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Saturday Fulham Stuff (29.01.11)

Started by White Noise, January 29, 2011, 06:47:15 AM

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White Noise

Konchesky loan is ruled out despite Warnock deal

By Sam Wallace

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Paul Konchesky's loan move back to Fulham fell through last night despite Aston Villa dropping their demand to Liverpool that they pay a loan fee for his replacement Stephen Warnock.

The Warnock loan deal needed to happen for Liverpool to permit Konchesky to re-join his former club on loan until the end of the season. Villa had originally asked for a £500,000 loan for Warnock that stalled the deal but they dropped that request last night.

Despite Fulham looking at options to loan out Carlos Salcido, the Mexico international who was bought as Konchesky's replacement in the summer, the clubs were unable to come to agreement.

Fulham were the only club Konchesky could move to this month because under Fifa rules no player is permitted to play for more than two clubs in the course of one season. Konchesky played one game for Fulham in August before his £4m move to Liverpool that month.

*West Bromwich have secured the loan signing of Arsenal striker Carlos Vela until the end of the season. The 21-year-old Mexico international has been peripheral at Arsenal this season, making only 13 appearances.

White Noise

Cottagers boss Mark Hughes has warned Gael Kakuta his enforced absence from Fulham's line-up tomorrow could continue unless he begins to fulfil his promise.

Kakuta, who joined on loan from Chelsea on Tuesday, is cup-tied for the game with Spurs and Hughes cannot guarantee the 19-year-old with so much potential that he will be a permanent fixture even when he is ­available.

"Gael has real out-and-out pace and ability combined and I think it will help us," said Hughes. "Whether or not he starts or has an impact from the bench we will wait and see but it makes sense to me with what he can offer that possibly we haven't got."

Read more:

White Noise

Fulham fighting to keep Gera

Published 18:15 28/01/11

By MirrorFootball

Fulham manager Mark Hughes has revealed he is desperate to keep unsettled Zoltan Gera at the club.

Blackpool and West Ham are among a string of clubs pursuing the Hungarian forward, who would be happy to leave Fulham during the transfer window because he has failed to nail down a place in the starting line-up.

The 31-year-old's contract expires at the end of the season, but there is an option of a further year based on appearances and Hughes is eager to retain him.

"I've spoken to Zoltan and I don't want him to go. He's a great player. I like him as a player and I like him as a person," he said.

"He's indicated he feels he needs to move. I don't agree with him, I want him to stay.

"I've spoken to him about the option we have about games played and said we would take that forward and exercise that option now anyway because we want him to stay. We need more discussion."

Read more:

White Noise

Fulham face Spurs without cup-tied Kakuta

Published 14:38 28/01/11

By MirrorFootball

Fulham boss Mark Hughes cannot give loan signing Gael Kakuta his debut in Sunday's FA Cup fourth round tie against Tottenham, because the Chelsea forward is cup-tied.

New signing Steve Sidwell is available to play his second match for the Cottagers following his arrival from Aston Villa.

Bobby Zamora (leg), Philippe Senderos (Achilles) and Matthew Briggs (calf) are injured, while Mark Schwarzer will not return from Asian Cup duty with Australia in time.

Provisional squad: Stockdale, Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Baird, Davies, Riise, Murphy, Sidwell, Etuhu, Duff, Dempsey, E Johnson, Kamara, Gera, Dembele, Etheridge, Salcido, Greening, A Johnson, Halliche.

Read more:

White Noise

Fulham deny interest in Spurs' Kranjcar

Published 14:28 28/01/11

By MirrorFootball

Mark Hughes has denied Fulham are hoping to recruit Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar.

The Cottagers are reported to have turned their attention to Kranjcar following the collapse of their attempt to sign Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips

Kranjcar is being pursued by a number of clubs in the transfer window, but Hughes insists the Cottagers are not among them.

"We're not interested in Niko. We've got a lot of midfield players and he's not a priority for us," he said.

"We've expressed an interest in Shaun. It's slowed and I'm not too hopeful.

"We tried to make it happen but for a number of reasons it seems to be less likely as the window closes."

Hughes also stated that Paul Konchesky is unlikely to return to Craven Cottage this month after joining Liverpool last summer.

"There was interest and discussion was mooted, but that's not likely to progress in this window," he said.

"It's something we may revisit but it won't happen this month."

More to follow...

Read more:

White Noise

SWP and Given won't leave City this month, insists Mancini

Published 14:13 28/01/11

By David Anderson

Roberto Mancini claims Shaun Wright-Phillips and Shay Given will not be leaving Manchester City this month.

But the City boss is prepared to let Michael Johnson go out on loan as the midfielder tries to rebuild his career.

Fulham and Bolton want Wright-Phillips, but neither are prepared to pay his £65,000-a-week wages and agree to City's demand to make his loan switch permanent in the summer.

Mancini is reluctant to let Wright-Phillips leave before the transfer window closes on Monday because Adam Johnson has suffered an ankle injury in training.

The Italian is also unwilling to let Given go and wants him to stay and provide competition for the erratic Joe Hart.

"Maybe Michael Johnson will leave because I think he needs to play," said Mancini. "Shaun Wright-Phillips? I don't know at this moment because if we lost another player, we would need to bring him in. It is impossible we can play with 19 to 20 players for the next four months.

