time. Laws has a mountain to climb, they can start the ascent against West Ham. DOWN TWO

10 Fulham - Roy HodgsonFive straight defeats in all competitions was halted with a win against lowly Portsmouth. Hodgson's side are in danger of entering the relegation scrap and need a win against Bolton. NON-MOVER

11 Bolton Wanderers - Owen Coyle
It has been a steady if unremarkable start for Coyle.The performance, if not the result, at Liverpool was encouraging. Still not out of the woods yet and they have Fulham next. NON-MOVER

12 Stoke City - Tony Pulis
The very drab draw at Sunderland brought a welcome point but the Potters have just two league wins in 10. Season is at the crossroads of mid- table mediocrity or relegation fight. NON-MOVER

13 Aston Villa - Martin O'NeillOnly one defeat in the last four in the league and a trip to Wembley to look forward to. A late push for the top four could make a good season great but have a clash away at Spurs next. NON-MOVER

14 Everton - David Moyes
Who'd have thought it? Moyes side looked destined for a season of mediocrity and now stand on the verge of a run that will take them into the European places. it's the derby this weekend. NON-MOVER

15 Man City - Roberto Mancini
The honeymoon period continues for Mancini who now looks best-placed to take that fourth-place spot with games in hand and just a point behind Spurs. Hull next. NON-MOVER

16 Birmingham City - Alex McLeish
After the run they have been on, you can forgive McLeish's side a little blip - against good opposition - Wolves, West Ham and Fulham next will decide their season's fate.  UP ONE

 17Tottenham - Harry RedknappRedknapp's team are in danger of becoming an almost side once again after dropping more points in promising positions. A win over Aston Villa will go some way to restoring the faith. DOWN ONE

 18Chelsea - Carlo AncelottiSlowly, Chelsea's advantage is being eked away, their lead has been cut to two points and no games in hand now. They could do with rediscovering the ruthless streak against Arsenal.  NON-MOVER

19 Arsenal - Arsene Wenger
It's nowhere near a crisis but the pundits would have you believe that the title is lost if they lose to Chelsea. It's too soon to say that but a win would be a real shot in the arm.  NON-MOVER

20 Man United - Sir Alex FergusonVictory over City was good but the demolition of Arsenal proves his side are desperate for that fourth consecutive title.  They're at home to Pompey on Saturday - three points, surely.  NON-MOVER

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2010, 10:42:24 PM »

Thursday things: how Dikgacoi changed the game

Filed under: General — weltmeisterclaude @ 7:15 pm

My neverending quest to understand football has taken me in many strange directions.  Most recently I have been reading a couple of coaching books by a man named Allen Wade.  Wade’s name won’t mean much to you, I don’t suppose, but it was he who taught our Roy to coach back in the day.    From there it was natural enough that I might further explore Wade’s philosophy, as a way of getting an understanding of Roy’s.

Not so fast: the game has changed a lot, and in one of Wade’s books much is explained from a three back perspective.   But in the other he does have a handy ‘manager’s checklist’ of things to look out for in games.

One seemed very relevant last night:  (I’m paraphrasing) if you are under pressure, what is the source of the pressure?  Which opposing player is driving this, and can he be stopped?

Like most good points it seems obvious when spelt out like that, but in retrospect, this was critical to the game last night.   At one point O’Hara and Boateng were thoroughly in charge of our midfield.  It wasn’t that Baird and Murphy weren’t doing a good job, just that they weren’t getting the run of the ball, they seemed extended, the second phase possession was always eluding them, etc, etc.   Roy acted decisively here and (to my surprise at the time) brought on Dikgacoi, who proceeded to have his best game in a white shirt by a distance (and he’s played pretty well up to now, too).

Dikgacoi has a number of strengths.  One of them is just that, his strength.  He is one of these players who seems to be on the right side of any maneuvering, if two players are competing for an ungainly ball, Dikgacoi seems to have a talent for leaning his way into the ascendancy.  It’s a useful ability in these hurly burly games.  Also, he can get about. Our midfielders have a fairly sheltered life in the middle of the park, the emphasis being on keeping shape and holding a shielding position, but Dikgacoi seems able to be in the right place when we’re defending, but also to get up the pitch when we’re attacking.   This bears closer inspection – is it indiscipline or just good midfield work?  – but he does have that something extra that our other midfielders don’t have.  He also uses the ball well, able to receive and circulate with ease, and has already made a number of telling tackles in and around our penalty area.   In short, I am very impressed.

Back to last night.  Dikgacoi came on and shackled O’Hara et al quickly and effectively.  It is surely no coincidence that as soon as he was introduced we started to put together long spells of possession, and denied Portsmouth much by way of attacking.    It is also no coincidence that Murphy stepped up at this point, too.

