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Hugo Rodallega has ice in his veins and comes alive when it matters most

Craven Cottage Newsround - 10 hours 37 min ago

  • Against Burton Albion he came on as sub and struck deep into injury time to rescue an embarrassing situation. Very clutch.
  • He then got a few substitute appearances after that but not in situations where he could really use his powers.
  • He got a start against Leicester (in retrospect, we were probably underdogs there, weren’t we?) and put us ahead, then got one back when we were 3-1 down. You can’t do much more than that. Hugo gave us a chance. We weren’t good enough to take this chance.
  • He came on as sub against Norwich and the winner came when he was on the pitch. Coincidence?
  • He was on the pitch for the Hull debacle, but obviously a situation like that is beyond even Hugo.
  • He equalised against Sheffield United in the League Cup!
  • West Brom equalised after he went off in our 1-1 draw.
  • He only went and got the crucial winners against Villa and Norwich.

Hmmm.  It seems reasonably clear that had we gone anywhere in the League Cup it would have basically been down to Rodallega.  If we survive in the league inquests will be required to establish why he has been involved so little.  We’ve fought this campaign with one hand behind our backs.  Hang his picture next to Erik Nevland’s at Motspur Park.


Filed under: General
Categories: Fulham

Fulham beat Norwich, stay alive

Craven Cottage Newsround - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 09:59

The difference between this Fulham and that Fulham is that this one won 1-0 and that one would have lost 3-0.

Norwich came at Fulham with some gusto and did more than enough to earn at least a point. That they didn’t was down to Fulham players doing the right thing at the right time: Stockdale’s save when a goal seemed certain; Rodallega’s terrific finish just when Fulham needed the reassurance that a goal can bring; Hangeland getting close enough to the ball on the edge of the six yard box that the resulting shot slipped wide rather than into the empty net.

About that goal: how many things have to go right for the ball to end up in the net? Holtby’s delivery needs to be perfect, Sidwell needs to apply just the right amount of hair to the cross, Rodallega needs to make the right run at the right time, then get his feet in the right place to divert the ball into the net, which was not as easy as it looked given the speed and trajectory of the cross. I thought it was a fabulous goal, and while Norwich might wonder why nobody in yellow was able to interrupt, Fulham’s work was good here.

Beyond that it’s more of the same, isn’t it? A team now blessed with some sort of togetherness and tactical nous, having the luck required to take three points, and yes, the determination needed to compete against dare we say better players.

The latter is always hard to talk about. English football fans see determination as the answer to everything, and while it’s easy to be cynical about this (determination won’t get you an organised defensive unit) it’s equally true that at the top level you do need to be mentally ‘on’. I’ve just been reading Andre Agassi’s “Open” and clearly his mind ran away with him in various tournaments to the point where this was clearly impacting results. A football team has eleven minds on the pitch at once and if all eleven are not in the metaphorical ‘right place’ then bad things can happen. Pep Guardiola obsessed about how to get his Barcelona team mentally sharp, knowing that this would turn a really good team into a great one.

It works at the other end, but when confidence is low and ability not all that either you get runs of form as witnessed in late 2013. The ability might not quite be there yet but there does appear to be some belief and mental sharpness about FUlham. Yes, we can let narratives get ahead of things when apportioning credit like this (win = determined and mentally strong; lose = feeble-minded lazy overpaid….) but there really is a sense of a *team* coming together now.

Added to which, I’m fairly sure it’s not a coincidence that Fulham are P2 W2 with Diarra in the side. His performance was again stupendous. I particularly liked a situation in the second half when he looked to have been harried out of possession, but instead niftily moved the ball away from both assailants and collapsed to win a free-kick. Later he left his feet to halt a counter-attack, a tackle that was all about timing and technique and which had a kind of ‘no you don’t’ air about it.

It’s two wins. Aston Villa, Norwich. Six points were needed, six achieved. This is just the start. Spurs are better than their current coverage would suggest, Hull are a decent team (albeit one with an FA Cup final to think about… hmmm… sounds familiar), we won’t get anything at Stoke, but Palace is winnable. We’ll just have to see won’t we? There is no form-book and there is no window, but if there were, one would go out of the other for the run-in. Norwich will not necessarily lose all four of their games, Sunderland might go medieval, Swansea and West Brom might sleepwalk into something they’d rather not be getting involved with. There’s still a long way to go.


Filed under: General
Categories: Fulham

Fulham beat Norwich, stay alive

Craven Cottage Newsround - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 09:59

The difference between this Fulham and that Fulham is that this one won 1-0 and that one would have lost 3-0.

Norwich came at Fulham with some gusto and did more than enough to earn at least a point. That they didn’t was down to Fulham players doing the right thing at the right time: Stockdale’s save when a goal seemed certain; Rodallega’s terrific finish just when Fulham needed the reassurance that a goal can bring; Hangeland getting close enough to the ball on the edge of the six yard box that the resulting shot slipped wide rather than into the empty net.

About that goal: how many things have to go right for the ball to end up in the net? Holtby’s delivery needs to be perfect, Sidwell needs to apply just the right amount of hair to the cross, Rodallega needs to make the right run at the right time, then get his feet in the right place to divert the ball into the net, which was not as easy as it looked given the speed and trajectory of the cross. I thought it was a fabulous goal, and while Norwich might wonder why nobody in yellow was able to interrupt, Fulham’s work was good here.