"Shaun is an important player. I want to keep him here, but he is like Emmanuel Adebayor, he has lost his confidence because he hasn't played many games.

"Shay will stay. In three days, the window closes and it is impossible to find another goalkeeper like Shay."

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White Noise

Back injury keeps Bale out of cup clash

Published 13:14 28/01/11

By MirrorFootball

Gareth Bale is out of Tottenham's FA Cup match at Fulham on Sunday with a back injury.

Bale came off 10 minutes into Spurs' draw at Newcastle last week with a back spasm, but Harry Redknapp insists the problem is not serious and expects the Wales winger to return to action in 10 days' time.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee), Heurelho Gomes (shoulder), Wilson Palacios (knee) should return after missing the game at St James' Park, but Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate (both groin) and Tom Huddlestone (ankle) remain sidelined.

Provisional squad: Gomes, Pletikosa, Cudicini, Hutton, Corluka, Dawson, Kaboul, Gallas, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Khumalo, Sandro, Palacios, Jenas, Lennon, Modric, Dos Santos, Van der Vaart, Crouch, Pavlyuchenko, Keane, Defoe, Pienaar.

Read more:

White Noise

Liverpool should warmly applaud Fulham fans for their Wednesday night rendition of (to the tune of The Banana Splits) "Roy, Roy, Roy - Roy, Roy, Roy, Roy - Roy, Roy, Roy, Roy, Roy, Roy, Roy, Roy."

No-one can now say that Hodgson was the first Liverpool manager since Bill Shankly to not have his name sung at Anfield.

Read more:

White Noise

Forget West Ham affair, Steve Sidwell now feels loved
David Smith

28 Jan 2011


Steve Sidwell is honest and straight-talking so admits his immediate reaction was one of "disappointment" when Karren Brady suddenly vetoed his move to West Ham this month.

"There is no denying that if it could have happened I would have been happy," said the midfielder. "There is no getting away from the fact that West Ham are a big club and they try to play the right football."

So does the 28-year-old regard his subsequent deal to join Fulham from Aston Villa until the end of the season, when a three-year contract will be up for discussion, as a consolation prize? Not a bit of it.

Ahead of Sunday's FA Cup derby against Tottenham when he is set to make a second start in a white shirt following a solid full debut at Liverpool in midweek, Sidwell insisted: "It's fantastic, the way it's worked out.

"This is about coming to a club where faith has been shown to me by the chairman and the manager who said, 'We welcome you with open arms, come to us and express yourself'."

That offer from Mohamed Fayed and Mark Hughes has been eagerly accepted by a player seeking to re-launch a chequered career which began with great promise at Arsenal, gained substance at Reading but then stalled at Chelsea and Villa.

Hughes moved for Sidwell in the wake of West Ham's rejection, which attained the status of debacle when Hammers vice-chair Brady used her column in a newspaper to announce that, since her club already had "13 midfielders", Sidwell could not be guaranteed first-team football.

To the chagrin of Avram Grant, the under-pressure Hammers boss who had worked with Sidwell at Chelsea, Brady wrote: "I had to tell Steve that for various reasons - none his fault - we had changed our mind about signing him on loan."

Sidwell doesn't remember it happening quite like that. "She didn't call me," he said. "She didn't speak to me directly. She spoke to my advisors. Now I'm just getting my head down and trying to get myself back on track."

On signing Sidwell, Hughes maintained the former England Under-21 midfielder would be "hungry" following his frustrations at Chelsea and Villa.
The player himself goes even further: "I'm very hungry. The last few seasons it's been up and down. It's time for me now to get back on the map and start showing people what I was like a few years back."

Sidwell, born in Wandsworth, was one of Arsenal's budding stars who won the FA Youth Cup in 2000 and 2001. But with players such as Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Gilberto Silva available to Arsene Wenger, he never made the first team and in 2003 accepted an offer to join Reading.

Sidwell came into his own with the Championship side, making a vital contribution to a successful promotion campaign. After that, it was inevitable that bigger clubs would come calling and in 2007 Sidwell joined Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, although the nature of his Bosman move drew criticism.

He recalled: "A lot of people said it was for financial gain but it wasn't that at all. I was 24 and when a club like Chelsea comes in for you, you don't turn them down. The year I had with Chelsea was fantastic. I learned so much on and off the pitch."

However, having stated upon his arrival at Stamford Bridge that he was not there "to make up the numbers", Sidwell found he was in danger of doing just that and in the summer of 2008 he joined Villa for a reported £5million.

"It was a really funny time at Villa," he said. "I caught an injury in my first game and I was out for six weeks and it was always stop-start that first year. I had more injuries in the second year, then James Milner went into the middle, did exceptionally well, and it was hard for me to get back in the team."

Sidwell nearly went to Wolves when the West Ham deal fell through. However, Hughes' intervention, allied with the knowledge he would no longer face a regular commute to the midlands from the family home in Surrey, made joining Fulham a no-brainer.

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy created headlines when he voiced frustration over losing one of his principal transfer window targets but Sidwell said: "The thing with me is, I'm straight-down-the-line and honest. I had to say this was the move for me, not just geography-wise but football-wise as well. McCarthy fully understood that."