It all came together, didn’t it?  Shorey was starting to really dig in on the left flank, Duff found another two gears, Baird took his midfield skills to full-back and we became a blur of incisive attacking play.   Nothing special, but back to what we used to be, back to what we expect from this Fulham side.

Now, none of this would have counted for much had we not scored, but we did score, and it came as a result of the pressure we applied to Portsmouth.

PS  – From OptaJoe on Twitter:  “16 of Fulham’s last 20 league goals have either been scored or assisted by Clint Dempsey or Bobby Zamora. Pivots”


PPS – remember my shots on target for/against analysis on the premiership a week or so ago?  Perhaps not – I don’t know if anyone reads it – but I noted that Portsmouth are still outshooting teams without getting the points this advantage ought to give them, which either means that they’re far better than their league position or supremely wasteful.  Well last night’s game was interesting in that it played out according to script.   Are they better than their league position?  Yes.  Are they wasteful?  Probably.  Interesting point from Roy after the game though:  Portsmouth aren’t a rag tag and bobtail side – their wage bill is probably much higher than ours.  Indeed.

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2010, 10:45:24 PM »

the Third Day of February Two-Thousand Ten

Questions abound over the Europa League roster

By: timmyg | February 4th, 2010

It seems little focus has been made to how all the injuries and transfers will affect our Europa League roster.

By my count we’ll have just two strikers available when we play Shaktar Donetsk in two weeks time. Right now, according to UEFA’s website, the roster looks like such:

1 Mark Schwarzer »
12 David Stockdale »
38 Neil Etheridge *
39 Wesley Foderingham *
41 Marcus Bettinelli *

2 Stephen Kelly »
3 Paul Konchesky »
4 John Pantsil »
5 Brede Hangeland »
6 Christopher Baird »
18 Aaron Hughes »
26 Christopher Smalling »
28 Adam Watts *
36 Joe Anderson *
37 Matthew Briggs *
45 Alex Smith *
11 Zoltán Gera »
13 Danny Murphy »
16 Damien Duff »
17 Bjørn Helge Riise »
20 Dickson Etuhu »
23 Clint Dempsey »
27 Jonathan Greening »
29 Simon Davies »
31 Matthew Saunders *
42 Courtney Harris *
43 Reece Jones *
44 Keanu Marsh-Brown *

8 Andrew Johnson »
10 Erik Nevland »
15 Diomansy Kamara »
25 Bobby Zamora »
40 Michael Uwezu *

[n.b. Names with an asterisk are on the B-list]

We all know Kamara is away on loan, so immediately scratch him off the list. Same with Joe Anderson and Adam Watts who are now at Lincoln City.

Matthew Briggs is currently on loan with Leyton Orient but will return in time, whereas David Stockdale is supposed to get back from Plymouth the day of the Shaktar match. So keep your eyes peeled on that loan deal.

Long term injuries plague Johhny Panstil and Clint Dempsey, so you might as well star those names as ones who probably won’t feature until at least the quarter-finals — assuming we advance there — or if at all. The future also remains unclear for the injured Andy Johnson, Paul Konchesky (both of whom are injured) and Simon Davies (who is sadly never fit).

So let’s just assume the worst-case scenario and remove the names that I expressed concern over.

1 Mark Schwarzer »
12 David Stockdale »
38 Neil Etheridge *
39 Wesley Foderingham *
41 Marcus Bettinelli *

2 Stephen Kelly »
5 Brede Hangeland »
6 Christopher Baird »
18 Aaron Hughes »
26 Christopher Smalling »
37 Matthew Briggs *
45 Alex Smith *
11 Zoltán Gera »
13 Danny Murphy »
16 Damien Duff »
17 Bjørn Helge Riise »
20 Dickson Etuhu »
27 Jonathan Greening »
31 Matthew Saunders *
42 Courtney Harris *
43 Reece Jones *
44 Keanu Marsh-Brown *

10 Erik Nevland »
25 Bobby Zamora »
40 Michael Uwezu *

Newly acquired Nicky Shorey are Stefano Okaka Chuka are cup-tied because of the following regulation:

18.18 One player from the above quota of three who has played UEFA club competition matches for another competing club in the current season may exceptionally be registered provided that the player has not been fielded:
- in the same competition for another club,
- for another club that is currently in the same competition.

Furthermore, if the player’s new club is playing in the UEFA Europa League, his former club must not have played in the UEFA Europa League at any point in the current season.