Beyond that it’s more of the same, isn’t it? A team now blessed with some sort of togetherness and tactical nous, having the luck required to take three points, and yes, the determination needed to compete against dare we say better players.

The latter is always hard to talk about. English football fans see determination as the answer to everything, and while it’s easy to be cynical about this (determination won’t get you an organised defensive unit) it’s equally true that at the top level you do need to be mentally ‘on’. I’ve just been reading Andre Agassi’s “Open” and clearly his mind ran away with him in various tournaments to the point where this was clearly impacting results. A football team has eleven minds on the pitch at once and if all eleven are not in the metaphorical ‘right place’ then bad things can happen. Pep Guardiola obsessed about how to get his Barcelona team mentally sharp, knowing that this would turn a really good team into a great one.

It works at the other end, but when confidence is low and ability not all that either you get runs of form as witnessed in late 2013. The ability might not quite be there yet but there does appear to be some belief and mental sharpness about FUlham. Yes, we can let narratives get ahead of things when apportioning credit like this (win = determined and mentally strong; lose = feeble-minded lazy overpaid….) but there really is a sense of a *team* coming together now.

Added to which, I’m fairly sure it’s not a coincidence that Fulham are P2 W2 with Diarra in the side. His performance was again stupendous. I particularly liked a situation in the second half when he looked to have been harried out of possession, but instead niftily moved the ball away from both assailants and collapsed to win a free-kick. Later he left his feet to halt a counter-attack, a tackle that was all about timing and technique and which had a kind of ‘no you don’t’ air about it.

It’s two wins. Aston Villa, Norwich. Six points were needed, six achieved. This is just the start. Spurs are better than their current coverage would suggest, Hull are a decent team (albeit one with an FA Cup final to think about… hmmm… sounds familiar), we won’t get anything at Stoke, but Palace is winnable. We’ll just have to see won’t we? There is no form-book and there is no window, but if there were, one would go out of the other for the run-in. Norwich will not necessarily lose all four of their games, Sunderland might go medieval, Swansea and West Brom might sleepwalk into something they’d rather not be getting involved with. There’s still a long way to go.


Filed under: General
Categories: Fulham

Riether hails ‘courageous defending’

hammyend.com - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 13:31

A delighted Sascha Riether hailed Fulham’s durability after the Whites held to record another vital victory over Norwich City to strengthen their survival bid at Craven Cottage yesterday.

The German full-back was a key part of a disciplined defensive effort that saw Felix Magath’s men absorb several prolonged periods of pressure from Norwich and move to within two points of safety thanks to Hugo Rodallega’s second winner in a week. The momentum provided by back-to-back wins will give Fulham a real boost as they head into a tricky London derby at Tottenham next weekend.

It was a fantastic result. “Everyone in the ground knew how important the game against Norwich was, in many ways it was make or break. We gave ourselves a much better chance of staying up after the win at Aston Villa, and it was vital that we built on that performance – which we did. We have now taken six points from our last two matches, and as a result, our position in the table is a lot more positive.

Riether freely recongised that Fulham had to scrap for the three points with ambitious Norwich, under new manager Neil Adams, pushing forward at every opportunity.

There was some courageous defending at times. It wasn’t an easy three points, but we always knew that we would have to dig in and fight. Norwich needed the points as well, so it was a real battle. They actually played very well at times, and there were definitely a few scares, but thankfully Stocko kept us in the game with some brilliant saves. He’s an important player for us, because that’s what he does.

But for us it didn’t really matter how we got the points, just as long as we did. Of course, we are very, very happy and hopefully this will be another performance to build on.

Riether was full of praise for Rodallega’s priceless contribution – especially as his dramatic impact on Fulham’s season has come after the Colombian has had to be patient under the new manager.

Hugo is a great guy and he’s really stepped up to the challenge. He’s been taking his chances, and that’s something we had possibly been lacking. He’s scored two in two, and you can see that he wants even more. He was a real threat against Norwich and he led the line really well. His movement was good and was always there for his teammates. He even played his part at the other end when heading a chance for Norwich off the line. It was one of those games where everyone had to do their bit, though.

The German international was also quick to acknowledge of the importance of a raucous atmosphere at Craven Cottage, similar to the vocal backing that Fulham received on the road at Villa Park last week.

The fans have been magnificent and they’re really playing their part. They were so loud against Aston Villa when there was just three thousand of them. On Saturday, in a packed Craven Cottage, well, they were simply fantastic. They really were our twelfth man, and they were right behind us from the very start. We went over to see them at the end and it was great to share that moment with them. With four games to go, we’re all hopeful that there will be more to celebrate.

Categories: Fulham

Fulham were fortunate, admits Magath

hammyend.com - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 18:12

Felix Magath admitted Fulham were fortunate to emerge from their crunch clash with Norwich with all three points but praised the predatory instincts of forward Hugo Rodallega for putting their survival bid back on course.

The Whites were indebted to the Colombian striker for a second week running after Rodallega, who has had to bide his time and wait for an opportunity under Magath, followed up his winner at Aston Villa with the only goal of this vital game at Craven Cottage.

I am glad that Hugo is now showing that he is a very good striker and he is now in very good shape. We need Hugo.

