Author Topic: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...  (Read 1607 times)

Offline whitejc

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Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« on: October 26, 2019, 07:24:05 AM »
best XI Championship Team of the Season so far, including Leeds, Fulham and West Brom players, plus Chelsea loan star

The Championship is starting to take shape with the contenders beginning to emerge.

West Brom and Leeds are the early pacesetters at the top of the table but there are sure to be dozens of changes before the champions are crowned in May.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is Charlton’s strong start to the season as they were tipped to struggle by many pundits. Lee Bowyer has guided them to just outside the play-offs and could be an outside contender for promotion.

As we are just over a quarter of the way through the season it is the perfect time to compile our Championship team of the campaign so far.

Goalkeeper – Kiko Casilla

The Leeds United goalkeeper has kept clean sheets in six of the 12 games he has played so far this season.

They also have the best defensive record in the league with just eight goals conceded.

Casilla is worthy of his place with those statistics and if they have any desires on getting automatic promotion then they will need to keep that defensive record up.

Left-back – Joe Bryan

The Fulham defender has been solid at the back for the recently relegated side. He has been consistent while also contributing two assists and a goal.

Centre-back – Patrick Bauer

The 26-year-old swapped newly promoted Charlton for Preston in the summer and has been one of the best defenders in the league.

Preston are flying high in fifth place and the German defender has been strong at the back as they have conceded just 14 goals this season.

Centre-back – Ben White

The second Leeds player to be on the team of the season so far. The 22-year-old is on loan from Brighton and has fitted in well to Marco Bielsa’s team.

Pontus Jansson left the club in the summer and they have not missed him one bit.

Right-back – Matty Cash

The Nottingham Forest defender has been excellent going forward as well as defensively.

He has contributed two assists as well as a goal so far as Forest have emerged as early contenders for promotion.

Left midfield – Grady Diangana

Diangana is on loan from West Ham and has thrived on life in the Championship this season with West Brom.

The Baggies are top of the table and the 21-year-old has scored four goals as well as adding three assists.

Centre midfield – Conor Gallagher

Another player off the Chelsea production line who is thriving in the Championship. Last season it was Mason Mount with Derby and Gallagher is looking just as good as his club mate.

The 19-year-old has scored five goals from midfield for Lee Bowyer’s Charlton as the newly promoted side are flying high in seventh place.

Centre midfield – Eberechi Eze

The QPR man has arguably been the best player in the Championship and is a large part of why his side are fourth.

He has scored six goals and added another three assists and if the 21-year-old keeps playing like he has been then Premier League teams will surely start paying attention.

His driving runs put fear into opposition defenders and several have just been forced to bring him down, as we witnessed against Hull.

Right midfield – Andre Ayew

Swansea were the early pacesetters at the start of the season but have dropped off slightly in recent games.

Ayew has been superb this season so far with three goals and another three assists and has been the Welsh side’s best player.

Striker – Aleksandar Mitrovic

Fulham did a good job in keeping hold of Mitrovic during the summer and he’s proved to be too good for the Championship.

He’s scored eight goals in 12 appearances and the London club may have a fight on their hands to keep him in January.

Striker – Ollie Watkins

Brentford sold Neal Maupay to Brighton in the summer and Ollie Watkins has taken over as the main man.

With a slight change of role, he has scored eight goals in 13 appearances so far and has been one of the best strikers in the league this season.

talkSPORT’s Championship Team of the Season so far

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2019, 07:26:14 AM »
‘I’d definitely swap him for Cairney’ – Fulham fan pundit provides verdict on Fulham legend

This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Regular Punter’ series, where we gather original opinions from select, passionate fans of the clubs concerned on matters surrounding their team and share them with a wider audience…

Football League World’s Fulham fan pundit Charles Jones has given his thoughts on a fantasy swap decision that would involve Fulham legend Clint Dempsey and current Whites captain Tom Cairney, with the fan pundit giving his opinion on who he would prefer.

Dempsey of course was brilliant during his time at Craven Cottage, with the American playmaker scoring 60 goals in over 230 games for the capital based club, whilst also laying on 21 assists for his teammates.

Whilst current Fulham skipper Cairney, in comparison, has netted 33 goals and layed on 27 assists in just over 150 appearances for the Craven Cottage outfit, thus forming a key component of their current side over the last few seasons.

We decided to ask Jones if he would swap an in-form, prime Clint Dempsey for Tom Cairney right now, and here is what our Fulham fan pundit had to say on the matter:

As much as I love Tom Cairney it’s impossible to not say that Dempsey was the better player, especially when he was at his best.

“I think the wider footballing world doesn’t really give Dempsey the credit he deserves when it comes to what he achieved in the Premier League.

“I can’t imagine what the American would be like if he was in this team in this division, but I’d definitely swap him for Cairney.”

The fan pundit then gave his opinion on which player is the better out of the two, with his answer being the following:

“I think that some Fulham fans would try and make a case for Cairney being better than Dempsey, but you’ve got to look at what they’ve both achieved at the highest levels.

“The Scotland international had pretty much no impact in the top-flight last season, while Dempsey is our all-time leading scorer in the Premier League, and he was also a key component to our incredible Europa League run.

“Dempsey’s performances earned him a move to Tottenham, while Cairney has never had that sort of attention from a club of that stature.”