Rats. And then to compound the issue, there’s this nugget:

18.17 For all matches from the start of the round of 32, a club may register a maximum of three new eligible players for the remaining matches in the current competition. Such registration must be completed by 1 February 2010 at the latest. This deadline cannot be extended


Hopefully, Roy and the lads added Elm, and others, to the roster before Kamara was sent out on loan, otherwise we’ll have just two available strikers for the foreseeable future. And we all better hope, more so than usual, that no one, especially Zamora and Nevland, gets injured, those injured return ASAP, and Gera’s knee returns as he hoped.

Or, maybe the club did file the roster changes in time and just haven’t bothered notify us yet.

I’m hoping for the latter.

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2010, 10:47:28 PM »

Alan Hansen’s Premier League Previews: Bolton v Fulham

Fulham may have ended their 4-match losing run with a 1-0 home win over bottom club Portsmouth in midweek but they face a tough trip to the Reebok Stadium this weekend. To be fair, any away trip is difficult for the Cottagers at the moment as they’ve been unable to win on the road since August, a run of eleven away trips without a victory (7 defeats).

Owen Coyle’s appointment has not yielded a huge turnaround in results as Bolton have only won one of his four league games in charge. However, this is hardly a fair judgement on his work as the three Trotters defeats have come away at Liverpool and in two defeats to Arsenal. This match will be viewed as one the home side would expect to win or at least get a point from. Personally, I think they will pick up all three points.

Bolton don’t possess the best of records against Fulham in recent seasons. In fact, the Trotters have not been able to beat the Cottagers in the last five league clashes. That run includes three Fulham wins and Coyle’s team should be aware that the Londoners won 3-1 at the Reebok last season and drew there the year before that.

Owen is obviously trying to put his own stamp on the current Bolton team with his trio of youthful loan signings and they will add to the quality and enthusiasm of the current team. He will not want to rapidly alter the team he inherited especially with a relegation battle on his hands, but gradually we may see Bolton’s style of football changing. At times Bolton have been criticised for being too direct but I am sure Owen is pragmatic enough to use the players he has available whatever his preferred style. Kevin Davies’ aerial ability is a useful weapon in Bolton’s armoury, so don’t expect Owen not to continue to use his strength to the club’s advantage. I’d be surprised if Owen threw the likes of Jack Wilshere, Stuart Holden and Vladimir Weiss straight into the side but they all have the talent to add more creativity to a physically strong team.

The home side have also had more time to prepare for this one while Fulham played in midweek which could have a bearing on this result. Particularly as I expect the match to be played at a high tempo from the off. The Cottagers have also brought in a couple of loan signings with experienced Nicky Shorey and Roma’s Stefano Okaka arriving.

The young striker is only 20-years-old and although he is obviously talented may struggle to make an immediate impact. Okaka has scored eleven goals in 79 league appearances in Italy but only started 29 of those games, so Fulham fans shouldn’t expect too much from the lad. After all, he hasn’t played much football in his short career and the English game takes some getting used to even for experienced foreign players.

I just feel Bolton will have a little bit too much for Fulham on the day, the Cottagers are a nice neat organised team but their away form is not good whilst Bolton’s home win over Burnley should give the players belief that they can turn the Reebok Stadium into a venue to be feared again.

The Trotters will miss the injured Ivan Klasnic but their expensive Swedish star Johan Elmander may prosper from the passing style Owen Coyle is trying to produce in his new team. Therefore, with a £30,000 estimated Premier 10 jackpot to be won this weekend, I am backing a home win for Bolton.

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2010, 06:17:31 AM »

Just the slice of luck we needed

by lydia on February 4, 2010

It can’t be denied that Bobby Zamora was offside for the Jonathan Greening goal last night. Some will argue that Zamora didn’t touch the ball, which he didn’t. However, he effected the play by bringing Steve Finnan out of the gane for that single second that gave space for Greening to cooly slide the ball home for his first goal in a Fulham shirt.

But who cares?

Fulham have had a horrible set of misfortunes in terms of injuries and annoying little instances in matches that have greatly cost us. Yes, some of our preformances have been woeful but very few. In most of matches where we have lost we can argue that we have been unlucky. I said to my brother the other day that what Fulham needed was just a little bit of fortune like getting a penalty, a deflected goal or, as it happened last night- a dodgy decision that went our way. That goal could have easily have been ruled out on any other night.

But now that we have had our little piece of fortune, the performances should improve because the lads should have a bit of confidence back. Lets hope we have a strong performance on Saturday now!

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2010, 06:19:17 AM »

Trotting Home - Great Expectations

Date: Thursday 4 February 2010

The visit of Fulham portents a winnable game. Up for the three points is as, as it were...

