Author Topic: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)  (Read 8404 times)

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Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« on: February 17, 2010, 10:27:36 PM »,19528,11681_5955864,00.html

Hodgson wants play-off facts

Cottagers boss unsure on Champions League decider

By James Riach   Last updated: 17th February 2010   
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson wants all the facts about a possible play-off for a European place spelled out.

The Cottagers boss was quizzed on the mooted idea to hold play-off fixtures to contest the final place in the UEFA Champions League.

With Fulham having finished seventh in the Premier League last season and currently occupying 10th place, any introduction of such a play-off would impact on the men from West London.

Under the proposed plans, the teams that finish fourth to seventh in the table would compete in two semi-finals and a final to earn the right to play in Europe's elite tournament.

The idea has sparked debate with certain managers opposing and approving the proposal, but Hodgson wants to wait until he knows all the details.

"I think it would be a good idea if all of the facts and all of the advantages and disadvantages were very carefully thought out and spelt out for people and then a group of people can look into it and make a wise decision," he said.

"When the matter has been really truly thought out by everybody then maybe it will be the time for people like myself to come out with opinions.

"A wise decision needs to be made after all the advantages and disadvantages have been analysed.

Divided opinions

"At the moment you'll get people who have something to benefit from it say it's a good idea, while those who don't will say the opposite.

"These important matters shouldn't be decided by people like myself who might think that selfishly this is a good idea."

Fulham's current European adventure continues when they take on Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League on Thursday.

Hodgson is delighted with the effort his players have put in so far this season and he says their current position in the league allows them to look forward to their games against sides on the continent.

"I'm pleased we're on 34 points and within touching distance of the safety zone because it means we're less anxious about the games that precede or follow European matches," he added.

"Everyone realises our players have done an exceptional job and have punched above their weight for a period of time and continue to do so.

"We've reached a level but sometimes it's easier to reach it than stay there.

"We've set a high standard for ourselves and now we must make sure we don't fall below that."

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2010, 10:29:30 PM »

QI: Fulham players in Europe

Filed under: General — weltmeisterclaude @ 9:46 pm

While we get excited about the game tomorrow, here’s an interesting thing.  Total UEFA games played by our squad members:

No.    Name            P    Gls
19    Pascal Zuberbühler    90    0
13    Danny Murphy        55    7
18    Aaron Hughes        52    2
16    Damien Duff        45    4
5    Brede Hangeland        44    2
1    Mark Schwarzer        29    0
11    Zoltán Gera        21    4
10    Erik Nevland        20    4
4    John Pantsil        19    1
17    Bjørn Helge Riise    15    1
27    Jonathan Greening    10    0
25    Bobby Zamora        10    4
3    Paul Konchesky        8    0
6    Christopher Baird    8    0
2    Stephen Kelly        7    0
23    Clint Dempsey        7    1
20    Dickson Etuhu        5    1
29    Simon Davies        5    0
35    David Elm        5    0
26    Christopher Smalling    4    0

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2010, 10:32:25 PM »

Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed bans tracksuited Shakhtar Donetsk players from his Harrods store

By Laura Williamson

Last updated at 9:38 PM on 17th February 2010

Shakhtar Donetsk will be out for revenge tonight after the team were turned away from London department store Harrods, which is owned by Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed.

The Ukrainian side visited the shop in Knightsbridge on Monday but were told they were not allowed to enter because their group was ‘too big and suspicious’.

Shakhtar, who won the UEFA Cup last year, meet Fulham in the last 32 of the Europa League at Craven Cottage tonight.
A statement on Shakhtar’s official website said: ‘The players decided to increase the earnings of one of London’s reputable shops, Harrods. The footballers have money and were eager to buy a lot, but weren’t allowed to enter the shop.

‘All of them were wearing similar tracksuits. The players explained this was the football team and they had no habit of taking tuxedos to the training camp to go shopping.

'But the explanations were fruitless.’ The players continued their shopping trip in another store, ‘where the owner was very glad’.

A Harrods spokesman said the shop did not wish to ‘offend or upset visitors’, but the ‘difficult decision’ had been taken ‘in the interest of health and safety’.

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said: ‘I’m surprised to hear it. The chairman normally loves people to spend their money with him!’

Shakhtar have not played competitively since December 16 owing to a midwinter break. That did not stop them beating Tottenham 3-1 on aggregate at the same stage last year.
Shakhtar right back Darijo Srna, the Croatia captain, has been linked with Tottenham and Chelsea.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2010, 10:36:49 PM »

Up next: Shakhtar Donetsk (h)

by Dan on February 17, 2010

With no serious football to concentrate on in the past month or so, Shakhtar Donetsk have been keeping their fans entertained with a few funny stories on their website. Tucked in alongisde Andriy Voronin’s insistence that Fulham like to whack the ball long (he can’t have paid much attention during Liverpool’s defeat at the Cottage earlier in the season then), was a tale of how the squad were refused entry to Harrods. The Ukrainians arrived in London with little fear of a Fulham side, about whom the general consensus is that they’ve done well just to get out of the group stage, but Roy Hodgson’s boys have run into a little bit of form of late.

