Author Topic: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)  (Read 5408 times)

White Noise

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Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« on: February 07, 2010, 07:42:34 PM »

The night I found Jesus

Sunday February 7th, 2010

Come breezeblock, let us spread harmony amongst the forumites
Here’s a brilliant contribution from ‘breezeblock‘ a prolific poster on bwfcforum

I went to the Fulham game by train. I don’t do it very often because it’s quicker to drive and no-one complains about the smell on the M60. The trains were slightly messed up because of some essential repairs in Preston…probably having electricity or running water installed. Met up with Wayne and some of the old BWFC board regulars and had a couple of Australia’s finest auburn blush hops-based beverage served in a delightful polyethylene terephthalate decanter (Fosters in a plastic bottle). Would have been nice to have a pint at half time but the queue at 3.39pm was already fourteen deep and I gave up by 4.53pm when that number was down to seven deep. Not only does the beer taste like sheep dip but you have to suffer a similar queuing process as the animals themselves do.

The game was horrible.

Spurted out of the ground to the station to catch a 4.50pm train that never existed. Watched an express train shoot by and waited some more. The next train only went to Manchester Victoria but we got on regardless. As we pulled away I saw forlorn face at the station gate, a cross between Pat Roach and Donald Sutherland…it was Wayne being manhandled and shackled by the transport police. Or maybe the platform was just full, either version is OK.

The announcer told us anyone going to Piccadilly should get off at Bolton. So we did. Then we found out the train to Piccadilly was another 40 minutes so we jumped onto the next train to Victoria where we waited 20 minutes for a Metrolink tram to Piccadilly that never existed. So we got a taxi and got stuck behind a traffic accident near High Street.

Some time later…

Manchester Piccadilly is a great station, fully refurbished, completely revamped. It has everything the modern day train traveller could ask for. It also has the highest number of football tourists immediately following a game at Old Trafford. Every accent, every dialect, every nationality, every single piece of crappy red merchandise from the MUFC superstore packed into endless throbbing carrier bags all shuffling around the concourse. The next train to Stockport was also the next train to Euston. It was a Virgin train, red on the outside and even redder on the inside. We claimed the last two available seats and watched as the middle-class, middle aged types around us tried to work out what BWFC stood for on my son’s hat. A kid opposite had the full MUFC kit on as well as the hat, scarf, MP3 player, magazine, carry bag. He was a walking advert for kackness. Thankfully the Mental Health Act will support people like him as he goes through his life thinking Old Trafford is in Surrey.

We are now arriving at Stockport…

My Thai bride was picking us up but the train had arrived much earlier than expected so I thought I’d have a crafty beer in the station cafe. We walked along the platform and watched the ‘United’ away day special disappear out towards Cheshire without its pointless and valueless cargo and I prayed I would never have to endure such an ordeal again. Surprisingly Jesus heard those prayers. He must have done, he was standing just a few metres away.

On Saturday the 6th February 2010 on platform 3 at Stockport Station I had an epiphany, a spiritual flash and suddenly the world and its fog of confusion was cut through with a blade of clarity so sharp that I now understood dimensional time properties, advanced nucleosynthesis, proportional cosmological principle theory and also why digital alarm clocks go fast when you keep your finger on the forward button but not so when you want to go back.

Jesus was just as I expected…he had a patchy beard, his hair was dark and limp and it licked at his shoulders, teased his angular jawline, delicately overhanging his Fulham training shirt. It was at this moment I realised that Jesus had some friends with him, disciples if you prefer…and one of them bore an uncanny resemblance to Damien Duff. Jesus was Jonathan Greening and he, along with the full Fulham squad and the entire backroom staff of Fulham FC were holed up in the Pumpkin Cafe Bar at Stockport Station following a delay. Their train hadn’t even made it north yet in order for it to turn around and become south bound and full of folk looking like supreme beings…and Damien Duff.

I explained to the womb-monkey that these were the same people we had watched just a few hours ago. The Fulham physio went for a piss and said hello before realised the scarves we had on were blue and white, not black and white. There were so many people in the cafe we couldn’t get in…I looked across at Jesus and although he smiled it was clear there was no room at the inn.