High expectations are back at the Reebok. Under a certain ex-manager I’d be expecting a depressing defeat at home to (fairly) high-flying Fulham this weekend, however we’re a ‘new’ club thanks to Mr Gartside having the balls to persuade 'Moses' Coyle to leave Burnley, who’ll almost certainly be relegated come May. The urge to visit to the Reebok is back, and after using up all my excuses in recent months not to bother going, I feel the total opposite now. Whilst this might only be a game against Fulham, I’m actually looking forward to it.

Owen will have some selection problems, such as whether or not to keep Ricketts at left-back in favour of Robinson/Samuel, and whether or not Zat Knight has woken up by kick-off. We’ve seen Weiss, Holden and Wilshere arrive, and all will surely expect to play a part in this game at some point, as well as Ricardo, who's no doubt wondering when he’s going to get a game. Up front we could either play Davies and Elmander, or simply Davies, with back-up from midfield (surely nobody thinks Elmo can do the job alone). I’m sure Mr Coyle has a plan and I’m confident he’ll choose the right option.

Fulham have been something of a surprise side in recent years. When they gave Roy Hodgson the manager's job I chuckled and thought they’d signed a one-way ticket to the Championship. I was wrong, very wrong. Roy has assembled a decent little squad, and even managed to make Bobby Zamora look like a useful player! I’ve been impressed when I’ve seen them live, a solid defence with the highly rated big Scandanavian Hangeland at the back; their midfield works hard for each other, and they have some very good players like Clint Dempsey pulling the strings. The 'little and large' attack might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as Andy Johnson could teach Ronaldo a lesson on diving in the area, and Bobby Z seems to fly around everywhere like an angry bull, one that gets so angry that he looks like he’s going to attack his own team-mates after scoring a goal. And, to his credit, Mr Hodgson has managed this without spending big. Any club in West London aren’t going to be short of a few pennies, but he’s not managed to bankrupt Al-Fayed just yet.

But at the end of the day they are still, of course, a London club, so the media are rooting for them... whilst those annoying ‘little’ Lancashire clubs have the audacity to remain in the top flight, despite having a far richer history and bigger fanbase (bar Wigan, but they’re a Rugby League town anyway). MotD will doubtless be hoping for an away win, after all who wants to watch ‘dirty’ Bolton with ‘Judas’ Coyle? I’m confident though that we’ll turn them over and move a step closer to staying in the Premier League for a TENTH consecutive season... and who’d have thought that back in Cardiff in May 2001?

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2010, 06:24:18 AM »

Roy preaches patience over Okaka

by Dan on February 4, 2010

Roy Hodgson has asked Fulham’s fans to be patient with Stefano Okaka as the on-loan striker adjusts to English football.

The Fulham manager hadn’t intended to give the on-loan Roma striker his first taste of Premier League action just two days after he concluded a protracted transfer but an injury to Erik Nevland forced his hand. The Italian under-21 international looked strong, but raw, and was disappointed to miss a glorious chance to mark his debut with a goal.

I told him not to worry about it. He’s devastated by it because in Italy mistakes are magnified 100 times and I think it would take him years to live it down over there, but it will probably only take a few weeks here. If I was him I would put it into perspective by looking at the wonderful backheeled goal for Roma the other day.

I think Okaka’s going to take a lot of time. He’s a young raw player and had Erik Nevland not had that toe problem he would not have started.

He doesn’t speak a word of English at the moment and my Italian’s nowhere near as good as it used to be. I’m sure he will get better and I’m sure he will turn out to be a useful signing for us.

But he’s not a saviour by any stretch of the imagination. He’s a player we were able to get in on loan for this period of time and a player who has some interesting characteristics that we might be able to use, but he’s not the man who will carry us.

We’re not saying don’t worry if Andy Johnson’s not around because we have Stefano Okaka, that would be placing far too much responsibility on his shoulders.

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2010, 06:28:22 AM »

Clint Dempsey – Our Fulham “mole” tells us that Deuce is progressing “slowly but surely” as he recovers from right knee ligament damage. Likelihood of World Cup selection: 95 percent.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2010, 06:33:59 AM by White Noise »

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2010, 06:35:11 AM »

Volz can spark Rangers

Published: Today

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QPR have offered Moritz Volz a contract until the end of the season.
The ex-Fulham defender, 27, is a free agent and came through a friendly against Reading this week.

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« Last Edit: February 05, 2010, 06:48:43 AM by White Noise »

Offline whitejc

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2010, 08:17:34 AM »

Bolton v Fulham

Fulham have just halted that run of five straight league defeats while Bolton are slowly coming to grips with the way new manager Owen Coyle wants them to play.