A perhaps unsurprising verdict from our fan pundit, who was quick to talk up Dempsey’s legendary status:

“For me, Dempsey embodies everything Fulham were about in the Premier League under the ownership of Mohamed Al Fayed, we had a massive influx of American players and he was the most successful of all of them.”

It is clear from the comments made by our fan pundit that Dempsey is still held in such high regard by the Craven Cottage faithful after all these years, however there is no reason why Cairney cannot go on to achieve legendary status for the west Londoners in the years to come.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2019, 07:27:23 AM »
 The Tony Gale Column

I’ve said it time and again, but Wednesday night showed once more than we’ve got the best centre forward in the Championship. We saw against Luton Town that if we get balls into Mitro, he will score goals. That’s his first hat-trick at club level, and he’s now a few goals out in front in the race to be top scorer. It was a predatory hat-trick, he’s definitely a Premier League player and he’ll be anxious to get us back up there to prove he’s the real deal.

The Championship is so competitive this season. The fact that only five points separate 1st and 10th says it all. This is a good thing, though. Results went our way in midweek, seeing Nottingham Forest lose at home, West Brom only drawing to Barnsley, so our win put us right back in amongst it. We’ve just got to keep picking up results because, if we do, then we’re going to be in a great position to capitalise on the fact that nobody is running away with it. It’s such a tight league this year, so we just need to start stringing together the wins that will put us in the top two.

We saw Marek Rodák make his first league appearance for Fulham on Wednesday. Marcus Bettinelli will of course be disappointed but he’s got a good character and will respond in the right way. He’s a quality keeper, so it shows that nobody should take their place for granted. It was a bold move by Scott, but it shows the faith he has in Marek who’s clearly a very good goalkeeper as well. Marcus will get to grips with it, keep working hard in training, and he’ll be back again stronger. It’s a squad game and we’re going to need everyone between now and the end of the season.

It’s fatal to think that any game is easy, but looking at the run of fixtures coming up, I want us to be heading into the international break with some decent points. Whilst on paper the next three games look quite appetising and I’m hoping we can get seven or nine points, that mindset can be so dangerous in a league that’s got hiccup written all over it. Middlesbrough are having such a tough time of it at the moment that they’re going to focus on making it as hard for us as possible. Hull had a great win at Forest in the week, and Birmingham are one of those floating sides who can always spring a surprise.

First we’ve got Middlesbrough on Saturday. Their match against Huddersfield on Wednesday wasn’t a great spectacle. You can see what they’re trying to do, they want to grind results out, so they’re going to be dogged at the weekend.  They’ve got some very good players, with a fledgling young manager in Jonathan Woodgate who’s finding his way. He’s a Boro lad but you need more than that to be successful in this line of work. He’s played at the highest level, he was a top player who represented Leeds and Real Madrid among others, but it’s tough making that transition to manager. Their two wins this season have both come at the Riverside, and we’re going to have to be wary of the many threats Boro have at their disposal.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2019, 07:31:06 AM »
Strikers & shape among Jonathan Woodgate's tactical decisions for Middlesbrough clash with Fulham

The Boro boss has some big tactical and selection calls to make ahead of the Cottagers clash

Battling Boro have shown grit and resolve in the last two games but desperately need to turn that into points.

A more solid shape helped Middlesbrough largely contain the threat of table-toppers West Brom and in-form Huddersfield and but for some poor finishing they would have had far more than just one draw to show for their industry.

But while Boro have taken just two points from the last six games, upturns in the fortunes of the sides below them have chipped away at the early season gains and they now find themselves in a perilous position.

Boro are just one point above third bottom Huddersfield - and the Terriers play second bottom Barnsley next.

So there is added urgency as Boro prepare to host seventh placed Fulham.

Jonathan Woodgate knows the Cottagers clash will be a massive challenge and he has plenty to ponder.

Here’s a few of the key decisions he must think over before the game.

Does he stick with the shape?

Almost certainly. The switch to a wing-back system has brought better performances if not yet  results.

Woodgate has shelved his early Utopian intent of playing an expansive 433 and opted for pragmatism instead.

With three centre-backs and wing-backs the team are far more solid and look far less vulnerable.

And sacrificing a front man for an extra midfielder has allowed him to play a five man diamond with Lewis Wing in the holding role behind three industrious box-to-boxers and one in a more advanced role supporting the striker.

After being savaged by Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham there was a pressing need to stop the rot and plug the gaps down the fragile flanks and the use of wing-backs has done that.

League leaders West Brom and revived Huddersfield were both largely blocked in wide areas and play was pushed into the middle where Boro have the numbers to swamp and stifle the opposition.

It has made for scrappy games - “more will than skill” said Danny Cowley - but tactically it has largely worked.

Boro have laboured away and contained two form teams and created the better chances.

With better finishing they could/should have edged both games and clawed away from danger.

Who plays up front?

Goal-getters are often said to be fuelled by confidence. Right now Boro’s strikeforce is running on empty.

Boro’s main two frontmen seem to be locked into a competition to spurn the biggest sitters.

Ashley Fletcher turned a glorious chance wide against West Brom then somehow fired over from two yards in midweek.

Britt Assombalonga drilled one straight at the Albion keeper then at Huddersfield hesitated when played into the box with the ball at his feet, exactly the kind of situation he has always thrived on.

