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Thursday Fulham Stuff (11.02.10)

Started by White Noise, February 10, 2010, 10:32:04 PM

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White Noise

Hodgson: Fulham will give Notts County respect

5:08pm Wednesday 10th February 2010

By Simon Fitzjohn ¬Ľ

Roy Hodgson vows Fulham will take Sunday's FA Cup clash with Notts County seriously after revealing he would gladly trade Europa League glory in exchange for seeing off the League Two side.

Due to cup commitments the Cottagers will play at least eight games in the month of February, including a trip to Ukraine for their clash with Shaktar Donetsk.

And the Fulham boss insists it is a case of prioritising.

Hodgson said: "If I could sacrifice the two Europa League games to progress in the FA Cup and move further up the Premier League I would do that.

"The FA Cup is very important to us.

"It would be great to reach the quarter-finals for two years in a row and we have a real opportunity to achieve something.

"Obviously we know it will not be easy but if we perform like we have been in the last three games we are a match for anybody."

Hodgson was talking after Tuesday's encouraging 3-0 win over Burnley at Craven Cottage, a win secured thanks to strikes from Danny Murphy, David Elm and Bobby Zamora.

And the Fulham boss was delighted to see his side make it seven points from nine, and their third successive clean sheet.

Hodgson added: "We made it comfortable due to the quality of our performance.

"We pressurised them right from the start and were good value for the win.

"I cannot speak highly enough about this group of players.

"We have battled injuries and had some really difficult fixtures, but the players have consistently over-achieved and done more than I could reasonably ask of them."

Fulham's next three matches: Feb 14 Notts County (h), 18 Shaktar Donetsk (EL, h), 21 Birmingham City (a)

White Noise

'We got everything right,' says Hodgson

by Dan on February 10, 2010

Roy Hodgson says Fulham were flawless as they dismantled Burnley at Craven Cottage to climb to ninth in the league last night.

The Fulham manager said the key to the result was Fulham's hard work and constant pressing.

I thought the victory lay in the hard work and the quality of our defending. We gave them very little time and space to play and we used the ball wisely.

We got everything right tonight ‚Äď the defending and attacking ‚Äď and on a night like that, we would have been a tough nut to crack for any team.

It was really good to see David [Elm] score. He's been a bit of a revelation. At the time he came in we had a lot of strikers, but he has moved up the pecking order and deserves to be where he is.

We will attack the FA Cup. But I'm not going to change by mind about the Europa League. My priority is still the league and the FA Cup.

White Noise

Clint Dempsey set for Fulham return next month

Published 23:30 10/02/10 By Mirror Football

Clint Dempsey hopes to get his World Cup dream back on track with Fulham next month.

The American international is due to face England in the summer - but feared a knee ligament injury sustained against Blackburn last month would leave him on the sidelines.

The problem is not as bad as first feared though, and Fulham's medical staff are pleased with the way his rehabilitation programme has gone so far.

Manager Roy Hodgson is now hopeful that the forward will be back in full training within four weeks.

White Noise

Press Release: Pitmans Acts For Chris Smalling In Manchester United Transfer

For immediate release

February 2010


Pitmans SK Sport & Entertainment has acted for professional football player Chris Smalling on his £7million transfer to Manchester United FC from Fulham FC, in what is the biggest deal in this year's January transfer window for premier league football. The transaction was led by Pitmans SK Sport & Entertainment Solicitor, Tina Hardwick.

Manchester United FC have confirmed that Chris Smalling will join the club on a four year contract this summer following a successful medical. Manchester United won the race to land the highly-rated defender after edging out arch-rivals Arsenal who had also been chasing the 20 year old.

The England Under 21s international started his career at Maidstone United in the Ryman Premier League, before joining Fulham in March 2008.

Smalling commented, "Joining Manchester United is an unbelievable opportunity for me, the chance of coming to the biggest club in the world is something I just couldn't turn down. I am excited about working with Sir Alex and the fantastic players in his squad."

Tina Hardwick, Pitmans added:
"I was delighted to be acting for Chris and be involved in one of the largest deals in this years transfer window. Chris is a very talented individual and this is proven when the two top premiership teams both felt he would make an impact on their club. I wish him all the success for this new chapter in his premiership career."