Fulham have one or two problems in certain areas as everyone knows. Defensively in the last few games they have not been great but also they have not created that many chances. Andy Johnson is possibly out for the rest of the campaign and that is a blow but the thing with that is they have not had him for that much of this season anyhow, so they shouldn't miss him too much.

Verdict: 2-1

Offline WHITEwitch

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2010, 09:43:40 AM »
That's a very interesting collection.

I was particularly fascinated by the piece on Dikgachoi.  It was obvious he made a difference.

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2010, 10:22:32 AM »

Up next: Bolton Wanderers (a)

by Dan on February 5, 2010

Fulham will be without all three of last season's scorers at Bolton, including the injured Simon Davies

Momentum can be something of an overused term in sport, but it often make can the difference between victory and defeat. Fulham will be looking to cash in on any bounce from their first league win in a while on Wednesday at the Reebok Stadium with further success tomorrow afternoon, although Bolton themselves seem much improved under the stewardship of Owen Coyle. It’s not very often that meetings between these two sides have people licking their lips in anticipation but this fixture has the potential to be a really good contest.

Just a few days ago, Roy Hodgson’s side had the look of a patched-up, world-weary outfit. Their losing streak appeared to have end in sight – and neither did an injury crisis that the most genial of managers described as the worst he’d known in his 34 years of management. That injury situation has far from abated – Fulham will still be without their three goalscorers from last year’s shock victory in Lancashire (which was their first league win on the road) for example – but there’s a list a little less of a panicked look about Hodgson’s selection with two loan signings in Nicky Shorey and Stefano Okaka to bolster a fragile looking line-up.

Both would be expected to start tomorrow. Shorey stole the show with a rampaging performance at left back against Portsmouth, pushing forward to great effect and giving the injured Paul Konchesky a bit of food for thought. He linked up nicely with Jonathan Greening, who had appeared a cautious choice to fill the right midfield role that has usually belonged to Clint Dempsey, Zoltan Gera or Simon Davies this season – but eventually popped up with the vital winner. As a result, the on-loan midfielder might just reprise his burgeoning partnership with Shorey and keep Bjorn Helge Riise on the bench.

Okaka still strikes me as much more of a work in progress. Hodgson himself has acknowledged the Italian under-21 striker remains raw and has sought to alleviate much of the pressure the Roma forward may feel, especially after missing that close range header on Wednesday. Okaka’s obviously still learning the game – and he will soon note from David Elm – that there’s a bit of transition time when it comes to acclimatising to English football, even if he showed a willingness to put himself about that bodes well. There’s a chance that Erik Nevland could have shaken off a toe injury to stake a starting claim but I’d like Hodgson to be bold and stick with the youngster up front.

The only other selection conundrum surrounds Stephen Kelly, who had a rather wretched hour or so on Wednesday. Whilst Fulham improved markedly once the poor Irishman was replaced by Kagisho Dikgacoi and Chris Baird switched to right back, I’d be tempted to keep the former Birmingham full back in his place for now. A run of games can bring confidence and I still haven’t forgotten quite how worrying it was to see Baird at right back. As impressive as Dikgacoi’s arrival from the bench was, Baird’s been playing superbly in midfield this season and certainly doesn’t merit being dropped.

Bolton certainly will be up for this one. Kevin Davies, who always seems to save his most infuriatingly potent performances for games against Fulham, has targeted this fixture as one where the Wanderers can look to pick up maximum points. Coyle has been wise enough not to try and overhaul the worst elements of Gary Megson’s direct style overnight but you get the sense that both players and fans are more comfortable with one of their own in their dugout now, even if the former Trotter’s move from Burnley did raise a few eyebrows.

Wanderers might have lost three times under Coyle’s stewardship – but those defeats came at the hands of Arsenal and Liverpool, with at least two of them being particularly harsh. The squad at his disposal should be good enough to comfortably beat the drop with the likes of Jussi Jaaskelainen, Gary Cahill, Fabrice Muamba, Matty Taylor, Davies and Ivan Klasnic – a scorer when Megson picked up a point at Fulham before Christmas – all proven performers at this level. No doubt this will be one where the boys will have to roll their sleeves up and scrap.

MY FULHAM XI (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Kelly, Shorey, Hughes, Hangeland; Baird, Murphy, Duff, Greening; Zamora, Okaka. Subs: Zuberbuhler, Smalling, Stoor, Dikgacoi, Riise, Nevland, Elm.

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2010, 10:23:57 AM »

Club Focus - Fulham - Just enough improvement

By Matt Domm

There was little, if any, improvement in the performance but Fulham were, fortunately, up against a team with even less luck than themselves. The performance of Portsmouth’s players and fans on a wet Wednesday night by the Thames suggests there are far more deserving teams to go down, but the Whites simply took advantage of the visitors’ lack of confidence to steal the three points.