The German coach was also full of praise for goalkeeper David Stockdale, who made two superb saves before Rodallega’s winner, and has firmly established himself as Fulham’s number one.

Today we are lucky, Norwich were the better team but our goalkeeper was very great today.

Magath also reserved warm words for Mahmadou Diarra’s resilience after the veteran Malian midfielder – sidelined for much of the season by two serious knee injuries – produced a combative display to match the one that proved so important at Villa Park last week.

It is little wonder that he plays so well. Last week he played ninety minutes and today he almost played ninety again and he helps us a lot with his experience.

The rousing support from a near capacity Craven Cottage also helped Magath’s side to hold onto their slender lead – and Magath urged the supporters to recreate that atmosphere in the closing weeks of the season.

That is the way we can stay up in the league, with this support from our fans.

 

Categories: Fulham

Rodallega raises the roof

hammyend.com - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 17:56

Hugo Rodallega’s post-match prayers might become a defining image of Fulham’s season. The man who was moved to tears by a Rene Meulensteen substitution in February has suddenly emerged as Fulham’s unlikely saviour as Felix Magath turned to the Colombian to rescue his stuttering survival bid. Rodallega, who starred in Wigan’s successful fight against relegation a few years ago, followed up his late header at Villa Park last week with a first-half winner against fellow strugglers Norwich, who could count themselves unfortunate to have left Craven Cottage without anything to show for their considerable effort.

This was only the second time in a torturous campaign that Fulham had strung together back-to-back wins and cut the gap between the sides separated by the relegation line to just two points with four games to go. New Norwich manager Neil Adams could point to his sides pressing and possession, but will be ruing the lack of quality in the final third that saw them unable to reply to Rodallega’s instinctive 40th minute finish when a free-kick from Lewis Holtby dropped at his feet.

Adams’ six changes to Chris Hughton’s last line-up galvanised a side that have looked like sacrificial lambs away from Carrow Road at times this season but the Canaries created the best chances in a tense – and yet remarkably open – affair. Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s return up front was largely forgettable, but the industry of Leroy Fer and the lively pace of Nathan Redmond represented a real threat to the league’s shakiest defence. Magath’s only change from the team that triumphed at Aston Villa saw Rodallega replace teenager Cauley Woodrow in attack – and it proved an inspired move.

Fulham might have managed the first chance of the game, but the miscued drive from Pajtim Kasami summed up an ultimately frustrating afternoon for the Swiss midfielder, who laboured lethargically down the right wing before Ashkan Dejagah arrived to add real impetus as the Iranian has done regularly off the bench in recent weeks. Where Fulham looked ponderous, Norwich were all action and ambitious. Redmond gave real threat behind the Fulham back-line and his powerful snapshot threatened to surprise David Stockdale at his near post, before Jonny Howson’s speculative strike was deflected wide.

Rodallega slipped at the vital moment before shooting wide of John Ruddy’s goal, but Fulham were indebted to two superb reaction saves from Stockdale and the crossbar for keeping them in the contest at half-time. First, Stockdale thrust out an instinctive hand to claw a van Wolfwinskel’s volley around the post and then pushed away a powerful Fer header from the resultant corner. Somehow Bradley Johnson dragged his rebound wide. Robert Snodgrass almost capitalised on a needless foul from Johnny Heitinga but his bending free-kick from 20 yards clipped the top of the crossbar.

Fulham could count themselves fortunate to have come through a prolonged period of Norwich pressure unscathed, but they were ahead before the break. A clumsy challenge from Steven Whittaker on Kieran Richardson allowed Holtby to measure an inswinger from the left-flank. The German’s metronomic delivery arrived perfectly for Rodallega after Steve Sidwell’s flick on and the Colombian swept it high into the net on the half-volley. Craven Cottage reverberated with relief as much as anything as Fulham dared to dream of survival.

Norwich emerged with renewed purpose after half-time, but their early pressure only delivered a Snodgrass drive that was easily smothered by Stockdale. Fulham forced a series of corners by way of response, with Rodallega climbing highest at the far post, only for his downward header to be scrambled off the line by full-back Martin Olsson. The home side were then thanking their captain for a last-ditch intervention of his own as Norwich broke dangerously and Snodgrass seemed to have the simplest of task to tuck Olsson’s inviting pass into an empty net before Hangeland and Fernando Amorebieta converged on him.

As Fulham’s defensive line sunk deeper and deeper, even goalscorer Rodallega was called upon at the back. The forward put his head in where it hurt to divert the returning Michael Turner’s header over his own crossbar. Magath moved to shore up his side’s slender advantage by sending Scott Parker and then William Kvist on as second-half substitutes, with the veteran Mahmadou Diarra withdraw to rapturous applause after running himself to a standstill.

Norwich pressed for an equaliser, but couldn’t create a clear-cut chance in a nervy final ten minutes. Instead, it was Fulham who should have sealed the victory in added time. Rodallega raced clear of the Norwich defence and unselfishly squared it for Dejagah, who went for power, and blazed the ball agonisingly over the bar. It proved academic after Mike Dean’s final whistle and Adams will now turn his attention to conjuring some points from a frightening final four fixtures – against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal – to keep the Canaries afloat.

FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Stockdale; Riether, Amorebieta, Heitinga, Hangeland; Diarra (Kvist 85), Sidwell; Kasami (Dejagah 57), Richardson, Holtby (Parker 69); Rodallega. Subs (not used): Stekelenburg, Riise, Roberts, Bent.

BOOKED: Kasami.

GOAL: Rodallega (40).

NORWICH CITY (4-2-3-1): Ruddy; Whittaker, M. Olsson, Turner, Martin; Johnson, Fer (Hoolahan 68); Snodgrass, Howson (Josh Murphy 79), Redmond; van Wolfswinkel (Hooper 60). Subs (not used): Bunn, Garrido, R. Bennett, Tettey.

BOOKED: Whittaker, Fer, Snodgrass.

REFEREE: Mike Dean (Wirral).

ATTENDANCE: 25,028.

Categories: Fulham

My Villa Away Day

hammyend.com - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 13:01

Me just after arriving in the stadium

 

Whenever the news came through that Fulham would be subsidising the tickets for Villa away just before I would be heading home from university I knew that I HAD to at least try and get tickets. With the help of a season ticket holder, I got two tickets; one for me and one for my dad. I had never been to Fulham away match before but knowing that we had 3000 fans heading down to Villa Park and with the game being vitally important for our survival bid, I knew it was going to be good. My journey started at 11pm in Glasgow. I got the overnight bus from Glasgow to Birmingham which had me arriving at my destination at 645am. I didn’t get a minute of sleep on that bus due to excitement and the fact that pretty much everyone around me was snoring! To be honest the lack of sleep didn’t bother me as I knew that the adrenaline would kick in very soon!

We arrived at the stadium quite early so got to see the Fulham team warming up and it wasn’t long before our section of the stadium was packed and chanting away. The support was incredible and it honestly felt like a home match! The team looked focused and only looked away from each other to applaud the Fulham support. You could tell that they were pumped for this one and we certainly helped them with this. They knew how important this one was for their own careers and for the whole club. The desire from the start of the game was amazing to see especially as so often this season fans have criticised the team for not looking like they were interested. The likes of Richardson and Dejagah (2nd half) just ran the whole time putting in good, solid challenges when required. It was clear to see that the noise coming from the Fulham faithful was rattling the Villa team as much it was driving the Fulham team on.

Bringing on Dejagah and Rodallega brought me direct attacking play from Fulham and it worked wonders as the Fulham team started to create more and more chances. It became I very open game as our attacking play always left us slightly vulnerable at the back and caused me to have my heart in my mouth on several occasions! But our pacey attacking play was eventually rewarded with a Richardson screamer that sent all 3000 away fans into mad celebrations! The team celebrated as much as we did, you could tell how much this meant to them. Holtby pretty much ignored his whole team to jump into the fans to earn him a very noble yellow card! However just nine minutes later it looked like a typical Fulham performance when some poor defending lead to Holt to score an equaliser. The great thing though was that we responded by giving our boys more encouragement and this resulted in them continuing to show more and more effort to try and get another goal.

The Holtby chance was insane. For a player who has shown a crazy amount of passion for a loanee, it was gutting to see him miss that opportunity. I can’t honestly think of a player who deserves it more and I am SO glad that he can’t look back on that moment with regret as he would have if we hadn’t have come away victorious. I’m sure many of us thought that that was the chance that we should have taken and that we couldn’t get another chance like it. I have to admit that I couldn’t see how another big chance would come as well but hero of the day Hugo Rodallega came up with the goods with just a few minutes to go. I barely even saw what happened, it was so fast! I can honestly say that I have NEVER celebrated a goal quite like that before! I couldn’t breathe! Hugo’s celebration was super and while we chanted his name he just turned around facing us and joined in. Pure quality.

We even made it on MOTD! This is the celebrations after Hugo’s goal

 

All I can remember about the rest of the game was feeling like I was going to throw up. The girl in front of me turned around and couldn’t watch! It was just that intense. But the boys played it out well, having the ball in our corner just winning corner after corner, getting cheer after cheer. When the final whistle went the jubilation from everyone involved with Fulham was unbelievable. The boys came over to us, throwing their shirts in to the crowd (I’m gutted I didn’t get one myself) and celebrating with us. It was fantastic to see and no one can say that those players don’t want this. We stayed in the stadium for about half an hour after the game ended just singing and chanting ‘We are staying up’. I loved finally getting to be a part of this.

 

We could actually be on the verge of another great escape, something which many of us thought pretty impossible! It is unbelievable to see what one win can do to a club, turning misery into optimism that we could actually stay up! The game tomorrow is now one of the most important games in our history. Our best chance of staying up will be at the expense of Norwich and with their run in after our game, I can’t see them picking up many points. But we cannot count on other teams losing. Incredible things happen in relegation dog fights as we well know! Norwich will want this so much so we will have to be able to cope with that. If you are going to the Cottage tomorrow then you can play a massive part in the result. So keep cheering and drive them on! I wish I could be there.

COYW

Follow me on Twitter- @Lyds_campbell

Categories: Fulham

Stockdale: ‘Character’ can keep us up

hammyend.com - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 08:03

David Stockdale believes Fulham’s character will play a crucial part in their relegation run-in and feels the squad has enough quality to beat the drop.

