Author Topic: Tuesday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)  (Read 9185 times)

White Noise

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Tuesday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« on: February 01, 2011, 07:05:38 AM »

Eidur Gudjohnsen Joins Fulham

Monday 31st January 2011

Fulham Football Club is delighted to confirm the signing of Eidur Gudjohnsen on loan from Stoke City until the end of the season.

The Iceland international brings with him a reputation for being an outstanding technical player with a high degree of tactical awareness, versatility and an eye for goal.

Gudjohnsen has won a glittering array of honours with two Premier League titles, one La Liga title, the Eredivisie title, the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League being the most notable.

Gudjohnsen started his career at Valur Reykjavik before spells at both PSV Eindhoven and KR Reykjavik. But it was after he joined Bolton Wanderers in 1998 that he stepped into the limelight. Between 1998 and 2000 he made 55 appearances for the Trotters, scoring 18 times and catching the eye with some outstanding performances.

A move to Chelsea followed - Gudjohnsen spent six seasons at Stamford Bridge before signing for Spanish giants FC Barcelona.

In August 2009 he joined Monaco on a two-year deal. He remained at the Stade Louis II until January 2010 when he was loaned to Tottenham Hotspur for the remainder of the 2009/10 season. Gudjohnsen moved to Stoke City in August 2010.

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« Last Edit: February 01, 2011, 07:33:36 AM by White Noise »

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2011, 07:06:44 AM »

Eddie Johnson Joins Preston

Monday 31st January 2011

Fulham Football Club can confirm that Eddie Johnson has joined Preston North End on loan until the end of the Football League season.

The Florida-born striker spent last term on loan at Cardiff City in the Championship, where a positive campaign yielded more than 30 appearances, two goals and a number of assists.

In January 2010 Johnson was loaned to Aris FC in Greece until 30 June 2010.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2011, 07:07:29 AM »

Marsh-Brown Loaned

Monday 31st January 2011

Keanu Marsh-Brown has joined League One side MK Dons in a one-month loan deal.

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2011, 07:08:35 AM »

Fulham v Newcastle United tickets

Barclays Premier League

Wednesday 2 February

Kick-Off 20:00

Tickets for the Barclays Premier League match against Newcastle at Craven Cottage have been selling fast. With many areas already sold out, don’t miss your chance to secure one of the few remaining tickets.

Buy tickets now|

On-sale dates
Season Ticket Holders On sale (4 tickets)
Fulham Club Members On sale (4 tickets)
General Sale  On sale (4 tickets)
Loyalty points: 4 (more info)| 

Buy tickets now|

How to Buy Tickets
buy tickets online  - 7 days a week, 24 hrs a day. Save on booking fees by booking online*
by phone on 0843 208 1234 (option 1) - 7 days a week, 24 hrs a day
in person from the Ticket Office: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm; non-match day Sat 10am-12pm
by fax 0207 384 4810 (download printable form )
by postal application to FFC Ticket Office, Stevenage Road, Fulham, SW6 6HH enclosing a stamped addressed envelope (download printable form )
Seatwave - the official fan-to-fan ticket exchange * Lower booking fees compared to telephone booking

† Special offers and packages only available on advance bookings and not on the day of the match.

Category B prices apply to this match.

NB: Blocks A and AL are a designated Family Area and are not available to  book online. To book, call the Ticket Office on 0843 208 1234 opt 3 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm).


  Stand (Grade B)   Block   Adult   Conc   Junior 
 Riverside   S, Z   £40   £25   £10 
 J Haynes   D, DL, G, GL   £42   £28   £15 
 Hammersmith / Putney   All Blocks   £35   £25   £15 
 J Haynes   B, BL, C, CL J, JL, H, HL    £40   £25   £10 
 J Haynes   A, K, AL, KL   £30   £20   £10 

Junior - under 16
Concessions: Young Person - under 21
Concessions: Senior - over 65

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White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2011, 07:13:50 AM »

Gatesy’s Cup Roundup That’s Like Question Time For Maniacs

by gatesy on January 31, 2011

Well the FA Cup rolls on with the fourth round now a fading and distant memory. Yeah, the pair of you shared a laugh and a joke. You’ve got memories you’ll cherish forever and perhaps in ten, twenty years time you’ll look back on it and, with a tear in your eye, you’ll wonder what might have been. But time move on and for now we must put it behind us and try our best to move on and get on with our lives…

Now the FA Cup is all very exciting but for me it lacks two things which really enhance my football of a weekend. First of all there’s no predictions from Lawro to amuse me over my tea and cake on a Friday afternoon and then on a Monday I have no fantasy football to check on and abuse work colleagues about (or as it appears this season, for them to have a hearty giggle at me – seriously how can I be being beaten by girls?).

Numbing this pain this week was the Whites spanking Spuds. Read through the papers this morning and words such as ‘destroyed’, ‘humiliated’ and ‘demolished’ are used with a carefree ease around Fleet Street. And they’re not wrong either. Even with me tempting fate when we were two nil up by proclaiming to my match day buddy that ‘Nothing can go wrong now!’ the Whites looked unstoppable.

That said, despite us giving out a steamrollering to a supposed title challenger (pause for laughter) radio FiveLive’s poor-to-mediocre phone in on Sunday evening preferred to focus on some Spaniard having a strop somewhere up norf. I’m currently waiting to see how this event is somehow blamed on Uncle Roy.

Elsewhere in the Fourth round of the cup, Crawley town set up a trip to Old Trafford by beating Torquay. Man City were held to a draw by Notts County, as were Bolton and Wigan. Brighton and Leyton orient joined some of the bigger clubs in the next round while the Lee Clark led Huddersfield Town bowed out to Arsenal 3-1.

Out in the East London slums Wham put their impending relegation to the back of their mind and scraped a 3-2 victory over Forest. Victor Obinna’s hat trick was just enough to see them through to the next round. While in the battle of two of the worst clubs to ever grace the Premier League Stoke returned up the M6 after putting a single goal past Wolves and securing their place in the hat for the next round.

Sometimes when you’re winning a game and the opposition score an equaliser it can feel like you’ve lost the game. But Everton’s Johnny Heintiga ACTUALLY thinks that lot down the road beat them, posting on his twitter account after their draw:

‘Thanks for all your support, to bad we lost, good performance of all of us’

 The draw for the next round of the cup pitted us against the winner of the replay between Wigan and Bolton and will be contested at the Cottage. And let’s be thankful we wont have to travel to Wigan. I mean, even footballers who are paid shed loads of cash to play there can’t stand it there. Ask the Latics midfielder Mohamed Diamme.

 ”The truth about life in Wigan is there is nothing to do, It is a crappy place. The town is tiny and there is no atmosphere. I go into training, I return home, and that is all I do.  It is rare to see truly beautiful girls when you go out during the day.”

Next up for us in the League is Newcastle at the Cottage on Wednesday night.

The games brings together two Premier League giants in a battle which could see the home side reach as high as twelfth, while Newcastle travel to London for Pardew’s first dramatic return to the Capital with his new club. ESPN are on the banks of the Thames for it AND IT’S LIVE – IN HD!!

(Sorry – that was my audition to take over from Richard Keys/Andy Gray on Sky Sports, I think I’m a shoo-in…)

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2011, 07:15:09 AM »

Official: Fulham's Eddie Johnson Joins Preston North End On Loan

3 hours, 38 minutes ago

Fulham’s American striker Eddie Johnson has joined Championship side Preston North End on loan until the end of the season.

The striker has struggled to make an impact at Craven Cottage since joining in 2008 and has only made 11 appearances for the club. He has previous experience of the Championship after playing for Cardiff City last season where he made 30 appearances but only managed two goals.

Despite struggling for goals new Preston boss Phil Brown has made a move for the striker and Johnson is looking forward to playing for the Lilywhites.

"I'm delighted to be joining Preston North End,” he told the club’s official website.

“There is a lot of history behind the club and I think they are in a false position right now in the league.

"I am looking forward to being a part of their tremendous comeback to get themselves up the table where they should be.”

Preston are currently bottom of the Championship but have recently appointed Brown as their new manager and also saw the arrival of Ian Ashbee from Hull City, and Johnson admitted there was never any doubt in his mind to move to the north-west.
"When I heard that Preston were interested in me I contacted my agent to make sure it was something that could happen and now I am looking forward to it,” he continued.

"It was great to hear from the manager and the chairman and of how pleased they are to have me here as a player."

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2011, 07:15:52 AM »

Friday Youth Cup Football

Sunday 30th January 2011

As a result of the First Team being drawn at home against Wigan or Bolton in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON, Fulham’s FA Youth Cup match against Watford will be played on Friday 4th February (Kick-off 7pm) at the Cottage.

Buy tickets online|

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White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2011, 07:17:37 AM »

Danny Murphy's law rules at the Cottage, says Brede Hangeland

David Smith

31 Jan 2011

Brede Hangeland today hailed Danny Murphy as the inspiration behind Fulham's shock FA Cup demolition of Tottenham and their climb out of the relegation zone.

Murphy celebrated signing a contract extension that will keep him at Craven Cottage until the summer of 2012 by netting two early first-half penalties in the 4-0 win that earned Fulham a fifth-round tie at home to either Bolton or Wigan.

Hangeland, who scored his side's third goal yesterday, said: "Danny's form in recent weeks has been one of the main reasons why we've done so well. He's instrumental in the middle of the park. He looked really composed taking the two penalties and his overall game was fantastic."

Fulham boss Mark Hughes added his praise to 33-year-old Murphy, saying: "Danny is a big influence, a good captain and a good leader. We're pleased he's staying."

According to Hangeland, that influence extends away from the pitch. He added: "When Danny has something to say, it's best to listen. He's not one to shout too much but leads by example and when he does have something to say, it's always sensible."

Fulham have lost just one of their last six matches and Hangeland believes the side are finally coming to grips with the difference in style under Hughes, who succeeded Roy Hodgson just before the start of the season.

He said: "It took us a while to understand the way the new manager wants us to play but it seems to be coming together now. We've definitely looked stronger since Christmas. We used to be camped round our own box last year and the year before that. Now we try to engage higher up the pitch and take the game to our opponents."

Hangeland insisted that bullish approach will be good enough to take Fulham through to the FA Cup quarter-finals, whether they play Bolton or Wigan next.

"We'll fancy our chances against both of those," he said.

But ahead of Wednesday's home game against Newcastle, whose manager Alan Pardew was present at the Cottage yesterday, Hangeland stressed that Premier League survival must take priority over cup glory.

Fulham hover just four points above the relegation zone and Hangeland said: "The League is more important. We're too close to the bottom and looking to get away from there as soon as possible."

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2011, 07:19:09 AM »,19528,11714_6713962,00.html

Tigers look to Greening

Championship outfit consider loan for Fulham midfielder

Last updated: 31st January 2011


Greening: Hull interest understands Hull City are lining up a loan move for Fulham midfielder Jonathan Greening.

The 32-year-old has only started four Premier League games for the Cottagers this season and the Tigers are set to swoop for his services.

Nigel Pearson's side are struggling for midfielders following the departure of Jimmy Bullard on loan to Ipswich and Ian Ashbee's possible switch to Preston.

The Hull boss is understood to have targeted Greening as an ideal man to fill the void in the centre of the park as he looks to push on between now and the end of the campaign.

Greening, formerly of Manchester United, Middlesbrough and West Brom, will be an attractive option for Championship clubs as he has a wealth of experience in the Premier League and the second tier.

He signed a two-year contract with Fulham last summer but under new boss Mark Hughes has found first-team opportunities hard to come by.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2011, 07:20:54 AM »

Paul Konchesky escapes Liverpool agony with Nottingham Forest loan

Liverpool’s out of favour left-back Paul Konchesky has been loaned out to Championship side Nottingham Forrest, the club confirmed on Monday.

Konchesky was previously linked with a move back to his old club Fulham, but a dispute over wage subsidies was believed to have been the problem.

Fulham manager Mark Hughes was expected to welcome back Konchesky with open arms, but Craven Cottage has been reluctant to outlay funds for loan players.

Manchester City’s Shaun Wright Phillips was also linked with a move to Fulham, but his wage demands were also a stumbling block in the deal.

A summer signing of Roy Hodgson’s, Konchesky made 18 appearances for the Reds, but fell out of favour once new manager Kenny Dalglish took over in early January.

Liverpool confirmed the Konchesky deal via their website and also revealed Spanish defender Daniel Ayala would be heading out on loan to Derby County.

Konchesky will join Nottingham Forest, who currently sit fifth in the Championship, for the rest of the season

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White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2011, 07:21:43 AM »

Gera turns down offers and will stay at Fulham

By Paul Warburton

Jan 31 2011

ZOLTAN Gera is set to stay at Fulham and turn down a host of offers – but will stall on signing an extended deal for the time being.

Birmingham City, Blackpool and European clubs had all expressed an interest in the Hungarian midfielder who reckons he is not getting enough time on the pitch.

But Whites boss Mark Hughes wants to trigger a clause in his contract that allows him to keep Gera, who came on as a 68th-minute sub for Andy Johnson during the 4-0 rout of Spurs in the FA Cup yesterday.

However, sources in Hungary close to the player believe Gera will see how the land lies over the rest of the season before either signing a further one-year extension or going elsewhere.

The source said: "Zoltan’s agent Vladan Filipovic knows Fulham want to trigger the option in Gera' contract.

"They want to extend Gera's contract by one year but Filipovic doesn't want to negotiate with club about this now, and it looks as if Gera will stay for the rest of the season."

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White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2011, 07:22:46 AM »

Kagisho Dikgacoi set for English Championship

'KG' agent looking for loan move

Posted: 2011-01-31 20:32

Kagisho Dikgacoi’s agent will meet Fulham officials this week to discuss the possibility of the Bafana Bafana midfielder joining an English Championship club on loan.

The former Golden Arrows captain was an unused substitute in his club’s 4-0 win over Spurs in the FA Cup on Sunday, but has only played four minutes this season under Mark Hughes.

And with the Football League’s window for loaning players due to open again next week, Mike Makaab is hoping to persuade the Fulham boss to allow the 25-year-old midfielder to leave Craven Cottage.

“We have to wait for the loan window to open now, so I’m due to speak to Fulham in the next two or three days to find out their intentions,” he tells

“KG was on the bench against Spurs the other day, but with [Dickson] Etuhu almost back from injury, a loan would be the best thing for him now.”

Dikgacoi has been warned by Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane that he needs game-time to keep his spot in the national team and Makaab admitted there has been no shortage of enquiries about him, including Londoners QPR and Crystal Palace.

“There are a number of clubs in the Championship who have shown an interest. QPR have moved on to other targets now because it all took too long but I know that Crystal Palace would take KG tomorrow if Fulham will let him go,” he says.

“I think he would do a fantastic job there as he is an experienced player who is desperate to get on the pitch. The national team coach has come out and said if he doesn’t get game-time soon then he won’t be part of his plans. Therefore we have to get him playing somewhere and I will be doing everything in my power to ensure he gets that.”

Palace officials refused to confirm they were interested in signing Dikgacoi, but new manager Dougie Freedman is looking for experienced players to boost his team’s bid for Championship survival.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2011, 07:24:01 AM »,19528,11095_6714982,00.html

Parma snap up Amauri

Striker joins Parma on loan after snubbing Prem pair

By Nadia Carminati   

Last updated: 31st January 2011   

Amauri: Parma deal

Amauri has penned a loan deal with Parma, ending speculation linking him with Fulham and West Brom.

The Juventus striker's agent Ernesto Bronzetti confirmed on Monday Amauri had turned down approaches from the Premier League duo, insisting the clubs were 'not at his level'.

And Parma have now confirmed the 30-year-old has arrived at the Serie A club on loan until the end of the season.

The club said on their official Facebook profile: "Now it's official. At 18.25 Amauri signed for Parma.

"The club announce the temporary purchase from Juventus. Soon news on the presentation (of Amauri) will be announced."

Veteran Amauri, who has struggled for goals at Juve since joining the Turin club two years ago, joins Parma on a second stint after spending time with the Italian club between 2000 and 2003.

The once-capped Italy international scored just five Serie A goals in 2009, and only one last year.

Lazio and Real Zaragoza, as well as Amauri's former club Palermo, had also been linked with swoops for the Brazilian-born frontman this month.

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2011, 07:26:52 AM »
PNE's thoughts on Eddie Johnson signing -,,10362~2281461,00.html

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2011, 07:29:13 AM »
Chelsea fixture crisis could force them to play Manchester United in Premier League double header

Manchester United could be forced to play Chelsea twice in the final month of the Premier League season because of a potential fixture crisis caused by Carlo Ancelotti’s team being taken to a replay in their FA Cup fourth-round tie against Everton.
By Mark Ogden 11:00PM GMT 31 Jan 2011

Talks involving the Football Association, the Premier League, Chelsea, Everton and Fulham are ongoing in an attempt to stage the Stamford Bridge replay on Feb 15.

That would force the rescheduling of the champions’ Premier League trip to Fulham, pencilled in on Feb 14. But a failure to bring the Everton replay forward to Feb 15 could lead to the postponement of the league game against Manchester United on March 1 which may not be able to be rescheduled until May.

As of last night, Everton officials were proceeding on the understanding that the Chelsea replay would be at Stamford Bridge on Feb 19 – fifth-round day.

The FA remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached for the Chelsea v Everton replay to be staged on Feb 15, with the winners then facing Reading four days later.

However, should the fourth-round replay take place on fifth-round day, the winners of the tie would then face Reading on Mar 1 or 2 because the FA Cup takes precedence over league fixtures.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s league leaders are due to play their rescheduled fixture against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on March 1 following the postponement of the original date on Dec 12 because of bad weather.

But that game is now at risk of being postponed again unless the fixture headache caused by Chelsea’s draw at Goodison Park on Saturday can be resolved.

With Chelsea and United having Champions League commitments this month and next, both face fixture congestion.

Chelsea’s situation has deteriorated further with their Premier League fixture against Birmingham City on Feb 26 being postponed because Alex McLeish’s team face Arsenal in the Carling Cup final 24 hours later.

But with both United and Chelsea due to meet at Old Trafford on May 7, the next clear date for the two clubs should they be forced to re-arrange the Stamford Bridge clash would be the following midweek, thereby setting up a potentially decisive double-header.

Offline Tom

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2011, 07:30:32 AM »
WN, I think you were suppose to put Tuesday instead of Monday in the title.  :dft012:  Love your work bud!

White Noise

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Re: Monday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2011, 07:34:23 AM »
WN, I think you were suppose to put Tuesday instead of Monday in the title.  :dft012:  Love your work bud!

Cheers Tom. Its these late closing transfer windows! :dft012:

White Noise

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Re: Tuesday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2011, 07:34:50 AM »

Dons land Fulham youngster

Monday 31st January 2011 22:56

Lewington: Raved about Marsh-Brown

MK Dons have signed promising Fulham youngster Keanu Marsh-Brown on a one-month loan.

The 18-year-old England youth international recently signed a new two-year contract with the Premier League club, although he has yet to make his first-team debut.

He could be involved in the League One clash at Bristol Rovers and manager Karl Robinson told the club's official website: "Keanu played against us in a reserve game last week and was extremely impressive. We spoke to Ray Lewington (Fulham's academy technical director) and Billy McKinlay (reserve team manager) about him and they only had good things to say about the boy.

"He fits with the profile of player we've been looking for and the type of player we want to bring into this football club. He's young and hungry with great enthusiasm and pace and his versatility will be extremely valuable to us.

"It's another exciting young player our fans can look forward to seeing and hopefully Keanu can take a lot of positives from his loan spell with us."

White Noise

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Re: Tuesday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2011, 08:02:56 AM »
Fulham clinch last-gasp Gudjohnsen loan swoop from Stoke
By Sportsmail Reporter

Last updated at 2:21 AM on 1st February 2011

Eidur Gudjohnsen has joined Fulham on loan from Stoke until the end of the season.

The Potters gave the go-ahead for the Iceland international to make the move shortly before the 11pm transfer deadline.

The 32-year-old former Chelsea and Barcelona striker then agreed personal terms with the Cottagers and passed a medical, which was organised locally so that he could complete the paperwork in time.

 Heyday: Eidur Gudjohnsen made his name as a striker at Chelsea

Gudjohnsen, who becomes a free agent in the summer at the end of his one-year contract with Stoke, has made just five substitute appearances since arriving at the Britannia Stadium last August.

'It has been an incredibly frustrating time for Eidur,' City manager Tony Pulis told Stoke's official website. 'But he has been an outstanding professional and a great influence around the place in his time here.

'Unfortunately, he didn't get the games that he needed to build up his match fitness, but this loan move presents him with a chance to do that.'
Meanwhile, Fulham have loaned out Florida-born forward Eddie Johnson to Preston for the rest of the campaign.

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Re: Tuesday Fulham Stuff (01.02.11)
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2011, 09:06:28 AM »

“So much for Moneyball”

Filed under: General — rich @ 8:50 am

Andy Carroll’s £35 million move has surprised a lot of people, particularly in the light of the Liverpool owners’ reputations as careful, smarter investors.   NESV, as you’ll know, famously took over baseball’s Boston Red Sox and won a long awaited World Series, and in so doing used what were termed “moneyball” principles.

People were unsure what that might mean in a footballing context, and they certainly didn’t expect *this*.  I’m not really surprised.

A quick overview of Moneyball:  this was a book written by a gifted writer called Michael Lewis.   Lewis had extraordinary access to the Oakland Athletics baseball club, run by a man named Billy Beane.  Despite not spending much money relative to his peers, Beane was able to consistently win lots of games.   How?  Among other things, sabermetrics.

Sabermetrics is a term invented by Bill James, a compiler of statistics and another good writer.  Saber comes from the acronym SABR, the Society of American Baseball Research.  Metrics is measurement.  Sabermetrics.   James and others counted a lot of things in the 70s (baseball is a series of countable actions:  pitch, hit, run, pitch, swing, miss, etc).  James et al *proved* a number of things about the game that were not then accepted within the game.  Proved them, beyond any doubt.

But the ideas didn’t catch on.  Baseball insiders complained that these stat geeks hadn’t played the game, and should spend more time at the ballpark rather than sitting in their mothers’ basements (this still comes up as a put-down, even now).  So these ideas, which could have transformed the way teams ran themselves, didn’t catch on.

James had a hard-core underground following though, and self-published four annuals of his writing.  He got a book deal and from 1982 to 1988 published his work each off-season.   It remains fantastic stuff, combining hard analysis with a very readable style.

His readership grew and in time some of these readers acquired positions of responsibility within baseball.  One of these men was Sandy Alderson, who ended up running the Oakland A’s. He hired Billy Beane and suggested Beane read James’ work.

Something clicked in Beane’s mind:  of course!  Beane’s revelation was so strong because he himself had been exactly the kind of player that had been overvalued by teams in the past.  Tall, athletic, handsome (some baseball scouts looked for ‘the good face’ which they thought showed character, resourcefulness, etc), super-fast.  Scouts would see Beane in action and drool.   Never mind that he couldn’t really hit a baseball.

Beane realised that actual production on the field was everything, and with James’ analyses, found better ways to measure this production.   In the old days players would be valued by their speed, by their batting average (how often they hit the ball safely) and something called RBI (how often they hit the ball and a teammate scored), but these things didn’t tell us enough about a player:  sure they helped, and the good players would have good scores in these measures, but so too would some bad players.  What’s more, a lot of good players would not score well on these measures.  They might be slow, or miss the ball too often (but when they did hit it, they hit it a long way).   These players would be undervalued by baseball’s decision makers who were conditioned into an old school mindset.

So Beane sought out players who didn’t look like athletes and who were productive in ways that the mainstream didn’t value highly enough.   By doing this he could put together an effective team on the cheap.   This is a gross oversimplification, of course, but the point holds and the method worked:  Oakland won a lot of games.

Michael Lewis went to find out more, and wrote a book outlining a lot of these methods, profiling a number of Beane’s players and telling a really engaging story.   He called the book Moneyball, and a phenomenon was born.   Old school baseball types rejected the book, and one prominent commentator (effectively Alan Shearer) even denounced Billy Beane for writing such a book bragging about his accomplishments!  (of course Beane had done no such thing, and didn’t even know what Lewis was writing.)

John Henry, a wealthy man through his work in the financial markets, was also (I believe) aware of Bill James.  The financial markets are a bit like baseball in their search for undervalued assets, so James, Beane and the Moneyball phenomenon resonated with him.   And if Beane could be so successful without spending much, what might be achieved with the appropriate financial backing?   Henry and his team bought the Red Sox and went about finding out.

They hired a 28 year old to run the side, Theo Epstein.  Epstein knew Bill James’ work inside out, but hired James as a consultant anyway.  He spent money, lots of it, and after 100 years of winning nothing, the Red Sox soon won the World Series.  Moneyball vindicated!

Kind of.  The Red Sox took things to a new level.  A quick look at their roster of players shows that they used some Moneyball techniques:  First baseman Kevin Millar wasn’t wanted in Major League Baseball and was just about to sign on in Japan before the Red Sox signed him; Mark Bellhorn was a scrappy player who had his ups and downs, but who certainly wasn’t considered championship calibre before joining Boston.  But he did all the important things that people don’t notice well.  David Ortiz, who hit a lot of big hits (literally and figuratively) for the Red Sox, had been let go by the Minnesota Twins.  He could barely run, but could wallop a baseball.  Bill Mueller, the third baseman, was like an improved version of Bellhorn.  Manny Ramirez, their eccentric outfielder, was mightily productive but hard to control.  The Sox kept faith, happy to let his work on the field do the talking. The pitchers were good in anyone’s eyes, but it’s worth noting that the ‘missing piece of the jigsaw’ was Curt Schilling, a player for whom the Sox had to pay a lot to acquire.

Moneyball?  I think you’d define it as making decisions for a reason.  They bought in a number of good, undervalued players, but realised that this alone isn’t enough to win things, so supplemented these core parts with superstar talents like Curt Schilling.

Let’s bring this back to Liverpool.  One of the issues NESV had with the current squad, and also Roy Hodgson’s signings, is that the players are all relatively old.   This is generally when a player is over-valued:  they have built up big contracts but are probably past their peak; they are trading on their fame now, not necessarily the ability that earned this fame in the first place.  So there’ll be a big emphasis on young talent, talent coming into its peak and which might then be usefully sold on in due course.   (The Torres deal is terrific for them, too: a player who was briefly great, but has since only been good, but who still commands the fee of a great player).

Andy Carroll makes sense for Liverpool on a few of levels.  One: he’s young.  In five years he’ll be in his prime (or perhaps past his prime, but near enough that someone will still want him around) and can then be sold on for good money again.  If transfer fees exceed inflation (as surely they will, especially if there’s an economic recovery) then there’s a fair chance that a good amount of that £35million can be recouped.   Especially because two:  he should age well.  He hasn’t played a lot of games for his age, and his skillset is one that ought to age well.  Three: he’s unique.  Seriously, Carroll has an ability that not many others have.  He’s phenomenal in the air, has a decent touch, and appears to have the instincts to make the most of his skills.   Four:  (ack) he’ll enhance the brand.  He’s John Charles, John Toshack, a most English of English centre-forwards.   Liverpool fans are nothing if not backward looking: they’ll love their all action number 9.  He’ll make the club a fortune in shirt sales around the world.

So there are reasons to spend big on Carroll.  No, he’s not undervalued at all; but he’s not without value, and as a signing he makes sense.   Liverpool’s owners will have done the analysis and will know that success costs money.  The more you spend the better you get.   From there it will have been a question of working out how to spend that money.   You can buy seven five million players for £35 million, but then you end up no better off;  you can buy three ten million players and maybe that does make a difference;  but if you think you have found premium talent, talent that is not available from any other source, you have to pay up.   With Carroll and Suarez Liverpool have paid up; they’ll know what they’re doing here, and just as Chelsea and City had to spend away to kick start their ascendency, so too are John Henry’s team.   He needs defenders now and a few more £10 million types dotted around the pitch to make this really pay off, but the recovery is on.   It’s not Moneyball in the “undervalued player” sense, but it’s Moneyball in the “we know what we’re doing” sense.