White Noise

Fair Play Update

Thursday 11th February 2010

Fulham FC News

The latest Barclays Premier League Fair Play tables have been released. The tables are compiled from marks awarded by The Premier League Match Delegates.  The Whites have moved up one position to third in both the Fair Play League and the Behaviour of the Public Fair Play League.


Position     Played  R/Y  P/P  R/O  R/R  B/O  Pts  Score  Avge 
1  Arsenal   24  207  202  145  146  131  831  207.8  8.66 
2  Chelsea   23  196  195  135  138  123  787  196.8  8.55 
3  Fulham   23  200  176  138  143  128  785  196.3  8.53 
4  Tottenham Hotspur   24  195  201  143  146  129  814  203.5  8.48 
5  Manchester United   24  200  191  139  142  133  805  201.3  8.39 
6  Burnley   23  192  177  137  142  122  770  192.5  8.37 
7  Manchester City   22  190  175  126  130  107  728  182  8.27 
8  Wigan Athletic   22  186  166  127  130  118  727  181.8  8.26 
9  Aston Villa   23  182  180  130  133  126  751  187.8  8.16 
10  Everton   23  193  172  133  138  113  749  187.3  8.14 
11  Liverpool   24  195  187  138  138  119  777  194.3  8.09 
12  Wolves   23  180  175  130  135  123  743  185.8  8.08 
13  Stoke City   21  168  153  120  127  110  678  169.5  8.07 
14  Blackburn Rovers   24  201  166  136  140  131  774  193.5  8.06 
15  West Ham United   23  181  173  129  132  125  740  185  8.04 
16  Sunderland   22  168  159  121  128  111  687  171.8  7.81 
17  Birmingham City   23  187  168  124  127  110  716  179  7.78 
18  Bolton Wanderers   22  167  158  121  128  110  684  171  7.77 
19  Portsmouth   22  168  150  120  126  120  684  171  7.77 
20  Hull City   23  182  156  127  131  107  703  175.8  7.64 


R/Y = Red & Yellow Cards - Maximum 10 pts per Match
(Red 3 pts, Yellow 1 pt)
P/P = Positive Play - Maximum 10 pts per Match
R/O = Respect Towards Opponent - Maximum 7 pts per Match
R/R = Respect Towards Referee - Maximum 7 pts per Match
B/O = Behaviour of Officials - Maximum 6 pts per Match 

Position     Played  Pts  Avge 
1  Burnley   23  194  8.44 
2  Sunderland   22  182  8.27 
3  Fulham   23  189  8.22 
4  Liverpool   24  197  8.21 
5  Manchester City   22  178  8.09 
6  Wigan Athletic   22  177  8.05 
7  Wolves   23  185  8.04 
8  West Ham United   23  185  8.04 
9  Chelsea   23  184  8 
10  Arsenal   24  192  8 
11  Blackburn Rovers   24  189  7.88 
12  Aston Villa   23  181  7.87 
13  Tottenham Hotspur   24  188  7.83 
14  Manchester United   24  188  7.83 
15  Everton   23  179  7.78 
16  Stoke City   21  163  7.76 
17  Birmingham City   23  178  7.74 
18  Bolton Wanderers   22  163  7.41 
19  Portsmouth   22  163  7.41 
20  Hull City   23  170  7.39 

Matches up to and including Sunday 31st January 2010.

Prize money of £30,000 is awarded to the club finishing the Season at the top of the Fair Play League, with £20,000 going to the club whose supporters are deemed to be the best behaved.

Read more:

White Noise

Fulham v Manchester City

Barclays Premier League

Saturday 20th March

Kick-Off 15:00

On-sale dates
Season Ticket Holders   Now on sale (Max 6 tickets)
Fulham Club Members   Now on sale (Max 6 tickets)
General Sale  Now on Sale (Max 6 tickets)
Buy tickets online|

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Seatwave - the official fan-to-fan ticket exchange
Thomas Cook - match breaks for all Fulham FC home games
* Lower booking fees compared to telephone booking

Category A+ prices apply to this match

White Noise

Notts star Clapham relishing the big stage

Thursday, February 11, 2010, 07:00

JAMIE Clapham is not fazed by Fulham.