Fletcher offers more movement up front , drops deeper to link up, finds pockets of space and closes down quickly - but he hasn’t scored in the league since the opening 3-3 draw at Luton.

Assombalonga doesn’t hold the ball up so well or do so much spade work. His flick in for Dani Ayala’s goal at Birmingham was his first ever assist while at Boro.

But he is the main man. ‘He’s my number nine’ has been a regular refrain from the boss.

So while he had a rare stint as a sub at Huddersfield it seems almost certain he will return against Fulham.

If Boro can create chances - and in recent games they have done just that - then he needs to repay that faith.

Will Hayden Coulson return?

When Boro were playing a flat back four the left-back slot became a persistent problem.

Left exposed, new boy Marc Bola was given a torrid time by teams who targeted that flank and when Ryan Shotton was pushed across to beef it up at Birmingham he was scythed open too.

Boro were left waiting on the return of Hayden Coulson, a youngster who only made his debut in the curtain-raiser at Luton.

He was sometimes caught out of position at the back but was bright and direct going forward, willing to run at his man and he could get a cross in and his return was eagerly awaited.

The switch to wing-backs has mitigated the weaknesses at left-back now so there is less urgency to rush him back.

Fit again Coulson, who came through the ranks playing more as a left midfielder than defender, came off the bench and played the last 20 minutes at Huddersfield, taking over from Marvin Johnson as a wing-back.

In a frantic finale he did well enough, making a few assertive drives and tracking back to get tackles in.

He may have to wait for a start though. Johnson was among Boro’s best at Huddersfield, finding space on the left and putting in some good deliveries with a good free-kick sparking a scramble that almost forced a goal.

It would be a bit harsh to drop him for a ring-rusty youngster with just two games under his belt - although having another left-back in the mix will increase Woodgate’s tactical options against Fulham and the games to come.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2019, 07:32:20 AM »
2 decisions that Scott Parker has to make before Fulham face Middlesbrough

Fulham face Middlesbrough in the Championship tomorrow, as Scott Parker’s side look to break into the play-off places.

Scott Parker was a happy man on Wednesday night.

His Fulham side put the disappointing 2-0 defeat at Stoke City last weekend behind them with a 3-2 win against Luton Town.

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored his first hat-trick in English football to take his side to 7th in the Championship, level on points with Preston in 6th.

The Cottagers travel to Middlesbrough tomorrow to face Joanthan Woodgate’s side.

Boro have endured a tough start to the season, and are becoming increasingly at risk of falling into the relegation zone with just one win from their last nine Championship games, and only one point separating them from Huddersfield in 22nd.

It’ll still make for a hard-fought affair for Fulham though, and here we take a look at two decisions that Parker will have to make before tomorrow’s fixture.

Sticking with Marek Rodak in goal

The Luton win midweek saw 22-year-old Marek Rodak start in goal for Fulham.

The Slovakian keeper was a part of the Fulham youth set-up and has been with the club since 2013.

He’s had loan-spells with Welling and Accrington Stanley but has had his breakthrough in the last two seasons, where he’d been the number one on-loan at Rotherham United.

Starting in a tough home fixture against Luton, Rodak impressed fans who were excited to see him in action for the club, and are keen to see some more of the youngster.

Marcus Bettinelli was dropped in favour of Rodak, and Parker faces a big decision in sticking with Rodak for the trip to Boro.

Sticking with 4-3-3

Many believe that Fulham have the best overall squad in the Championship but after 13 games of the season, Parker has received mixed reviews.

Parker is still learning the tactical side of management, and switched things up for the visit of Luton in the week in hope of a win.

In his side’s weekend defeat to Stoke, Fulham lined-up in an unfamiliar 3-4-1-2 formation and looked as weak going forward as they have been all season. But in the win over Luton, played a much simpler, and much more effective 4-3-3.

Parker’s main criticism this year is that he doesn’t know the best set-up for his side, but perhaps he found it midweek.

Goals against remains a problem for Fulham, but their attacking display against Luton was one of their best under Parer, and expect him to deploy the same formation tomorrow.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2019, 07:33:37 AM »
26-y/o returns: The Middlesbrough XI we expect to play Fulham tomorrow

Middlesbrough face a stern test on Saturday as they face play-off chasing Fulham at the Riverside.

Middlesbrough currently sit preciously close to the bottom three, only one point above 22nd-placed Huddersfield Town, following their 0-0 draw with the West Yorkshire side on Wednesday night.

Jonathan Woodgate has yet to settle into the job on Teesside since taking over from Tony Pulis in the summer. Middlesbrough’s inconsistent form has coincided with their lineups of late, with Woodgate yet to find a formula that best suits his style and the players he has at his disposal, with a mixture of three and four at-the-back formations.

There has been a degree of patience so far with Woodgate’s methods from those at Middlesbrough, with many understanding that this is his first job in management and it will take time before he gets it right, which will almost certainly come eventually.

Boro face a Fulham side looking to get back to the play-off places this weekend, where their squad almost certainly have the quality to be. The Cottagers have just come off the back of a 3-2 win at home to Luton, where striker Aleksandar Mitrovic fired a hat-trick.

Woodgate’s side will be hoping they can halt Fulham in their pursuit for promotion and get their own season back on track.