As we walked down the stairs Roy Hodgson was walking up. Hello Roy, I said, I think you got away with that today…I said smiling.
“What?” he replied.
“Were you happy with that in the end?”
“What, the game or the point?” he asked.
“The point…the game wasn’t much to watch from either side.”
“Do you watch that every week,” he enquired.
“Yep, home and away,” I answered and Roy, now at the top of the stairs and us near the bottom, lifted up his chin and gestured his hand to the roof.
“You must have strong necks to watch that every week.”
“Strong necks and thick skins,” I said before wishing him a safe journey.

Outside the dragon was sitting patiently in the car park and we headed home to an evening of Junior Scrabble and as much Vimto as we could stomach. I thought Roy was quite rude but it’s pointless wishing bad things upon him because no matter where he goes, Jesus goes with him.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2010, 07:44:38 PM »

Promising signs

by Dan on February 7, 2010

When Fulham signed David Elm, plenty of people were quick to condemn him as a Swedish no-mark. His lack of first-team football made him a figure of fun to the cruel characters on the messageboard, but his blog gave us an insight into his feelings.

You feel Roy Hodgson’s departed with his usual reluctance to leave things to chance by including Elm in the first-team picture of late, but then he’s had little choice given our chronic injury situation. The Swede’s got better with every game. He had a decent cameo against Aston Villa and followed it up with a promising performance at Bolton yesterday:

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2010, 07:46:07 PM »

Davies suffers for Clattenburg `history` - Jaaskelainen

Sun, 07 Feb 15:08:53 2010

Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen believes Kevin Davies' reputation may have gone before him after the Wanderers skipper was denied a late winner against Fulham.

Davies thought he had settled a dreary Barclays Premier League contest at the Reebok Stadium when he headed home from a Lee Chung-Yong free-kick in the last minute.

But referee Mark Clattenburg saw differently and penalised the Trotters striker for a push on defender Brede Hangeland that few other observers saw.

Davies is renowned for his physicality and Jaaskelainen fears that is counting against him, particularly with Clattenburg, who has booked the forward four times this season alone.

Jaaskelainen said: "I was extremely disappointed to see Davo's goal disallowed. The referee said he had put two hands on the defender but his hands were down when he headed the ball.

"I think the referee has a history with him, if you look at his last few games. It's one of those things that goes against you but if we keep going as we are, especially the way we played in the second half, then we will get three points more often than not."

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2010, 07:48:56 PM »

Danny Murphy's mailbag

Thu Feb 04 01:36PM

Danny, why in your opinion isn't Britain producing any world class managers these days? (Adam Laws)

I think it has become increasingly difficult for British managers to progress to be considered 'world-class' given the fact that so many clubs look to foreign managers to take them forward. We have a number of examples of managers that have proven they are extremely capable of doing an excellent job with the likes of Alex Ferguson, Steve McClaren, Martin O'Neill, Roy Hodgson and Harry Redknapp all proving their worth for many years. It was good to see Bolton and Burnley both appointing a new manager locally, and I hope more clubs will follow suit to give British managers the opportunity to progress and develop a reputation for themselves.

Danny, what do you have to say about the recent takeovers by the various foreign tycoons from the Middle East, Russia, USA, and Hong Kong? What do you think their impact will be over the next decade on the Premier League, as well as football in England in general? (Alvin Foeng)

The foreign takeovers now seem to be part and parcel of the game, and I am fully supportive as long as they have their wealth and track-record proven prior to the takeover. Football clubs are becoming increasingly expensive to run and the global interest in the Premier League in particular is becoming ever-increasing. This gives investors from all over the world the opportunity to capitalize on an extremely exciting challenge in successfully running a football club. 

Why don't we see ex-players becoming referees, as you sugest it is the only real solution to improve officiating?  What's keeping this from happening? (Robert Kesser)

I think there are two main reasons that we don't see ex-players becoming referees as I previously suggested as a solution to improve officiating. Firstly, the stages of assessment are extremely lengthy in order to become qualified as a referee starting with grass roots football and building your way up. Secondly, ex-players aren't necessarily motivated by the financial gain of refereeing. Bearing in mind the amount of scrutiny that referees get on a weekly basis, I don't think the opportunity to be highly critiqued post-football is overly appealing. However, I do believe footballers' experience at the top level would be absolutely invaluable in improving officiating.

Could you please explain to us fans (especially Yankees like myself) why playing an away match in England makes getting points much harder than one would think, regardless of your opponent's league standing? (James Wilson)

I think it all comes down to mentality when playing in an away fixture. At home, players are in their comfort zone, surrounded by their home fans, playing on a pitch they know inside-out. In an away fixture all these comforts are removed which, ultimately, makes points much more difficult to come by.

Danny, do you ever have a time when you feel bored with all the football stuff? If so, how do you deal with it? (Muhd Salehuddin)

I can honestly say I never get bored of football, but occasionally do like to do things to take my mind off it. I am very family-orientated and love to spend time with the family, or take in a round of golf every now and again just to refresh. I think it is important to have that outlet, or release, from the game.

Does anyone live in Craven Cottage itself and what is inside the cottage? (Simon Rugg)

No-one actually lives in Craven Cottage, no! Inside the 'Cottage' consists simply of the pitch, the seating, the corporate boxes and some offices. The offices are fairly active with staff carrying out administration and marketing-related tasks but no-one actually resides there.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2010, 07:21:08 AM »

Bolton striker Kevin Davies sore at referee's ruling during Fulham stalemate

Kevin Davies, the Bolton striker denied a last-minute winning goal by referee Mark Clattenburg, was probably the only person at the Reebok Stadium unsurprised by the contentious incident.
By Bruce Maxwell

Published: 6:30AM GMT 08 Feb 2010

 Denied: Kevin Davies (left) had goal ruled out by referee Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The County Durham official judged Bolton Wanderers’s captain had pushed Brede Hangeland as he headed in Chung-Yong Lee’s free-kick, a decision which supported Davies’s belief that Clattenburg has a personal issue with him.

“It was a clear goal for me and, having watched it again, the referee said I put two hands in his back but I can’t see it,” said Davies. “I think Hangeland got under the ball and I just outjumped him.

“When I saw who was the referee I didn’t expect to get anything off him. We could quite easily have had a penalty in the first half and over the years I’ve never got much from him.”

Fulham failed to create a single chance of note but after a run of five defeats, four points from the last two games has removed any threat of relegation and will allow Fulham to concentrate on the Europa League and FA Cup.

“These four points are a weight off everyone’s minds,” said manager Roy Hodgson.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2010, 07:25:03 AM »

Match verdict: Wanderers 0 Fulham 0

6:20am Monday 8th February 2010

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BUT for a small pocket of West Londoners who quickly departed the Reebok on a train bound for Euston, the feeling was one of frustration at Wanderers HQ on Saturday evening.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson made his apologies not long after the final whistle, clutching his rail ticket and a barely-earned league point as he quickly exited the stadium.

But it wasn’t before the wily veteran had praised referee Mark Clattenburg for effectively rescuing a result, adding with tongue planted firmly in cheek, that the Tyne and Wear official had made a brave and correct call to disallow Kevin Davies’s late, late goal.

Owen Coyle could only bite his own tongue as he assessed yet more bad luck to come his way. But the Wanderers boss will also know in his heart of hearts that his team should have been comfortably home and dry by the time Davies climbed — legally — above Brede Hangeland to head home in the 90th minute.

Quite how many mirrors the Glaswegian must have cracked, ladders walked under, or black cats that have crossed his path in the month or so he has been in charge of the Whites is a mystery.

But each passing game seems to throw up a major incident that goes against him, and with some of his relegation rivals showing shoots of recovery, that must be a major concern.

In truth, Wanderers should have won the game at a canter. Fulham offered so little going forward that Jussi Jaaskelainen could have read the matchday programme cover to cover, while Zat Knight and Fabrice Muamba in particular did a sterling job in front of him. Both Gary Cahill and Gretar Steinsson had pulled out of the squad on the day of the game, and Andy O’Brien lasted little more than an hour, yet thanks to Sam Ricketts’ versatility and Chris Basham’s gameness on the right, the big Finn was never seriously called into action.

In an attacking sense, however, Wanderers too failed to really get into gear until the introduction of Vladimir Weiss off the bench midway through the second half.

The first 45 minutes was noteable for only one major opportunity, as Mark Davies combined with Kevin Davies to bring an amazing save out of Mark Schwarzer.

The Australian stopper knew little about his block on the line, his legs diverting the ball up and off the crossbar to safety, but the incident at least served to wake the Reebok from its slumber.

Davies also saw a big penalty shout turned down by referee Clattenburg, as his marker Hangeland appeared to ride piggyback in his attempts to clear the ball. That would be a sign of things to come.

The malaise continued into the second half, summing up one of the major obstacles that the manager needs to negotiate. Coyle wants his team to embrace a passing brand of football but at times in the opening hour there were a significant lack of volunteers to take on enough possession to do damage.

Chung-Yong Lee was having one of his quietest afternoons in memory but the South Korea international got a golden chance on 74 minutes when he exchanged passes with Tamir Cohen and attempted to go round Schwarzer, only for the keeper to desperately palm the ball away as he wound up his shot.

When Slovakia international Weiss exploded on to the pitch 17 minutes from the end the touchpaper was well and truly lit.

Within 60 seconds of his arrival, the tricky winger had cut in from the left to drive a shot that looped off Chris Barid and on to the roof of the net.

Fulham then registered their first real shot towards goal as on-loan defender Nicky Shorey drove into Whites territory and hit another deflected shot that looped just over the bar.

The action was all packed into the last quarter of the game, and Muamba had the next opportunity, turning a cross from makeshift full-back Basham just wide of the post.

And the game’s best two chances were yet to come. Johan Elmander has been patiently waiting for his chance since Coyle’s arrival, and might well have been disappointed that the manager decided to stick with a 4-5-1 formation at home, leaving him on the bench.

He again showed some neat touches after coming on for Mark Davies – the man who had effectively partnered his namesake Kevin as furthest midfielder forward — but crucially missed his only clear cut goalscoring opportunity.

Skipper Davies played a deft pass into the Sweden international’s path, and while he took the ball perfectly in his stride and aimed a true shot past Schwarzer, the ball drifted agonisingly wide of the far post.

The £8.2million club record signing might have been fed to the dogs had his strike partner Davies not stolen the headlines on his 500th league appearance.

The captain had played with a puzzled frown etched on his face for most of the afternoon as he was repeatedly penalised by Clattenburg without getting much protection of his own. And his expression didn’t improve much when the referee pulled him up again after scoring what he thought had been the winning goal in the 90th minute.

Davies has been booked on each of his four last meetings with Clattenburg, including a laughable decision to penalise him for diving against Stoke earlier this season.

The cards stayed in the pocket on this occasion, but the Durham whistle blower still managed to get on his wrong side, claiming that he had used two hands to push his marker Hangeland in the back.

With the notable exception of Hodgson, whose backing for the official came with a nod and a wink, no-one else saw a foul, least of all anyone with access to television replays.

Fulham won’t mind, dashing off the field to complete their great train robbery to the sound of furious jeering from the Wanderers support.

For once, it wasn’t aimed at the dugout — although perhaps the Reebok patrons have now found a new villain for the piece.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2010, 07:26:50 AM »

Fulham boss praises battling point at Bolton

Feb 7 2010 By Jacob Murtagh

Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Fulham

ROY Hodgson hailed his injury-ravaged Fulham side's backs-against-the-wall display that earned a hard-fought point at Bolton on Saturday.

The Whites boss was without a string of first-team regulars for the trip to the Reebok Stadium, and despite a late scare when Kevin Davies had a late effort ruled out for offside, they stood firm to return to Craven Cottage with a share of the spoils.

Hodgson said: "It was a tough one for us – I thought Bolton did what they do well.

"There seemed to be an awful lot of projectiles flying towards the penalty area, and we had to stand firm and rely heavily on our outstanding keeper to come and punch and catch the ball."

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2010, 07:28:06 AM »

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Fulham 1 - 0 Portsmouth

A much welcomed and needed three points against a team which needed them even more but could not find the killer instinct to take what they deserved. Pompey were on top for an hour and their fans (no doubt in gallows humour mode) were even better, but could not make the most of it, which is probably why they are down at the bottom. It appears to be very easy to lose games playing nice football, which is why Roy Hodgson should be commended over the way he has brought relative success to SW6.

This game saw two very welcome debuts - one from a tireless forward who seemed to dribble through defenders rather than around them, the other from a calming influence on the back line - an actual left back. Nicky Shorey's first appearance in a Fulham shirt was remarkably accomplished, both in defence and going forward, and allowed Hughes to return to the centre where he can direct Hangeland. They did look a much more coherent unit in this match than the Villa game, except at right back where Stephen Kelly looks woefully short on confidence, especially when pushing foward. He seems a shadow of the player from two months ago in Basle.

Jonathan Greening, back on the left wing, didn't really offer much attacking impetus, in fact after half an hour he was letting Shorey get on with tearing up field, before becoming an unlikely match winner by placing a deflected Duff cross in the back of the net. Zamora may have been offside (and definitely affecting play) but for once Fulham got the rub of the green and Avram Grant got another grievance to put in his vastly overflowing grievance bag. A lot of people seem to have some sympathy for Pompey and their current plight, but I can't decide where I stand on the situation. The fans seemed happy enough when they were spending beyond their means to win the FA Cup, but there for the grace of Mo go Fulham fans. They know the team is spending beyond their means because it is backed by Al Fayed, but should he sell up - what would happen then?

Goalless at half time, we all reflected on how lucky Fulham were to escape when over the tannoy Diddy David Hamilton read out someone's proposal of marriage. Thankfully the Cottage didn't let anyone down by belting out a quick, traditional burst of 'You don;t know what you're doing' and everything was good with the world.

After an hour of the game (and after Kelly had been subbed) the wind began to change in Fulham's favour and they actually looked like they wanted to win it and could. Before this point, the players were out-muscled and out-fought by a desperate Pompey team. Fulham really do need a clogger and maybe Etuhu can stamp his authority on games again now he is back from the African Nations Cup.

A quick mention of the referee - Anthony Taylor made his Premier League debut in this game and my, what a performance. It was like some promo from Ashes to Ashes as some of the tackles he let go were distinctly of a 1980s flavour. It's likely that's just how games go where he's from - Wythenshaw in Manchester. I used to work in a bookies in Wythenshaw and that was rough as hell, so it's likely he's used to seeing much, much worse. I hope he clamps down a little in the next game he officiates though for the sake of his own career and the careers of some of the footballers on the receiving end of some of the 'legitimate' tackles he's prepared to let go.

Attendance: Me, Jarrod +1

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2010, 07:29:22 AM »

Bolton 0-0 Fulham: Fortunate, Fortunate Fulham

February 7, 2010

This match will certainly not feature in the pantheon of footballing history but it was a good result nonetheless.  Bobby Zamora joined the ranks of the injured with a 48hr flu virus meaning the Fulham frontline looked especially weak.  Whilst David Elm put in a good performance up top, showing off his excellent first touch, Erik Nevland easily had his worst game in a Fulham shirt.  I don’t usually question the wisdom of Roy Hodgson, but if I had the choice between a 32 yr old 5′9″ poacher or a 6′1″ powerhouse to play against Bolton I would certainly choose the latter. I would hope that this signals the end of Nevland as a starter, but I doubt it.

The game itself was scrappy. Bolton were certainly not scintillating but Fulham had decided that a point was enough, and they did not want to go for any more. Jonathan Greening nipped at the heels of any Bolton player who got near him, producing a large number of niggly fouls that went largely unpunished, creating an disjointed performance from the hosts. Bolton seemed happy to hoof it long to Davies (who had an excellent match) and go from there.  Schwarzer was the Fulham saviour, pulling off several excellent saves and generally controlling the box. When a Kevin Davies flick led to Mark Davies firing hard and low from around the penalty spot I was sure that it was all over for Fulham, only for Schwazer to get down and block with his legs and send the ball spinning up and off the bar to safety. His second super-human save was arguably better. As Chung-Yong Lee burst into the Fulham penalty area, Schwarzer stuck out an arm and diverted the ball away from goal and Lee to be cleared by Baird.

Fulham brought on Chris Smalling and Okaka up front for Elm and the ineffective Nevaland. I spent the remainder of the match daydreaming about a possible Smalling goal ( I think he has one in him before he leaves Fulham) and enjoyed Okakas energy and willingness to run at the opponents defence, one of which resulted in a free kick in a dangerous position (a la Dio Kamara against Villa in the great escape season). In truth Bolton should have won, first when Elmander was one on one with Schwarzer but contrived to screw it wide, and then more legitimately when Davies put the ball in the back of the net, only to have it ruled out for a push only Mark Clattenburg could see.

I get the feeling this was a big point for a squad that is being stretched to its limit, a bit of luck came Fulham’s way and is greatly received. If Fulham can continue their fine home form against Burnley on Tuesday night this will have been a great few weeks and should allow us the luxury of focusing on the various cup competitions we are still competing in.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2010, 07:31:11 AM »

Fulham Podcast 2/7/10

By: timmyg | February 7th, 2010

Rich Allen of Craven Cottage Newsround joins the pod as we discuss Fulham’s up and down form over the past few weeks, all the deals done on transfer deadline day, and what to make of maligned Stephen Kelly.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2010, 07:32:38 AM »

Getting old?

by Dan on February 7, 2010

Apparently, Fulham’s starting line-up at Bolton yesterday was the second oldest in the league this term. The average age of 30 years and 85 days old was probably due to fielding Schwarzer, Nevland, Duff, Greening and Murphy all in the same side, but it seemed to work well enough. The oldest team in the league? The other team in Fulham (30 years and 131 days) who beat Liverpool back in October.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2010, 07:33:33 AM »

Roy on Shorey

by Dan on February 7, 2010

Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Fulham have the option to sign Nicky Shorey on a permanent basis at the end of his loan from Aston Villa.

The 28-year-old left back, impressive in his first two appearances for the Cottagers, would be able to join Fulham at the end of the season if the Cottagers paid a pre-agreed fee, according to Hodgson, who made it sound like his new signing was a bad boy from the wild, wild west.

A price has been put on Nicky’s head if, at the end of the loan period, he wants to stay and we certainly want to keep him.

He’s a player we considered many times. When he was at Reading we were interested, but the price and wages he could command took him out of our reach and he went to Aston Villa.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2010, 07:35:29 AM »

Ex-Fulham striker John flying in Chicago Fire training

08.02.10 | Andrew Slevison

Portsmouth begin fight against administration today Former Fulham striker Collins John is flying in training with Chicago Fire according to all reports.

The 24-year old Liberian-born Dutchman is currently on trial with the MLS club after his contract with Belgian club Roeselare was terminated in December.

A report on John’s training included the following: "Collins John looked like a beast today. You can tell he has a good touch even though his timing was bit off. But he is explosive, looks like an [American] football player compared to the rest of the guys. It is hard to see him not making the team, he could be plain dominant in MLS."

John would be a great inclusion to the Fire squad as he has experience in the English Premier League with Fulham as well as time spent with Dutch clubs FC Twente and NEC Nijmegen and lower English outfits Leicester City and Watford.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2010, 07:37:28 AM »

Sam Wallace: It's sad that Maidstone miss out on share of £10m Smalling windfall

Talking Football: Maidstone have the planning permission for their own home but not the £750,000 to build it

Monday, 8 February 2010

If you can remember that time before John Terry, Vanessa Perroncel and Wayne Bridge occupied our every waking thought (I know, feels like a different world, doesn't it?) you will recall that last month Manchester United signed a player they hope will one day be the new Rio Ferdinand.

Chris Smalling is that good apparently. Good enough to cost United up to £10m from Fulham, which is remarkable for a player who fell through the net and ended up at Maidstone United aged 14, unwanted by any professional club. That does not happen often in a country where bright young footballers are searched out with the same fervour as a 19th-century gold rush.

But Smalling ended up at Maidstone and for four years, some would say the most crucial of his development, he worked under the tutelage of the youth team coach, Peter Nott. In the aftermath of Smalling's transfer I spoke to a couple of Maidstone's officials, who were delighted for the player. More than anyone, they knew how far Smalling had come from non-League Kent to Old Trafford.

They talked in glowing terms about this young man's character and ability, but also politely pointed out that this was not a happy-ever-after story for everyone involved.

Maidstone United do not have their own stadium. A previous regime sold it in 1987, spent all the money and bankrupted the club, which plummeted 11 divisions in 1992. From their Football League peak, it has been a long road back for Maidstone to the Ryman Premier League, six divisions below the Premier League, and they have done it all at other clubs' grounds, most recently Ashford Town.

They have planning permission for a new ground but not the £750,000 required to build it. They also do not have dedicated training facilities for their 600 players who make up their first team, reserves, youth, women and disability sides. Smalling was their winning Lottery ticket. Except Maidstone will not see a penny of his £10m-plus transfer fee.

Fulham paid Maidstone £20,000 for Smalling, the kid who is now Ferdinand's long-term replacement. Some reports wrongly suggested a "windfall" for the club, so let's get this right. Fulham made a £10,000 down payment on Smalling and paid Maidstone £10,000 when he played 10 games for them. Legally Fulham could have paid nothing and they certainly did not agree to a sell-on fee. At a club that needs £750,000, no one thinks £20,000 is a windfall.

As Arsenal's interest drove up United's price for Smalling and Fulham cashed in, Maidstone were in the cold. Unfortunately for them, Smalling never signed a professional deal with the club that coached him.

It seems like a ludicrous oversight but there is a good reason why. To do so would have precluded Smalling from playing for the English Schools' Football Association (ESFA) Under-18s, who will not select any kid on a pro deal. Maidstone being a supportive, friendly club, did not want to deny him. For four years they coached a £10m player who may yet play for England one day. In return they got £20,000.

You can examine the unhappy coincidence by which Maidstone missed out on a payday on Smalling and decide that no one is to blame. Not Fulham, who could have signed him for nothing. Not the ESFA, which has been sidelined itself in recent years by the Football Association. Not the FA, whose rules have not been broken. Not United, who paid a high price for an unproven player.

But it makes you fear for the future of English football when a £10m deal is done and the party whose need is the greatest end up with 0.2 per cent of the money. It makes you wonder why a club like Maidstone should bother with another player like Smalling in the future. Why give up time and money to coach young players who are taken away for such a pitiful amount?

Smalling's story is a fairy tale but for a club without a stadium, whose fans must travel 20 miles or more for a home game, whose junior teams do not even have an all-weather pitch to train on, it is also a nightmare. English football was built on the trickle-down economy, of good players like Smalling going up the hierarchy and money coming back down to the clubs that produce them.

These days, in the modern Britain of identikit chain-store high streets, where most pubs look the same and town or city-specific industries have been replaced by multinational supermarkets as the big employers, local football clubs are one of the last bulwarks of local pride and identity. It matters more than ever that they survive.

Would it be too much to ask for Fulham to push some of the money they have earned from Smalling towards Maidstone? I know they are not obliged to do so, but that would only make the gesture all the more admirable. There are some clubs in the Premier League – you know the type – who would never even consider it. With good old Fulham, you just never know.

In the meantime, on Maidstone United's website there is a campaign to build a new stadium in the town – "Bring the Stones Home" – all donations gratefully received. For £6.99, I got my own seat in a virtual stadium which 200 have already joined. It is a start, I suppose. But nothing that would have compared to a big cheque from Fulham, courtesy of Manchester United.

Suggested further reading ...

In the middle of last week, depressed with the John Terry saga – selfish, greedy footballer versus various commentators presuming the right to lecture us on sexual morality – a friend of mine sent me a brilliant piece of writing that rekindled my love for sport reporting in an instant.

If you love sport, and you love reading about it, be sure to read Leigh Montville's introduction to the 2009 Best American Sports Writing anthology. It is based on his experiences as a Boston Globe reporter and should be required reading for every journalism student, especially the part where Montville quotes the former sports reporter Steve Fainaru, who says covering the Boston Red Sox every day was harder than reporting on the Iraq war.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2010, 02:42:06 PM »

February 8, 2010

Bolton left fuming after Mark Clattenburg disallows late Kevin Davies goal

Bolton 0 Fulham 0

Ian Whittell, Reebok Stadium

Come the season’s end, Mark Clattenburg’s inexplicable decision to disallow Kevin Davies’s last-minute “goal” for Bolton Wanderers after a phantom push on Brede Hangeland may be the difference between Owen Coyle’s club remaining in the Barclays Premier League or not.

Bolton fans of a certain age painfully recall the first game at the Reebok Stadium, in 1997, when their team drew 0-0 with Everton despite having “scored” a goal that was incorrectly ruled out for the ball not having crossed the line. That season ended with Bolton relegated on goal difference — on the same points as Everton, to add insult to injury — and as results conspired against Coyle’s team at the weekend, it was hard not to draw a comparison.

For Davies, however, Clattenburg’s decision that he had pushed Hangeland as he rose to head in Lee Chung Yong’s 89th-minute free kick threw up other issues.

“It was a clear goal for me and, having watched it again, the referee said I put two hands in his back but I can’t see it,” Davies said. “When I saw who was the referee I didn’t expect to get anything off him . . . Over the years I have never got much from him. There was a penalty at Old Trafford last season and he did nothing. But I got a booking. I have always felt there is something personal there.”

Coyle believes that Davies’s modus operandi — give no quarter, ask for none — means he is a marked man with officials.

At least the point pretty much assured Fulham of Premier League security and allows Roy Hodgson, the manager, to try to lift an injuryravaged squad for Europa League and FA Cup games. “We are flagging a bit and it’s going to be difficult,” he said.

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-4-1): J Jaaskelainen 6 — P Robinson 6, Z Knight 9, A O’Brien 6 (sub: C Basham, 64min 5), S Ricketts 6 — F Muamba 8 — Lee Chung Yong 6, M Davies 6 (sub: J Elmander, 57 4), T Cohen 5, M Taylor 5 (sub: V Weiss, 66 8) — K Davies 6. Substitutes not used: J Samuel, R Gardner, A Al Habsi, J Wilshere. Next: Manchester City (a).

Fulham (4-4-2): M Schwarzer 7 — C Baird 6, B Hangeland 8, A Hughes 7, N Shorey 7 — J Greening 5, D Murphy 5, K Dikgacoi 5 (sub: D Etuhu, 55 6), D Duff 5 — D Elm 5 (sub: S Okaka Chuka, 76), E Nevland 6 (sub: C Smalling, 76). Substitutes not used: P Zuberbühler, S Kelly, B H Riise, F Stoor. Next: Burnley (h).

Referee: M Clattenburg. Attendance: 22,289.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (08.02.10)
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2010, 02:49:01 PM »

Hodgson still Ful of hope

Published: Today

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ROY HODGSON insists Fulham are still chasing glory despite their massive injury crisis.

The Craven Cottage boss was missing seven first-teamers at the Reebok on Saturday.

But Hodgson insisted: "Taking four points from our last two games is a big weight off our minds because we are now 10 points clear of the relegation zone.

"We are still in the FA Cup and the Europa League and we have nine games in the next 4½ weeks.

"We will battle on in the hope that some of the injured players will be back in March and April.

"The FA Cup is our best chance to win something this season and we want to go as far as we can in the competition."