Despite there not being much to warrant that victory, there were improvements in several key areas, progress which a victory and a clean sheet should help see more of. Nicky Shorey at left-back gave, after a few nervous early minutes, one of the best Fulham debuts seen in recent times. The central-defensive partnership of Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes was back, and effective. And there was some fight - perhaps not from the midfield, until Kagiso Dikgacoi came on, but the strikers refused to be bullied out of the game as they had been in four of the five consecutive defeats prior to the visit of Pompey.

The on-loan left-back, Shorey, almost single-handedly nullified an entire flank (with some excellent support from the makeshift left-winger Jonathan Greening), which meant the south coast side had only the middle or the other side of the pitch - rather unsuccessfully manned by Stephen Kelly - in which to attack. In recent Club Focuses this writer has bemoaned the lack of John Pantsil and Paul Konchesky for the lack of width going forward. Shorey, as well as shoring up the flank from attack, overlapped Greening intelligently and effectively, and had the stamina to get back into position whenever any one of his teammates predictably lost possession. He offered himself as an outlet and put an equal effort into both the defensive and attacking aspects. If such performances continue then Roy Hodgson will undoubtedly be looking to make the deal permanent, and Konchesky could finally have some much-needed competition for his position

It has been a while since Hangeland and Hughes have been partnered together in their rightful positions. Hughes has recently been played on the right, or alongside Chris Smalling, and the defence has looked far from comfortable. Alongside each other at the heart of Fulham’s defence for the majority of last season, the club had the fourth-best defence in the Premier League. Injuries have affected the consistency the Whites defence had last term, but Wednesday night saw both centre-backs return almost to their best. Hangeland hardly missed a header all night, and Hughes was first to everything on the ground. Although Portsmouth had a lot of possession and passed well, their chances were mainly from distance or deep crosses - Fulham’s back two stopped the rest. Hangeland had looked somewhat out-of-sorts without his regular partner, and Hughes was far too defensive-minded to be successful at right-back. now, back together, the Whites’ recent appalling defensive record should improve - and, as importantly, set-pieces were once again dealt with without any fuss.

Hodgson’s other transfer window loan signing, Stefano Okaka from Roma, also made his debut against Pompey. While he did not take to his new teammates as comfortably as Shorey, and was guilty of a horror-miss in the first half, overall the young Italian impressed, for his strength and pace more than anything else. He is perhaps not the ideal partner for the equally strong Bobby Zamora, as between them they are not as clinical as others at the club, but they were no pushovers on Wednesday night, which made for a refreshing change for the Cottage faithful, who have in recent weeks seen their team bullied by opposing defences. Okaka has a good touch, and more than his fair share of strength, but will need to work on his finishing and the defending from the front which his teammates all offer. He at least did a great job of softening up the Portsmouth back line for Erik Nevland, who changed the game when he came off the bench for the final 25 minutes.

The Whites were perhaps outplayed at times in the middle, at least until Dikgacoi came on as the ball-winner, but a vast improvement in the defence helped them steal an undeserved three points. That said, a win from anywhere was exactly what the doctor ordered. As Fulham edge towards the points necessary for relegation to be forgotten about, overall performances should start to improve. Once goals stop going in at the wrong end, the attacking section can work on their main responsibility.

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2010, 10:24:54 AM »
BOLTON v Fulham: Big striker Johan Elmander could return to Owen Coyle's starting XI

By Sportsmail Reporter Last updated at 9:49 AM on 05th February 2010

Comments (0) Add to My Stories Bolton manager Owen Coyle could recall striker Johan Elmander for the Barclays Premier League clash against Fulham.

Elmander, a substitute against Liverpool last week, might be handed his chance in this crucial home game as Ivan Klasnic remains sidelined with an ankle injury.

Coyle looks set to include young on-loan midfielders Vladimir Weiss and Jack Wilshere in his squad while Stuart Holden remains doubtful with a thigh problem.
Team (from): Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Gardner, Weiss, Cohen, Taylor, M Davies, Wilshere, McCann, Muamba, Lee, K Davies, A O'Brien, Al Habsi, Samuel, Elmander, Ricketts, Holden.

Read more:

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2010, 10:27:15 AM »

Jonathan Greening’s Fulham record

by Dan on February 5, 2010

A question posed on FOF last night had me searching. This is what I turned up:

Fulham with Greening

Played: 21
Won: 9
Drawn: 6
Lost: 6

Fulham without Greening

Played: 15
Won: 5
Drawn: 7
Lost: 3

Interesting, eh?

UPDATE: The difference is even more striking in the league.