Sidwell faces a tough task claiming a regular place in Fulham's starting line-up. The established midfield pairing of Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu was performing well until Etuhu strained a hamstring against Stoke last Saturday and Sidwell acknowledged: "My eyes have been opened as to how good the players are here."

With Etuhu sidelined opportunity has come knocking, so what is Sidwell bringing to Fulham's game? He replied: "I'm a box-to-box midfielder, who can do the dirty work on the edge of his own box, getting tackles in, winning headers, then getting up the pitch to help the attack. It's worked for me so far in my career and I've not lost it. I just need the opportunity to show it."

White Noise

Squad sheets: Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur, Friday 28 January 2011 20.35 GMT

This London derby should keep the punters warm as Tottenham, despite their involvement in the Champions League and title race, arrive at Craven Cottage knowing that supporters will demand victory over their rivals. Fulham's loss to Liverpool in midweek is of more concern to Mark Hughes than the FA Cup as he plots an escape from relegation. But he, and Harry Redknapp, will still require a win that would provide vital confidence for the return to the weekly grind of the Premier League. Jamie Jackson

Venue Craven Cottage, Sunday 4.30pm

Ref P Dowd

Odds Fulham 11-5 Tottenham 25-16 Draw 5-2

Probable starters in bold, contenders in light. Photograph: Graphic Head to head Fulham 11 Tottenham 37 Draws 26

Subs from

Etheridge, Halliche, Salcido, Greening, Riise, Sidwell, E Johnson, Kamara, Gera, A Johnson

Doubtful None

Cup-tied Kakuta

Subs from

Gomes, Cudicini, Hutton, Kaboul, Bassong, Khumalo, Sandro, Palacios, Kranjcar, Keane, Pavlyuchenko


Gomes, Palacios

Match pointer

Tottenham and Fulham have been drawn together in the FA Cup a total of five times with Spurs getting through all five, although they have twice required a replay.

White Noise

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another Southampton academy success story

The Saints may be in League One but as Manchester United come to town their academy is the envy of Premier League clubs

Comments (36)

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be the latest graduate from Southampton's academy to move to a top club. Photograph: Nigel French/Empics Sport

Those at Southampton know the drill well enough by now. A youngster they have developed over a prolonged period breaks into the first team and duly thrives, blazing a trail through the division to ensure that a trickle of scouts becomes a flood at St Mary's. The rumoured interest from the elite is eventually formalised with those at the very top offering considerable sums to accompany pledges that the player's "development will be furthered" at the higher level.

For Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, read Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The 17-year-old midfielder will confront one of his high-profile suitors tomorrow afternoon when Manchester United visit the south coast in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Arsenal and Liverpool will perhaps be unnerved, given that Sir Alex Ferguson will be able to state the case for a move to Old Trafford, in person and so close to the transfer deadline.

Southampton have publicly pledged to retain a player with whom they first worked when he was seven. "We're not trying to sell Alex," said the manager, Nigel Adkins. But when it comes to promoting their burgeoning talent the League One club's youth development programme is simply too good for its own good. At some stage, whether before Monday's cut-off or not, another bright young thing will fly the nest.

The sale of Oxlade-Chamberlain, like those of others who have moved on in recent times, will leave some supporters frustrated, the club's coffers replenished and a sense of pride burning among the academy coaching staff. United may have had their golden generation and Arsenal a number of impressive graduates in recent seasons, but Southampton are a phenomenon when it comes to youth-team scouting and development outside the top flight. They have always had the mindset to justify that reputation, from the days when Jason Dodd, Francis Benali, Matthew Le Tissier, Jeff Kenna, the Wallace brothers and Wayne Bridge came through to the time at their centre of excellence in distant Gateshead when Alan Shearer first caught the eye.

The crop of players that have sprung from Southampton's modern-day academy might have sustained the club had the seniors not slipped out of the Premier League, but the Saints' approach still offers a blueprint that other clubs of their size should surely follow. A squad's worth of graduates from the Staplewood academy are flourishing in the top two divisions while Southampton attempt to earn promotion from the third. Their under-18s, bolstered by over-age players, are second in Group A of the Premier Academy League, ahead of Arsenal and 11 points clear of Chelsea. This suggests that another wave of talent is about to break.

Last April, Les Reed, who was previously the technical director at the Football Association, was recruited to head the revamped football development and support centre at Southampton and he has restructured and tweaked the set-up. The club's chairman, Nicolas Cortese, says "the strong foundation" provided by the youth set-up will be key to the club's return to the Premier League.

Saints fans may wince to acknowledge it, but much of the academy's success can be put down to Rupert Lowe's first spell as chairman. The philosophy that was put in place in the late 1990s was European in concept and owed much to Lowe's admiration for everything Arsène Wenger was achieving at Arsenal.

"There's an anti-Lowe lobby out there, but Rupert created this dynasty of players," says Malcolm Elias, who was lured by Lowe from Swansea to take charge of youth recruitment, alongside the academy manager, Huw Jennings. The pair now work in the same capacity for Fulham. "His big thing was 'developing our own'. He put in the infrastructure, updated the training ground, and should be hailed rather than chastised for what he did.

"We had a strategy – a no brainer – to develop homegrown players in the academy, people like Adam Lallana, Andrew Surman, Nathan Dyer, and to buy in 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds. Rupert gave us the green light to buy Theo [Walcott] for £1,000 from Swindon, Leon Best and David McGoldrick from Notts County, Mike Williamson from Torquay, Dexter Blackstock from Oxford.