You’d probably still have to make the visitors favourites to progress but it’s not the walkover it might have looked like during Fulham’s dismal run in January. Shakhtar are no longer an unknown quantity having become the last winners of the UEFA Cup in a quiet run to glory last season and they are breathing right down the necks of Dynamo Kiev back home too. They sit in second place, just one point behind the leaders, having only lost a single league game all season.

Hodgson’s side will have their work cut out to stifle Shakhtar’s South American flair too. Even if most of Shakhtar’s squad are Ukrainian, there is a hefty sprinking of Brazilians in the line-up. The likes of Dickson Etuhu and Danny Murphy will have to quickly get to grips with Fernandinho, Jadson and Ilsinho. Up front, nobody will need to be reminded of the potency of Luiz Adriano, Shakhtar’s top scorer with nine goals in 14 league games, and another five to add to the total from the Europa League.

Perhaps Fulham’s best chance of springing a surprise comes with the fact that Shakhtar haven’t played a competitive game since the middle of December and that was their defeat by Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League. You have to go back to December 12 for Donetsk’s last league outing and, although the squad have been playing some warm-weather friendlies in Spain in preparation for this game, they won’t come close to the hustle and bustle of playing an English side on a cold February night by the Thames.

Roy Hodgson has already signalled that Fulham’s improved league performances – perhaps best encapsulated by the clinical dispatching of Burnley last week – make him a little more relaxed about fielding a strong side in Europe, especially as they move closer to Premier League safety. You do get the sense that Fulham will need to build a lead for the away leg so a strong performance at the Cottage tomorrow night is essential.

The manager has a few selection worries to ponder over before picking his team. Paul Konchesky has returned to light training after his foot injury at Motspur Park but won’t be rushed back into action tomorrow night. With Nicky Shorey ineligible, Hodgson is most likely to press Stephen Kelly into service at left back as he has done before in the Europa League this season. The Irish international hasn’t been in great form of late, but the memory of his lungbursting run to the Basel byline before he pulled the ball back for Zoltan Gera to score the crucial third before Christmas shows what he can do in an unfamilar role.

Chris Baird should continue at right back – having been impressive there of late – and that should allow Etuhu and Murphy to continue their solid understanding at the heart of the Fulham midfield. Simon Davies scored on Sunday and will have staked a strong place to line-up with Damien Duff on the flanks, although Jonathan Greening has also been in good form out wide and Zoltan Gera, impressive before his untimely knee injury, will be available for selection again. With Stefano Okaka unavailable, the promising partnership of David Elm and Bobby Zamora is likely to test the aerial ability of the Shakhtar defence. It should be a cracker down at the Cottage.

MY FULHAM XI (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Baird, Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland; Etuhu, Murphy, Duff, Davies; Elm, Zamora. Subs: Zuberbuhler, Stoor, Smalling, Greening, Riise, Gera, Nevland.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2010, 10:38:05 PM »

Hodgson hints at Euro glory

by Dan on February 17, 2010

Roy Hodgson reckons Fulham’s safe league position should allow his side to have a real go at taking on the defending champions Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League tomorrow night.

Hodgson had been treating Fulham’s European adventure with caution, rotating his small squad and prioritising the league in previous weeks, but with his team now safely in mid-table and inching closer to survival on 34 points, he has hinted at being a bit more adventurous in Europe. After a 3-0 win over Burnley in midweek and, with the club’s injury crisis finally showing signs of clearing up, Hodgson’s focus is firmly on trying to establish a lead ahead of a tough second leg.

We thought it was fantastic to be part of this competition. It’s a great adventure and is a feather in this club’s cap. It’s a good marketing tool to get our name and what we’re trying to do out to a much wider audience via a top-level competition.

We’ve taken all the games seriously but in the earlier stages when I had a bigger squad I changed things around and used the freshest legs. I’m pleased we’re on 34 points and within touching distance of the safety zone because it means we’re less anxious about the games that precede or follow European matches.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2010, 10:40:16 PM »

Konchesky still missing

by Dan on February 17, 2010

Paul Konchesky has been ruled out of Fulham’s Europa League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk tomorrow night, leaving Roy Hodgson with a bit of a headache over who to play at left back.

Konchesky has resumed light training after suffering a foot injury but the first leg of this last-32 tie looks to have come a little too soon for the former West Ham full back. With Nicky Shorey also unavailable having played in an earlier round of the competition for Aston Villa, Hodgson might have to deploy the out-of-form Stephen Kelly at left back as he has done on previous European nights.

Zoltan Gera is expected to be available for selection having missed the last couple of games with a knee injury but long-term absentees Kagisho Dikgacoi (ankle), Andrew Johnson, Clint Dempsey and John Pantsil are all still missing.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2010, 10:42:09 PM »

Elm eager for new deal

by Dan on February 17, 2010

David Elm’s agent says his client wants to stay at Fulham – and suggests that there are indications that the Craven Cottage club want to keep the Swedish striker.

Elm has been particularly impressive of late since making his league debut for the Whites and scored his first goal for the club in the recent 3-0 defeat of Burnley. The towering striker’s agent, Patrick Mork, is confident that he will remain at Fulham despite his one-year deal expiring in the summer.

Nothing about a new deal has happened as yet, but we have got indications off Fulham that they want keep David. They have shown positive indications about taking up a two-year option in his contract and I would be surprised if they didn’t.

David would be delighted to sign a longer contract at Fulham as he is enjoying himself there. They have until March 31st to take up the option and if they don’t I am sure there will be other clubs who will be interested in David.