Here, we take a look at how we expect Jonathan Woodgate and Middlesbrough to line up when they take on Fulham…

Woodgate will most likely field the side in a 3-5-2 formation, as he has done for the previous two fixtures. The first name on the team sheet will be Aynsley Pears in goal.

The 21-year-old started in Boro’s stalemate against Huddersfield, and despite being largely untested, he remained confident and did what he had to do well. Darren Randolph’s injury could be lengthier than first anticipated, meaning that Pears has a chance to put together a good string of performances.

In a back three, Woodgate will play Ryan Shotton, Dani Ayala, and Dael Fry. These three have been crucial to Middlesbrough over the past year under Pulis and now Woodgate and their undoubted quality won’t be replaced any time soon if not required.

Ayala had a golden opportunity to score at the John Smith’s Stadium on Wednesday night and will be hoping he can put that mistake right on Saturday.

Across the midfield five will be Marvin Johnson, George Saville, Lewis Wing, Paddy McNair, and Jonny Howson. Boro’s midfield have been criticised of late due to the lack of creativity and service being fed to the forwards in the team, but with the attacking ability here in the side, it is only a matter of time before they get going.

One key player in this midfield that will need to have a big game is Paddy McNair who has been in fine form for both club and country. Woodgate will be hoping his Northern Ireland form will translate to club form after he scored two on his last outing away to the Czech Republic.

Playing up front will most likely be Britt Assombalonga partnered by Marcus Tavernier playing just behind him. Assombalonga is certainly Boro’s most dangerous goal-threat and while he hasn’t been finding the net of late, Woodgate’s decision to play Fletcher over him in the draw against Huddersfield, with Fletcher missing an open goal from three yards that would have surely secured the points.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2019, 07:36:11 AM »
Fulham legend Tony Gale warning 'Middlesbrough match has hiccup written all over it'

The Cottagers are flying but pundit Gale has warned against complacency in Riverside clash

Pundit Tony Gale (Image: Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

 Fulham stalwart Tony Gale has warned the high-flying Cottagers that their trip to Boro 'has hiccup written all over it.'

Scott Parker's side are in good form having lost just once in six games.

A 3-2 midweek win over Luton featuring an Aleksander Mitrovic hat-trick kept them in seventh spot, just four points off the top and they are highly-fancied to bounce straight back to the Premier League after relegation.

But Gale, who played almost 300 games, for the club says Fulham must guard against complacency.

"It’s fatal to think that any game is easy, but looking at the run of fixtures coming up, I want us to be heading into the international break with some decent points," he said, eyeing a run of game including Boro, Hull and Birmingham.

 Fulham celebrate as Aleksander Mitrovic seals a 3-2 win over Luton (Image: Getty Images)

"On paper the next three look quite appetising and I’m hoping we can get seven or nine points but that mindset can be so dangerous in a league that’s got hiccup written all over it.

"Middlesbrough are having such a tough time of it at the moment that they’re going to focus on making it as hard for us as possible."

The former no-nonsense defender, who also played for West Ham, wasn't impressed by Boro's midweek goalless draw at Huddersfield but says Fulham must be wary.

"Their match against Huddersfield on Wednesday wasn’t a great spectacle., " he said in his column on the Fulham website.

"You can see what they’re trying to do, they want to grind results out so they’re going to be dogged at the weekend.

"They’ve got some very good players, with a fledgling young manager in Jonathan Woodgate who’s finding his way.

"He’s a Boro lad but you need more than that to be successful in this line of work.

"He’s played at the highest level, he was a top player who represented Leeds and Real Madrid among others, but it’s tough making that transition to manager.

"Their two wins this season have both come at the Riverside, and we’re going to have to be wary of the many threats Boro have at their disposal."

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2019, 07:37:37 AM »
1 in, 1 out: The likely Fulham XI Parker will field v Middlesbrough this weekend

Fulham face Middlesbrough in the Championship tomorrow, as Scott Parker’s side look to build on a midweek victory.

Scott Parker would’ve been relieved with his sides 3-2 win against Luton Town on Wednesday night.

His side succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at Stoke City at the weekend, and it raised some questions about Parker’s tenure at Craven Cottage.

But the midweek win has relieved some of the pressure on Parker, which took his side to 7th in the Championship – level on points with Preston in 6th.

He’ll be expecting another win tomorrow at Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough, who are 21st in the Championship and only a point ahead of Huddersfield in the relegation zone.

Fulham will be the favourites heading into tomorrow, and it presents a great chance for Parker’s team to break into the play-off places.

Here we take a look the likely XI that will face Boro tomorrow:

A big talking point from the Luton game was the performace of Marek Rodak.

Despite letting two slip against Luton, expect Parker to name Rodak in the squad to face Middlesbrough.

Fulham’s back-four has remained relatively unchanged all season. Joe Bryan on the left with Tim Ream and Alfie Mawson in the middle are guaranteed starters for tomorrow.

The only defensive debate is the right-back position. Dennis Odoi made only his fourth start of the season against Luton in what was a new 4-3-3 set-up for Fulham, and expect to see Odoi starting once more with Parker likely to field the same formation tomorrow.

Parker will need some more energy from his midfield three tomorrow. Tom Cairney will no doubt keep his spot of the left of the three, but Parker could well start Harry Arter in place of Harrison Reed in the middle – his Championship experience could prove pivotal in what will be a tough game tomorrow.