With Greening

Played: 14
Won: 6
Drawn: 4
Lost: 4

Without Greening

Played: 10
Won: 2
Drawn: 2
Lost: 6

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2010, 10:30:18 AM »

FootyMAD's Bolton Wanderers Match Preview
By Footymad Friday, 5th February 2010

The game between Bolton Wanderers and Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday, 6th February 2010 at 15:00 takes centre stage for FootyMad's preview analysis.
History of the Bolton Wanderers v Fulham fixture

Fulham face a trip to Bolton Wanderers at Reebok Stadium on Saturday afternoon, needing to turn around their fortunes at the ground. The Cottagers will be hoping to improve upon a record which has seen them lose 21 and win only 8 of the 39 games.

The most recent encounter between these two sides was less than a year ago, in March 2009, as the visitors ran out cosy 1 - 3 winners in a Premier League match.

For a detailed analysis of the head-to-head between the two sides, click here

Recent encounters between the teams:
2009/2010 Sat 28 Nov Fulham 1 - 1 Bolton Wdrs. PREM
2008/2009 Sat 14 Mar Bolton Wdrs. 1 - 3 Fulham PREM
2008/2009 Sat 13 Sep Fulham 2 - 1 Bolton Wdrs. PREM
2007/2008 Tue 29 Jan Bolton Wdrs. 0 - 0 Fulham PREM
2007/2008 Wed 26 Sep Fulham 1 - 2 Bolton Wdrs. LGEC
2007/2008 Wed 15 Aug Fulham 2 - 1 Bolton Wdrs. PREM
2006/2007 Sun 11 Feb Bolton Wdrs. 2 - 1 Fulham PREM

Recent respective form guides

Bolton have lost just once in their last six home games, winning four and drawing the other one. These high-scoring games have yielded a total of 12 goals for the The Trotters, with 5 goals against.

Fulham have an average recent record on the road, winning 2 of the last six, but losing the other 4. While the Cottagers have hit 9 goals, 12 have hit the back of the wrong net.

Bolton are hovering perilously just above the relegation zone, with 21 points from 22 matches. Fulham's 30 points from 24 games sees them lie inside the top half of the table, in 10th position.

For a detailed analysis of team form guides throughout the leagues, click here

Current form guides: P W D L F A P
Bolton Wdrs. 6 3 0 3 9 8 9
Fulham 6 2 0 4 6 10 6

FootyMad's prediction ...

This promises to be an excellent test for the in-form Cottagers, but one which I believe will end in stalemate. Score draw

Sequence statistics:
Bolton Wdrs. 5 games since last home draw.
Not drawn a match in their last 6.
Fulham 7 games since last away draw.
Last drawn game 9 outings ago.

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2010, 10:35:29 AM »

Owen Coyle charters unknown territory

6:30am Friday 5th February 2010

RELEGATION battles may be a foreign concept to Owen Coyle in his managerial career to date — but he knows better than to predict how many points it will take for Wanderers to call themselves officially safe this season.

The Scot has never found himself at the wrong end of the table during stints at the helm of Falkirk, St Johnstone or Burnley.

But with four points covering seven clubs at the bottom end of the Premier League, that is exactly the situation he finds himself in before taking on Fulham at the Reebok tomorrow.

And while seven more wins would be required from the Whites’ last 16 games to surpass the magical 40-point mark that usually denotes safety from relegation, Coyle insists he won’t be drawn into making predictions.

“I don’t scrutinise the table, I scrutinise what we have at the football club,” he said.

“I look at what we can do to win the next game, knowing that will put us in a good position and if you don’t, you’ll stay where you are at best.

“If you’d asked me if I had any points targets at the start of the season at Burnley, my answer would have been the same.

“I don’t set points targets. I just want to make sure at the end of this season that there are three teams below us.

“We took over the club in the bottom three for whatever reason and it’s up to us to make sure we preserve its Premier League status, and then take it on.”

Gavin McCann (ankle), Ivan Klasnic (calf) and Stuart Holden (thigh) are out of action for the visit of the Cottagers, and Coyle has hinted that Johan Elmander may get a starting place up front.

The Wanderers boss has already come across Roy Hodgson’s side once this season, whist in charge at Burnley, and has forecast a tough afternoon.

“I played against Fulham earlier this season at Burnley and felt they were one of the best sides that came to Turf Moor,” he said.

“They are a very good side and they are not in the top half of the league by accident.

“They are there because they have some very good players and a terrific manager, albeit they have been on a poor run, but they addressed that on Wednesday night with a very good 1-0 win against Portsmouth.”

l Prices have been significantly reduced for the game, with tickets costing £12 for one adult and one child, £10 for one adult, or £5 for concessions in all areas of the ground.