He is getting more confident now he is playing regularly and he is happy playing under Roy Hodgson.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2010, 10:50:36 PM »

Europa League Preview: Fulham - Shaktar Donetsk

Cottagers welcome cup holders to west London...

By James Daly

Feb 17, 2010 6:32:00 PM

Kick-off: Thursday February 18, 2010. 20:05 GMT

Craven Cottage, London

Shaktar Donetsk hold a special title - the last winners of the UEFA Cup. Of course, the competition is now called the Europa League, but as holders the Ukrainian outfit will be keen to defend their title in Hamburg come May.

But they come up against a spirited Fulham side in the second round, who have been galvanised under Roy Hodgson.

However, that excellent form from the beginning of season which saw the Cottages turn over Manchester United 3-0, evaporated at the beginning of 2010 with the team having to wait until February for a league win.

But with four clean sheets in the last four games, and plenty of goals, confidence will be high in the west London camp.

Shaktar remain an unknown outfit, buried away in Eastern Europe, but are currently second in the Ukrainian Premier League, just a point off leaders Dinamo Kiev and have only lost once all season.

But Shaktar are out of practice, having not played since December on account of the league's massive mid-season break. A large number of the Shakhtar squad are home-based players, although there is a considerable Brazilian influence in midfield with Fernandinho, Jadson and Ilsinho all regulars.

Top top scorer is Luiz Adriano who has nine goals in 14 League appearances as well as five in European competition.

Anyone in Fulham expecting an easy ride against one of Europe's less-fashionable clubs will be in for a rude awakening.


Jan 30: Fulham 0-2 Aston Villa     
Feb 02: Fulham 1-0 Portsmouth     
Feb 06: Bolton 0-0 Fulham     
Feb 09: Fulham 3-0 Burnley     
Feb 14: Fulham 4-0 Notts Co (FA Cup)

Dec 16: FK Partizan 1-0 Shakhta (Europa League) 
Dec 12: Shakhtar 2-1 Illychivets   
Dec 9: Shakhtar 2-0 Metalurh Z 
Dec 6: Kryvbas 0-2 Shakhtar
Dec 3: Shakhtar 0-0 Brugge (Europa League)   


Roy Hodgson is still without Clint Dempsey who has a knee ligament injury while Andrew Johnson (knee) and John Pantsil (cruciate ligament) are both unavailable.

Hodgson had hoped to have left-back Paul Konchesky available, but the defender failed a late test on his ankle. However, Zoltan Gera is back from his knee injury. On loan Aston Villa defender Nick Shorey and Roma loanee Stefano Okaka are both unavailable as they are cup-tied.

The Ukraine outfit have inspirational midfielder Razvan Rat available, but he would miss the second leg if he is booked at Craven Cottage. Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano poses the biggest threat to Fulham, who should have an advantage in terms of match fitness.


Fulham - Damien Duff
The Irish winger has found a new lease of life under Roy Hodgson after disappointing spells at Chelsea and Newcastle.

And the Fulham boss will need Duff at his best as he tries to cope without Andy Johnson and Stefano Okaka.

Playing behind Bobby Zamora, Duff could be the key to unlock a tough Shaktar defence.

Shaktar - Darijo Srna
The speedy right-back cum winger is Shaktar captain and their best player. It's somewhat surprising the 27-year-old is still at the club having been heavily linked with a move to Italy and Spain for some time.

But Fulham should watch out for his marauding runs down the right flank and dangerous crossing, which if it isn't blocked out, could be the home side's undoing.

Despites having a relatively low profile outside their native Ukraine, Shaktar are a tidy outfit.

They perform better at home, but should not be underestimated by an inconsistent Fulham team.

However, with the Craven Cottage crowd behind Hodgson's team, their best bet at a result is Thursday night.

Fulham 2-1 Shaktar

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2010, 10:54:19 PM »

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Fulham 3 - 0 Burnley

This was one of those strange old games which didn't really feel like a competition. Burnley were adventurous and dangerous enough going forward, but their defence away from home is pitiful. Fulham scored three without it feeling like they were actually trying; the forward line was like a hot knife through butter.

Burnley's keeper Brian 'the beast' Jensen made a handful of excellent saves, but was pretty culpable for the second and third goals. And once again Fulham enjoyed a few strokes of luck with the first two goals emerging from offside positions, not that these offside positions provided much of an advantage but the letter of the law states both Elm and Zamora were beyond the last man when they set up the strikes. But the goals would have come sooner or later anyway.

It was a welcome starting 11 return for Dickson Etuhu, but everytime I noticed him in the first half it was for doing something wrong. Fortunately he was far more influential in the second half. His presence seemed to give Murphy more confidence to go forward and he was involved in Burnley's penalty area three or four times, including for the opening goal. A good sign. Jonathan Greening even got a belt of a new song about him dying for our sins. Shame he's shaved the beard off now so it doesn't really make sense.

I don't think I've mentioned Schwarzer much recently but that's only  because he has set such a high standard and is maintaining it. He's probably player of the season at the moment, edging in front of Bobby Z, Duff and Hughes.