"Kenwyne Jones came over with WWW Connection, a club side in Trinidad, and played our academy side. We won 6-0 with Walcott running riot, but we thought Jones had something. West Ham gave him a trial too, but once people came and saw the coaching and support mechanisms we had in place, it didn't matter who we were competing against, whether it was Arsenal, United or Chelsea. The lads' parents allowed us to do what we thought was right for their sons. They trusted us. Chamberlain would have seen what was happening ahead of him. His father [the former England winger] Mark was a coach there and could see the standards that were being set."

Lowe says: "The model aimed at providing a proper structure to turn out clever players. The first part was to get the best boys in, which we did, hoovering up the best kids out there. Then we went out and hired Georges Prost, a French coach who I had a lot of trouble convincing the board was the right man for the job. A lot of this success can be put down to Georges's attention to detail. Prost, a super man, taught [under-18s] technique. It's not rocket science. If you can't get that through to the players when they're young, you can't make them into players, but the key was always to get the right kids.

"We screened them not for football ability – that is not necessarily the key at that age – but for intelligence and athleticism. You can teach them the rest. If they're not clever and not athletic, you'll find it hard to push water uphill. We spent money on the facilities – an indoor sports hall, a wonderful gym, banks of computers for the lads to use and for us to assess them on – and bought a local hotel, Darwin Lodge, for £250,000, where the boys lodged. We installed Julia Upson to run it, and she was like a mother to them. We made sure their diets and education were right, that their entire lives were stable. By the time I left, Southampton had the whole sweep necessary to produce not only players of quality but players who are also decent people."

There was clever use of the Bath satellite academy – half of Southampton's catchment area is effectively in the sea – to extend the club's ability to recruit at a young age. Bale, spotted at the age of nine when playing for a Cardiff boys' team, Civil Service, in a tournament in Newport, started on the Bath campus before moving to Staplewood, where he was Walcott's room-mate at Darwin Lodge. Training sessions would see the pair confront each other on the flank, while Jones and Best, the scorer of a hat-trick in the Premier League this season with Newcastle, unsettled Matthew Mills (now of Reading) and Martin Cranie (Coventry) in the centre.

"Those individual battles drove the standard up all the time," Elias says. "If the boys weren't at their peak, they were exposed. They drove each other on. I remember us playing Arsenal during their long unbeaten run, back in 2004, and Georges went up to Wenger and said he'd beat him to 50 games unbeaten. He did, too."

The junior sides, overseen by Steve Wigley and Prost, set the standard. When the Frenchman returned to Lyon following a bout of throat cancer in 2007, his five-year spell had seen the Southampton under-19s crowned national champions in 2004 and the under-18s win their league in 2005. More significantly, a swathe of youngsters had made the step up into the professional game.

Southampton's misfortune was an inability to combine the focus placed on the youth set-up with the maintenance of a Premier League side. The youth team reached the FA Youth Cup final in 2005, the year the first team slipped out of the top flight, leaving the club's prized assets vulnerable to the vultures. "You have to pay tribute to Southampton because they had such a good academy but just couldn't take advantage of it," said Wenger. "That FA Youth Cup final couldn't grow as a team and, unfortunately for them, they became big players somewhere else. The fact is that a smaller club can't keep the good players for long enough to take advantage of it."

Yet the club's spiral down the divisions – and consequent financial problems – has not affected their reputation at academy level. The club is now stable and the current owners can trust the foundations that were laid down.

"It's my belief that there are still boys within the system there who have benefited from what was a good environment," Elias says. Players such as James Ward-Prowse, Jake Sinclair and Lloyd Foot could yet follow Walcott, Bale and Oxlade-Chamberlain by drawing the scouts to St Mary's. The ultimate academy continues to bear fruit.

White Noise

Harry going full out at Fulham

28 January 2011

Harry Redknapp insists he'll field the strongest team possible in Sunday's FA Cup fourth round tie at Fulham.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Heurelho Gomes all come back into the frame after missing last weekend's draw at Newcastle.

The manager was keen to rest players for the third round clash against Charlton at the Lane in January and made nine changes to the team that stepped out at Everton four days earlier.

But that looks unlikely to happen again. "We want to go there and get a result," he said.

"I will field my best available team. Andros Townsend played in the last round but he's now on loan at Watford.

"It's a big game. We want to get through and we'll give it our best shot."

Harry is preparing to meet an improving Fulham side who were four unbeaten before an unfortunate 1-0 loss against Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday night.

That run included a 6-2 hammering of Peterborough United in round three of the FA Cup.

Harry added: "Fulham are playing well and they were unlucky to lose at Liverpool, they deserved something from that game.

"It will be tough on Sunday. We were a little fortunate to take six points off them this season, to be honest. We had two very tight games and came out in top in both of them, but both were close.

"I've never had an easy game yet at Craven Cottage and Mark (Hughes) has got them playing well."

White Noise

Fenestration talk now

Filed under: General — rich @ 12:02 pm

Here at CCN we haven't got too involved with the whole transfer window nonsense.  Perhaps the recent good performances have dulled our hunger; perhaps the return of various players just make things look a bit better.