The Fulham goalkeeper, now firmly established as the club’s number one after replacing Maarten Stekelenburg last month, knows that the club still faces a real battle to get out of the relegation zone – despite climbing off the foot of the table following Saturday’s win over Aston Villa. He feels his team-mates are in the right frame of mind as they approach a pivotal game against 17th-placed Norwich City at Craven Cottage this weekend.

There’s some fight in that dressing room and we’ve believed all along. When things fall into place we might win these games comfortably but for now we’ve just got to keep playing.

The character is there. The players are there. The ability is there. We all know that, but we just need things to click into place for us.

There’s five more games now and we’re still five points adrift so we carry on. Nothing has changed really because we’ve won at Villa. We’re still five points adrift and we need to catch Norwich.

Categories: Fulham

Stoke tickets reduced to £10

hammyend.com - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 16:05

After the success of Fulham’s subsidising of tickets for the trip to Aston Villa on Saturday, the club have announced that tickets for what could be a crucial away day at Stoke City will also be reduced to just £10 for adults and £8 for concessions.

Free coach travel will also be available – and tickets for the May 3rd fixture go on sale to season ticket holders from Thursday morning. More details are available on the club’s official website.

Categories: Fulham

Tankovic wants to stay at Fulham

hammyend.com - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 15:26

Swedish striker Muamer Tankovic has had no shortage of offers from across Europe but wants to stay with Fulham even after his current contract expires.

The teenager, who won his first international cap against Turkey last month, has been linked with a move away from Craven Cottage when his contract expires in June but his preference would be to remain with the London club. The 19 year-old has enjoyed a taste of first-team football this year, making his Fulham debut in the FA Cup third round replay against Norwich City and his impressing on his first start for the club at Old Trafford. His chances have been more limited since Felix Magath replaced Rene Meulensteen in February.

Tankovic told Swedish newspaper Expressen:

I really want to stay at Fulham and we have been talking about a new contract for a year. But we’ll see. I really hope we stay in the Premier League.

I know there are other clubs to choose from too, so we’ll see what happens. There are clubs in the Premier League and some abroad too. We’ll see what happens.

Categories: Fulham

Richardson hails Fulham’s fantastic support

hammyend.com - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 11:57

Kieran Richardson praised Fulham’s travelling supporters for the incredible atmosphere they created during Saturday’s win at Aston Villa – and called on the fans to roar their team on to another vital victory this weekend.

The versatile left-sided player admitted he was inspired by the raucous reception the Fulham players received from the 3,000-strong Fulham support as they came out to warm up at Villa Park and feels that similar backing from the Craven Cottage faithful could be crucial in the coming weeks.

When we came out for the warm-up, I got shivers from the way they were shouting. They were massive for us and that support right there is the support we need for the run-in. It’s unbelievable to play in front of that and hopefully they’ll be the same against Norwich.

Richardson, a veteran of a successful battle against the drop with West Bromwich Albion back in 2005, opened the scoring with a stunning second-half strike and was in doubt as to the significance of Fulham’s late victory at Villa Park.

It was a massive win at Villa. All week we’d been building up to it in training. The magnitude of the game had been drummed into us and we knew we had to go to Villa and win, and we did. Hopefully we can move on this week against Norwich at home.

A win over the Canaries, who responded to their own perilous position in the league table by sacking manager Chris Hughton on Sunday night, would take Fulham to within two points of safety with four games to play.

We’re very confident we can beat Norwich. We’re always confident at home, we have great support. Our last four games, we’ve picked up two wins. We lost against Everton in our previous home match but we played some good football. We’re in form and hopefully we can beat Norwich. It will be a hard, hard game, there’s no denying that – they’re fighting [to stay] in the Barclays Premier League as well. But if we beat them we’ll be two points behind them.

West Brom was a bit different – we weren’t expected to come out of there at all. With Fulham, the players we have, I’m always confident we can get a result. The Manager is top class; from the get go he’s come in and done a good job. I’m not worried. I do believe we’ll get out of it because we have the quality.

I’m ready if it goes that far to the last day. It doesn’t matter if it’s the last day, last minute or last second, as long as we stay up.

Categories: Fulham

From the league website

Craven Cottage Newsround - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 11:14

It’s all to play for!


Filed under: General
Categories: Fulham

From the league website

Craven Cottage Newsround - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 11:14

It’s all to play for!


Filed under: General
Categories: Fulham

Rodallega can fire in the run-in, says Hangeland

hammyend.com - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 08:06

Brede Hangeland has backed super-sub Hugo Rodallega to play a crucial part in Fulham’s run-in after scoring the winner at Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Colombian striker scored his first league goal in more than a year to earn three precious points at Villa Park and, although Rodallega has had to patient and wait for his chance under new manager Felix Magath, the Fulham captain believes the former Wigan forward can make a real impact in the weeks ahead.

Hugo and Ashkan did very well, it was a whole squad effort, and I was delighted we were able to put in a performance like that. I thought everyone involved today, the whole team, got us that victory. I’d like to think [Hugo can play a big part] based on what I saw today. Everyone is important now. It’s all hands to the pump now and it’s pleasing to see players come off the bench and make an impact.

Saturday’s victory lifted Fulham off the bottom of the table but they are still five points from safety and face a make-or-break meeting with Norwich at Craven Cottage this weekend. Hangeland believes that the confidence derived from winning at Aston Villa can give the side a real boost going into a critical run of fixtures.

