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Monday Fulham Stuff - 09/08/21...

Started by WhiteJC, August 08, 2021, 05:40:02 PM

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Fulham 1-1 Middlesborough

Harry Wilson scored on his debut after making a £12m summer move from Liverpool

Fulham were frustrated in Marco Silva's first game in charge as Marc Bola cancelled out Harry Wilson's debut goal to earn Middlesbrough a point.

Wilson, a £12m signing from Liverpool, put the hosts ahead with a left-footed strike from just outside the box.

Fulham dominated possession but were guilty of missing several chances to double their lead in the second half.

They were made to pay when Bola fired home with 13 minutes remaining from Boro's only shot on target.

The result means none of the three teams relegated from the Premier League last season won their opening fixture back in the second tier after West Bromwich Albion's draw at Bournemouth on Friday and Sheffield United's defeat by Birmingham City on Saturday.

In a lively opening, Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic was booked inside the first 30 seconds for an aerial challenge on Boro captain Jonny Howson before debutant home goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga had to react quickly with his leg to prevent Antonee Robinson's wayward backpass gifting the visitors the lead.

The impressive Wilson was enjoying his debut and opened his Fulham account just before the half-hour mark, picking up a pass from Josh Onomah before shifting the ball on to his left foot and firing past Joe Lumley.

Fulham remained in control at the beginning of the second half with Fabio Carvalho to the fore and the teenager felt he should have had a penalty after a challenge from Sam Morsy before curling wide shortly after.

The hosts continued their dominance, with Neeskens Kebano seeing a header saved by Lumley, before Wilson and Mitrovic both went close to doubling the advantage, but they would be punished for their profligacy.

Substitutes Marcus Tavernier and Isaiah Jones combined neatly to find the unmarked Bola, who drilled a powerful effort across Gazzaniga to put Neil Warnock's Boro on level terms.

The goal galvanised the visitors and Tavernier missed a golden opportunity to seal an unlikely comeback win, blazing over the bar with three minutes to go.

Fulham manager Marco Silva:

"We have players out and in some weeks our team will be stronger and for sure we will be different.

"The physicality of the Championship? The games are always this way. But it is up to you decide what style you want to play and to answer what your opponents do, We have enough players who know what playing in the Championship means.

"Of course there was frustration that we didn't get the result that we wanted and that I believe we deserved.

"At this level when you have chances to be more clinical and kill the game you can be comfortable. We had chances and we were dominant. The goal was a good example. We should score the second goal - but that is football."

Boro boss Neil Warnock to BBC Tees:

"I can't praise the lads enough for some of the defending. I thought overall we did ever so well.

"It was a little bit disappointing at times in the first half but you've got to give Fulham credit - they have such a good squad and such a good team, I think they'll be one of the top teams in the Championship, if not the top team.

"We had to hang in there, which we did. I'm so proud of my lads. We can get better, yes, but to come here and get a good point on the first day, it's not bad.

"We couldn't risk starting Marcus [Tavernier] today - I'm amazed that he's fit. But he came on and he's so lively, he's such a good player and he's disappointed he didn't get a couple of goals."


Post-Boro Press Conference

Marco Silva saw a lot that pleased him in Fulham's draw with Middlesbrough, but was frustrated we couldn't get the second goal needed to kill the game.

The Whites dominated their opponents and took a deserved lead through Harry Wilson's debut strike, but the visitors earned a point with their only shot on target.

"We had some good moments, I took positives, it was frustrating we didn't get the result we wanted and I thought we deserved, but that's football," Silva said.

"At this level, when you have chances to be more clinical, the second goal would've made us more comfortable and made things more difficult for our opponents.

"We started the second half well, after the first half where we were the dominant team on the pitch. We didn't get clear chances every time, but the goal was a good example.

"Second half, I told them we should start strong again and try to score the second goal. We should've scored, but it's football. The game is always open.

"In the end, we had a good performance. The last 15 minutes after the goal, we didn't play the way we wanted to play.

"In general, the commitment and attitude was there. We had some good moments, and it was frustrating in the end."

He continued: "Our fans deserved the three points because they created a very good atmosphere in the stadium.

"What's missing is clear. We should've scored the second goal and been more clinical.

"They had one chance during the whole match, and they scored. We should've been more assertive in that moment.

"It's a long journey for all of us, it's a big fight. Now, we analyse this one and prepare for the next one and nothing more."

Wilson needed less than half an hour to show the Fulham faithful what he's all about, but his Head Coach is sure there is plenty more to come.

"It was a good moment, the finish was very good, the decision he made in that moment," he stated. "Since the beginning of the moment, the way we moved, it was good from our squad.

"Of course, the finish was very good from Harry. He did well. He looks very fit, but I'm 100 per cent sure he'll improve.

"He hasn't had a full pre-season and came late to start work with us. In the future, you'll see more good things from him."


Fulham 1-1 Middlesbrough: Marc Bola's equaliser cancels out Harry Wilson's debut strike as Marco Silva's side are held at Craven Cottage in their first match back in the Championship

    Marc Bola scored a second-half equaliser to earn Middlesbrough a 1-1 draw
    Fulham dominated for much of the match and Harry Wilson scored on debut
    But the hosts came away with only a point in Marco Silva's first match in charge

Up in 2018. Down in 2019. Up in 2020. Down in 2021. Fulham need to get off this rollercoaster ride of promotion and relegation they've found themselves on. After one final 'up', that is.