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Re: Friday Fulham Stuff (05.02.10)
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2010, 10:37:07 AM »

Swans boss Sousa’s warning to Rangel to keep Premier dream alive

Feb 5 2010 by Blair Wood, Western Mail

PAULO SOUSA has warned beleaguered star Angel Rangel the only way to keep his Premiership dream alive is to prove his worth with Swansea City.

And, adamant chairman Huw Jenkins was right to turn down Fulham’s deadline day bid for the highly-rated defender, the Swans boss warned Rangel his place in the starting XI will be at risk if he lets Monday’s transfer stand-off affect his form.

Rangel caused a stir this week when he publicly accused Jenkins of stalling his career by denying him a move to the Premiership.

The Spaniard argued that Fulham had agreed to meet Swansea’s valuation for his services only to then find Jenkins couldn’t be contacted, making it impossible to complete the deal.

The Swansea supremo then hit back, expressing his disappointment at a number of inaccuracies in Rangel’s comments.

And, as the row rumbled on, it was inevitable Sousa would be asked for his take on the matter.

While washing his hands of financial matters, the Portuguese’s response was to suggest that Rangel still has to improve as a player before he is ready for the top flight.

Sousa is confident the 27-year-old will have more opportunities to realise his Premiership ambitions but, alluding to a drop in form this season, he claimed the only way to guarantee it is to raise his game at Swansea.

“I don’t want to talk about finances because that is the chairman’s job,” he said.

“But, technically and tactically, in my opinion, Angel has to progress a lot as a player.

“He is a good player with a good understanding of the game. But he can be a lot better than he has been until now.

“Hopefully he can do that with us here. Then he can have what he wants.

“If a player is consistent in his performances and grows all the time, the chance (to move) never goes. They come more and more.

“So, if he keeps doing well and plays better than he has until now, I’m sure in the end, whether it’s next season or in two seasons, he will probably have better opportunities than this one.”

While Sousa may be challenging Rangel to prove his worth on the pitch, the obvious question is whether he is in the right place mentally to do so.

Rangel’s outburst was a clear sign that he had been unsettled by Fulham’s interest and now Swansea fans wait to see if there is any impact upon his performances.

But one thing is sure, if the right-back does have issues, his manager isn’t willing to indulge them.

Asked if he was confident Rangel’s head was in the right place ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Preston, Sousa’s response was unequivocal. Rangel better be because, if not, his chances to impress any Premiership suitors will be severely limited.

“I’m not concerned about that because, if Angel isn’t right and doesn’t train or play well, he won’t play for us,” he declared. “It is so simple like that.

“This is what happens in football. Not just here, but with all clubs.

“Players know that if they don’t play well they won’t be picked. If that happens they can’t think about the future.

“Of course the motivation is important and that’s something we want to help him with.

“He needs to be motivated because, if he is thinking about Premier League clubs, he needs to be playing well to keep them interested.

“Angel is a Swansea player and I expect the best from him. I hope we will see the best of him this season.”

Rangel may have hit the headlines this week, but he was not the only player to be linked with a big-money move away from the Liberty Stadium.

As was the case with most recent transfer windows, a number of Swansea players attracted interest.

In the end, along with Rangel, it was respective bids from Wigan and Nottingham Forest for Leon Britton and Darren Pratley that tested Jenkins’ resolve.

Wigan are understood to have offered a cash plus player loan deal for Britton while Forest tabled a £1.5m bid for Pratley.

With both offers being firmly rejected, Sousa was relieved to get through January with his squad intact.

The former Champions League winner had told Jenkins he wanted to keep hold of all of his prize assets and he got his wish. Adamant he would now postpone all talk of players’ futures until the summer, Sousa is looking forward to firmly shifting the attention back to footballing matters.

“I’m happy the window has closed because now everyone can be 100 per cent focused on playing for Swansea,” he explained. “At this moment in time Swansea is the best club they have and I’m very happy the speculation can finish.

“I’m happy because I worked very hard from the start of the season to keep most of the players in the squad. They are a fantastic group and I’m delighted we can finish the season with that group intact.

“I spoke to the chairman about my thoughts and, when he told me the club didn’t have any financial problems, I told him I wanted to keep the players.

“He did that and I’m very happy about it.”

Asked if it was difficult to turn down offers from the Premiership, he replied: “I don’t know why (people think that).

“If the club does not have financial problems, why wouldn’t we turn them down?

“I am just happy I got to keep the players I wanted and the chairman did everything he could to keep them.

“Now, if players want to think about a future in the Premiership, they need to play well here. Swansea has to be their focus.

“I don’t care about whether or not they will move on in the summer.

“They just need to play well until the end of the season and then I will take my decisions.”