This is the start of where we want to go. I won’t be pleased until the season’s over and we’re out of the bottom three. That’s what we’re planning to do and we’ll do everything in our power to make sure that happens.

Categories: Fulham

Jacko statue heading for football museum

hammyend.com - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 21:51

Martin Jol offered £20,000 to put the Michael Jackson statue in his back garden, but Mohamed Al Fayed’s most eccentric addition to Craven Cottage is heading for the National Football Museum in Manchester, according to the Daily Mail.

The statue of the pop performer ended up at the Cottage after Al Fayed sold Harrods, where he had originally commissioned it for. It was installed behind the Hammersmith End controversially and survived until September when new Fulham owner Shahid Khan approved its removal and the  National Football Museum entered into discussions with Al-Fayed about a loan.

Mail journalist Charlie Sale discloses that former Fulham manager Jol, sacked by Khan in December, wanted to add the Jackson statue to his considerable art collection as a memento of his time at Craven Cottage. The Dutchman was reportedly ready to pay Al Fayed £20,000 to put the statue in his London home but discussions over the purchase ended once he parted company with Fulham after a 3-0 defeat at West Ham.

Instead, the statue will be housed in Manchester – to Al Fayed’s delight:

The National Football Museum is a splendid institution. The statue means a great deal to me and my family. But on reflection, I decided it should go to a place where it can be enjoyed by the greatest amount of people for ever. I think Michael would have approved of the choice. Like football itself, he entertained the world.

Categories: Fulham

Dembele hat-tricks sends Fulham into FA Youth Cup final

hammyend.com - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 21:11

A hat-trick from French forward Moussa Dembele saw off a brave Reading side and secured Fulham’s passage to their first FA Youth Cup final on a wet evening at Craven Cottage.

Fulham, who fought back from 2-0 down to square matters on aggregate after a pulsating first leg at the Madjeski Stadium, began the brighter of the two sides with Dembele and highly-rated midfielder Patrick Roberts, playing just behind the loan striker, coming to the fore. Quick feet from Roberts provided Fulham’s first chance of the evening, but Reading goalkeeper Lewis Ward managed recover from an untimely slip to smother the ball on the goal-line.

The home side continued to apply pressure with Dembele heading wide from a promising position, but it was far from one way traffic. Centre back Dominic Hyam drove a shot over the bar after a set-piece was only half cleared before full-back Nana Owusu, who was impressive before being forced off with cramp in the second period, miscued an effort from long-range. Owusu was then upended for a free-kick and a powerful drive from distance by Aaron Kuhl was deflected wide.

The complexion of an extremely open contest changed dramatically when some mesmorising close control from Roberts took him around three players on the edge of the box only for his jinking run to come to an end when he was pulled back by Hyam. The referee pointed to the spot and then harshly produced a red card for the Reading centre back, before Dembele calmly dispatched the spot-kick to give Steve Wigley’s side the lead for the first time in the contest.

The visitors switched midfielder Sammi Fridjonsson back to the centre of the defence in a swift reorganisation and almost found an equaliser before the break. The lively Tarique Fosu’s mazy run culminated in a cross that almost caught out Fulham goalkeeper Marek Rodak, who backpeddled and just about clawed the ball away to safety.

Any thoughts that the second half would see Fulham press home their numerical advantage were quickly dispelled as Reading made a lively start to the second period. They grabbed a deserved equaliser from the penalty spot when Emerson Hyndman was adjudged to have brought down Liam Kelly from behind just seconds after what seemed a stronger shout for handball against Ryheem Sheckleford was turned down. The cool Fosu waited for Rodak to commit himself and calmly picked his spot to the goalkeeper’s right.

The ten men weren’t content with just an equaliser. There seemed little danger when the nippy Jack Stacey picked up possession wide out on the right on the halfway line, but he carried the ball towards the edge of the box with purpose as the Fulham defence backed off and then drove an unstoppable shot past a surprised Rodak from 25 yards out. It was a truly sensational goal – and Fulham now faced the prospect of breaking down a disciplined Royals defence to keep their Cup dream alive.

They seemed destined not to find a way past an inspired Ward in the Reading goal. He produced some instinctive saves to keep out a powerful strike from George Williams and then denied Dembele twice in quick succession. Just as it looked as thought it wasn’t going to be Fulham’s night, Dembele found himself in the right place to poke home the rebound after Hyndman’s deflected shot had come back off the crossbar.

Both sides then had chances to win the tie in the final ten minutes. First, Reading, who admirably continued to push men forward despite having played nearly an hour with ten, Tennai Watson produced a brave save from Rodak before Ward saved smartly from Williams and then tipped Dembele’s shot past the post when the former PSG striker was one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

With extra-time looming, the game was decided by a couple of unfortunate mistakes. First, Kelly was dispossessed by the energetic Roberts as he tried to turn deep inside his own territory having received a throw and then, in an attempt to clear the dangerous, the excellent Robert Dickie drove the ball against Dembele and the rebound ricocheted past a helpless Ward and in off the post. Roberts almost made it four in the final minute of stoppage time, but Fulham progress to face the winners of the second semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea.