Yesterday's draw at Craven Cottage left them disappointed, however, with Marco Silva feeling his side deserved more from a match they largely dictated against Neil Warnock's Middlesbrough.

It looked like Fulham were cruising to victory, courtesy of a first-half strike by Harry Wilson, their £12million signing from Liverpool. Then the visitors equalised in the 77th minute with their one and only shot on target, through Marc Bola.

Marc Bola scored with Middlesbrough's first shot on target of the match to earn a 1-1 draw

Harry Wilson had earlier scored on his Fulham debut and it looked like being the winning goal

The Cottagers dominated for much of the match in their first game back in the Championship

'It's got to be them,' said Wilson when asked who was the happier of the two teams.

Silva agreed: 'Definitely. It was a frustration for us because we didn't achieve what we wanted. At this level when you are winning 1-0, you have to be clinical to score the second and kill the game.'

Warnock, 72, countered by saying Middlesbrough finished the match on top: 'Had there been another five minutes we would've won it.

'We haven't got the stars, the individuals that your Fulhams and the top clubs have got, but we have got a togetherness. Sometimes in football that's more important.'

Neil Warnock believes his side make up for the lack of big star names with a togetherness

Fulham will remain favourites for the title. They've got the players to return to the Premier League, including Aleksandar Mitrovic, who was booked inside 20 seconds here.

In the fifth minute, Fulham goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga needed to stretch to avoid conceding an own goal on his debut after a surprise back pass by Antonee Robinson.

Wilson broke the deadlock before the half-hour mark, collecting the ball on the edge of the box before beating Joe Lumley with a low drive.

Bola, who passed a late fitness test to start, was then in the box to make it 1-1.


Middlesbrough spoil Marco Silva's day as Fulham squander bright start

Fulham (0) 1 (Wilson 29)

Middlesbrough (0) 1 (Bola 77)

Harry Wilson marked his Fulham league debut with goal, but new boss Marco Silva was denied a winning start by a late equaliser.

The 24-year-old Wales international, recruited for £12m in the summer from Liverpool, had already stung the raised palms of Boro keeper Joe Lumley when he cut inside defender Marc Bola on the edge of the area and clipped a low left-foot shot into the bottom corner.

Much is expected of the talented midfielder and the hope is that he can finally settle after a succession of Championship loan spells at Hull, Derby, Bournemouth and Cardiff.

His was a tidy baptism, which will have delighted Silva as he attempts to pilot the yo-yo-ing Cottagers back to the Prem at the first time of asking.

The Whites did more than enough to make a winning start but were undone towards the end by visitors who had barely ventured into the danger zone all afternoon Bola nabbing the leveller.

There were predictable fun and games in this opener, as Fulham had to contend with the robust challenges which will always characterise a Neil Warnock outfit. 

But Aleksandar Mitrovic got the retaliation in early with an elbow on Boro skipper Jonny Howson in the opening moments to earn a yellow card.

Not to be outdone, gargantuan striker Uche Ikpeazu was also cautioned by ref Keith Stroud for a leading arm into the face of TIm Ream in another no-holds-barred aerial duel.

The Whites were always going to be keener on trying to keep the ball on the deck and put on a show for the returning fans, who were very soon getting back into the swing of berating officials – as well as Warnock, naturally – as if they had never been away.

They have missed an entire Premier League season but are back in person – which most will feel is a fair exchange. Most of the faces on the pitch remain familiar, give or take a few new additions. And then there is that still-developing new stand to marvel at. 

The clap banners are in action again. All is well with the world. Well almost.

There was an early wobble for the Whites, when a back pass from Antonee Robinson demanded a sharp readjustment from a stretching Paulo Gazzaniga foot to prevent an own goal. 

But the 29-year-old Argentinian keeper had a good first outing for Fulham, though, in truth, he did not have too much to do, apart from retrieve the ball after conceding 13 minutes from time.

The danger looked to be over when Marcus Tavernier, drifting in from the right, had a shot blocked, but fellow sub, Isaiah Jones, worked the ball back into the area for Bola to drill inside the far post.

Neeskens Kebano enjoyed himself on the right against the team he played for last season on loan. His industry ought to be brought greater rewards. He pinged a couple just off target and combined well with Kenny Tete to set up a Mitrovic diving header.

A failure to get that second goal was ultimately punished.

Fulham (4-2-3-1):  Gazzaniga – Tete, Tosin, Ream Robinson – Francois (Cavaleiro 83), Onomah – Wilson, Carvalho (Kamara 89), Kebano (Decordova-Reid 76) – Mitrovic. Subs not used: Rodak, Bryan, Seri, Mawson

Middlesbrough (3-4-1-2): Lumley – Hall, Fry, McNair – Dijksteel, Howson, Morsy (Jones 71), Bota – Crooks – Watmore (Spence 55), Ikpeazu (Tavernier 55). Subs not used: Stojanovic, Payero, Peltier, Coburn

Attendance: 16,058


Fulham denied by late Middlesbrough equaliser

Fulham had to settle for a point as they opened up their Championship season.

The Whites kicked off 2021-22 with optimism in what was new head coach Marco Silva's first competitive game at Craven Cottage.

And although they deserved all three points against an unconvincing Middlesbrough side, with a well-taken first-half goal by Harry Wilson giving them the lead, the visitors grabbed a shock 77th minute-equaliser through Marc Bola.

Wilson, making his Fulham debut, opened the scoring in the 29th minute.