And he is confident his team-mates will rise to the big occasion in the fifth round of the FA Cup at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

Clapham has played in the Premier League and also on one of the biggest stages in Europe, against Inter Milan in the San Siro in the Uefa Cup when he was at Ipswich Town.

He could come into the Notts County midfield at Fulham, if they play a 4-5-1 formation like they did in their fourth round win against Wigan Athletic.

Clapham admits beating the Latics has given Notts confidence that they can claim a second Premier League scalp.

But he has warned the Cottagers will be a lot harder to beat, even without their £10.5m striker Andrew Johnson, who is sidelined with a knee injury.

He said: "Roy Hodgson is a great manager and Fulham are a different proposition.

"They are going well in the Premier League, they have good players. They have got threats throughout their team.

"A bonus for us is that AJ (Andrew Johnson) is going to be out, he's just had a knee op.

"But I'm sure he will be replaced by a quality striker.

"It will be totally different to Wigan and I think Fulham will play a different shape.

"We'll have to see how we go.

"We obviously want to get promoted and push up the league but it's another chance for everyone to impress against a good team.

"I hope there is a big crowd there because it will make it a proper cup tie.

"I don't know what kind of crowds the rest of the lads have played in front of before but when you play in full stadiums it's great to be out there.

"I've played in the San Siro and at Wembley in play-off finals, in front of almost 80,000, and it's an incredible feeling.

"It's a great achievement for us to get to the fifth round of the Cup.

"It's the furthest I've ever got in my career so these runs don't happen very often.

"We have got to make the most of it, and savour every minute of playing against top teams and in front of big crowds."

White Noise

The stress of being middling.

This site has previously made known its contempt for the divide in the PL between the small number of rich clubs that can challenge for honours and the half of the division that has to spend the whole season worrying about relegation. Outside of that larger group sits a few clubs that are the middle including Fulham. So I was somewhat surprised to see an interview with Roy Hodgson that showed even at that relatively safe position the stresses are still very real. Hodgson is an excellent coach and what he has done at Craven Cottage demands respect, so why the irritations?

The answer lies in that old problem of expectation. When you quality for the knock-out stages of the Europa League some of your support (and we suspect the board which as we know is really just Al Fayed) want you to go to the next level of qualifying for Europe every season. Hodgson is too wise to not realise that when your playing up to 17 more games than most of your PL rivals the more realistic aim is to stay in the division and again he has already done a sterling job on that. Fulham supporters need to realise that the only route to Europe this season is to win the Europa league and if that happens Hodgson really will have worked a miracle.

It comes to something when the likes of Hodgson feels under pressure, the fans, the media and the rest of football should be appreciating what he brings to the English game.

White Noise

The Shakhtar Syndrome

by: Nick Smith


One year ago, an unusually reckless observer suggested that Shakhtar Donetsk, pride of Ukraine's coal-mining Donbass region, were digging themselves into a hole at a rate which would have had Alexey Stakhanov going weak at the knees. One UEFA Cup triumph, one new stadium which ranks as one of Europe's finest, and a raft of positive headlines from the worldwide sporting press later, and the gig is up. Everything is just fine at Shakhtar.

Or not. Last year I floated the idea that Shakhtar, thanks mainly to the astute backing of Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine, had largely immunized themselves against the difficulties faced by the majority of other football clubs in the country ‚Äď and were instead, for no obvious reason, apparently set on creating their own unique set of issues.

To their considerable credit, some of these have now been fixed. In particular, the inspirational Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu, in charge since 2004 and the architect of three Ukrainian league titles, was finally offered a new contract towards the end of Shakhtar's successful European campaign after some completely unnecessary dithering by the club's hierarchy, who were rumoured to have been winking in the direction of CSKA Moscow's 47-day-wonder Juande Ramos. Perhaps they caught a bit of coal dust in their eyes.

Even more importantly, Akhmetov and particularly CEO Sergiy Palkin have loosened up considerably in the transfer market. The former had already admitted as far back as late 2007 that the club's 'golden cage' policy, which tied players to lucrative long-term contracts with only a minimal chance of being allowed to move on to bigger things, was in fact proving damaging both to team morale and Shakhtar's prospects of attracting players of a higher level, but only recently has Akhmetov begun to put this insight into action.

In the past twelve months Dmytro Chygrynskiy (the new toast of Barcelona ‚Äď at least in Cornell√†-El Prat), Evhen Seleznyov (whose strangely familiar appearance could lead one to query Palkin's movements in November 1984) and Brazilian striker Brand√£o (a monster probably hewn from inside a rock somewhere under the Donbass) have all been allowed to leave with minimal fuss.

The choice of players to replace them also tells its own story. Lucescu has explained that raising the number of Brazilian attacking midfielders at the club to six with the signings of Brazil U-20 internationals Alex Teixeira and the much-hyped Douglas Costa ‚Äď leaving the squad more top-heavy than Victoria Zdrok in a concrete bikini ‚Äď is a preliminary to departures in the summer, and Costa for one has already voiced his intention to move on to Western Europe within two years. It also seems unlikely that his former club Gr√™mio would have been at such pains to include a 20% sell-on fee in the deal if they thought that, like Brand√£o, Costa was being sentenced to seven years in Donetsk.

Shakhtar's Paranoia
So problems solved? If only. Unfortunately, Shakhtar Syndrome has entered a new and particularly virulent phase. From reacting to the absence of issues by creating their own, the club has now moved onto imagining them. Put simply, both the club leadership and Lucescu have become ever more convinced of a grand conspiracy against them on the part of the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU), and although this mindset is not entirely new, recent months have seen Shakhtar's paranoia become increasingly pronounced.

The specific grounds for complaint are these. The club has, in numerous public statements over the past year, alleged that the FFU is running a concerted campaign to stifle Shakhtar's progress on behalf of their principal domestic rivals, Dynamo Kyiv. These statements are almost too numerous to mention, although some notable instances include Lucescu's comments in the run-up to November's match between the sides where he named three referees he felt could not be relied upon to adjucate fairly, and the club press office posting a video compilation on the Shakhtar website of allegedly dubious on-field decisions given to Dynamo.

The supposed motivation for this campaign is found in what should probably be called the Axis of Surkis. The FFU is headed by Grygoriy Surkis, the brother of Dynamo president Ihor Surkis, and the various ploys claimed to be in use include deliberately inconvenient fixture planning, misleading media pronouncements, and attempts to unsettle key employees. Above all, the association is alleged to exert undue influence on referees, who are appointed by an FFU committee.

None of these grievances are particularly convincing. What is claimed to be a general issue with the scheduling of fixtures is in fact a simmering resentment over the two consecutive away trips to Lviv with which Shakhtar opened their title defence last season. The longest domestic trip possible for a side from the south-east and a traditionally tough away venue, Shakhtar picked up just a point in from the games in Lviv and then won just once in their next eight league matches, effectively conceding their crown to Dynamo by Christmas.

However, there is little in the current season's fixture list which immediately suggests anything untoward, and the fact that the club received permission to postpone a league match with Metalurh Zaporizhia to prepare for their European Super Cup match with Barcelona in late August would appear to support this contention.

Unfortunately, the Lviv issue is not the only problem Shakhtar have with the calendar. The club was also critical of the decision by the FFU to clear the league programme for three weeks at the start of November in order to allow the national team to prepare for the World Cup playoff with Greece, instead seeing it as a ruse to give Dynamo a breather before their next game ‚Äď coincidentally against Shakhtar.

That the Greeks had themselves arranged a similar (although shorter) intermission in their own domestic competition was seemingly lost on all parties, with the controversy subsequently descending into political point-scoring with Akhmetov ‚Äď not without some justification ‚Äď criticising the FFU for setting excessive ticket prices for the playoff at the Donbass Arena before offering to buy them all up himself to sell on to supporters at a discount.

The flat rejection by Surkis and the FFU of Akhmetov's proposal or to even reconsider their pricing policy, resulting in a stadium which was less than two-thirds full for Ukraine's most important game in recent years, does not exactly reflect gloriously on the association. Neither does their bizarre decision shortly after the match to offer the national manager's position to none other than Lucescu, who although to all appearances was initially intrigued by the prospect of forming half of Europe's first simultaneous father-son national management arrangement (his son RńÉzvan is currently coach of Romania), soon turned the offer down.

That the FFU in these and other matters come across as self-serving is indisputable ‚Äď a sell-out for the Greece game would have raked in around $4.5 million for the association, who had previously been content with $0.3 million from the qualifier against England in Dnipropetrovsk barely a month earlier. The proposal to Lucescu, who was hardly likely to accept, was also a cynical piece of work clearly designed to irritate Akhmetov, who came out of the affair with his public image much enhanced at the expense of the suits in Kyiv. But it is a big step to claim that this politicking is also reflected on the field of play, and that Shakhtar are getting a raw deal from referees as a result of influence from the FFU. The only way to settle the issue is to look at the numbers, rather than the words.

How can referees change games?
How can a referee directly influence a match? There appear to be two main possibilities ‚Äď the distribution of red and yellow cards, and the awarding of penalties both for and against. If Shakhtar's claims are to hold up, it should be shown that the team is either awarded disproportionally more red and yellow cards, fewer penalties for or more penalties against than the other teams in the division ‚Äď or preferably all of the above.

One other factor remains to be considered. A necessary corollary of the theory has to be that if Dynamo are to benefit fully from Shakhtar's treatment, they must receive the opposite ‚Äď in other words disproportionally fewer red and yellow cards, more penalties for or fewer penalties against.

A total of 532 yellow cards have been distributed in the first half of the 2009-2010 Ukrainian Premier League season. Dynamo Kyiv have received 41 of these ‚Äď the third-highest total in the division. Only Metalurh Zaporizhia (42) and Obolon Kyiv (47) have received more. But interestingly, Dynamo have yet to have a player sent off, despite the high number of yellows. Vorskla Poltava are the only other side to have escaped any dismissals, although they have only picked up 30 bookings and are a generally upstanding side shaped in the image of their manager Mykola Pavlov, a principled fellow who once refused to countenance the club chairman making any new signings until his existing players had been paid outstanding wages.

The most logical way to explain the discrepancy is that the high yellow tally is in fact caused by the absence of sendings-off, and that referees are dishing out yellows to Dynamo where other teams could expect reds. But how significant is this? It has long been accepted ‚Äď rightly or wrongly ‚Äď that big teams get big decisions, regardless of country. And whether the yellows are serving as substitutes for reds or not, the fact that the average Ukrainian side has only amassed 1.6 red cards this season would still leave Dynamo with a notably high tally of bookings. One would imagine that a team supposed to have the league's referees in its pockets would be more effective in keeping the former's cards in their own pockets.

The penalty issue is more clear-cut. Dynamo have been awarded five penalties so far this season. Although this is the second-highest total in the league, three other teams have been awarded four and every team has received at least one. Dynamo's numbers are, in other words, not unreasonable for a team playing an attacking style of football in a league where referees are not undisposed to give spot-kicks. Penalties against, on the other hand, are conclusive. Two have been awarded to opposition sides against Dynamo, whereas Chernomorets Odessa have been penalised only once and four teams ‚Äď or 25% of the division ‚Äď have yet to concede any at all.

These figures suggest that, on the whole, Dynamo Kyiv are not being unduly favoured by Ukraine's referees. The main question, however, is whether Shakhtar are being discriminated against. The application of the same metrics as above to their games thus far in the 2009-2010 season throws up some fascinating results.

Shakhtar Donetsk have received 26 yellow cards this season ‚Äď the second-lowest number in the Ukrainian Premier League and only three more than the side with the lowest total, their city rivals Metalurh Donetsk. That Shakhtar are falling victim to the reverse of Dynamo's supposed arrangement by receiving reds where other teams receive yellows can immediately be discounted, as just one player ‚Äď Olexandr Chyzhov against Zakarpattia Uzhhorod ‚Äď has been dismissed so far.

The average number of bookings per team in Ukraine this season stands at 33.25. This means that Shakhtar get almost 22% fewer yellow cards than the average Ukrainian team ‚Äď and almost 37% fewer than Dynamo. This is without any statistically meaningful increase in the number of sendings-off.

An examination of the penalty figures is similarly enlightening. Shakhtar are one of the four teams noted above who have yet to have a penalty awarded against them in league competition this term. However, it becomes a different story in the opposition penalty area, where Shakhtar have so far received seven spot-kicks ‚Äď more than any other side. Given that the average team in Ukraine has been given 2.7 penalties, Shakhtar are awarded over 2.5 more penalties than the average side. Moreover, in a surely decisive blow to the claims of conspiracy, Shakhtar's settling-in process at the $400 million Donbass Arena was smoothed by five penalties in the first four games at their new home, which included three in the first two matches and one after only 18 minutes of the inaugural tie against Obolon.

It is largely irrelevant whether these specific spot-kicks were deserved or not (in fact, most seem justified on review). The point is that were referees really out to get Shakhtar, they would not be given in any case. That these penalties were awarded at all ‚Äď and at a rate which considerably outweighs any other team in the league ‚Äď supports the similarly favourable yellow-red card numbers and leads to only one sensible conclusion.

Shakhtar, contrary to the club's insistence, are at present not being discriminated against by Ukraine's referees. Dynamo, meanwhile, are not receiving anything from the officials that Shakhtar themselves are not also getting in abundance.

Of course, a more extensive analysis covering all the years since the foundation of the Ukrainian league in 1992 would give a clearer picture. As a sample, however, the data seems telling, as it covers the period in which Shakhtar's complaints have been particularly voluble. So why, if there appears to be no conspiracy, are they so convinced that one exists?

Reasons behind the Shakhtar Syndrome
Shakhtar Syndrome arises from a unique conjunction of factors. Firstly, the club has always seen itself in the vanguard of a regional identity clash between the scheming politicians and aesthetes of Kyiv and the honest toilers of the Donbass mines. A need apparently still exists to measure and validate the success that Akhmetov has brought to the side against its equivalent from the capital, rather than simply enjoying it for its own sake, and imagined conspiracies and plots by competitors are a way of reinforcing the achievement and also giving it a positive moral spin.

The combination of this mindset with Lucescu's own psychological peculiarities is a potent one. A marvellous coach with a truly admirable footballing philosophy, the Romanian also drags around an enormous persecution complex which both feeds into and is fed by the atmosphere of suspicion which surrounds him. The result, as should have become all too clear, is a kind of institutional paranoia which is distinctly unbecoming for a club with designs on cementing a place amongst Europe's elite.

All of this is not to say that the Axis of Surkis is not, in fact, ensconced in a bunker under Kyiv plotting Shakhtar's destruction. However, any evidence of this would have to be found somewhere other than refereeing decisions, and Shakhtar would be well advised to avoid attributing to intrigue what can reasonably be attributed to incompetence ‚Äď which the FFU has in spades. The association has often behaved inappropriately, both towards Shakhtar and other teams, but there is simply no evidence that this is due to anything other than poor management.

Much of what the association does is handled in an inept and amateurish manner (just ask anybody who wanted to see the Greece game), with point-scoring and general machismo highest on the agenda, and as far as Shakhtar are concerned, there is little reason to believe that the FFU would be any more successful in orchestrating a grand conspiracy than they are in arranging anything else.

The ultimate irony in all this is that overall refereeing standards in Ukraine are in fact pretty poor. But it is disingenuous for Shakhtar to continue playing the role of put-upon victim when the numbers just do not add up. Or rather, they add up too well.

Shakhtar's protestations of martyrdom are only confusing the issue and delaying the proper reform for which numerous clubs in the country have been crying out for years. And in truth, they should be above all this.

Despite their nouveau-riche image, Shakhtar boast a proud history and a promising future, have great supporters and a great stadium ‚Äď and stand not only as a regional, but following their UEFA Cup win, also as a national symbol. Why moan about the ref?

White Noise

and there should be no more cup heroics from Notts County but 888Sport's 6/1 underdogs can nevertheless give a good account of themselves at Fulham, where Partybets price them at 1/2 to bow out of the competition.

White Noise,19528,11672_5938347,00.html

Davies faces FA investigation

Trotters striker asked to explain Clattenburg comments

Last updated: 11th February 2010   

The Football Association is to investigate comments made by Kevin Davies regarding Mark Clattenburg.

The Bolton striker recently claimed that the Premier League referee had 'something personal' against him.