Bobby Reid hasn’t hit scoring form yet this season but fans are optimistic that he’ll start firing soon. Expect to see him keep his place in midfield.

Fulham’s front-three of loanees Ivan Cavaleiro and Anthony Knockaert either side of the league’s top-scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic is arguably the league’s most threatening, and there’s little chance of Parker disrupting the three for tomorrow’s game.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2019, 07:39:25 AM »
Middlesborough v Fulham
SAT 26 Oct 2019   Championship
Venue: Riverside Stadium

Harry Arter is on a season-long loan from Bournemouth

Aynsley Pears will continue in goal for Middlesbrough, who have Darren Randolph out (thigh) for up to a month.

Jonathan Woodgate will also be without full-back George Friend as he recovers from knee surgery, and striker Rudy Gestede (hamstring) remains sidelined.

Fulham hope to be able to call upon Harry Arter, who missed their midweek win over Luton with a knock.

The Cottagers are otherwise injury-free, with midfielder Stefan Johnansen pushing for a starting berth.

Match facts

    Middlesbrough have lost one of their last 14 home league games against Fulham (W9 D4 L1), though it was in their most recent meeting in January 2018.
    Fulham are looking to win consecutive away league games against Middlesbrough for the first time since winning four in a row between 1972 and 1984.
    Middlesbrough haven't scored more than twice in any of their last 29 home league games, scoring just 25 goals in those games at the Riverside Stadium since beating Sheffield United 3-0 in their opening home game of 2018-19.
    Fulham have won eight points from their six away league games this season (W2 D2 L2), three more than they managed in the whole of last term in the Premier League (W1 D2 L16).
    No side has scored fewer home goals in the Championship this season than Middlesbrough (5, level with Leeds).
    Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored 11 goals in 13 league games this season, equalling his goal tally in 37 appearances in the Premier League last term. Last time out, Mitrovic became the first Fulham player to score a hat-trick in league competition since Ryan Sessegnon against Sheffield United in November 2017.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2019, 07:41:39 AM »
Parker’s Fulham > Slav’s Fulham

It is human nature to romanticise the past. And the romantic feelings I have towards May 26th 2018 and Slavisa Jokanovic are bordering on inappropriate. But I’ve glossed over that cold December night when that Fulham team gave Sunderland their first home win in 364 days. I’ve repressed the memories of losing 8-2 to Chelsea pre-season. ‘It means nothing,’ I told myself, very unconvincingly. No, that season is all Mitro on fire and Denis sitting on the crossbar at Wembley.

However, if I’m able to remove the rose tinted glasses, this Fulham (players, manager, philosophy) is superior to that of the season we spent in the premier league, the promotion season… and every season before that until probably 2013.

A Manager who learns
Let’s be clear: Losing to Stoke really hurt my feelings. The decision making was odd, and it took the wind out of the sails of a team in form. However, you don’t get the sense that this is the best Scott has to offer; this is not a manager in his peak who simply can’t cut it. Rather, it is a manager who is inexperienced, learning on the job, and still has us within play-off contention. What happens when these lessons have been learnt, and he is coming into his own? Lets not forget that at this stage in the promotion season with Slav, we were bottom half of the table…

Scott is cut from the same mould as Slavisa in the sense that when his plan works, it is something to behold. Parker’s Fulham smashed the Opta record for possession against Millwall, and Ream alone made more successful passes than the Lions had in their 134 year history. You only need to cast your mind back to Ranieri to realise that this is not a given. Or cast your mind back to Magath if you’re feeling especially self-loathing. Once relegated, it was possible that we may have been lumped with a manager who wanted balls lobbed up to Mitro at every opportunity. Instead, we still get games like Reading and Millwall. Fulham are still the entertainers.

In fact, Scott is superior to Slav in many ways. We no longer play Slav Bingo, where the manager seems to be unsure of who his best XI are. Also, like a mutating strand of the flu, Scott is learning to adapt to the opposition strategy, making tactical decisions to address areas of weakness. Didn’t quite work against Stoke, but look at the decision to bring on Bobby Reid against Charlton. It wasn’t a like for like 4-3-3 to which Slav chained himself. As that system slowly sunk, Slav went down with it.

Scott has got all the flair of Slav, but has a creativity and an agility which eluded our beloved Serb. It makes for a very promising career as a manger. The fact that he dresses like a dapper 1940s gentleman, with a jawline you could set your watch to doesn’t hurt either…

Squad Depth
After Fulham made a New Years Resolution to go 23 games undefeated, the matchday sheet was practically set in stone. The only spot up for debate was right wing, and it only ever went to Piazon or Ojo depending on whether we were home or away. Consistency is a good thing, but in this case it was really due to a lack of depth more than anything. Every time Cairney went to ground clutching his ankle, I was left clutching my chest. Surely you all considered what would have happened had Mitro pulled a hamstring mid Feb. Chaos.

Now, we rotate and substitute players who are at least as good as those they are replacing. Odoi can replace any of the backline, Bobby Reid could slot into a number of positions in the front four. I keep flipping on whether I would rather start Reed over Arter… These were the quandaries we didn’t face in the promotion season. We were only one injury away from finishing 17th, weaker than Jamie Reid’s bladder. Now, almost anyone could take a knock, and it wouldn’t completely sink the HMS Piss the League.