Before the window we'd have identified the following needs:

a defender of some sort.  Some wanted a right-back; others left.

a central midfielder.  We're not short of these, of course, but the idea was to get a better player than the current cadre, ideally someone young enough to succeed the Murph when his legs do finally "go".

a centre forward.  Because of Zamora's injury.

What have we got?   Steve Sidwell for one, and in his one and a bit games he's looked handy.  I'm not convinced yet that he's doing anything that Jon Greening can't do, but he does look like he has something about him.

Gael Kakutacould be anything, although I'm inclined to assume that the player he most closely resembles in our side is Moussa Dembele.  Kakuta's looked phenomenal whenever I've seen him play (on Match of the Day), but it's been so long since we had a young, dynamic flair player that I really can't picture him in a Fulham shirt.  It could be Wayne Routledge all over again, or Giles Barnes, or something altogether new.   We shall see.  What it isn't is Shaun Wright Phillips, which is a shame because SWP is a good player and very nippy to boot; we distinctly lack nippiness, AJ's return to relevance notwithstanding.

And then what?   The centre-forward of our dreams is still not in our car, and it seems increasingly likely that we'll be back on the phone to Millwall and asking for 'insurance choice' Steve Morison (whose Millwall form has gone to pot since the window opened) after all.   He'd be a Kuqi type signing, which isn't necessarily a bad thing (Kuqi being an interesting example of perception perhaps overtaking reality: for one thing he really never was that fat, and for all his myriad limitations, he made some quite important contributions to a desperately poor side, without which, etc, etc).

Do we still need a centre forward?  Yes, but AJ is better than we could have dared hope, and with Dembele dovetailing nicely behind him I'm less inclined to panic.  Sure we missed chances at Anfield, but that's what teams do; you can't score them all.   Perhaps we'd be better off making do and mending, then signing a progressive player in the summer.

At full-back we seem likely to pick the roving left back that is Paul Konchesky.  I have no bone to pick with Konch, who, like his former manager, took a career choice that backfired badly.   We've all done it, and it seems ridiculous to suggest that we shouldn't want him back because he once left us.  This strikes me as the worst kind of unthinking:  if we need a left back and the best available is Paul Konchesky, then certainly we should sign Paul Konchesky.  What are we worried about; that he'll want to leave us again?   That he won't be committed because he once dared presume to leave Fulham behind.   Give me strength.

I'm not sure that there'll be anything else beyond the above, and I'm not sure there needs to be.  With AJ and Dembele fit and well we look a decent side, and the return of Zamora will only improve this.  Sidwell's a good fit for the middle of the pitch, and Konchesky would certainly be useful while the promising but perhaps disorientated Salcido gets his head on straight.

White Noise


Spurs Odyssey Preview - Fulham v Spurs

FA Cup Fourth Round - 30.01.11 

The following is our record against Fulham in the FA and Football League Cups. The details are:

FA Cup   Round   Venue   Result   Scorer(s)   
1908-09   2   H   1-0   R.Steel   
1983-84   3   A   0-0      
   3R   H   2-0   Archibald, Roberts   
1997-98   3   H   3-1   Clemence, Calderwood + o.g   
2006-07   5   A   4-0   Keane(2), Berbatov(2)   
2010-11   6   A   0-0      
   6R   H   3-1   Bentley, Pavlyuchenko, Gudjohnsen   
FL Cup   
1981-82   4   H   1-0   Hazard   
1999-2000   4   A   1-3   Iversen   
2001-2002   4   A   2-1   Rebrov, Davies   

It could be the dreaded draw!

For Spurs, a visit to Craven Cottage in a Cup match is becoming very familiar territory. The two sides first met in the FA Cup in February 1909 at White Hart Lane, in front of 33,008 people. This was Spurs' first season as a Football League side, and both clubs were in Division Two. Spurs beat Fulham at home and away in the League and inside forward Bobby Steel scored the only goal in the FA Cup game. Steel was the younger brother of club captain Danny Steel, who played at centre-half and was ever present for Spurs in their league and FA Cup programme that season. Danny Steel died at the age of just 46 in 1931 at Marylebone, whereas Robert lived to the age of 83, and died at Winchmore Hill in 1972. Spurs were promoted at the end of their first league season.

We then had a gap of 72 years before the two sides faced each other in a first class cup match but since 1981, there have been 7 ties and 9 matches in the FA and League Cup competitions.

This preview will concentrate on the FA Cup and reports of recent matches can be found in the Spurs Odyssey archives as indicated in the Cup history above.

The scoreline of 0-0 is also a regular feature of meetings between Fulham and Spurs, with three such scorelines in the last 7 league and cup meetings. ESPN will be hoping for goals in their featured televised coverage at 4.30 p.m. on Sunday.

Last year, we met in the quarter-final. Fulham came into the match on the back of a 7 game unbeaten run, and despite losing a first leg Europa Cup tie 3-1 away to Juventus would make glorious progress with a 4-1 win on a memorable night at the Cottage. That win came before the replay in the FA Cup at White Hart Lane, and Bobby Zamora gave Spurs fans a nasty shock when he put the away side into a 17th minute lead, with a shot that beat Gomes' right hand.