The Wales winger, picking up a pass from the edge of the penalty area by Josh Onomah, calmly made room for himself, eluding Bola, before drilling home a low, left-footed shot from 20 yards out.

Fulham emerged strongly in the second half but Fabio Carvalho really should have hit the target from 18 yards out rather than firing over the bar.

With Neil Warnock's outfit lacklustre going forward, Fulham exerted control, with Wilson particularly impressive.

The lively Neeskens Kebano saw his six-yard header saved by Boro's former QPR keeper Joe Lumley, before Aleksandar Mitrovic went close with a similar effort.

Kebano then dragged a shot wide as a second goal eluded Silva's men.

It was to prove costly, with Middlesbrough, gradually asserting themselves, becoming more positive – and they took advantage of slack home defending.

Midfielder Bola made space for himself before firing a composed left-footed effort from an angle through the legs of defender Tosin Adarabioyo and into the corner of the net.

Fulham: Gazzaniga, Tete, Robinson, Ream, Tosin, Francois (Cavaleiro 83), Carvalho (Kamara 88), Onomah, Wilson, Kebano (Reid 75), Mitrovic.


'Would be an excellent signing' – Leeds eyeing transfer swoop for in-demand EFL ace: The verdict

This article is part of Football League World's 'The Verdict' series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more...

Leeds United are rumoured to be interested in a deal to sign Fulham youngster Fabio Carvalho, according to a report from The Daily Mail.

Carvalho caught the eye with some strong performances in his breakthrough season towards the end of the 2020/21 season with the Cottagers, as they were relegated from the Premier League, whilst under the management of Scott Parker.

The winger made six appearances in total for Fulham last term, and started in their opening match of the new season against Middlesbrough on Sunday afternoon.

The Daily Mail claim that Leeds are rivalling West Ham United, Norwich City and FC Porto to a potential deal for the 18-year-old, who evidently isn't short of offers this summer.

A move to Leeds could tempt Carvalho, with Marcelo Bielsa previously showing that he's willing to give younger players a chance in his senior squad.

We ask our Football League World writers what they make of Leeds' rumoured interest in signing Carvalho this summer, and whether or not he'd be a good addition to their team.

Ben Wignall:
Carvalho has limited experience in senior football but he clearly has something about him to have been given his Fulham debut in the Premier League last season.

The teenager scored in pre-season against Charlton Athletic last week so it could have been expected that he was in Marco Silva's plans this season as a regular senior player, but turning down a new contract will not help that.

Carvalho will want to be back in the Premier League as soon as possible and Leeds could give him that route – and Elland Road could be a really good fit for the 18-year-old.

Marcelo Bielsa isn't shy on giving young players a chance but he has a decent amount of depth out wide and in the attacking midfield positions where Carvalho plays.

The likes of Jack Harrison and Raphinha are backed up by Helder Costa, Ian Poveda, Tyler Roberts and others so Carvalho could be waiting a while to get his chance should he move to Leeds.

If the England youth international stays at Fulham then he could realistically expect a season of first-team football and if he wants to develop quickly then I'd be remaining at Craven Cottage if I was him.

Toby Wilding:
I do think that this could actually be a very good signing for Leeds if they manage to make it happen.

Leeds obviously have history when it comes to bringing through young players in recent times, and Carvalho is one who clearly possesses a great deal of potential.

Indeed, with Carvalho having impressed for Fulham in the Premier League towards the back end of the season, he could be ready to make an impact in Marcelo Bielsa's side immediately were he to make the move to Elland Road this summer.

Given the fact that Leeds are seemingly keen on adding to their attacking midfield ranks this summer, and the fact that there are also other clubs seemingly interested in him, that could make sealing a deal for this young prospect something of a coup for the Yorkshire club.

As a result, I do think that this is a deal well worth looking into for those in charge at Leeds.

Chris Gallagher:
This would be an excellent signing for Leeds.

Carvalho is extremely highly-rated at Craven Cottage and anyone who has seen him play will recognise that he is a youngster with huge potential and ability. His technical skills and the way he can beat a player and pick a pass means he would be a good fit for Leeds in the long-term as well.

However, you'd have to question whether it would be a good move for the player. With the Whites a top-half Premier League team, the reality is that he isn't going to play each week for Marcelo Bielsa's side yet. But, he could have an important role to play for Fulham in the Championship and he will certainly get more opportunities.

So, whilst you can understand why Leeds are keen to bring in Carvalho, he would benefit more from staying in the capital and trying to make his mark for Marco Silva's men this season.


Marco Silva's Fulham pegged back by Middlesbrough in Championship opener
Marc Bola's goal earned the Teessiders a point after Harry Wilson had given the hosts the lead.

Fulham 1-1 Middlesbrough

MARCO SILVA'S FIRST match in charge of Fulham ended in a 1-1 Championship draw with Middlesbrough at Craven Cottage.

Silva's side squandered chances to add to a 29th-minute opener from debutant Harry Wilson, a €14 million (£12m) signing from Liverpool.

However, as so often last season, when Fulham were relegated from the Premier League, they were unable to convert their attacking play into goals, and Marc Bola punished them 13 minutes from time with Boro's equaliser.

The season started with a bang as Aleksandar Mitrovic was shown a yellow card for his first challenge, a shoulder-charge into the head of Boro captain Jonny Howson.

