Author Topic: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 14/04/21...  (Read 627 times)

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Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 14/04/21...
« on: April 14, 2021, 12:33:41 AM »
Would we really bounce straight back up?
Tim looks at where we go next season if we fall through the dreaded Premier League trapdoor.

The thing about a yo-yo is, it has to come back up. Otherwise (slightly misappropriating the immortal words of Bernard Black) “it’s just a yo!” Fulham have yo-ed back up in the last two attempts, so you could be forgiven for being optimistic for 2022. However, it might not be that simple, and perhaps being “just a yo” club might not be the end of the world for a little while…

In 2018, we simply had a fun team. “Swashbuckling football… the entertainers…” and so on. When that failed to eventuate in the top flight, we generally fell back on the same faces to help us get promoted again last year. But the reality is, we got up fairly unconvincingly last season, and we can’t rely on those same group of players to pull it off a third time.

Consider the midfield three: In 2018, there were games where they couldn’t put a foot wrong, and together they chipped in a handy 17 goals. Now, Cairney hasn’t played in almost four months, KMac is focusing on his health (Godspeed, Kevin!) and StefJo is perennially shipped off the moment we sniff any success. Having moved into his 30s, it would be difficult to begrudge him the chance to find somewhere that won’t push him out the back door after he does what’s asked of him. Granted, Harrison Reed is a wonderful addition to that three. But it’s slim pickings for more progressive midfielders. Onomah has shown flashes, but he doesn’t leap off the page as someone who will boss the second tier. It pains me to say it, but a rebuild will be necessary, otherwise the year will be 2031 and Fulham will still be banking on TC and StefJo, both in their 40s, to do a job in the Championship. Again.

Lots of competition here. Sadly, the only thing Mawson and Kongolo are competing for is who can most significantly injure themselves before morning tea. And sadder again; they’re both bloody competitive.

Much like our midfield, there are many wonderful servants of the club, who (in their 30s) might struggle to stay fit as the amount of games ramps up – except Denis Odoi who slays no matter what. If in the unlikely scenario that we were able to hold onto Robinson, Tete and Tosin, we might find ourselves with a fairly decent backline. However, Financial Fair Play might necessitate the sale of one or more of these valuable players, and we don’t know how much the club hedged their bets on this season financially. Perhaps the heady heights of the Khans spending is at an end, and Mawson and Kongolo might just have to stand out there to make up numbers.

Let’s face it, Mitro could have left when we were relegated last time out. There was no shortage of admirers for a man who managed 11 goals in a pretty awful side. Yet he stayed and fired us straight back up on first asking. But could he feasibly be expected to stay through two relegations? After his international goal spree, there would certainly be Premier League clubs who would find space for him. And that would leave Fulham relying on the likes of Cav, Knockaert and Kamara (the man once described as “a speedboat without a driver”). Have a look below for what this might look like.

Squad depth assuming that Mitrovic, Anguissa and Seri are all sold, we hold onto our backline, and that TC is still able to walk.

Not an overly pleasant prospect. And yes, we will buy players, but if they’re of the Cav and Knockaert mold – high earners who become weights once promoted – our long term success starts to feel like Sisyphus pushing a rock up the hill only to have it roll back down and having to do the same thing for eternity. And that, as they say, is the definition of insanity; doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

So, where to from here?
Maybe it’s time to invoke the old cliché: throw the kids in! Often it’s a last-ditch roll of the dice. But we’re in an interesting position where the U18s and U23s actually boasts a wealth of talent. And that isn’t to say we field these players prematurely or in a cavalier manner – throwing kids in the deep end is a bad idea literally and figuratively. Instead, it is a slow process of integrating them in carefully and thoughtfully. And if that means a season or two finishing mid-table in the Championship, that might actually be better than another premature promotion with the same possibilities of success as a daylight charge across a mine field. But it remains to be seen whether Fulham fans can accept this without calling for Tony Khan’s head, Scott Parker’s head, the groundsman’s head, FFCBuilderboy’s head… et cetera and so forth.

A rebuild will be painful, and slow. But we have to believe it’ll be worthwhile in the long run.

(PS: Having said that, if Joe Bryan scores a brace at Wembley next year, I’m here for that too.)

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 14/04/21...
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2021, 12:35:02 AM »
How is the fight to avoid Premier League relegation shaping up?

With Sheffield United's inevitable relegation edging closer by the game, the next question is which two clubs will follow them into the Sky Bet Championship?

West Brom and Fulham still have work to do if they are to stay up but they will be trying to drag the likes of Newcastle, Burnley and Brighton into the dogfight.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the teams involved in the battle for Premier League survival.

Albion's recent revival could prove to have been a case of too little, too late as they look to pull off another great escape. Their 2005 achievement will always be remembered as the Premier League's most unlikely rescue act but should Sam Allardyce, who has never been relegated from the top flight, manage to keep West Brom up this time it would undoubtedly top even Bryan Robson's feat from 16 years ago.

Back-to-back wins against Chelsea and Southampton, across which the Baggies have scored eight goals, have given them a glimmer of hope heading into three huge midlands derbies against Leicester, Aston Villa and Wolves. If Allardyce's men remain in the hunt after those matches, a tricky run-in with games against Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham and Leeds awaits them.

Until recently, Scott Parker's side looked the most likely of the bottom three to get themselves out of trouble. Either side of the international break, the Cottagers missed chances to climb out of the relegation zone as they were beaten by Leeds and then Villa. A fourth straight defeat to Wolves at the weekend tempered the optimism that had been previously built by a run which saw them suffer only two defeats in 10 matches.

Fulham have played a game more than all of their rivals and next face back-to-back London derbies against Arsenal and Chelsea as they bid to halt their losing run. A huge clash with Burnley on May 8 will be pivotal to any chances they have of staying up before trips to Southampton and Manchester United. If Parker's team were offered a winner-takes-all clash against Newcastle at Craven Cottage on the final day of the season then they would surely take that scenario.

As timely wins go, Sunday's at Burnley was as good as it gets for the Magpies. Not only did it come on the back of Fulham's loss to Wolves, but it also halted a seven-match run without a win and saw Steve Bruce's side open up a six-point buffer over the Cottagers.

Newcastle may need that cushion, with a daunting run of five games to come that sees them take on West Ham, Liverpool, Arsenal, Leicester and Manchester City. Bruce will be hoping they have the job done by the time Sheffield United go to St James' Park in the penultimate round of fixtures, otherwise a tense finale and survival shoot-out at Craven Cottage awaits.

The home defeat to Newcastle was an unwanted setback, especially coming straight after the loss at Southampton, but the Clarets' seven-point cushion above the bottom three should be too much for either Fulham or West Brom to claw back. Sean Dyche's men had been in steady form before those back-to-back defeats, winning at Crystal Palace and Everton and earning draws against Fulham, West Brom, Leicester and Arsenal.

Burnley take on Manchester United, Wolves and West Ham before travelling to Fulham on May 8, where avoiding defeat is likely to be enough to ensure another season of Premier League football. Home games against Leeds and Liverpool follow and a final-day trip to Bramall Lane to face the Blades.

Like Burnley, Brighton are seven points clear of the drop zone but arguably face the most difficult run-in of the relegation candidates: with games against Chelsea, Sheffield United, Leeds, Wolves, West Ham, Manchester City and Arsenal to come.

Successive victories against Southampton and Newcastle last month breathed new life into Albion's survival bid and came at just the right time. Graham Potter's side are hugely competitive and have the useful knack of being able to stay in matches, having been beaten by more than one goal only once in the Premier League since October.

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 14/04/21...
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2021, 12:36:10 AM »
Chelsea striker Ugbo valued at £5m as Fulham, Monaco and Genk jostle for summer transfer

 The Blues academy graduate has impressed on loan at Cercle Brugge this season and could be set for a permanent move at the end of the campaign

Fulham, Monaco and Genk are among the clubs chasing Chelsea striker Ike Ugbo, who has scored 16 goals while on loan at Cercle Brugge this season.

Despite Cercle hovering around the relegation zone in the Belgian top flight, Ugbo has netted almost a goal in every other game in one of Europe's most scouted divisions.

It has led to transfer interest intensifying, with the Blues academy graduate's contract expiring in June 2022.

Which clubs are interested in signing Ugbo?

Through their ownership of Cercle, Monaco have a £5 million ($7m) option to buy on Ugbo and are interested in signing him following his impressive form at their sister club.

Along with Fulham and Genk, Serie A side Bologna have expressed an interest in signing the 22-year-old. Furthermore, Russian side Rostov and Claudio Ranieri's Sampdoria in Serie A are understood to be interested in signing Ugbo, and even made offers in January that were not accepted.

Chelsea's insistence on getting £5m for their loanee was expressed when they rejected Rostov's £3m ($4m) bid in January. The Blues are keen to reduce the size of their loan group with new regulations coming in this summer from FIFA, which will stop teams from having large groups of players out on temporary deals.

The west Londoners have already let Lucas Piazon go for free in January to Braga after the Portuguese side agreed to match his full wage, and the deal displayed the Blues' willingness to negotiate for a host of loanees in the summer.

How good is Ugbo?

At Cercle, Ugbo has scored 16 goals and provided one assist in his 33 games this season. It is the second consecutive season when he has scored regularly in Europe after netting 13 goals in 29 games at struggling Roda JC in the Netherlands.

It follows less successful English football loans in the Championship with Barnsley, and League One with MK Dons and Scunthorpe, where Ugbo has previously admitted to struggling to transition from academy football to the senior game.

"On my first loan [at Barnsley], I didn't feel I showed the qualities that I really had. I think it was just a different world for me to go out into first-team football and adapt. I don't think that I adapted quickly enough," Ugbo told Goal last season.

"I am showing more of the qualities that I had when I played in the Under-23s [at Chelsea] and that potential that I have to push on to the next level. They were all learning curves, really, and it has moulded me into who I am now."

However, his latest loans have proven that he can replicate his form from Chelsea's academy, where he was once regarded as an equal to his strike partner Tammy Abraham.

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 14/04/21...
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2021, 12:37:38 AM »
Melvin Tenner – a tribute

The Supporters’ Trust was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Melvin Tenner, lifelong Fulham fan, erstwhile Chair of the Supporters’ Club and co-founder of Fulham 2000, the campaign which raised awareness and funds to support the battle to save Craven Cottage from demolition.

His tireless contribution to that cause was fundamental to its success and Melvin never stopped fighting against the plans which would have seen our beloved football ground turned into a site filled with luxury flats.

Melvin was a rather private person with a huge intellect and the driest sense of humour. If you go back to the days of the old Supporters’ Club ‘Meet the Manager’ evenings which were often lively and confrontational in a way that seems impossible to imagine now, you’ll remember him presiding over them with wit and wisdom. You will also remember his late wife, Eva, at a table by the door taking entry fees and selling raffle tickets and Supporters’ Club merchandise. Eva was another outstanding and modest character. To me, the couple represented the best of what football supporters can do in terms of giving their time and energy to maintain a legacy and hand it on to the next in line.

Melvin never sought the limelight for himself but quietly rallied the troops to launch Fulham 2000, a campaign that captured the imagination and gained willing help and financial contributions from thousands of supporters. In addition to the obvious battle against property developers, Melvin’s incredible patience and diplomacy brought together disparate parties within the Club and helped immeasurably to improve the relationship between those and supporters themselves. His dogged persistence and ability to negotiate the most delicate situations was invaluable in a way that perhaps few people appreciated at the time.

It is some comfort that Melvin saw the near completion of the new Riverside stand, a  commitment and guarantee if ever there was one, that Craven Cottage is here to stay and that it was all worthwhile. 

In the late 1980’s, Supporters Club committee meetings were held in an upstairs room at The Golden Lion, just as they had been in Melvin’s schooldays. He always remembered the chairman of the time, who eventually went to live in a care home in Farm Lane. Melvin made a point of visiting him to chat about old times and ensure he knew he was remembered and that his contribution meant something. The line continues. The Supporters’ Club is no more, but the Trust intends to continue its spirit of genuine fan involvement and passion for Fulham Football Club. We stand on the shoulders of softly spoken giants.

Rest in peace, Melvin.

Sue Couch

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 14/04/21...
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2021, 12:38:49 AM »
Tottenham 'keeping close eye on Scott Parker' as Jose Mourinho fights to keep job
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho faces an uphill battle to keep his job with Spurs on course to miss out on Champions League football.

Tottenham are set to continue monitoring the development of Fulham boss Scott Parker, with the club open to the idea of a reunion one day permitting he continues to impress in the hot-seat. That's according to reports that point out the good impression he left behind at Tottenham in his playing days and time coaching the club's Under-18s.

Parker is currently in his first senior managerial job at Fulham and although the Cottagers could be relegated this season, the former England international has a clear tactical blueprint and identity.

Despite their league position, the Whites have played some attractive football whilst battling to beat the drop.

Fulham have stayed true to their values and have continued to stick by their principals, as opposed to resulting to survival football in a bad to preserve their top-flight status.

Football.London report that Daniel Levy and the Spurs hierarchy will continue to keep an eye on Parker, although he is not under consideration to replace Mourinho.

He has a lot of close friends back at Spurs, where he spent two years as a player between 2011 and 2013.

Parker signed a new contract with Fulham in 2020 after guiding the club to promotion via the play-offs.

Fulham would be expected to keep him in charge even if they are condemned to relegation.

Parker's former team-mate Jamie O'Hara recently talked up the ex-England international and claimed he has a special future in the game.

“I was at Fulham and played with Scott Parker; this guy was the ultimate professional and ultimate football player," O'Hara told talkSPORT.

“When you trained with him, he was the captain and we’d sit in the changing room and the manager would come in, but as soon as Scott Parker said anything the changing room went silent and just listened what he had to say.

“He just had this aura around him and had that respect because he was the ultimate professional and had this great career as well.

“He’d played for big clubs and captained England; when you listened to what he had to say he just spoke and everything he said was on point.

“I think he’s a future England manager, I really do. I’ve sat in dressing rooms with him and I do think he’s got it in him.”

Tottenham could be set to change manager at the end of the season, with Julian Nagelsmann among the favourites for the job.

Spurs would reportedly have to pay Mourinho and his backroom team in excess of £35million if they were to be relieved of their duties.

For that reason, there is every chance Mourinho may get the chance to turn things around next season with a summer overhaul on the cards.

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 14/04/21...
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2021, 10:34:23 AM »
Great first article JC