FULHAM U18s: Rodak; Sheckleford, Evans, Burgess, Donnelly; Sombou, Smile, Hyndman (O’Halloran 90); Roberts, Williams; Dembele. Subs (not used): Norman, Baba, Leacock-McLeod, Redford.

BOOKED: Sheckleford.

GOALS: Dembele (pen 36, 63, 89).

READING U18s: Ward; Watson, Owusu (McLellan 57), Dickie, Hyman; Kuhl, Fridjonsson, Stacey, Fosu, Kelly; Cardwell. Subs (not used): Gogic, Shaughnessy, Husin, Taylor-Crossdale.

SENT OFF: Hyam (35).

GOALS: Fosu (pen 51), Stacey (57).

Categories: Fulham

Fans spurred us on, says Hangeland

hammyend.com - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 17:24

Brede Hangeland has hailed the influence of Fulham’s travelling support in reviving their survival bid during a 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday.

Fulham were roared on by 3,000 fans at Villa and the Fulham captain felt their raucous backing had a significant impact in spurring Felix Magath’s side onto victory, with a late header from Hugo Rodallega securing a precious victory.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many of our supporters at a match outside London so that was great for us. The support throughout the game was first-class and it really gave us an extra boost when we needed it. It was a real pleasure to be able to repay all of their support with a win.

When we have support like that it really does help us to dig deep. You need that extra bit of energy sometimes in the Premier League, especially away from home. We have to be very grateful for everybody making the trip and it was good to give them something back.

The Norwegian defender admitted he did fear the worst after Matt Lowton recovered to clear Lewis Holtby’s shot off the line shortly before Rodallega’s winner. The goal-line decision system showed that the ball had narrowly failed to cross the line, but the German seemed destined to score after rounding Brad Guzan and having the whole goal to aim at.

I didn’t need a replay [to see how close it was]. That was the mother all of chances. At that time, I thought that’s just our luck but fortunately it wasn’t decisive. We worked really hard for the win and we’ll do that again next week.

Categories: Fulham

Diarra delighted with dream return

hammyend.com - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:52

Mahamadou Diarra was delighted just to make it back on a Premier League pitch – but Saturday’s win over Aston Villa made his return in a Fulham shirt extra special.

The Malian midfielder has had a long road back from the injury problems that blighted his last season with Fulham, but his determination to play again impressed new manager Felix Magath after he had been left without a contract since last summer. The 32 year-old revived his old partnership with Steve Sidwell to good effect during Saturday’s vital win at Villa Park that has given Fulham renewed belief that they can avoid relegation from the top flight.

I didn’t know whether I’d make it back. I had a really big injury and it was not easy. But I stayed positive that I would play again and now I’m back and I’m so happy.

I can say thanks to God. It was a really long wait and really difficult for me so today, to see myself back on a Premier League pitch … I’m so pleased. I must also say thanks to Fulham for giving me the opportunity to be here and I must say thank you to my teammates today. It wasn’t easy but my teammates helped me. My body was tiring towards the end but my mentality and my teammates pulled me through.

His professionalism means that helping Fulham out of their perilous predicament remains the only thing on his mind. Diarra is convinced that the confidence gained after Hugo Rodallega’s late winner can help them climb out of the relegation zone.

My comeback was really great for me and for the team, but the most important thing was to get three points. We deserved the win. We controlled the game and we were still trying to play. We got the three points but we can play much better. When they equalised, we didn’t let out heads drop, we kept going and we got our reward.

The 3,000 away fans were great. They really want us to stay up so we have to do it for them as they are always here for us. We now have five finals to play and all the games are very important. We still believe. Why not?

Categories: Fulham

Diarra makes the difference

hammyend.com - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:34

You wouldn’t thought Mahmadou Diarra hadn’t played a first-team game for sixteen months judging by his impact at Aston Villa on Saturday. His anticipation, composure, that familiar range of passing that belies the common description of him as a defensively-minded midfield player, and his stamina were in all in evidence. This wasn’t a rampaging performance to inspire, but a controlled, intelligent display to marvel at. Much like the man himself, it was considered and understated. When Fulham’s midnight hour arrived, Diarra delivered.

Diarra’s desire is unquestionable. After a decorated career, which saw him grace the grandest of stages for Real Madrid, the lure of representing his native Mali again after impressing for Fulham under Martin Jol proved too great. A serious knee injury that he couldn’t shake off was the price of a return to international football – but Diarra refused to give in. He broke down two or three times during his long lay-off from injury, which meant Jol couldn’t justify keeping him on at the end of last season. Undeterred, Diarra continued to train at Motspur Park, hoping to earn a second chance.

Rene Meulensteen was rather blunt in his assessment of Diarra’s chances of making it back, but Felix Magath – a man who sets great store in hard work – recognised a kindred spirit. A short-term, pay-as-you-play deal was the veteran’s reward, but still the whispers remained about whether he was up to it. An unused substitute against Everton – when you felt his combative qualities could have proved useful, especially after Ashkan Dejagah’s thunderbolt hauled Fulham level – Diarra instead got his opportunity at Villa Park and how he seized it.