The experienced frontman made the statement after seeing Clattenburg rule out what would have been a late winner for the Trotters against Fulham on Saturday.

Davies felt he had earned all three points for the hosts in an uninspiring contest with a towering header, but saw his effort ruled out for a debatable push on Brede Hangeland.

He said afterwards: "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.

"Numerous bookings over the years - I don't know, I have always felt there is something personal there.

"Every time he referees us, I don't expect to get anything."

Bolton boss Owen Coyle has admitted that he feels Davies was within his rights to question the match officials at the Reebok Stadium, but the FA has announced that it is looking into the remarks before deciding whether or not to take further action.

An FA spokesman said: "I can confirm we have written to Kevin Davies to ask him for his observations following his media comments."

White Noise

Striker release interests trio

Last Updated: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 14:39

Fulham, Portsmouth and Blackburn are claimed to have an interest in out-of-contract ex-Ewood Park striker Shabani Nonda.

The 32-year-old, who spent a short spell at Blackburn in 2006, was released from his contract at Turkish club Galatasaray and can sign as a free agent outside the transfer window.

Portsmouth are obvious candidates for his services considering the club's current financial plight, although without the ability to move anyone on beforehand, it may not be feasible for him to join right now.

Fulham have been linked as boss Roy Hodgson is set to go into the Europa League knockout stages with only two fit frontmen after the injuries to Andy Johnson and Clint Dempsey.

Stefano Okaka was snapped up on loan from Roma but he is ineligible for that competition having already appeared in the group stages for the Italians.

However, Nonda has also appeared in the competition already for Galatsaray - so he would not be able to feature in the matches against Shakhtar Donetsk.

White Noise

FA Cup - Match facts: Fulham v Notts County

Opta - Thu, 11 Feb 15:00:00 2010

Facts and figures ahead of Sunday's FA Cup fifth round clash between Fulham and Notts County at Craven Cottage.

Notts County have won none of their last seven meetings with Fulham in London.

Fulham have won both of the two FA Cup meetings with Notts County by a 1-0 scoreline but both were away wins for the Whites.

Roy Hodgson's men have kept a clean sheet in seven of their last eight matches at Craven Cottage in all competitions.

In fact, the Whites have lost only one of their last 14 matches on home soil.

The Magpies have scored in all but one of their last 14 away matches since August (all comps).

Defeat at Bournemouth in their last match ended a run of six straight away wins for County in all competitions.


White Noise

Clubs should take Cup seriously

Thu Feb 11 12:40PM

As a club, we are extremely excited about this weekend's FA Cup tie against Notts County. We see the competition as a real opportunity for us, especially with three of the big four teams out.
Understandably, it is a huge game for Notts County who have already put Wigan out, so they certainly have that ability to win the big games, with quality in their side. It will be a cracking fixture and one I can't wait for.

I don't think it is difficult to psyche yourself up for a game even when you are favourites. We can't be sloppy or complacent in what is likely to be a very fast and frenetic game.

I still value the FA Cup as a fantastic competition and, as a squad, Fulham take great pride in doing well in any competition that we are involved in.

I can understand the philosophy of clubs resting players in some competitions, but it is dictated by the club's circumstances so is a hard one to judge. Obviously injuries and the club's involvement in other competitions will impact the personnel decisions made, but it is occasionally strange to see certain clubs resting key players in a competition such as the FA Cup.

The opportunity to reach a cup final at Wembley should be a fantastic motivator, in what would be considered a great achievement at the end of the season. Teams do naturally tend to put a greater emphasis on the league because there are huge financial incentives for staying in the top flight.

The revenue generated by competing in the Premier League provides the foundations for the club's finances for the year ahead.

Personally, I would rather finish 15th in the league and reach a cup final, than come 7th and not have a cup run. I think that with guaranteed Premier League survival, it would be a fantastic achievement to reach a final.

The best memories of my playing career to-date have been playing in cups finals. The atmosphere and occasion always create a brilliant spectacle for both the players and fans and they are always a pleasure to compete in.

Fortunately, we are having a good season and if we could combine a day out at Wembley with a decent final league position then I am sure the management, players and fans would consider the season a real success.