Tempers flared on the touchline and both assistant managers, Fulham's Luis Boa Morte of Fulham and Middlesbrough's Kevin Blackwell, were shown yellow cards by referee Keith Stroud after an altercation.

But just before the half-hour all attention was back on the football as Fulham went ahead.

Wilson took a short pass from Onomah on the right, cut inside past Bola and hit a low hard shot with his left foot that passed between the feet of defender Dael Fry on its way into the corner of the net.

The Cottagers should have doubled their lead after 63 minutes but Neeskens Cabano headed straight at Lumley from Kenny Tete's cross – and Boro survived another near miss five minutes later when Lumley missed Cabano's cross but Wilson could not take advantage.

And Fulham paid for their wastefulness after 77 minutes when Bola took a pass from substitute Isaiah Jones and hit a low angled shot across Gazzaniga and inside the far post for his second league goal for the club.

Another substitute, Marcus Tavernier, had the chance to steal all three points for the visitors – but he blazed his shot high and wide.


West Ham could swoop in for Fabio Carvalho - report

West Ham could try and poach Fulham youngster Fabio Carvalho this summer according to a report from the Daily Mail.

The 18-year-old has just rejected a new contract offer from the Cottagers.

And with one year remaining on his current deal, West Ham could swoop in.

The Portuguese-born England under-18 international is a play-making number 10.

Carvalho has real talent and has racked up 33 goals and 19 assists in 82 games for Fulham's youth teams (Transfermarkt).

The teenager has made seven senior appearances for the west London outfit, scoring one goal in the process (Transfermarkt).

West Ham to swoop in for Fabio Carvalho

The Daily Mail claims that with the 18-year-old refusing to sign a new deal, the Hammers could test the water with Fulham by making an offer.

David Moyes has already brought a whole host of talented youngsters to the London Stadium this summer.

Carvalho would be another one to add to that list.

West Ham won't have things all their own way, however, with Porto, Leeds and Norwich also interested in acquiring the 18-year-old's services.

The opportunity for the Fulham starlet to remain in London may just tip the scales in the Hammers' favour, however.


Silva frustrated but predicts Fulham will improve

Marco Silva was left frustrated following Fulham's 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough – but the Whites head coach insisted there is better to come from his side.

Fulham had control of their first 2021-22 Championship game at Craven Cottage, thanks to an excellent goal by the impressive Harry Wilson in the 29th minute.

However, a strike by Boro midfielder Marc Bola with 13 minutes to go earned the Teessiders a point.

New boss Silva saw Fulham create opportunities in the second half – but both Aleksandar Mitrovic and Neeskens Kabano failed to add to the lead, and Neil Warnock's side subsequently took advantage.

"We had some good moments, and I took positives from the game, but it was unfortunate we didn't get the result, but that is football," said Silva.

"We had chances to be more clinical. I believe we had at the beginning of the second half we did well. We had some chances and were dominant.

"In general, we had a good performance. But the last 15 minutes it was difficult for us. The attitude was there, and we had some good moments and our fans deserved three points.

"They had one chance and they scored, which caused problems for us. But we have finished the first Championship game and it is a long journey for all (teams), not just us."

While Silva was disappointed, he feels Fulham will grow stronger in the next few weeks.

The Whites will travel to Huddersfield Town next weekend.

Silva added: "For sure in some weeks our team will be stronger, I have no doubt about that.

"But they did a good job, and the young players did well. The Championship is very physical, but we have to be able to adapt. We have enough players who know what it means.

Silva also praised Wales international Wilson for his contribution in what was the winger's first competitive outing for Fulham.

"The finish was really good and the way he moved was really good," Silva said.

"In his performance he did well and in general he looks really fit. I am 100% sure he'll improve in the next few weeks, especially after his time with the national team."


Cottage Talk Full Time: Fulham Drop Two Points Against Middlesbrough

Take a listen to a podcast that focuses on Fulham Football Club.

This is our initial reaction to Fulham's 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough. Max Cohen and Emilio Di Nello who joined us live after leaving Craven Cottage gave their thoughts on the match.

You can also listen to the show by following this link...


£21.5m-rated player left out of squad amid rumours of Aston Villa and Arsenal's interest

André-Frank Zambo Anguissa has been left out of Fulham's matchday squad today amid rumours of Aston Villa and Arsenal's interest.

Fulham, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, are playing Middlesbrough in their Championship opener on Sunday afternoon – and there is no sign of their midfield powerhouse.

This is despite the Cameron international playing Fulham's final pre-season game of the summer against Charlton.

It has been previously suggested that both Villa and Arsenal have expressed interest in the £21.5 million player, who was one of the shining lights for a Fulham team that struggled to produce the goods in England's top-flight last term.

Villa have been pretty busy during this transfer window and have added several players to their squad, including club-record signing Emiliano Buendia as they begin life after Jack Grealish.

As for Arsenal, their biggest signing has been Ben White, but other than that, they haven't made the movements that fans would have wished for.

Adding midfielders has been one of the topics on the agenda for Arsenal fans, including a creative-minded one and a player to sit alongside Thomas Partey.

Once again, Partey has suffered an injury in Arsenal colours, and aside from him, Mikel Arteta has Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny to pick from in those deeper midfield roles.

That's the midfield that played its part in the Gunners finishing outside of Europe next term, so it's obvious a fresh face is needed, or two.

And perhaps the signs are clear that Anguissa is on his way out, but who are the clubs that are willing to put the money on the table for his bulldozing talents in midfield?


Marco Silva's hopes of Fulham win dashed by Middlesbrough's Marc Bola

Marc Bola's crisply taken equaliser for Middlesbrough denied a dominant Fulham all three points at Craven Cottage. Photograph: Nigel Keene/ProSports/Shutterstock

If Fulham endure a season of afternoons like this, their yo-yo might lose its elasticity. So often do they bounce to and from the Championship that plenty in their ranks are aware of its unique hustle by now; it was still a surprise, though, that a match they controlled almost in its entirety ended in intense frustration.

For Middlesbrough and Neil Warnock, this was an assignment carried out to the letter. Their approach could be boiled down to ensuring they stayed in the game for as long as possible: they did not let a fine opener by Harry Wilson, which came at a point when proceedings had become niggly beyond recognition, perturb them and held on despite riding their luck at times. They levelled through their only shot on target and, with the wind in their sails, looked likelier to snatch a victory late on.

The equaliser, when it came 13 minutes from time, was crisply taken by the Boro left-back Marc Bola. A second Fulham goal had seemed imminent and it said plenty that the visitors' sole moment of threat to date had been a wayward early back pass by Antonee Robinson that forced Paulo Gazzaniga into scrambling action. But the substitute Marcus Tavernier finally offered some impetus and saw a shot charged down inside the Fulham box; Boro kept the pressure on and when another replacement, the lively Isaiah Jones, cutely slipped Bola in he was rewarded by a raking low strike in front of the visiting support.

"The fresh legs and movement gave us a little bit more and I think we were unlucky not to win it at the end," said Warnock, who had a point given Tavernier sliced wide from a decent position. "It's a good result for us on the first day."

Warnock had a twinkle in his eyes and few could blame him. "Might be the last time here lads, bloody hell," he said upon departing, although we have heard that one before.

Whether or not this really is the 72-year-old's final season, he has certainly assembled a side capable of playing the greatest hits. Led from the front by the 6ft 3in Uche Ikpeazu, with the towering Matt Crooks in support, Boro scrapped relentlessly even if Fulham's defence dealt competently with their aerial prowess. When the opening period deteriorated to the point that both assistants, Kevin Blackwell and Luis Boa Morte, were booked for handbags on the touchline, Warnock's plan to disrupt and distract was working perfectly. Then Wilson scored out of the blue just before the half-hour and the regret for Fulham was they could not press home their quality from there.

Wilson had produced Fulham's best previous effort, forcing Joe Lumley to parry a technically masterful volley. Now he took a lay-off from Josh Onomah and, with Bola in attendance, shuffled the ball from the right corner of the area into the D. As Warnock pointed out, Bola should have shown him down the line; instead Wilson was able to drill low, with his favoured left foot, through a defender's legs and past the unsighted Lumley.

Before joining permanently from Liverpool this summer, the talented Wilson had made five loan moves. He needs a good home and the same can be said of his manager, Marco Silva, who has plenty to prove after failing to establish roots in previous roles. "It's clear that it was a Championship game, this one will not be different from the next one," Silva said of his first match at this level. "I took positives but we didn't get the result we wanted and, I believe, that we deserved as well."

They would have if Fabio Carvalho, Neeskens Kebano or Aleksandar Mitrovic had scored before Bola's goal. Wilson had a late chance too, seeing Lumley save after he ran clear, but Warnock would not be denied.

"Whoever finishes above them will get promotion," he said. "We couldn't go open, we had to hang in there at times." Fulham and Silva must quickly learn to solve such riddles.


Fulham Cap Unwanted Premier League Treble As Coventry Mark Homecoming In Style

Packed stands, stunning goals, controversy and good old British summer downpours. The return of the English Football League brought about everything we have come to expect of professional football down the years, and, after 14 months of fake crowd noise and empty terraces, the start of the new Championship, League One and League Two seasons was manna from heaven for followers of the beautiful game.

But what were the key points to come from the weekend's football? Warning... there's a surprise appearance from Mike Dean!

No wins for Premier League old boys
After West Bromwich Albion had been forced to come from behind twice to claim a 2-2 against Bournemouth on the Championship's opening night there were early missteps for the other two sides relegated from the Premier League this summer.

Maxime Colin's header for Birmingham City was enough to see off Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, with new manager Slavisa Jokanovic saying afterwards: "We didn't perform badly, they scored with their first shot. We need time, I am not unhappy with our effort today, but we need to improve some part of the game but what is really important for us is to be more clinical."

Fulham also dropped points on their return to the Championship. They looked to be heading for three points after £12m new boy Harry Wilson opened the scoring, but Middlesbrough equalised 13 minutes from time as Marc Bola slammed home from the visitors' only shot on target.

Coventry come back home with a bang
Coventry City's return to the newly-renamed Coventry Building Society Arena after over two seasons playing home matches in Birmingham was marked by a fabulous late 2-1 win against much-fancied Nottingham Forest.

Chris Hughton's side had taken a first-half lead, with Lyle Taylor finishing off a nice move at the back post, but Viktor Gyokeres grabbed an equaliser nine minutes from time as his sweeping effort took a deflection before beating Forest keeper Brice Samba.

And in the 96th minute the Sky Blues' comeback was complete as Samba failed to hold Kyle McFadzean's strike after a goalmouth scramble. The noise generated by the home supporters as the ball crept over the line was something to behold, with Coventry fans chief among those fans who have been desperate to get back to watching football in their city over recent times.