Piss the league?
The phrase “Manchester City of the Championship” gets bandied about in regards to Fulham. We tend to only hear the Man City part of that equation, and forget that it is tempered by the fact that it is the second division. We are a good side, but we are not world beaters, and in no way am I suggesting this Fulham team should walk this league. The phrase piss the league will forever fill me with a fear that we will become the proverbial Leeds: talk a big game in October, and limp into mid table come May. What I am saying is that this Fulham squad should beat any previous Fulham squad from the last seven or eight years*.

*Provided I could go back and retrospectively ‘Tonya Harding’ Berbatov in the carpark at Motspur Park.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2019, 07:42:15 AM »
Can Boro Find Scoring Formula v Fulham

After a week where misses have been extremely costly can Boro find a winning method against Fulham. Join our podcast as we reflect on missed opportunities whilst looking ahead to the challenges facing us. We also think about some urban exploring with Discover Middlesbrough.

I think for most fans the walk to the Riverside last week was one of trepidation as we feared the worst against table topping West Brom. In the event we all but cut out the defensive lapses. It was Boro that created but squandered the better chances only to fall to a late, late killer strike. At Huddersfield it was a case of failing to convert again. Ashley Fletcher will have nightmares about his miss from almost under the cross bar. I tell you what though it will soon be forgotten if either he or Britt grab a winner against Fulham.

Listen to our podcast by clicking the following link or play it in the player at the end of this short article.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2019, 07:43:33 AM »
13 games, 11 goals: The key Fulham man who could singlehandedly fire his side to promotion

Aleksandar Mitrovic continued his rich vein of goalscoring form by netting a hat-trick during Fulham’s 3-2 victory over Fulham on Tuesday night.

The Serbian has now scored 11 goals during his 13 appearances for the Cottagers this season, with his hot streak ensuring his side are sitting seventh in the Championship table at this early stage of the season.

Scott Parker’s side have been somewhat underwhelming so far this term given the quality within their squad, as they have already lost three matches since their relegation from the top-flight.

However, there have been a number of occasions where Mitrovic has singlehandedly secured points for his side, and Tuesday’s clash with Luton was certainly one of those instances.

Here, we take a look at Mitrovic’s stats so far, and whether the striker can lead his side’s promotion push this season…

Mitrovic is undoubtedly Fulham’s talisman and he has not missed a minute of Championship action for his side this term, which has seen him play a total of 1266 minutes in his 13 appearances since early August.

The striker has netted 11 goals during that time with many of these proving pivotal to his side’s results, with his performance against Luton being the clearest indication yet of his necessity to Fulham.

Mitrovic has unsurprisingly proven to be a constant threat for Championship defences, and he has certainly not been afraid to try his luck at goal against his opponents, with the 25-year-old registering a high total of 52 shots so far this season.

His main strength might be his goalscoring threat, but his overall game play has also been vital to any success his side have achieved this campaign. The physical presence Mitrovic offers, in addition to his strong link-up play, makes him a real threat across the pitch.

However, a somewhat surprising statistic is that Mitrovic has not registered any assists so far this season. This will not be a major concern for his manager given that his main job is to score goals, but it would of course benefit his side if he could also increase this assist tally as the season develops.

But Mitrovic’s strengths across the pitch are ultimately elucidated in two further statistics which include his 87.1% passing accuracy, in addition to his 1.14 interceptions per game. These numbers reflect the extent of his well-rounded skill set, which includes his impressive link-up play and willingness to defend from the front.

The striker will certainly make his biggest contributions on the goalscoring front, but the other varying aspects to his game mean he will be indispensable to Parker’s side this season.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2019, 07:45:00 AM »
U23 report:
Lads lose out to Fulham

Fulham U23s 4-0 Sunderland U23s

Sunderland under-23s fell to defeat at the hands of an experienced Fulham side in the Premier League 2 on Friday.

The lads were made to pay by Fulham for a handful of missed chances in the second half, in an afternoon where the outcome could have been different on the balance of play.

First half goals from Ben Davis and Fabio Carvalho gave the hosts a clear advantage at the interval, and a further goal from Carvalho and one right at the death from Luca De La Torre gave Fulham the victory.   

The contest was played in blustery conditions at the Cottagers Motspur training ground, in what was the lads’ second trip to the capital this season.

Andrias Edmundsson made his first Premier League 2 start of the season, coming in for the suspended Brandon Taylor in the heart of defence.

Fulham dominated possession in the early stages, but created little to test Anthony Patterson from open play.

And it required a set piece to break the deadlock in the ninth minute; Sunderland failed to clear a corner that landed at the feet of Davis, who fired home from 10-yards.

The lads responded positively to going behind though, first Ruben Sammut dragged wide from the edge of the area.

And then Williams Kokolo and Lee Connelly interchanged down the left, but the former couldn’t quite get the ball under control and the opportunity went begging.   

The lads were dealt a sucker-punch right on the stroke of half time, Carvalho wriggled his way into the box and fired a low shot in off the post to double Fulham’s lead.

Sunderland wasted no time in stepping things up a gear in the second half, Bainbridge was just unable to get on the end of Dan Neil’s whipped in free kick.

Before Kokolo breezed past his marker down the right, but his dangerous cross deflected into the hands of Taye Ashby-Hammond.