All would be well for us though, as Harry Redknapp made some half-time switches which included the addition of David Bentley for Kranjcar. Within that first minute, after a foul on Gareth Bale, Bentley floated in a free kick from deep on the left, which beat Mark Schwarzer without a touch from any of the Spurs strikers! Then came a fantastic White Hart Lane moment, as Roman Pavlyuchenko gave Spurs the lead on the hour. Substitute Tom Huddlestone made a good stretch to reach and pass the ball to Bentley on the right. Bentley's cross went beyond the back post and Pavlyuchenko hit a great shot on the volley which beat Schwarzer on his narrow side, squeezing inside the post. In real time the shot looked like a rocket, but on replay, the ball did bounce in front of Schwarzer, and then rocketed between him and his right post. It was a great goal for the player, team and exuberant fans, as the famous "Wembley" chants rang around the stadium. Our loan striker Eidur Gudjohnssen put the tie beyond doubt in the 66th minute.

Spurs went on to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final, and Fulham eventually made it all the way to their first European Final. However, both games were lost, so the least said about them, the better!

Under Mark Hughes, Fulham's away form has continued to be quite dismal, although they did manage a win at Stoke on December 28th. Fulham have been too close to the relegation zone for most of the season for comfort, despite being unbeaten in their first 7 league games. Fulham's recent form has improved, with 4 wins in their last 7 games, which is more than they have managed in the rest of the season. Those recent wins do include a 6-2 thrashing of Peterborough in the Third Round. They have also beaten West Brom, and Stoke for a second time last Saturday. Fulham were somewhat unfortunate to lose by a solitary goal at Anfield on Wednesday.

Mark Schwarzer is still away with Australia on Asia Cup duty, where the Aussies face Japan in the Final tomorrow (Saturday). Schwarzer has kept clean sheets in 4 of their 5 games, and will be much missed by Fulham. New signing Steve Sidwell will be available, and played 90 minutes against Liverpool. Sidwell was once the darling of Reading and was signed by Chelsea in 2007, but got very few opportunities. He also failed to make a great impression at Villa. Despite the return to some form of Andy Johnson, Clint Dempsey remains Fulham's danger man, and leads their score chart so far with 8 league goals.

Both clubs have agreed that should a replay be required, it will take place on fifth round day - 19th February. With a midweek league programme next week, and the return of Champions League football on the horizon, Spurs could really do with a win first time round, but it could be tricky. We'll be missing Gareth Bale, whose back trouble means he'll be out for at least another week. Steven Pienaar will be eligible and will play ahead of Benoit Assou-Ekotto who returns after a knee problem. Pavlyuchenko is fit again, and Gomes has returned to training. Palacios and Sandro have been described by Spurs as "doubtful".

Both teams will be well and truly up for this one, and I think the result could be the draw that would be dreaded in some respects, but at least we'd be in the pot for the fifth round draw!

White Noise

Fulham v Tottenham Preview: Johnson Form Key to Cottagers' Cup Hopes

28/1/2011 1:46 PM GMT

By Ian Winrow


Fulham have never won the FA Cup and it has been Tottenham, winners of the competition eight times, who have knocked them out twice in the last four years.

Last season they met in the quarter-finals and Spurs emerged victorious after a replay, with goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes performing well in a goalless clash at Craven Cottage.

Harry Redknapp's team are looking to keep pace with the Premier League leaders and are still in the Champions League, but they have a great record in the cup, especially when the year ends in 1.

They have won the trophy five times under those circumstances and are hoping this season will be memorable as well, having reached the semi-finals last season.

Fulham's first priority is to get away from relegation trouble and the signs are good after a recent run of decent results dragged them out of the bottom three and closer to mid-table safety.

But they would also love another cup run, just like last season when they reached the final of the Europa League under Roy Hodgson before losing to Atletico Madrid.

Key Match-up: Andrew Johnson v Michael Dawson: Johnson is expected to lead the Fulham attack which was a problem area for the club during the opening months of the season following a broken leg for Bobby Zamora. They are solid elsewhere and it is in attack where they need a striker to provide a cutting edge. Dawson is the mainstay of Spurs' defence and is their leader in the absence of Ledley King.

Form Guide: Fulham have put together some good results but lost during the week when they travelled to Liverpool. Spurs still have the top four in their sights and secured a last minute draw against Newcastle last time out. Have lost once in 15 games.

Odds: Fulham 2/1, Tottenham 11/8, Draw 9/4

Manager Mark Hughes was encouraged by his side's performance at Anfield and is confident they now have the strength to make a sustained challenge in the cup without jeopardising their league status.

And the manager hopes his side's determination to do well in the competition gives them a slight advantage over a Tottenham side that could be distracted by bigger prizes on offer elsewehere.

"We want to progress in the FA Cup and it's a competition that's close to my heart," said Hughes. "I've had great experiences playing in the competition during my career as a player and manager.

"I want that to continue. We'll try to do the best we can and get as far as we can. Tottenham are a very good side and I'm not sure how high the FA Cup is in Harry Redknapp's list of priorities because he's doing very well on a number of fronts, Champions League included.

"It will be interesting to see what team they go with but our intention is to progress. We're in two competitions and given the quality we have in the squad we can manage to compete on two fronts. I don't see it as a burden."

Hughes has been linked with a move for Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar but the manager denied any interest in the player and is pessimistic about concluding January deals for Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips and Liverpool's former Fulham full back Paul Konchesky.