Hull recover to hammer Preston
Grant McCann's Hull City returned to Championship action with a bang as the newly-promoted Tigers beat Preston North End 4-1 away from home.

The League One champions fell behind to an early Emil Riis Jakobsen goal, but Keane Lewis-Potter equalised and second-half strikes from Richie Smallwood, Josh Magennis and Andy Cannon completed a thumping away-day performance.

"To come anywhere and win in the Championship and win is very tough," McCann told BBC Radio Humberside. "So to come here and win in the manner we did is briliiant for everyone."

Bolton and MK share six goals
The highlight of the opening day in League One was a six-goal thriller as Bolton snatched a late point at home to Milton Keynes Dons. Both sides had already come from behind by the time Hiram Boateng scored seven minutes from time to give the away side what looked set to be a winning lead at 3-2.

But Alex Baptiste steered the ball home in the 95th minute to send the home fans into raptures at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Mike Dean dragged off the terraces to act as fourth official

Mike Dean is never out of the headlines, even on his days off. The Premier League referee was innocently watching his favourite team, Tranmere Rovers, being held 0-0 by Walsall on Saturday when referee's assistant Richard Bartlett pulled up with an injury eight minutes into the second half.

With the fourth official taking over from Bartlett, Dean headed down from the stands to take the fourth official's place for the remainder of the League Two contest. And his local club went on to win the match 1-0 thanks to a debut goal from ex-FA Cup winner Callum McManaman despite the late sending-off of Chris Merrie.

There's always a red card when Deano's around!


Bola bags a point for Boro

Marco Silva received an early lesson in the unforgiving nature of the Championship as he was denied a first win as Fulham boss by Marc Bola's late strike at Craven Cottage this afternoon. The Portuguese head coach had spoken glowingly of Neil Warnock's experience ahead of this clash – and the wily veteran's smart substitutions engineered a Middlesbrough fightback that punished Fulham's failure to add finishing to their early fluency.

A one-nil lead always feels too narrow in the Championship, especially against a Warnock side that will always battle to the bitter end. Fulham failed to add to a sumptuous strike from debutant Harry Wilson, struggling to create clear cut chances despite dominating the second half. Just as they were building up a head of steam, Middlesbrough caught them shorthanded at the other end. Marcus Tavernier, who had injected energy from the bench, saw his shot bravely blocked by Antonee Robinson but the danger didn't abate and Bola found the bottom corner beautifully after being played in by the impressive Isaiah Jones.

Such was the impetus the away side gained from equalising that they might even have nicked it in the closing stages. Jonny Howson nipped in to seize possession from Fabio Carvalho and fed Tavernier but the winger hurried his shot and it sailed over the crossbar. Paddy McNair sent an ambitious free-kick over as well in the dying embers of stoppage time, whilst Fulham's attacking patterns seemed disrupted once Silva sent on both Ivan Cavaleiro and Aboubakar Kamara in search of a late winner.

It was a far cry from a first half that Fulham completely controlled. Even Boro's best opening came courtesy of the home side when birthday boy Robinson almost sent a wayward backpass into his own goal – the stretching Paulo Gazzaniga, preferred to Marek Rodak in goal, managed to avert calamity by stretching out a leg and conceding a corner instead. Fulham were bright with the ball with Josh Onomah drifting into dangerous positions. One excellent link up with Kenny Tete saw him slam a shot into Dael Fry, before he sent Carvalho cruising into space behind the Boro backline only for the youngster's shot to be blocked.

Carvalho then kept his feet when he might have gone down in the area after bursting onto a Tete pass before Wilson, almost from nothing, bent a brilliant effort goalwards – only for Joe Lumley make a magnificent save. Boro didn't heed the warning about preventing the Welsh winger from cutting inside onto his left foot. Found by Onomah in the inside right position, Wilson ventured infield, finding enough space to thread a finish through a forest of legs and past an unsighted Lumley.

It felt like left off for Fulham – and it probably should have been. Neeskens Kebano, lively down the left flank, came off his wing and shot for goal but his dipping effort dropped wide of the far post after a wonderfully constructed move from the back. Middlesbrough were gritty and had their best spell in the five minutes before the break, but they were unable to test Gazzaniga.

The second period followed a similar pattern. Mitrovic, who had been booked for poleaxing Howson after a matter of seconds, swapped passes with Wilson and played in Carvalho, whose promising run was crudely ended by Sam Morsy. The ex-Wigan midfielder didn't get any of the ball, but Keith Stroud waved play on. Mitrovic fashioned another chance for Carvalho with a clever flick on, but teenager's finish flew over the bar from the edge of the area. Such was his influence that Morsy was reduced to hauling him down in the manner of a rugby forward shortly afterwards.

Warnock reacted swiftly sending on former Fulham youngster Djed Spence and Tavernier and switching systems. Kebano wasted a terrific Tete cross by heading straight at Lumley when Mitrovic was lying in wait and the Serbian striker then sent his own diving header wide of goal after winning a wrestling match with Grant Hall to meet another teasing Tete delivery. It seemed a matter of time before Fulham found a second, with Kebano firing past the far post as he fell to ground at the end of a lightning Fulham break, but the hosts were undone by Boro's first shot on target.

Bola's brilliant finish after enterprising interplay with Jones floored Fulham, whose only real chance for a winner came when Wilson raced clear of Bola only to shoot straight at the advancing Lumley and Mitrovic spooned the follow-up high in the Hammersmith End from 25 yards. A disappointing day might have got even worse in the final minute of stoppage time but Tosin Adarabioyo brilliantly denied Tavernier a winner with a brave block.

FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga; Tete, Robinson, Adarabioyo, Ream; Francois (Cavaleiro 83), Onomah; Wilson, Kebano (Decordova-Reid 76), Carvalho (Kamara 88); Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Rodak, Mawson, Bryan, Seri.

BOOKED: Mitrovic, Wilson.

GOAL: Wilson (29).

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-3-1-2): Lumley; Dijksteel, Hall, Fry, Bola; Howson, Morsy (Jones 72), McNair; Crooks; Watmore (Spence 55), Ikpeazu (Tavernier 55). Subs (not used): Stojanovic, Peltier, Payero, Coburn.

BOOKED: McNair, Ikpeazu, Bola.

GOAL: Bola (77).

REFEREE: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)



No need for doom and gloom on day one

So, it was a draw to start the season at a sodden Craven Cottage. Much like Fulham's display, the day began bright and sunny, but turned grey and dank by the time the full time whistle sounded. Before we get into analysing the different aspects of what was ultimately a frustrating afternoon, I'd like to take a moment to applaud all of you who made it to the Cottage. The roar when the teams came out and when Harry Wilson's strike hit the net, was what we'd all missed. The sound of the Hammersmith End in full flow was wonderful.

The only way of summing up this encounter is to say, 'welcome back to the Championship!' For all the summer optimism, this game was a stark reminder of what this division is all about. It is going to be a long, gruelling season – full of ups and downs – and Neil Warnock is an expert at grinding out results at this level. Fulham dominated for seventy minutes and should have been out of sight by the time our only lapse in concentration let in Marc Bola to equalise.

The home side began a bit shakily – perhaps taking some time to adjust to the frenetic pace of the Championship, you simply don't get time to play a nice ball and admire it in thee second tier. I'm not sure that explains what Antonee Robinson was thinking when he played a suicidal back pass to Paulo Gazzaniga early on, but fortunately the Argentine reacted quickly to avert the danger. Marco Silva's side eventually settled and began to dominate the ball.

I felt that both Tosin Adarabioyo and skipper Tim Ream had solid games at the heart of the defence and both took advantage of being allowed to carry the ball into midfield. The latter is worthy of a significant mention as he was solid all afternoon – forcing Warnock to switch his system early in the second half – and continues to defy the naysayers who suggest that his time is past. He looks a leader at the back and his confidence to bring the ball out of the back is obviously encouraging for the way Silva wants to play.

Fulham were in complete control by the time Harry Wilson skipped past a couple of defenders and slotted into the bottom corner. The winger had already been the beneficiary of some nice touches by Josh Onomah, who might have been a surprise Silva selection this afternoon. Wilson's running and endeavour showed just why Fulham were so keen to bring him to Craven Cottage and he'll pose plenty of problems for Championship defences this season, particularly when he roams infield from the right.

Fulham's two youth products did not look overawed by the occasion at all. Carvalho was bright in the number ten role with a few dangerous runs and clever touches – he might have scored at the start of the second half with a bit more composure. Tyrese Francois moved the ball intelligently. It's clear why Silva has elevated them into the first team squad. They have bright futures and will see plenty of game time this season. But with Bobby Decordova-Reid only just back from the Gold Cup and Harrison Reed, Tom Cairney – and maybe even Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa – to come back into midfield, you could see this experimental side getting stronger. Fulham sorely missed both Reed, for his protection of the back four, and Cairney – with his mastery of keeping possession – this afternoon.

The negatives from this afternoon are all to easy to pinpoint. Bola had too much time to arrow his shot into the bottom corner and Warnock was probably right to suggest that he side could have claimed all three points had there been another five or ten minutes. Fulham ended the game in a frantic fashion, frustrated after dominating the first seventy minutes. You would hope that with more fitness and experience of the division that better game management will come – but taking your chances is a must in this league.

On that point, Aleksandar Mitrovic's peripheral performance was a bit of worry. The Serbian's most notable contribution, aside from a second half diving header that whistled wide, was smashing into Jonny Howson in the first minute. We shouldn't sweat this too much, however. Mitrovic has a quite unbelievable Championship goal record. I firmly believe he'll come good this season – he spent longer away over the summer after his honeymoon and didn't get a great deal of game time last term. He just needs a goal to get him going.

The other pertinent point is that this is the first fixture and the Championship remains a marathon and not a sprint. Some of the adventurous football that Silva's side put together was mouthwatering and made a refreshing change from the turgid fare that we served up last season. There's definitely more to come from the Whites – and, as the players get used to the new head coach's methods, I think we'll see performances pick up.


Silva frustrated as Fulham drop points

Marco Silva admitted his frustration that Fulham were unable to claim all three points in his first match in charge, but believes there is plenty more to come from his side after their draw with Middlesbrough.

Debutant Harry Wilson conjured up the perfect start with a fine finish midway through the first half, but Fulham were unable to make their dominance count and were punished when Marco Bola grabbed a point for Boro with thirteen minutes to play.

Silva told his post-match press conference: "We have players out and in some weeks our team will be stronger and for sure we will be different. he physicality of the championship? The games are always in this way. But it is up to you decide what style you want to play and to answer what your opponents do, We have enough players who know what playing in the Championship means.

Of course there was frustration that we didn't get the result that we wanted and that I believe we deserved. At this level when you have chances to be more clinical and kill the game you can be comfortable. We had chances and we were dominant. The goal was a good example. We should score the second goal – but that is football.


More good than bad for Silva, who believes Fulham will get solid return on Harry Wilson outlay

Marco Silva is predicting great things from £12m man Harry Wilson after the Wales midfielder marked his competitive Fulham debut with a fine goal.

The new Fulham boss was left frustrated as his team threw away the advantage the 24-year-old midfielder gave them in the first half of Sunday's clash with Middlesbrough at the Cottage.

But the bigger picture is rosy, Silva says, and Wilson is one of the sources of his optimism about what the season holds.

"His goal was a good moment," said the former Watford coach, who has taken over the challenge of getting back into the Premier League from Scott Parker.

"Of course the finish was very good and the decision that he made in that moment. He had a good performance. He did well on his first official football match.

"In general he looks really fit, but I'm sure that he will improve in the next few weeks as well. He's been working with us for the last 10 days and he didn't do a full pre-season because he was in the national team and he came late to start work with us, but he did well and for sure in the future, you'll see more good things from him."

Looking back on the 1-1 draw, Silva said: "I think we had some good moments and took positives from the game. Unfortunately there was frustration at the end that we didn't get the result we wanted and that I think we deserved.

"But that's football and at this level, when you are winning and you have chances to be more clinical and be more comfortable in the game, it makes everything more difficult. The game is always open.

"In general, the commitment was there and the attitude was there."

Siva added: "I'm sure in some weeks our team will be stronger, I don't have doubts about that. When you look at our squad list now and the players that were out - players that know very well the Championship and who were in the past key players for us - for sure it will be different."

Boro boss Neil Warnock was very complimentary about Fulham and said he fully expects them to be among the front-runners this term. "Let's be honest, they've got a good squad haven't they," he said. "They aren't going to be far away. Whoever finishes above them is going to get promotion.

"We couldn't go open. We had to hang in there at times. It's a good result for us. I think Fulham have got individuals far better than us, but as a team I think we showed that togetherness and desire which you need in the Championship."


Fulham boss Marco Silva: We need to be more clinical in front of goal

Marco Silva says Fulham need to be more clinical after their 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough.
Harry Wilson opened the scoring for the Cottagers, before Marc Bola equalised with 10 minutes remaining.
"We had some good moments," said Silva. "I took positives. It was frustrating we didn't get the result we wanted and I thought we deserved, but that's football.
"At this level, when you have chances to be more clinical, the second goal would've made us more comfortable and made things more difficult for our opponents.
"We started the second half well, after the first half where we were the dominant team on the pitch. We didn't get clear chances every time, but the goal was a good example.
"Second half, I told them we should start strong again and try to score the second goal. We should've scored, but it's football. The game is always open.
"In the end, we had a good performance. The last 15 minutes after the goal, we didn't play the way we wanted to play.
"In general, the commitment and attitude was there. We had some good moments, and it was frustrating in the end. Our fans deserved the three points because they created a very good atmosphere in the stadium.
"What's missing is clear. We should've scored the second goal and been more clinical. They had one chance during the whole match, and they scored. We should've been more assertive in that moment.
"It's a long journey for us all, it's a big fight. Now, we have to analyse this one and prepare for the next one and nothing more."


Leeds, West Ham eye England youth as contract rebel forces Fulham hand

Reports claim Leeds United and West Ham have joined the list of clubs keen to sign Fulham teenager Fabio Carvalho this summer.

The 18-year-old came up through the Cottagers youth system after moving to west London from Benfica in 2013. The England Under-18 star has progressed through the various Fulham youth teams and shone for the Under-23s last term. He netted 11 goals from 13 appearances in Premier League 2 and was handed a few first-team opportunities.

He made three Premier League starts among four appearances, including against Manchester United. And the youngster scored his first senior goal for the club in a 3-1 away defeat to Southampton.

Clubs have started to take note of the forward's prowess, with the Whites and Hammers said to be keen. And new Fulham boss Marco Silva wasted little time in throwing him into the mix.

Carvalho was handed a start as Fulham hosted Middlesbrough in their 2021-2022 Championship opener on Sunday. He played 89 minutes as the sides drew 1-1 at Craven Cottage.

But The Sun on Sunday are suggesting his days by the Thames may be numbered. His deal has less than 12 months to run.

And the report claims he has rejected fresh terms offered by the capital outfit. Fulham will not want to lose the youngster for nothing next summer and so may be forced to sell.

Leeds and West Ham are thought to be keen while Norwich and Porto have also been mentioned as possible suitors.

Carvalho impressed Leeds up close and personal

Leeds managed to view Carvalho at close quarters last season. He played for the Fulham Under-23s against the Whites youngsters both home and away.

Although Fulham were thrashed 7-1 at Thorp Arch in December, Carvalho scored a superb goal. And he also netted when the sides met in London.

In the past two seasons, he has found the net on 16 occasions from 33 Premier League 2 outings. Silva appears prepared to trust him with the big boys but may not have him for much longer.

Marcelo Bielsa has been relatively quiet in the transfer market to date. Junior Firpo has arrived from Barcelona while young goalkeeper Kristoffer Klaesson was signed from Norwegian club Valerenga.

Jack Harrison's three-year loan from Manchester City has finally become permanent. It has been reported that the Ellard Road outfit are targeting CSKA Moscow star Adolfo Gaich.

However, the Argentina international is said to favour a move to Italy.