Connelly had a golden opportunity to half the deficit midway through the second period, after a free-flowing move, Edmundsson stepped in and fed the ball to the striker, but his shot went agonisingly wide for the lads.

Moments later Connelly had another opportunity to set up an exciting final 15 minutes; Owen Gamble curled in a deep cross towards the striker, but he headed over from inside the six-yard box with the goal gaping.

But the lads were made to pay for the missed chances 10 minutes from time, Carvalho raced in behind the defence and slotted home to grab his second.

And Sunderland were dealt another blow one minute from time, De La Torre slotted low into the net to seal the three points for the Cottagers and leave Sunderland ruing their missed chances.

Fulham: Taye Ashby-Hammond, Cody Drameh, Jayden Sweeney, Tayo Edun, Zico Asare, Jayden Mundle-Smith, Jayden Harris, Ben Davis, Martell Taylor-Crossdale, Fabio Carvalho, Luca De La Torre

Subs: Luca Ashby-Hammond, Sonny Hilton, Ryan De Havilland, Ben Tricker, Timmy Abraham

Sunderland: Anthony Patterson, Owen Gamble, Kane Evans, Dan Neil, Jack Bainbridge, Andrias Edmundsson, Lee Connelly, Bali Mumba, Cieran Dunne, Ruben Sammut, Williams Kokolo

Subs: Michael Collins, Ahmed Abdelkader, Nathan Greenwood, Jack Connolly, Ryan Leonard

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2019, 07:46:14 AM »
2 key battles that will decide Middlesbrough v Fulham

Middlesbrough have endured a very tough start to the season, sitting just one point above the bottom three in the Championship.

Jonathan Woodgate is unsurprisingly coming under pressure, with Boro having only narrowly missed out on the play-offs last season under the sacked Tony Pulis.

The former Real Madrid defender will be lifted by the positive display at Huddersfield on Wednesday though, where Boro had the better chances and deserved more than the final 0-0 score-line, and look to use it as something to build on.

In contrast, Fulham have made a strong start to the season under Scott Parker, only lying outside the play-offs on goal difference.

With the congested nature of the table though, the Whites could move up the table or slide down the table very quickly, so Parker cannot afford many slip ups, especially at struggling sides like Boro.

Here, we look at two key battles that will help decide a game in which both sides need the points for differing reasons:

Aleksandar Mitrovic v Daniel Ayala

Aleksandar Mitrovic would be a gem of a player for any Championship side.

He possesses the ability to terrorise Championship defences, with his aerial ability and strength being crucial to a team at this level.

Already this season, he has scored 11 goals, won 42 aerial duels and maintained pass completion rate of over 80%.

Middlesbrough have a proven quality Championship performer of their own in the form of Daniel Ayala however, and the contest between the pair is likely to prove quite a battle.

Ayala was one of the best players on the pitch at Huddersfield, his tackling and aerial ability coming to the fore in Boro’s impressive clean sheet.

Of course, he will have his hands full up against the Serbian international, but if Boro have any hope of springing an upset, then he and the rest of backline will need to keep him quiet.

Joe Bryan v Jonny Howson

Former Bristol City left-back Joe Bryan has had a very impressive start to the season. He has been defensively sound and also offered an attacking option down the left flank.

The stats are impressive too, having made 42 tackles, provided 3 assists and even popped up with a goal. Up against Bryan is likely to be former Leeds midfielder Jonny Howson.

The Yorkshire man has been one of Boro’s better performers this season, providing two assists from various positions, but may struggle to make an impact against arguably the best left-back in the league.

Howson may in fact be utilised by Woodgate in a more defensive wide midfield role, to guard against Bryan’s marauding runs down the flank.

If he succeeds in doing so, it will certainly limit Fulham’s attacking options and may give Boro more a foothold in the game.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2019, 07:47:19 AM »
Middlesbrough v Fulham: Jonathan Woodgate backing strikers to come good

IF Middlesbrough are to transform a season which has all the portents of being a potentially grave one, the input of two players is likely to be especially pivotal.

With just three frontline strikers to call upon – one of whom has endured an injury-ravaged and nightmare time during his spell on Teesside – Jonathan Woodgate’s faith in Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher has to be non-negotiable.

With the alternative option of Rudy Gestede having struggled to get out on the pitch on anything like a regular basis and with just rookie Ste Walker as back-up, the Boro chief has little choice.

But therein some issues lie.

Mindful of workload issues given the congested Championship schedule, especially during three-game weeks, Woodgate dropped top-scorer Assombalonga to the bench at Huddersfield on Wednesday night, with a view to freshening him up for today’s tough game with Fulham.

Given Boro’s lowly league position and lack of trusted cover, an injury to Assombalonga or Fletcher would be seriously damaging.

Just as big a concern for Woodgate will be helping to replenish the reservoirs of confidence of both, which has taken a battering of late.

Fletcher looked visibly affected after producing a contender for miss of the season at Huddersfield, while Assombalonga also spurned a good chance, with the £15m man having scored just once in his last seven games.

Admirably, Woodgate still retains confidence in both as he aims to build up the pair – who have scored a combined total of just one Championship goal in their last 18 league appearances.

Fletcher has not found the net in his past 11 outings, while you have to go back to the opening game of the season at Luton Town for his only league goal of the campaign.