Many months ago Diarra’s undoubted class was keeping Steve Sidwell out of the side and here he was partnering one of Fulham’s performers of the season in a crucial clash. The combination worked well: Sidwell all hustle and bustle, scampering around the midfield in a high-octane, energetic effort, Diarra sitting deeper protecting Fulham’s fragile defence. He was eager to receive possession, showing for the ball in front of the back four, and always looking for a forward pass – a welcome change as Fulham’s overworked midfielders have often ceded territory in favour of retaining possession over the past few months.

There was a snappiness about his play too. You winced when he went to try and win the ball for fear of those knees failing again, but his experience and calm demeanour counted for plenty as that far-too-open second half wound on. He kept the ball almost with ease at crucial moments and underlined just how badly a struggling side has missed a player of his ilk. A far more precise passer than Sidwell, Kvist or Parker, Diarra offers a different dimension in midfield, much more cultured than the conventional stoppers that he has replaced.

His part in that dramatic winner shouldn’t go unnoticed every. Lewis Holtby’s desire to win can’t be question – he appears to have developed a real affinity with a  club he only joined on loan in January – but his delivery from dead-ball situations was poor on Saturday. His second chance to cross for Rodallega’s deft header came about only through Diarra’s excellent interception of a Villa clearance and precise pass out wide. It happened so swiftly that Villa’s defensive line couldn’t push out far enough – and that goal has clearly breathed new life into Fulham’s survival fight.

With Diarra’s injury record, it is dangerous to wax too lyrical about a single performance, but his return to the first team is so welcome. An intelligent passer who does the simple things so well, he is proof of that old adage about form being temporary and class proving permanent.

Categories: Fulham

Fulham beat Villa, in with half a chance of staying up

Craven Cottage Newsround - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:25

Fulham still have essentially no margin for error, but at least live to fight another week. It’s amazing how the season is almost perfectly poised to produce the most nerve-shredding finish possible.

If we do defeat Norwich next week – and really we must - then that leaves Spurs, Hull and Palace.

Spurs are a mess under Tim Sherwood and in that sense there will probably never be a better time to play them.

Hull are pretty much Fulham’s bogey team now. Our last few fixtures have gone:

2008/09 defeat in Hull by a score of 2-1, defeat at home 1-0 (awful game, cold evening)
2009/10 lost 2-0 there, won 2-0 here
2013/14 ahem

So we’ve lost 4 of the last 5 against a team that struggles. That counts as a minor hoodoo and they also have Tom Huddlestone, who loves playing against Fulham whatever team he’s personally involved with. That’ll be tricky.

Then Crystal Palace at home which, had it been the first game of the season, would have been the easiest game on the fixture list, but Tony Pulis has his team playing well and we’ll have to work for whatever we’re to achieve here.

Norwich themselves will be an awkward proposition: they have four games from hell after us so you can well believe that this is their cup final.

Realism, eh?

All we could do was beat Villa and we did that. Magath deserves much credit for building what looks like a coherent football team, and Saturday was a nice manifestation of this. We saw lots of open football, some horrible defending, but some attacking play that drew gasps. I’m thinking particularly of Holtby’s near miss that featured the most delicious feint by an onrushing Dejagah, some awesome nimbleness by Holtby, and…. another goal missed by a millimetre.

Saturday was about Diarra for me though. I have a theory that central midfield has multiplicative properties: get this right and the whole team gets better; get it wrong and the whole team gets worse. Diarra is basically two players and as such brings his team an immediate advantage. The defence benefits, the forwards benefit, and people like Steve Sidwell aren’t under such pressure.

Note for example the winning goal, in which a Villa player passed the ball to Diarra who passed to Holtby who set up Rodallega. It’s like I always used to say with Dempsey’s tap ins: yes, it looks easy, but that’s because he was there. Nobody else was. Ditto Diarra. He could have been anywhere on the pitch but he popped up exactly where he was needed and from that we scored.

Fulham have been basically awful in transition this year, rarely winning the ball except for around our our area, and unable to spring counter attacks. This wasn’t a counter attack but the act of winning possession deep in an opponent’s half cannot be underestimated. The opponent has to turn, is halfway ready to attack and not ready to defend, and that buys you those vital fractions of seconds that differentiate another near thing and something special. So yes, credit Holtby and credit Rodallega but Diarra did the thing that made it happen.

I also loved Kieron Richardson’s goal. I am likely in a minority of one here but I am starting to think of him as our player of the season. For reasons hinted at above, I don’t know that the otherwise admirable Sidwell quite deserves the accolade: he has been extremely busy but my feeling is that our struggles have in no small part been because our midfield hasn’t been able to help our defence *or* our attack. Our midfield has been about as generous to opponents as is possible at this level, so are we really saying with a straight face that the leader of this department is our best player? Maybe. I could be really wrong and I’m not for a minute understimating his goals, his commitment and his leadership, all of which have I’m sure helped. But in the cold light of day I don’t know how effective he’s been overall. (Note the phrasing there: “I don’t know”.)

In any case, I like Richardson’s efforts, he has struggled with fitness but seems to be able to make tangibly positive contributions to the team. I think he’s been effective in what he’s done and his pace and energy have been a nice surprise.

So yes, that was a really good win. Heaven knows we needed it, and it would be easy to get carried away now, but I think we all realise deep down that this is the benchmark now, this is where we need to be for the remainder of the season. Another couple of wins and it gets very interesting. Can we do it?


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Categories: Fulham