"We're not interested in Niko," he said. "We've got a lot of midfield players and he's not a priority for us.

"There was interest and discussion was mooted (about Konchesky), but that's not likely to progress in this window. It's something we may revisit but it won't happen this month.

"We've expressed an interest in Shaun. It's slowed and I'm not too hopeful. We tried to make it happen but for a number of reasons it seems to be less likely as the window closes.

Strategy: Despite the loss of Zamora, Hughes still tends to attack teams with an open game and has been impressed with his side's forward during the recent upturn in results. Johnson offers pace up front while Steve Sidwell's industry in central midfield has made an impact, laying the foundation for better service to the front players.

Injury Update: New loan signing Gael Kakuta is ineligible, while Zamora and Philippe Senderos are sidelined and Dickson Etuhu has been struggling.

Harry Redknapp has not played down Tottenham's FA Cup aspirations but with the Champions League set to resume next month and a three point gap opening up between fifth-placed Spurs and Chelsea, who lie fourth, it would be unsurprising if thoughts lay elsewhere.

"People forget where Spurs were two years ago," Redknapp said. "We're involved in three competitions and we want to give it our best shot to go as well as we can in all of them."

The challenge of retaining their place in the top four could be the biggest challenge facing the north London club with Redknapp concerned the club cannot compete with its main rivals in the transfer market.

"We don't pay massive wages," he said. "We have a stadium that holds 36,000 people. The chairman runs the club correctly and we are not in that position to make that extra step to go.

"Top players demand top wages. It's a simple fact and we cannot put ourselves in a position where we pay that kind of money. If we had a 60,000 at White Hart Lane it would be different but we haven't. We can't go that extra yard at the moment.

"We have top players here a great squad but if you start saying getting a top Champions League striker in they cost incredible money. You see today with Fernando Torres. Liverpool won't sell him but you are talking £50 million and mega wages. It is another level."

Gareth Bale is out with a back problem but Redknapp is confident the winger will be fit to face AC Milan next month.

"He won't need an operation. He should be fit in 10 days," Redknapp said. "He'll make the Milan game in the San Siro, all being well."

Strategy: Redknapp favours a lone striker with Rafael van der Vaart playing just behind. It offers stability in midfield but the Dutchman raids forward at every opportunity.

Injury Update: Gomes missed the last game in goal, King, Tom Huddlestone and Jonathan Woodgate are sidelined, while Jamie O'Hara is edging towards a return from a back complaint. Bale misses out with a back problem.

White Noise

Schwarzer: Title would boost Aussie game(

Friday 28 January 2011

Long-serving Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has achieved much in the game over nearly two decades at the highest level, but this weekend promises to be extra special. Nearly 18 years after making his international debut, the dependable custodian will become Australia's most-capped player overhauling the record of 87 appearances held by former captain Alex Tobin.

Seldom has such a rich reward been on offer as Australia prepare to face Japan in the AFC Asian Cup final, seeking to be crowned continental kings for the first time since joining the Asian Football Confederation in 2006. The match at the Khalifa stadium in Doha may represent the last opportunity for the evergreen 38-year-old shotstopper to collect silverware.

Australia qualified for the final with an impressive defensive record of just one goal conceded in their five matches and the contribution of Schwarzer has been a key component. Ahead of one of the most significant games of his glittering career Schwarzer tells of his experiences at Qatar 2011, what his expectations are for the match and what winning would mean for the game Down Under. The last two matches produced amazing wins, albeit for different reasons, 1-0 in extra time against holders Iraq and 6-0 in the semi-final over Uzbekistan. How do these two matches rate in your Socceroo career?

Mark Schwarzer: These are both huge events, being the quarter-final and semi-final of a continental title. Also there is the rivalry between us and Iraq dating back to 2007 [Iraq defeated Australia in a group match in the Asian Cup] and that is something special. To get a win against the current holders was a great satisfaction but also part of the process for us, which is to take each game as it comes.

The team seems to be very cohesive with a strong spirit despite a relatively new coach in Holger Osieck, and also some new faces in the squad. Is that something you have felt?
Without a doubt. We have worked very hard on being switched on and also with what is demanded of us by the coach. We have a very knowledgeable manager who is well-travelled with a lot of experience with players from many different countries. He has slipped into the role very easily. He is very enthusiastic and very energetic and that has been transferred to the players as well.

You have achieved many personal playing records and now you are set to be Australia's most capped player. What kind of honour is that?
It is a huge honour. It is the icing on the cake. I think it is one of those things that you try not to think too much about. You try and perform and do you job in each match which is the most important aspect. It's one of those things that you might fully appreciate later on and then it becomes even more enjoyable. But don't get me wrong I'm fully aware of the honour that goes with it and I'm deeply honoured.

You are taking the mantle of most-capped Socceroo from former captain Alex Tobin whom you played alongside at the start of your career. Did you ever envisage that?
No, not at all. When you are young I don't think you ever look beyond your next game. In regards Alex, I have the utmost respect for him as a person and a player and he is a great ambassador for the game.

Can you remember much about your debut against Canada in a FIFA World Cup™ qualifier way back in 1993?
I remember most of my games for the Socceroos, if not all of them. It is a long time ago now, but it was a tremendous moment for me.