He said: “Britt has played every single minute, so I thought I would take him out of the firing line (at Huddersfield) and give Fletcher a go. It was always the plan to give Britt 20 or 30 minutes and we could have had the goals.

“I will be staying with the pair of them, they are my players and I will back them when they play good and don’t and when they miss chances. I will stay by my players through thick and thin”.

All told, Boro have scored just 11 league goals in 2019-20, the same amount that a player they face today in Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic – someone they tried to sign in January, 2018 – has managed this term.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2019, 07:49:36 AM »
Middlesbrough FC news: Ex-Arsenal man recalls Boro punishment plus Fulham boss fires warning
Former Middlesbrough midfielder Ray Parlour says he was docked a quarter of his weekly wages after he was sent off for the Teessiders.

Parlour, who joined Boro from Arsenal in 2004 and spent three years at the Riverside, was recently a guest on TalkSport, when he discussed a club punishment for receiving red cards.

“I remember getting fined for making two tackles for Middlesbrough in midfield,” recalled Parlour. “I was playing really well at the time, just a little bit late because at 32, 33, the timing wasn’t always there.

“I remember getting my wage packet and I was 25 per cent short for a week’s wages, I was like what’s going on here?

“I went to see Steve McClaren and said ‘boss are you having a laugh or what? I’ve genuinely gone for two tackles.’

“He said ‘Ray that’s the rules of the club’ so I said ‘I’m never making another tackle ever’, if it’s for decent or kicking the ball away I’ll agree.”

Fulham boss sends warning – Back to the present day, and Fulham boss Scott Parker is hoping his side can record their third straight Championship win in today’s meeting with Boro.

The Cottagers have scored 23 goals in the league this season, only West Brom (24) have netted more, and Parker wants his side to attack from the off against the struggling Teessiders.

“We need to come out of the blocks all blazing, get on the front foot, make a real go of it and try to get our noses in front,” said the Fulham boss.

"Obviously if you’re a team which has been struggling for results it’s always difficult.”

Another Boro injury – A lot was made of the injury to first-choice goalkeeper Darren Randolph earlier this week, who is now set to miss two to four weeks with a thigh problem.

Due to his lack of football at the Riverside, less has understandably been said about towering frontman Rudy Gestede, who has played just 17 minutes of Championship football this campaign.

Yet the 31-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the season, will be sidelined for between six to eight weeks with a hamstring issue.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2019, 09:13:02 AM »
Sheffield Wednesday’s Julian Borner isn’t far off fan-favourite Michael Hector

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…

Sheffield Wednesday are third going into this afternoon’s fixtures, but things don’t get any easier as they welcome Yorkshire rivals Leeds United to Hillsborough.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side potentially come as one of the biggest threats the Owls will have faced all season as only three teams have had more shots at goal than they have, although, their conversion rate on those chances is quite abysmal.

Per Transfermarkt, Leeds have recorded 46 shots but have managed to score just 17 goals.

While Wednesday’s defence has kept three clean sheets in the seven matches Garry Monk has been in charge, so this game presents a tense battle.

Julian Borner has featured in all 13 Championship matches this term, so it would seem wise to compare him to last season’s fan-favourite Michael Hector, who many wanted to return going into this campaign.

On the Chalkboard

To put things simply, the German isn’t far behind the 27-year-old, but he has shown why he may have been a better fit for Monk – obviously, this managerial change wasn’t to be known until September, so there’s a slight bit of hindsight.

Hector will be linking up with Wednesday’s Championship rivals Fulham in January after securing a permanent move there from Chelsea.

Whereas Borner was one of Steve Bruce’s final signings at the club before he took the reigns at Newcastle United.

As you can see above, the Jamaican international recorded more tackles (2.1) and clearances (5.4) than the 28-year-old has this season, but you have to consider he’s played just a third of his total matches this term.

On the other hand, Borner clearly has the better ability with the ball at his feet as he is currently averaging over a 10% better passing accuracy rate than Hector. He also allows fewer players to dribble past him at just 0.5 times per game.

This could be down to the height difference between the two, at 6 foot 2, August’s Player of the Month is far more agile meaning he can deal with any quick turns in pace, and this ultimately is why he is more suited to Monk’s system.

The brawn height and power of Dominic Iorfa next to him means the 40-year-old gets the best of both worlds in defence, and maybe that suggests a hint towards why Wednesday’s backline has been rather solid since he has taken charge.

The Owls have only conceded four goals in seven matches since he took over in September.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2019, 02:19:06 PM »
Everton Under-18s Complete Dramatic Fulham Comeback

Bobby Carroll’s 90th-minute strike completed a thrilling 4-3 come-from-behind victory for Everton Under-18s at Fulham – and put Paul Tait’s side firmly in charge of their four-man Premier League Cup group.

Everton trailed 3-1 at the London club’s Motspur Park training complex – right-back Josh Hosie on target for the Blues – when Liam Higgins pounced to halve his side’s two-goal deficit.

Tait’s team won their opening game in this competition 1-0 against Sunderland and again had the whiff of success in their nostrils when Everton drew level through Wales Under-17 midfielder Rhys Hughes.

And Carroll, the Yorkshire-born midfielder, struck at the death to settle the contest and set up a winner-takes-all clash with Norwich City – who Everton lead by two points at the summit – in the Blues' final group game.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 26/10/19...
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2019, 02:20:26 PM »