The Burnley fans, like the Pompey fans, were noisy despite what was happening on the pitch. Well actually they only became really noisy after the third went it. A case of if we're here we may as well enjoy ourselves. They played nice football again, so it would be a shame if they don't stay ahead of some of the division's more cynical teams in the relegation battle.

Looking ahead to Shaktar tomorrow night February has so far seen Fulham yet to concede a goal and seven different players contributing to the eight goals scored this month. These are positive portents ahead of what may end up being a very tricky or a surprisingly smooth tie. It depends on how match fit Shaktar are and how much interest Roy Hodgson has in progressing.

Attendance: Just Andy with five empty seats either side

Posted by Bad Andy at 19:43 

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2010, 10:57:11 PM »

Fulham's Europa League opponents are barred entry to Harrods• Ukrainian squad turned away in their tracksuits

• Roy Hodgson concedes Fulham are underdogs

Jamie Jackson,

Wednesday 17 February 2010 22.30

Fulham face Shakhtar Donetsk in the last 32 of the Europa League, with the Ukrainian team smarting after being refused entry yesterday to Harrods, which is owned by their opponents' chairman, Mohamed al Fayed. The incident is bound to cause him embarrassment.

Shakhtar, who won last year's competition when it was still the Uefa Cup, have made public their disappointment at being denied access to the Knightsbridge store. A statement on the club's website read: "The players decided to increase the earnings of one of London's reputable shops – Harrods. The footballers, who have money and are eager to buy a lot, were certain to leave [a] big sum.

"You may be surprised but the Miners [Shakhtar's nickname] weren't allowed to enter the shop.

"The staff said that the group of customers was too big and suspicious. All of them were wearing similar tracksuits. The players explained this was the football team and were not in the habit of taking tuxedos to the training camp to go shopping. But those explanations were fruitless."

Roy Hodgson, the Fulham manager, was surprised to hear about the episode. He said: "I'm surprised to hear it, the chairman [Fayed] normally loves people to spend their money with him."

A Harrods spokesperson told the Guardian: "There are periods, when the store is at its busiest, that Harrods has to take the difficult decision to deny access to tour parties and larger groups of visitors. This is done in the interest of health and safety. Needless to say, we do not wish to offend or upset visitors when making these decisions."

On the field Hodgson concedes his team are underdogs against a Shakhtar side that play a technical, passing game influenced by the five Brazilians that should start tonight. "We're talking about a team that's competed in the Champions League for the last few seasons and has won the Uefa Cup," he acknowledged. "But Roma are second in the Italian league and Basel are a top European team, and we played very well against them [in the group stage]. So I have every confidence."

Probable line-ups

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Baird, Hangeland, Hughes, Shorey; Davies, Etuhu, Murphy, Duff; Zamora, Elm.

Shakhtar Donetsk (4-5-1): Pyatov; Hyubschman, Kucher, Rakitsky, Rat; Srna, Fernandinho, Jadson, Willian, Ilsinho; Adriano.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2010, 11:01:06 PM »

Fulham v Shakhtar Donetsk Preview: Roy Hodgson is Back on Track

17/2/2010 11:26 AM GMT By Ben Hunt


February is proving to be month to remember for Fulham. After a dreadful run during January, where they racked up five straight defeats in the Premier League, manager Roy Hodgson has his team pointing in the right direction again.

The Cottagers are undefeated this month as they prepare for this Europa League clash against heavyweights Shakhtar Donetsk.

Hodgson knows it will be difficult against the Ukrainian side, who won the Uefa Cup last season and, unlike in most previous rounds, he is expected to play his strongest team instead of relying on squad players.

Hodgson's assessment of their February revival is interesting. He said "The two full backs, Chris Baird and Nicky Shorey, have made a real difference to us. They have helped us in an area where we were not at our best in one or two of the games.

"It has also been a question of sticking to the things we wanted to do. I don't think there has been a vast difference in terms of how we have been playing between the two months.

"It is difficult to put your finger on it is, but it is nice to be on a winning run of games and that inspires confidence which helps you get from one game to the next.

"We have raised the bar as far as the club is concerned and we have to work very hard to make sure we don't fall below the standard we have set."

Strategy: Fulham will stick to what they know best and rely on Bobby Zamora to provide the power in attack. Fulham have been scoring freely of late and Jonathan Greening, Simon Davies and Damien Duff will look to follow up their goals against Notts County in the FA Cup.

Shakhtar Donetsk have not played any competitive football recently because of their league's midwinger break, so Fulham will be keen to start the game at a high tempo and keep it going in the closing stages when the Ukrainians may start to feel the effects of their lay-off.

Injury Update: Fulham are still without Clint Dempsey who has a knee ligament injury. Andrew Johnson and John Paintsil are both ruled out. Hodgson had hoped to have Paul Konchesky available, but the defender failed a late test on his ankle. However, Zoltan Gera is back from his knee injury. On loan Aston Villa defender Shorey is unavailable as he is cup-tied

The Ukraine outfit have inspirational midfielder Razvan Rat available, but he would miss the second leg if he is booked at Craven Cottage. Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano poses the biggest threat to Fulham, who should have an advantage in terms of match fitness. The visitors, who have been training in London for the past week, have played only two friendlies since their midwinter break started two months ago. Fulham have played 14 games in the same period.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2010, 11:03:03 PM »

Mining for stuff about Shaktar

By: timmyg | February 17th, 2010

It’s a bit odd that I’m somewhat material-less in the run up to tomorrow’s match against Shaktar Donetsk. I think I’ve become rather engulfed with the Olympics that footy has been moved to the back burner for a bit.

The match is marks the first time ever Fulham are playing in Europe in February. But how does it compare to that match against Liverpool in 2007, or Portsmouth in 2008, or even Basle just this past December?

In all honesty, I’d say it pales in comparison. If we lose, we won’t be relegated or miss out on advancing due to some dodgy refereeing.

I’m not discounting the current UEFA title-holders by any stretch. Although they haven’t played a league game since December 13, and Europa game since the 16th, they will be fresh after training in St. Albans for the past week or so. They even attended our cup tie against Notts County.

But we have the advantage of being in some good form, we just cannot concede a goal to Brazilian starlet Luiz Adriano.

On a side note, Andriy Voronin spoke to Shaktar Donetsk and gave some rather incorrect information:

– Andriy, who is considered to be the favourite in the pair Shakhtar v Fulham in your opinion?
– It’s difficult to say, because the both teams have different styles of play. Shakhtar is more technical and Fulham builds the game on the physical training of their footballers. The teams are diverse, that’s why it’s not correct to compare. remembering matches against Fulham I can say that almost all their passes are long, they try to kick the ball as close to the rival’s goal as possible. This way is simple but efficient and tried-and-true one.

I think it’s fairly obvious Voronin hasn’t seen Fulham play in nearly two years.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2010, 11:08:38 PM »

By Duncan Bech, Press Association Sport

Jan Lastuvka has warned Shakhtar Donetsk to beware "spectacular" Fulham in Thursday night's Europa League clash at Craven Cottage.

Lastuvka left the Donbass Arena for a season-long loan move to south-west London in 2006, giving the Czech Under-21 goalkeeper an insight into both clubs.

He departed when a transfer fee could not be agreed following a mixed season at Fulham and later joined West Ham.

The 27-year-old rates striker Bobby Zamora very highly and believes Shakhtar may suffer as they are midway through their winter break.

"Fulham are playing spectacular football and they have got an experienced and very efficient forward in Bobby Zamora. Their defence is also strong," he said.

"But Shakhtar are a strong team that does particularly well in the European tournaments. They are not worse than Fulham.

"But there is an advantage for English clubs as they have been playing in their Premier League so far while Shakhtar have only been in training.

"Fulham are doing well in the Premier League right now, although Shakhtar should not fear anything.

"If Shakhtar play as well as they can, they will gain a positive result for sure."

The first leg is being held at Craven Cottage and Lastuvka, who now plays for Ukrainian club Dnipro, believes this offers Shakhtar an advantage.

"It's often said that it is better to play away first because of the advantage of getting a 1-1 draw," he said.

"And it will be easier to play at home. I believe it's good Shakhtar play their first leg away."

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2010, 11:09:59 PM »

Shakhtar Donetsk players refused entry to Harrods

Neil Gardner
Fulham have been left embarrassed after players from Shakhtar Donetsk were refused entry to Harrods, the shop run by Mohamed Al Fayed, the club's owner.

The Ukrainian side, who are due to play Fulham in a Europa League last-32 match at Craven Cottage on Thursday, attempted to visit the Knightsbridge store after training in St Albans yesterday but were not allowed in because they were wearing club tracksuits.

"The staff said that the group of customers was too big and suspicious," a club statement said. "The players explained that this was the football team and they had no habit of taking tuxedos to the training camp to go shopping. But those explanations were fruitless.

"The players bought presents for their relatives in another shop. We only hope that after the match the Londoners will treat our team with respect."

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A spokesman for Harrods said in response: "There are periods, when the store is at its busiest, that Harrods has to take the difficult decision to deny access to tour parties and larger groups of visitors. This is done in the interest of health and safety.

"Needless to say, we do not wish to offend or upset visitors when making these decisions."

Others barred from entering Harrods

Jason Donovan The Australian soap star was turned away from Harrods in 1992 for wearing ripped jeans. If only he’d covered up with an amazing technicolour dreamcoat

Lieutenant Daniel Lenherr British troops were warned in 2006 that they were no longer welcome in Mohamed Al Fayed’s aisles — at least not in uniform, which might “intimidate” others

Luke Goss The Eighties pop star, who sang When Will I Be Famous?, certainly wasn’t well known by the Harrods doorman, who refused him entry

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2010, 06:04:17 AM »

Fulham holds painful memories for Birmingham City boss Alex McLeish

Feb 17 2010 Birmingham Post

Birmingham City return to the scene of arguably Alex McLeish’s greatest disappointment on Sunday.

A visit to Fulham’s Craven Cottage brings back painful memories for the Blues boss and his side.

Two years ago, on the penultimate day of the season, Blues faced Fulham in a winner-take-all encounter.

Blues were two points ahead of Fulham, in 18th place in the Premier League table.

The previous fixture, Blues had surrendered a two-goal lead at home to Liverpool and drawn, while Fulham had come from behind to win an amazing game at Manchester City, scoring three times in the final 20 minutes.

Coming to half-time, there was nothing to chose between the teams. Then Liam Ridgewell landed awkwardly and turned his ankle.

Ridgewell had been enjoying his best performance for weeks, too. Blues looked sturdy.

But a reshuffle had to be made and Franck Queudrue replaced him for the second-half at centre-back.

Seven minutes into the second period Brian McBride got loose at a free-kick and headed Fulham into the lead.

Blues strained for all their worth to get on level terms but couldn’t break down the Cottagers.

With three minutes to go, their fate was sealed when Queudrue’s suicidal back header to Maik Taylor was snaffled up by Erik Nevland.

The result effectively extinguished Blues chances of avoiding relegation. Although they beat Blackburn Rovers in their last match, Fulham won at Portsmouth.

Since that ignominious day, Fulham have gone from strength to strength, while McLeish and Blues had to regroup and negotiate the Championship.

It confirmed his belief that Blues needed more players who could take the ball and pass it; who had quality and a mental capacity to cope.

Undoubtedly, the way McLeish has reconstructed Blues since then, and the manner in which they have performed in the Premier League on their return, has been highly impressive.

Whereas in 2007-08 they seemingly found ways to lose or draw games from decent positions, or when there was not much in them, now they have that winning habit.

Fulham, who went on to qualify for Europe while Blues were slugging it out in the Championship, have shown the way ahead and what can be achieved.

Blues have recovered from the depressing end to that season and, by and large, reinvented themselves.

It should be much more of an even battle come 3pm on Sunday.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2010, 06:07:06 AM »


18th February 2010

By Paul Brown

ROY HODGSON claims money talks as his Premier League paupers take on the Ukrainian aristocracy tonight.

Shakhtar Donetsk come to Fulham bankrolled by investment billionaire Rinat Akhmetov.

He is one of the wealthiest men in Europe, sponsors Ukraine’s president-elect, and is in a different league to Fulham and Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed.

And Hodgson claims that makes his side massive underdogs in their Europa League last-32 first-leg clash.

He said: “Money dominates football. The top teams all have one thing in common – very high budgets!

“Shakhtar actually come from that category. Their budget is the same as that of some of our leading Premier League sides.

“They sign good players, especially from Brazil. They can sign some of the best players around. We can’t do that.

“You’ve got to put them on the same level as the best Spanish and English teams because their budget is on the same level. They have also competed in the Champions League and, in terms of European pedigree, they are ahead of us, so to some extent we’re underdogs.

“But we did well in this compet-ition against Roma and Basel so I have every confidence, if we play well, we can get a result.”

Fulham are unbeaten in 12 European ties at home this season and face a side who haven’t played since December because they are on a winter break.

But Shakhtar won last season’s UEFA Cup and have beaten Arsenal and Tottenham at home in recent years.

That makes a good result tonight crucial for Fulham before going to the Ukraine next Thursday.

Defender Aaron Hughes said: “We’re up against a side capable of winning the competition.

“It will be important not to concede an away goal. We must keep a clean sheet first and foremost, and then try to nick one.

“They’re on a winter break but that could work both ways.

“We have momentum from playing but they’ve had a break and will be ready to go.”

Shakhtar arrived on Sunday and saw Fulham’s 4-0 FA Cup win over Notts County.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2010, 06:09:12 AM »

Fulham boss Hodgson to deploy strongest team available in Europa League

18.02.10 | Andrew Slevison

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has said he will play his strongest team possible in Thursday night’s Europa League clash with reigning UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk.

Hodgson admits he currently does not have the luxury of squad rotation as the Cottagers’ injury list is hefty and a few players are cup-tied meaning he will use whatever he has available even though they have a Premier League fixture against Birmingham on Sunday.

“It is not too difficult to balance the squads because we only have 18 senior players with Konchesky and now he is not available we will bring in a guy from the academy,” he said.

“We will just try to put out the best team each time and hope for no further injuries and hope we can get by in all the games. It is a matter for thought all the time what you do between matches in the training sessions while making certain we don’t take too much out of the players because the games are coming so thick and fast.

"But in terms of the selection of the team, it is not that difficult. We are at such advanced stages of the FA Cup and Europa League competitions it is basically a case of trying to get your best teams out all the time and hoping they can cope with the workload.”

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2010, 06:12:56 AM »

Fulham v Shakhtar Donetsk

Betting Press Staff

18 Feb 2010

Roy Hodgson is certainly no stranger to European football and by the look of how Fulham have played in the Europa League this season, he's passed on his vast experience to his team to get them in with a great shout of success.

They won't find it easy against Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday night, but with their recent good home form and also their rock solid defence they should feel confident of gaining an advantage for the second leg in Ukraine.

The Cottagers have gone four and a half matches without conceding, albeit against teams towards the bottom of the table, and have got a striker in Bobby Zamora (11/2 to score first, 6/4 to notch at anytime of the match) who seems to be reinvigorated this season.

The former West Ham player doesn't always get the credit he deserves and has had to come in for some flak from his own supporters this season, but his manager can't speak highly enough of him, especially given his run of eight goals in his last 13 games making it 13 for the season.

The Londoner almost single-handedly put Fulham into the knockout stage by scoring a brace in the final group game in Basle, and has stuck up a fine partnership with David Elm (13/2 first, 15/8 any) recently, the Swede hasn't managed to get that many goals but the link-up play the two have enjoyed in the last few games will give Cottagers fans reasons to be hopeful for the rest of the season.

If the likes of Damien Duff (10/1 first goal, 7/2 anytime) and Simon Davies (25/1 first, 8/1 any) can get plenty of balls into the front two then they could make the 6/4 on Fulham look like a snip, the draw wouldn't be a disaster for the Whites and that's an 11/5 shot while the visiting Ukrainians are 9/5 to gain a first leg advantage.

I think Fulham can do the business on Thursday night, but it will be a close game, a 1-0 win would probably be the most sensible scoreline and that's an 11/2 chance.

Of course Shakhtar will provide a really tough test, after all they are the defending champions (when it was named the UEFA Cup), the Miners are sat second in the Ukrainian league and look good for a qualification place for next year's Champions League.

However, they might be rusty as they haven't played a competitive game since losing to FK Partizan on 16 December.

If they aren't showing signs of rustiness and can get their passing game that was instrumental in their triumph in last season's competition going then it will make for a really good game.

They will be led by the excellent Dario Srna (16/1 first goal, 6/1 anytime) who is the architect of so many of Shakhtar's passing moves and is a dab hand from set pieces, and have some classy attacking options such as Brazilian trio Fernandinho (9/1 first, 10/3 any), Luiz Adriano (11/2 first, 6/4 any), who scored the opener in last season's UEFA Cup final and has nine goals in 14 League appearances as well as five in European competition, and Jadson (7/1 first, 2/1 any).

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2010, 06:15:10 AM »

Gera fit and ready to fire for Fulham

By Andy West

LONDON, Feb 18 —

Europa League specialist Zoltan Gera has declared himself fit and ready to aid Fulham’s bid to knock out holders Shakhtar Donetsk tonight.

The classy winger, who scored his team’s crucial third goal against Basle in December to secure their passage to the knockout stages after notching another winner in an earlier group stage game against CSKA Sofia, has missed the last fortnight of action with a knee injury.

But he returned to full training at the start of the week and said: “I’m feeling fit and feeling good. I’m ready to play if the manager needs me. I’ve worked hard to get myself back to fitness and everything’s fine now, so I’m looking forward to the game.”

However, the Hungarian ace is by no means taking his place in the Cottagers’ starting line-up for granted, and is quick to praise the manner in which manager Roy Hodgson has developed his squad.

“We’ve got a big squad and we’ve needed it this season because we’ve had a lot of injuries. The manager made some great signings in the summer and we’ve had a really good season, even though the manager’s had to keep changing the team on a regular basis.

“We’re doing well in the Premier League and we’re also still in the Europa League and the FA Cup, so we’re very happy and looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Thirty-year-old Gera is expecting a stiff test from Ukrainian side Shakhtar, the current Europa League holders. “They’re obviously a very strong team, having won the competition last season, and it will be a difficult game for us.

“I know quite a lot about them and they’ve got some very good players, including some technically excellent Brazilians. I saw them play against Barcelona in the Super Cup a few months ago and although they lost 1-0 it was a very close game, which shows how strong they are.

“I would expect them to play safety-first at the start of the game and try to make sure they don’t concede an early goal, but away goals are very important in this competition so they will probably try to attack us in the second half.

“The games against Shakhtar will probably be our hardest so far in the Europa League. Although we had tough games against Roma, who are a very good team, generally the Europa League games are easier to play than in the Premier League, where the tempo is faster and you have much less space to play.”

Gera is pleased that his side will be able to rely on more excellent support from their fans, saying: “These are special games for our fans, who have been waiting for a long time to see Fulham in European competition. I’m sure they’ll come again in big numbers on Thursday, and that’s important because we’ll need them against a tough team like Shakhtar.”

Although Fulham are in the last eight of the FA Cup, where they will face Bolton or Tottenham, as well as the last 32 of the Europa League, Gera insists that he’s not thinking about the possibility of lifting trophies, preferring instead to take the “one game at a time” approach.

“We just want to win every game, and our priority is always our next game — whoever it’s against and whichever competition it’s in. I’m not thinking about how far we can go in these cup competitions and whether we can win them — there are a lot of good teams in both competitions so let’s just try to win every game and see how far it takes us.”

Gera is confident that his side will be well prepared for their latest European encounter by their vastly experienced manager Hodgson, one of the best-travelled figures on the managerial circuit following earlier spells in Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Sweden among other countries.

Gera has been impressed with what he’s seen from Hodgson since joining the Cottagers from West Bromwich Albion in the summer of 2008. “Roy Hodgson is a very good manager,” he said. “He just knows everything about football!

“It’s been a great experience for me to play under his management — I’ve learned lots and definitely become a better player since I moved to Fulham. He’s very intelligent and very active on the training ground. He works us hard and we spend a lot of time of the shape of the team, which makes sure that every player knows what their job is and what they need to do.”

Gera also feels that his team’s Europa League exploits will help raise the profile of the club on the international stage, exposing Fulham to football fans around the globe whose experience of English football often starts and finishes with Manchester United and Chelsea.

“It’s great to take Fulham to a new audience by doing well in this competition. We may not be the biggest club in London but Fulham is special because it’s so friendly and traditional.

“We’ve got great supporters and it’s really enjoyable to play at Craven Cottage — it’s one of the oldest stadiums in the country but it’s got real character and a special location, right next to the river. The stands are also really close to the pitch which helps the fans create a brilliant atmosphere — I’m sure they’ll do that against Shakhtar on Thursday night.”

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff (18.02.10)
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2010, 06:19:50 AM »

Brede Hangeland: 'Shakhtar will be tough – but I enjoy physical games'

As Fulham face the Uefa Cup holders tonight, their 6ft 5in defender tells Glenn Moore about his lofty ambitions on and off the field

Thursday, 18 February 2010

When Shakhtar Donetsk line up at Craven Cottage tonight the first thing they will notice about Fulham's central defender Brede Hangeland is his height. At 6ft 5in it is everyone's first impression. The day after he signed, Hangeland watched his new team play Arsenal. After Emmanuel Adebayor scored two simple headers Hangeland received a text from a club official. "That's why we need you," it read.

In the two years since Hangeland has frequently repaid that faith, but there is more to the Norwegian than stepladder height. He can play, the legacy in part of a youth spent in midfield, which will be important against the Brazilian-influenced Shakhtar. The Ukrainian side represent the worst of draws, strong but unglamorous opposition from the Continent's outer reaches. They are effectively the holders, being the last winners of the Uefa Cup.

"People who know about football know they are a really good side," says Hangeland. "They will be hard to beat but we'll try because although playing in Europe has been physically tough we've enjoyed it."

The Europa League has not won many admirers but Hangeland knows the value of the Champions League's junior partner. It was in the Uefa Cup six years ago he first came to prominence, and began to realise he could make a mark in the football world.

Hangeland was still making his way when he featured in a notable night for Norwegian football, being part of a Viking Stavanger team which defeated a Chelsea side featuring Frank Lampard, John Terry, Gianfranco Zola, William Gallas and Manu Petit, Fulham team-mate Eric Nevland scoring the late winner. "It was a match which made me realise the gap is not as big as you think, that I could play at that level," says Hangeland. Even more remarkable is the story of how Hangeland reached the Uefa Cup that season. Viking qualified by winning the Norwegian Cup final, a match Hangeland prepared for in military fatigues in the forest. "It was my last week of national service basic training. I'd been up at five every morning that week and was exhausted. When I said to my team-mates I had to go and run around the woods before training they barely believed me. But for a cup final somehow you find the energy."

Hangeland's untypical background also includes two years at university. Had he not made the grade as a pro he might, he said, have become a doctor. Which is one reason why a chill winter's day found him at a converted school in a a troubled tower block estate in Lambeth, south London, having his blood pressure taken. A man who is the living embodiment of the old adage, "eat up your greens and you'll be big and strong", is fronting a Premier League health initiative launched by Fulham aimed at encouraging men to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

Many English players hail from estates like this one, places where footballers can reach people who are either wary or dismissive of health professionals. Hangeland, who lives in Richmond, comes from a more comfortable background, his father having been in the oil industry (the reason he was born in Houston, Texas). Football was not an escape route, merely a career option. Making the sacrifices required to become an elite sportsman in such circumstances required, he says, "motivation from within, but that's what takes you furthest".

"At university I couldn't really enjoy that student life that all people talk about," he adds, "but my fellow students would like to swap with me as well so it goes both ways. I just like playing football. When I had the choice to play professionally or go for a proper education I just thought, 'if you can live off what you love to do the most, then why not try to do that?' I try to remind myself as much as I can how fortunate we are to play football for a living."

This appears to be a genuine sentiment. When asked about Roy Hodgson's preference for long hours on the training ground he replies: "Anyone in a normal job would not say we do long hours." And if he ever gets blasé, he can look back on basic training at the start of his year with the Norwegian Navy. "That first six weeks was proper warfare training. How did it compare to pre-season training? Well we had to get up earlier, about 4.30 in the morning. Then graduation was in November and we had to stand in the cold for two hours. It was hard but when you look back it is something all Norwegian men can talk and laugh about."

Having finished with the military, and quit university, Hangeland's decision to concentrate on football began to pay off when Hodgson took over as Viking manager in 2004. The Englishman found a centre-half who could pass. "I played in midfield until I was 18," says Hangeland. "It is good for a defender not to be scared of the ball and try to do something sensible when you have it."

Hangeland's height means his ability on the ball can go unnoticed, but not by former Fulham defender George Cohen, the 1966 World Cup winner. Cohen was at the launch in a dual role of club legend and cancer survivor. "He has two good feet, and he plays the ball," he said. "He doesn't just whack it – unless it is really necessary – he gets the ball down and he passes it. And he reads the game so well. When he first came I wondered whether he would be up to the pace, but his positional sense is so good he doesn't leave himself exposed."

Hodgson was similarly impressed as, when he took over Fulham in December 2007, he remembered Hangeland, then at FC Copenhagen, 26, and wondering if the Premier League had passed him by. Hangeland did not think twice, but the start was tricky. "It was a shock. I was on a winter break in Denmark and had done more skiing than football. Then I find myself in probably the toughest league in the world in a relegation battle. It was also a change coming from a team which used to win every match and I played in a back four that was on the halfway line, to one which was struggling and playing in our own penalty box."

Hangeland went on to play a major part in Fulham's improbable escape and subsequent European qualification. He was linked with a move to Arsenal but seems happy to have extended his Fulham contract. Longer term he wants to finish his education. "It would be nice to have a piece of paper that says I can do something else than just head and kick a ball."