Do you have any plans regarding your playing future at the moment?
I had a lot of discussions with the manager when he was first appointed and he was adamant that he wanted me to be involved, which I was delighted with. I have no aspirations at this point in time to stop playing and there is no reason to stop playing unless the manager is going to say he wants to look at different prospects. As long as I feel fit enough and am playing well enough to warrant selection, and the manager selects me, then I want to still play.

Australia has a good record against Japan recently. Does that give you extra confidence for the final?
I think it is quite irrelevant because when you are talking about a final it's a one-off and its all about the 90 minutes, or 120 minutes potentially. It's all about the day, who deals with the pressure better than the other and that is what it will come down to. Japan are a very good side and they deserve to be in the final. They have some very good individuals and are playing well as a team so it will be very tough for us. We need to play our game and we also have good individuals and have grown as a team throughout the tournament.

Though Australia has won the Oceania crown before, winning this would rank as Australia's biggest prize, which must be exciting...
Any opportunity to win a major trophy is huge. This is why we have committed ourselves and we were all desperate to be involved in the Asian Cup. We as players first and foremost love representing Australia and we want to do it for Australia and do it for football back in Australia. Of course there is personal ambition and satisfaction but also we ultimately want to do it for the game back home and for future generations.

White Noise

FA Cup preview: Fulham, Spurs face off

Date: 28th January 2011 at 9:45 pm |

Written by FFC News Desk

Fulham welcome cross-town rivals Tottenham to Craven Cottage in the pick of Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round ties.

Since accounting for Charlton in the third round, Harry Redknapp's Spurs have drawn twice in the English Premier League – 0-0 with Manchester United and 1-1 with Newcastle – leaving them in fifth position but 13 points behind leaders United.

Fulham, by contrast, are in 15th place but have shown some signs of improvement in recent weeks and they enjoyed a 6-2 rout of Peterborough in the third round, thanks to a hat-trick from French striker Diomansy Kamara.

In Sunday's other all-Premier League tie, Wolves welcome Tony Pulis' Stoke side to Molineux as they bid to brighten what has been a disappointing league campaign so far by making the last 16 of the FA Cup.

Stoke will be without suspended defender Ryan Shawcross, who was sent off in their 2-0 loss to Fulham on Saturday.

Fresh from securing a berth in the Carling Cup final with a 3-0 second-leg win over Ipswich at the Emirates on Tuesday, Arsenal will look to begin a run towards a second Wembley appearance when they host a Huddersfield side sitting third in League One.

Manchester City also come up against League One opposition, with Roberto Mancini's men travelling to Meadow Lane to do battle with Notts County.

And Premier League cellar dwellers West Ham play host to Nottingham Forest, who are in fifth place in the Championship table.

White Noise

Fulham boss Hughes ready to welcome back Zamora

29.01.11 |

Fulham boss Mark Hughes is ready to welcome back Bobby Zamora.

Zamora, 30, will start light training next week and should be contesting a first-team place with fellow strikers Andy Johnson, Clint Dempsey, Moussa Dembele and Diomansy Kamara in a month.

Hughes said: "We've got a lot of different threats with the strikers we have."

He added: "We were doing the right things before but just didn't have that cutting edge. We've added that in recent weeks.

"It is not now a case of hoping we win games, it's about expecting to. That's a different mindset."

White Noise


29th January 2011 

MARK HUGHES reckons Fulham have finally found the firepower to bring an end to their run of Tottenham hard-luck stories.

And with Bobby Zamora eyeing a return next month, the Cottagers manager is convinced he has the strikers to transform the club's campaign.

Hughes' men were left fuming when a controversial offside decision allowed Tom Huddlestone to clinch Spurs' 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage in October.

And they were gutted to leave White Hart Lane empty-handed this month after outplaying Spurs.

Ahead of tomorrow's FA Cup clash against Spurs at Craven Cottage, Hughes said: "We were doing the right things before but just didn't have that cutting edge. We've added that in recent weeks.

"We were unlucky in both games against Spurs. Maybe that will give them more fear than us."

White Noise

Hughes' Bobby back on beat


Published: Today

MARK HUGHES reckons Bobby Zamora's return next month will cement Fulham's revival in the closing months of the campaign.

But the Cottagers boss is convinced his side have already found the firepower needed to bring an end to their run of hard-luck stories against Tottenham.

The pressure has lifted on Hughes after a run of four wins in seven games helped draw a line under a nightmare five months.

Victory in tomorrow's FA Cup clash will reinforce the belief Fulham are on the up - and provide payback after two narrow defeats to Harry Redknapp's men.

Hughes said: "We were doing the right things before but just didn't have that cutting edge. We've added that in recent weeks.

"It is not now a case of hoping we win games, it's about expecting to. That's a different mindset."

Zamora, 30, will start light training next week and should be contesting a first-team place with fellow strikers Andy Johnson, Clint Dempsey, Moussa Dembele and Diomansy Kamara in a month.

Hughes added: "We've got a lot of different threats with the strikers we have."

Zoltan Gera, meanwhile, looks certain to quit the club despite Hughes' efforts to convince the Hungarian midfielder to stay.

Hughes, who insists he has no interest in Spurs midfielder Niko Kranjcar, said: "I like him as a player and as a person. He's indicated he feels he needs to move. I don't agree."

The manager is also ready to call time on his efforts to re-sign left-back Paul Konchesky from Liverpool and Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips.