Kit Symons believes that Tim Hoogland will be fit to start Tuesday’s game at Rotherham despite being taken off midway through the first half during this afternoon’s win over Norwich City.
The German full-back was substituted just after Sean Kavanagh scored the only goal of the game, but Symons told reporters after the match that the problem was more to do with illness than the bang to the face he took in the early stages of the contest.
He’s all right, he’s had a bad head cold in the last couple of days. So rather than it being a knock and a concussion he had a bad head cold and was feeling a bit light-headed.
I don’t think (the whack) helped but I don’t think it was from that, it was more from not feeling great. But to be fair to him, I spoke to him yesterday. I said if he’s not right I won’t play him. I would never put players out there who are not fully fit.
But Tim phoned up and said he was really good and wants to go for it. So that’s showing great character and commitment to his team-mates and the football club. It didn’t work out for him today but as soon as he flagged it up we brought him off and hopefully he’ll be OK for Tuesday.
The 29 year-old is currently Fulham’s top scorer having scored four times in thirteen appearances since signing from Schalke on a free transfer in June.
Kit Symons praised his Fulham side for a battling performance after they beat league leaders Norwich 1-0 at Craven Cottage this afternoon – and credited their defensive discipline for earning all three points.
Symons identified his team’s willingness to defend from the front and shut down a Norwich side that enjoyed the majority of the possession during an engrossing encounter as the main determinant of a result that will boost his chances of earning the manager’s position on a full-time basis.
I love to see all the silky soccer and link up play that we can do, it’s brilliant. But equally that’s got to come from a solid base and that’s what the boys had to show today. There was some real resolute defending out there and there are an awful lot of tired players in the dressing room as you can imagine.
Games like that do give you a great deal of satisfaction. More importantly, they give the players a lot of belief that they can win games in that manner.
Symons singled out young defender Sean Kavanagh for particular praise after the Republic of Ireland youth international’s first senior goal proved to be the difference between the sides.
I know him from the Under-18s and Under-21s and I’ve got to say that I wouldn’t want it to fall to anyone else’s left foot. It’s his first senior goal and one I’m sure he’ll remember for a long time.
The caretaker felt the victory would do his chances of becoming Felix Magath’s permanent successor little harm, but insisted he had been given no new indication of what the future held.
I’m sure that three points as often as possible is not going to hurt my chances so I’ll just keep plugging away. While I’m in situ in this position, I’ll keep doing what I do. It’s [about] working as hard as we can with the players on the training pitch and trying to win games of football for this great football club.
Nothing’s been said about [when a decision will be made] it. It won’t be a rushed decision, I know that, it will be a considered decision and it will be the right decision, when it’s made.
Norwich City’s wretched run at Craven Cottage. Sean Kavanagh’s first senior goal extended their winless streak at Fulham to seventeen games and saw Neil Adams’ side deposed at the top of the Championship, although the home side had to draw on real resilience to repel a concerted Norwich onslaught in the second half.
Fulham’s fighting qualities belied their poor league position and this impressive victory can only have strengthened caretaker manager Kit Symons’ claims to succeed Felix Magath on a full-time basis. Symons dismissed suggestions that his players were affected by the ongoing search for a new manager, being overseen by a five man panel that will report to chairman Shahid Khan, and reasserted his own desire to take on the job. The popular former centre back is the fans’ choice and has transformed the atmosphere around the club since Magath’s departure. It was clear from this whole-hearted display that the players are right behind the caretaker.
Whilst Fulham were on the back foot for most of the second period, the home side actually began brightly. Kavanagh, who replaced the injured Fernando Amorebieta in Symons’ only change from the side that lost 2-0 at Middlesbrough, started in front of left back Kostas Stafylidis and the pair linked up promisingly down the left flank. Bryan Ruiz nearly freed Hugo Rodallega in the opening moments with a clever back heel, before Ross McCormack’s powerful drive from 25 yards was blocked at source by Russell Martin. Top scorer Tim Hoogland offered a reminder of his aerial threat, sending a free header over from eight yards, and the hosts gleefully accepted a gift from Michael Turner to open the scoring.
A sloppy pass from the former Brentford defender was seized upon by Scott Parker, who freed Rodallega down the Fulham right. The Colombian forward burst into the Norwich half and then worked the ball across the width of the pitch. The marauding Lasse Vigen Christensen teed up 20 year-old Kavanagh, who calmly slotted a clever finish across John Ruddy and inside the far post from the edge of the box. Only a saving tackle from Wes Hoolahan prevented Rodallega from latching onto another risky Norwich pass in the final third – and the Canaries were indebted to the Republic of Ireland international just before half time when he headed a powerful Dan Burn header off his own goal-line.
Adams’ side had dominated much of the possession, but barely tested Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli, who comfortably fielded a speculative shot from Bradley Johnson and briefly juggled a curling cross from Nathan Redmond. The league leaders were sent out early for the second period and earned an immediate opportunity to level the contest through a contentious penalty, when Burn was adjudged to have brought down Cameron Jerome. Referee Graham Salisbury appeared to have waved away Norwich’s appeals, before awarding the penalty on the advice of his assistant. It seemed debatable and Fulham’s fury was only sated when Lewis Grabban’s spot-kick rattled the crossbar and bounced away to safety.
The visitors stepped up their search for an equaliser and Adams offered former Celtic striker Gary Hooper his first league outing of the season from the substitutes’ bench. The increasingly influential Hoolahan was carried off after injuring an ankle, but Fulham were being pushed further and further back, with the peerless Nikolay Bodurov heading away a series of dangerous crosses. Johnson lashed a desperate shot wide from distance – and Norwich almost paid the penalty at the other end, but Fulham substitute Moussa Dembele failed to get enough power behind his shot to beat John Ruddy from close range at a corner.
Teenager Josh Murphy tested the resilience of Fulham’s tiring full-backs in what could have proved a game changing cameo from the bench. First, he turned Elsad Zverotic inside out before firing a shot right across the face of goal when Hooper was lingering at the back post for the pull back, and then he cut inside and curled a majestic effort against the crossbar from 20 yards with Bettinelli well beaten. Late free-kicks offered the best opportunities for an equaliser but a crucial interception from Stafylidis prevented Hooper from stealing in and Turner sent a far-post header wide as Fulham hung on for the three points.
FULHAM (4-3-1-2): Bettinelli; Hoogland (Zverotic 22), Stafylidis, Bodurov, Burn; Parker, Christensen, Kavanagh; Ruiz (Dembele 72); McCormack, Rodallega. Subs (not used): Kiraly, Hutchinson, Hyndman, Roberts.
BOOKED: Parker, Stafylidis.
GOAL: Kavanagh (22).
NORWICH CITY (4-2-3-1): Ruddy; Whittaker, Olsson, Martin, Turner; Tettey, Johnson; Grabban (Hooper 66), Redmond, Hoolahan (Murphy 57); Jerome. Subs (not used): Rudd, Miguel, Howson, O’Neill, Odjidja.
REFEREE: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire).
We’ve talked about this in the past several times. The answer is “confrontations”. The more confrontations you have, the more talent will overcome the noise from random variation. A sport like basketball has plenty of confrontations. This allows the talent to shine through more, and so, keeps random variation at bay. That is, don’t expect many upsets. If however the NBA was limited to a 12-minute game, random variation would fly. The predictability would be severely reduced. And if you limit the season to a 32-game season as well, that would further allow random variation to take center stage.
The NBA is considering a 44-minute game. I love that they took the initiative. I don’t think they’ll get anything worth reporting on, especially based on one game.
It’ll never happen, and it probably never should happen, but if Premier League games were reduced to an hour, or even 45 minutes, the big teams wouldn’t dominate quite as much, you’d get more teams competing and it would be more interesting overall.
Filed under: General
Sport is in many ways a waste of time and brain space. But when it’s nice, it’s really nice.
As you’ll know if you’ve read this for any time I’m a big fan of Juliana Hatfield. In a generally brilliant but occasionally erratic musical career Hatfield is capable of moments that make me feel feint. Bring a tear to my eye.
Take this for instance. It’s an album track from the Blake Babies’ 1990 album “Sunburn” and is a relatively ordinary Boston indie pop song. But at the end John Strohm’s guitar revs up a bit and Hatfield adds some harmonies that send me to heaven.
It’s more subtly demonstrated here. This is the Lemonheads’ “Drug Buddy”, one of the great songs from a great spell for Evan Dando’s band. Hatfield offered exceptional harmonies here, too, but much deeper into the background. She pops up on 4-5 Lemonheads songs like this and adds a great deal each time despite being barely noticeable.
For the full effect see 1990’s “Only Everything” album, whose title was taken from Dinosaur Jr’s phenomenal “Raisans”* In an otherwise loud and fuzzy album, the tender “Live on Tomorrow” contains one of the best 90 seconds of music I’m aware of.
That’s what it’s all about in my world. If you have it in you to make beautiful music, to bring about a gentle feeling of ecstasy in the middle of another dull London day, if you can do that, and if you’re given the chance to do that, then the world is a much better place than it would have been had you not been given this chance.
Your best is not just better than others’ best, it is beautifully and spectacularly better. Your day-to-day performance might not always be so good. But when you’re on, by god you’re on.
I make no apologies for this post. I didn’t see last night’s game but I’m looking forward to the highlights.
*The lights exploded
She stood burning in front of me
She ripped my heart out beating
My eyes wouldn’t open, cemented to her face
Have I begun a feeble chase?
I’ll be down, I’ll be around
I’ll be hanging where eventually you’ll have to be
I’ll just stare and hope you’ll care
It’s only everything standing in front of me
I know what you did to me
I know what you did was wrong
You’re allowed to torture me
Wait a moment until I’m gone
I know you’re the ticket, you gotta be
‘Cause I let you alone for long
Got to be so completely
Got to be so I can’t hang on
(you’re killing me)
I’ll be down, I’ll be around
I’ll be hanging where eventually you’ll have to be
I’ll just stare and hope you’ll care
It’s only everything standing in front of me
I’ll be down, I’ll be around
I’ll be hanging where eventually you’ll have to be
Then that man is standing there
Now you’ll have to decide the fate of my sanity
Filed under: General
Chris Coleman has backed his former team-mate Kit Symons to take over at Fulham – but he says he would be able to retain his current position as Welsh assistant manager if he lands the Craven Cottage job full-time.
Coleman, whose first job in management came at Fulham between 2003 and 2007, believes that Symons, who has been assisting with his Wales since January 2012, is the right man to bring stability to the club but such a move would be bittersweet.
If he does get it he won’t be able to do both. If he gets it I’ll be delighted for Kit but I certainly don’t want to lose him.
Symons, who has managed both the Under 18 and Under 21 sides at Fulham, has been vocal in admitting his desire to succeed the sacked Felix Magath on a permanent basis. He has increased his chances after putting together a run of three straight wins – including last night’s 4-0 hammering of Bolton – and looks like leading candidate to be considered by Shahid Khan’s five-man selection committee. Coleman believes his passion for the club makes him a good fit.
I think he really wants the job and I’d like to see him get the chance. I think he would be good for Fulham. I think it’s what Fulham needs, someone like Kit who absolutely loves the club at heart.
Kit Symons believes Fulham’s thumping victory over Bolton at Craven Cottage last night will have helped strengthen his case to become the permanent successor to Felix Magath.
Owner Shahid Khan unveiled a five-man selection panel to help him choose the German’s replacement yesterday and Symons saw his side record their third straight win with a flawless dismantling of Bolton. Goals from Hugo Rodallega, Fernando Amorebieta, Lasse Vigen Christensen and Tim Hoogland meant the caretaker manager offered a timely reminder of his credentials to the men making the decision, including former Fulham captains Danny Murphy and Brian McBride.
That performance and result certainly won’t do me any harm. When I took over in I tried to galvanise the club and get everyone pulling together, and to start winning games, and on both counts it’s going pretty well so far. “It’s a great feeling hearing the fans sing my name. I’ve had stadiums booing me before, when I played, so it’s nice to have one cheering me now.
Symons did have sympathy for his former Crystal Palace team-mate Dougie Freedman, who is now clinging to his job as Bolton boss, after the Trotters’ tenth game without a win.
It’s the other side of the game. We’re euphoric and on a high, but unfortunately there’s always someone on the other end of it.
A day after Shahid Khan unveiled the five-man committee that would select Felix Magath’s successor, Kit Symons compiled the perfect job application as his Fulham side produced their most complete performance of the season in putting four past Bolton Wanderers and piling the pressure on a beleaguered former team-mate in Dougie Freedman.
Symons, who was told last week that he would be considered by the Fulham owner’s selection panel as a serious contender to succeed Magath, has made no secret of the fact that he covets the job at a club he knows so well. Stability is one thing that has been lacking during Khan’s first year at the helm since assuming ownership of the west London club from Mohamed Al-Fayed. So too have consistent performances. Three straight wins have transformed a fragile, young side into a team that can play the kind of crisp passing football that could frighten far better sides than Bolton on this evidence.
Symons made a decisive break with the Magath regime by recalling three international figures marginalised under his German predecessor. Fernando Amorebieta, Hugo Rodallega and Bryan Ruiz all found the net as brittle Bolton were swept aside this evening and offer the kind of quality that Fulham had lacked during their eight game winless streak at the start of the season that proved a traumatic introduction to life below the top flight. There was time for sparkling cameos from three youngsters with bright futures down by the Thames: the talented trio of Welsh international George Williams, England under-21 striker Cauley Woodrow and mesmorising midfielder Patrick Roberts, coveted by a whole host of top clubs, threatened to run an overworked Bolton defence ragged into the closing minutes.
Fulham were quickly into their stride, with Ross McCormack having an early goal chalked off for offside after he followed up Ruiz’s instinctive volley. Bolton’s reprieve lasted all of five minutes. The lively McCormack found time and space in front of the back four and Rodallega was on hand to profit when Matt Mills slipped at the most inopportune moment. The Colombian forward, high on confidence after his winner at Birmingham on Saturday, needed no second invitation to sweep McCormack’s measured chip into the far corner. There was almost a second moments later when Kostas Stafylidis, preferred to Emerson Hydman in midfield, carried the ball forward and saw his 25-yarder deflect wide off the sprawling Jay Spearing.
Bolton’s best opportunities came courtesy of the former Liverpool midfielder, who was sent off here three years ago for a late challenge on Moussa Dembele. His right-wing cross almost fell for Liam Feeney but Tim Hoogland’s terrific tackle averted the danger, whilst another dangerous delivery allowed former Fulham midfielder Darren Pratley to graze the crossbar after ghosting in unnoticed at the back post.
Fulham enjoyed plenty of possession but looked set to have a slender lead at half-time after Ruiz’s clever curling effort drifted inches wide, before the Costa Rican midfielder’s exquisite delivery from a stoppage time free-kick found Amorebieta stealing in between two defenders at the near post to guide home a looping header. The hosts still had to weather a prolonged period of Bolton pressure after the restart, sparked by a treble change from Freeman which saw Mark Davies, Jermaine Beckford and Joe Mason arrive just five minutes into the second half. The visitors enjoyed plenty of territory but clear-cut chances eluded them, with Neil Danns shooting wastefully into the Putney End from distance.
Symons’ side had already served notice of their threat on the break with McCormack’s delicate chip after a sumptuous Ruiz backeel landing on the roof of Andy Lonergan’s net. The crucial third goal came in the 67th minute and was the culmination of a flowing move. Ruiz stroked a searching ball into the inside right channel for Rodallega to chase and the former Wigan striker surged into the Bolton box before squaring for the tireless Lasse Vigen Christensen to sidefoot home his first goal for the club.
To their credit, Bolton continued to search for a route back into the contest and created two of the best openings of the half. Fulham were indebted to a fine saving tackle from Nikolay Bodurov when Mark Davies darted dangerously into the penalty area and then Beckford, a rumoured transfer deadline day target for Fulham, dragged a shot from Feeney’s fine cross disappointingly wide. Freedman’s frustrating evening was rounded off when Fulham added a fourth with Christensen turning provider for Hoogland, who lashed a first-time finish in off the far post.
With the Hammersmith End acclaiming Symons, there were chances for Fulham to increase the margin of victory still further as Staflyidis skied a decent chance from the left and Roberts saw a low shot bravely blocked, but the thumping nature of Fulham’s victory had already been underlined. A sterner test of the caretaker’s credentials awaits at Middlesbrough on Saturday.
FULHAM (4-1-2-1-2): Bettinelli; Hoogland, Amorebieta, Bodurov, Burn; Parker (G. Williams 71); Stafylidis, Christensen; Ruiz; McCormack (Roberts 80), Rodallega (Woodrow 78). Subs (not used): Kiraly, Kavanagh, Hyndman, Smith.
GOALS: Rodallega (9), Amorebieta (45+2), Christensen (67), Hoogland (79).
BOLTON WANDERERS (4-2-3-1): Lonergan; Herd, Moxey, Mills (M. Davies 52), Dervite; Ream, Spearing; Feeney, Danns, Pratley (Mason 52); C. Davies (Beckford 52). Subs (not used): Kenny, Garvan, Lee Chung-Yong, Medo.
BOOKED: Herd, M. Davies.
REFEREE: Stuart Attwell (Nuneaton).
“A committee is like an animal with four back legs” – George Smiley, quoting Spymaster Karla, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre
Nevertheless, a 5 man “find the next Fulham manager” committee is what we have. Shahid Khan has noticed that post Hodgson we’ve made a series of poor decisions and now intends to do things differently. Well done him.
There’s a fan on board, one David Daly, but not just any fan. Daly is a senior director at Nike.
Huw Jennings is included, which is good and acknowledgement of what’s most important for this club for the next few seasons.
Brian McBride has always seemed like a nice man. I’m not clear what Brian will be bringing to the table, which sounds a lot harsher than it’s meant to. Another perspective probably, which is fine. McBride’s a bright man and probably a sensible addition here.
Danny Murphy is very bright and clearly ‘gets’ Fulham. My reading of him is that he’s quite conservative in his footballing beliefs and would be the kind to advocate a British manager where possible, but I have nothing to base this on. He would be well connected within the game and could ‘sound out’ possible candidates on the grapevine.
Niall Quinn seems like a footballing good egg and has been in the dressing room and the boardroom, and, let’s face it, seen some good examples of how these things can go wrong while at Sunderland.
Will these five wise men come up with an answer to Fulham’s woes? Maybe, maybe not, but Khan earns points for at least going about all this in a transparant and outwardly sensible fashion. The alternative could have left him open to various unwanted accusations, so choosing a team of respected (which they all are, more or less) experts to lead the process makes every sense.
Unless I’m misreading the situation it’s not lovely for the CEO, but I think we were sort of getting that.
Me, I hope Kit Symons gets a bit longer. Amid all the excitement is the simple fact that under him we’ve shown capabilities of winning football matches, and if we haven’t quite resembled Brazil 1970 yet, then perhaps it’s not that easy to turn around a team that’s been mistreated so. My preference would be for Kit to keep the job until such a point as he proves he isn’t up to it, at which point the league of extraordinary gentlemen step in with their dossier of possibilities and we recruit based on that.
But we’ll see, eh?
Filed under: General
Shahid Khan has appointed a five-man committee to help him find Fulham’s permanent successor to Felix Magath.
The Fulham chairman had promised ‘a thorough and exhaustive search’ in his programme notes immediately after the sacking of the German coach a fortnight ago and has stayed true to his word, despite caretaker manager Kit Symons’ impressive start. Khan’s committee comprises of Nike senior director David Daly, head of the Fulham Academy Huw Jennings, former Fulham captains Brian McBride and Danny Murphy and the former Arsenal, Sunderland and Manchester City striker Niall Quinn.
Khan said in a club statement released this afternoon:
I’ve got the right five men to help us find the right man for Fulham. They each bring something similar, and yet unique, to the search. They understand what we want to achieve and they’re committed to the process. And they very much respect Fulham. They know this is a special job for a manager and they want to play a role in making sure we get this right for everyone who plays for Fulham or loves the club. And we will.
The chairman told Kit Symons last week that he will be considered as a candidate to take on the job on a full-time basis.
Tim Hoogland has urged his Fulham team-mates to put together a more complete performance against Bolton Wanderers after their come from behind victory at Birmingham on Saturday.
The German right back, who has switched to a defensive role again after a spell in midfield, has echoed the words of caretaker manager Kit Symons in calling for an end to the patchy displays that has characterised Fulham’s slow start to life in the Championship.
It’s a tough league, the second half at Birmingham was really great, but we have to remember it and play like that for 90 minutes in the next game.
Hoogland has proved an unexpected source of goals since his summer move from Schalke, with his crucial equaliser at St. Andrew’s his third in eleven appearances for Fulham.
It got a little deflection, but you need a bit of luck. If you don’t shoot, you don’t score, and it was the turning point of the game. If we were to have won 4-1 it wouldn’t have been a surprise.
Victory over Bolton at Craven Cottage tomorrow night could lift te Cottagers out of the Championship relegation zone.
Kit Symons will be offered the Fulham’s manager job on a full-time basis if he can steer his side to victory over fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers at Craven Cottage on Wednesday, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The paper reports that the current caretaker manager has the support of the key members of Fulham’s board after winning two of his first three matches in charge, including recording the club’s first win in a traumatic Championship campaign at Birmingham on Saturday. Shahid Khan could be close to calling off what he had previously described as a ‘thorough search’ for a replacement for the sacked Felix Magath as Symons’ has impressed club officials with the way he has boosted morale during his short time in charge.
Already having regarded at Motspur Park for his impressive work with the club’s Under 18 and Under 21 sides, Symons also has three years as a player – including two promotions – at Craven Cottage and was the fans’ favourite to take over from Magath, even prior to the German coach’s dismissal after the 5-3 defeat at Nottingham Forest. His closeness to the club’s Academy set-up is seen as crucial given Fulham’s current reliance on young players.
Although Fulham were beaten 1-0 at home by Blackburn Rovers in Symons’ first game in charge, the 43 year-old former centre back guided the Whites into the fourth round of the Capital One Cup with a win over Doncaster Rovers and inspired a comeback at St. Andrew’s on Saturday to lift the Londoners off the foot of the league table.
Scott Parker believes Fulham’s battling victory at Birmingham on Saturday could be the spark that ignites their season and he has called on his team-mates to follow up their first league win with three more points against Bolton on Wednesday.
The Fulham captain was encouraged by his side’s resilience as they fought back from a goal down to move off the bottom of the Championship table thanks to goals from Tim Hoogland and Hugo Rodallega at St. Andrew’s. The relief at a first win in nine games was tangible.
It’s a very important win, obviously. We’ve been searching for this win for some time now so it’s often been quite disappointing on a Saturday. I didn’t think we played very well in the first half but then we showed a lot of character in the second half. When we went 2-1 up we always felt we were going to see out the game.
I think when you get to this point, it was always about the result, that’s the key thing. We’ve got our first win away from home and we’ve got another game coming up really quick so we’we’ve got to try and get back-to-back wins so we can start pushing up the table.
The 33 year-old is expecting a tough battle when Bolton, another of the early season strugglers, come to Craven Cottage in midweek.
You look at Bolton’s side and the players they’ve got – they’re a good side on paper. They’ve got some good players so it’ll be another tough game – although in this league I think we’ve all come to realise there are no easy games – but we’re looking forward to it.
We said at the start of the season that we have got a very young squad. Even the boys who aren’t young have never played in this league, but I’m certainly seeing massive improvements and I think the lads are slowly getting to realise what this league’s all about, and what some of the main ingredients you need are.
Technically, I think we’re probably one of the best teams in the league but there’s the other side to the game, especially in the Championship, which you need, and certainly on Saturday in the second half we showed that. It was a massive win and the changing room was bouncing – obviously we haven’t had a win all season so it was very pleasing. Hopefully now we can go into the Bolton game and win again.
Hugo Rodallega has revealed that caretaker manager Kit Symons has completely transformed the atmosphere since taking over at Fulham.
Symons’ relaxed demeanour contrasts sharply with the sacked Felix Magath, whose disciplined approach to training was rumoured to have alienated a number of players. Several former Fulham players heavily criticised the German coach after the club’s relegation from the Premier League last season – and the German coach was once again in the news recently after recommending Brede Hangeland, who was released in the summer, should attempt to cure a persistent injury with a block of cheese.
Rodallega, who scored the winner as Fulham recorded their first league win at Birmingham on Saturday, credits Symons with almost immediately repairing the damage from Magath’s disastrous reign.
Everything has changed inside the group. I’m happier now, the guys are happier and everyone is enjoying their training sessions. This is important because in the last two or three months we don’t feel good.
Now Kit Symons has come in and we are doing better and will try and win the next game. He wants the team happy, he wants us to enjoy training sessions. He wants us to enjoy playing every game for Fulham.
Two wins in the space of five days will have boosted Symons’ chances of securing the managerial position on a permanent basis. Fulham move out of the bottom three with a win against fellow strugglers Bolton at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night.
During his decorated career, Kit Symons has been a part of Fulham Football Club for a total of nine years, three as a player and six in a number of different roles within the academy. We fast forward to 2014 and Kit Symons is (temporarily, for now) sitting in the hot seat as a caretaker manager following the sacking of Felix Magath. Kit has left nobody in any doubt that he wants to be Magath’s permanent successor, seeing himself as the man to both stabilise and take the football club forward. It’s an audition he’s passing comfortably so far; two wins from three games, as well as a much improved spirit around the club, the former Wales international is putting himself in a very good position indeed to take the metaphorical ball and run with it.
Symons has steered Fulham to their first back-to-back wins since April, and a first league success of the season, but he still sees room for improvement – a trait that no doubt comes from his years of playing and coaching, “If we could actually start playing well for 90 minutes of football, it’d be a doddle this job but unfortunately it’s not quite as simple as that.” Our first league win may have been a bit of a squeeze, but the momentum of Championship games mean that two wins in a row (albeit one against a League One side) means the two wins are vital, and with Bolton at home coming up midweek, the momentum will hopefully continue and Fulham, with Kit at the helm, could make it three wins in their last three.
A cloud has been lifted at Craven Cottage, and whilst the league table isn’t how we’d all like, it feels everyone at the club is united and, finally, everyone is happy. Kit, part of the Fulham squad that took Fulham to the Premier League in the first place, is a man that every supporter can relate. He’s a coach who has served his apprenticeship seeking a break, and Fulham, a club that he openly claims to love, could be his big break. Those that have watched Kit’s Under-21s in the past few years will know that Symons has them playing some wonderful football; whilst we obviously have some of the more talented youngsters in the country, it takes good coaching to get them together and playing with the suave nature that they do.
Lest we forget, Kit Symons has worked with the likes of Dan Burn, Marcus Bettinelli, Lasse Vigen Christensen and Cauley Woodrow over the past few years; he won’t only know them on a professional level, but there’s a personal affection there also. He knows what these players can offer, how much they can give, and they know that he was part of their journey to full-time professional football. All you have to do is look at the Fulham Under-21s page on the Fulham website, and Kit Symons has worked with every single one of them. Who better to have in charge than the man that helped them in the final stages of their development before going to first team football, either at Fulham or elsewhere on loan or permanently?
We’ve already seen at times in the first three games, some of the football has been absolutely delightful; including his new front three of Bryan Ruiz, Ross McCormack and Hugo Rodallega, a forward line that should, on song,really decimate the Championship. Lasse Vigen Christensen, who when given game time under Magath, previously looked out of his depth, but his performance against Birmingham was impressive; and you’ve got to look at the effect that Symons is having on the 20 year old Danish midfielder. Marcus Bettinelli gave us the opportunity to win the game yesterday, making some top-draw saves; whilst vice-captain Dan Burn has taken his second chance in the Fulham side with aplomb.
It’s only been eight days to date and things have gone from very gloomy to rays of sunshine, imagine what Kit could do with weeks, months and maybe a transfer window? Does anybody know our players like he does? Does anybody know our young players like he does? Does anybody else offer the same connection to the football club, as well as that knowledge of our playing staff? Kit Symons is the right man, at the right time and Shahid Khan should appoint him on a full-time basis. I don’t think anybody suits our football club more, and he may be “unproven,” but I believe that he will prove doubters wrong, and prove them wrong in style.
Hugo Rodallega was delighted to cap Fulham’s crucial comeback at Birmingham with the winner yesterday, but insists that the first three points of the season are only the start on the road to recovery.
The Colombian striker’s clever finish from close range gave the Whites their first league victory in some six months and lifted Kit Symons’ men off the foot of the Championship table and Rodallega was savouring that long-missed winning feeling after the final whistle.
It was very important. Our first three points is very important for the group. Everyone is thinking positively now and this is the start for us. The first win of the season is very important for our confidence and everyone is happy after the game.
The feeling is perfect inside of the group and that’s what we need. That’s what we need, to keep this feeling, and we’ll take this feeling into the next game.
Rodallega’s whole-hearted display typified Fulham’s desire to get back into a game that appeared beyond them once David Cotterill curled Birmigham into a first-half lead, which the Blues threatened to extend. The striker’s hunger was typified by the manner in which decisively won the battle for the loose ball with goalkeeper Darren Rudolph prior to finishing so impressively from an acute angle.
I’m so happy to get the winning goal, it’s very important for me to keep scoring. I am a striker and I need to score goals. I’m always fighting to score and this goal was a very important one. There were some other chances when the goal didn’t happen, it’s not great but it happens in football.
It’s important to keep going and eventually the goal came my way. I’m very happy for myself, for the group, for my family and for the fans.
Hugo Rodallega’s expertly taken finish might have grabbed all the headlines this morning, but Fulham owe a debt of gratitude to the brilliance of their goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli for keeping them in the contest at Birmingham yesterday. Whilst their second half recovery, which featured two goals in eight second half minutes knocked the stuffing out of the home side, the fact that the Blues had merely a slender advantage was down a string of fine saves from the youngster who must now have firmly established himself as Fulham’s number one.
Bettinelli’s meteoric rise to first-team football in the Championship might well have been a surprise to many, but Fulham have always had high hopes for their vocal goalkeeper who has been with the club since he was fourteen. He was a star of the 2010 Under-18 side that reached the FA Youth Cup quarter finals – which was the first time this correspondent considered his credentials as a potential number one - but injuries prevented him from kicking on after winning the battle for a professional contract with Wes Fotheringham. A year-long absence from regular football might have adversely affected weaker characters, but it only served to spur on Bettinelli, who was outstanding during loan spells at both Dartford and Accrington Stanley, where he was named Young Player of the Year last season after having a defining impact on their successful fight against the drop.
The 22 year-old’s excellent agility and existing league record made Felix Magath’s choice of Jesse Joronen as the first-team goalkeeper after the departure of David Stockdale something of eyebrow raiser. But far from be deflated, Bettinelli continued his diligent work down at Motspur Park, determined to make the most of his chance should it materialise. And how he did. An excellent display in the Capital One Cup win at Brentford highlighted both his potential and his maturity, delivering a first clean sheet of the season. One save in particular, narrowing the angle before turning aside a drive from Jota in the first half, proved crucial.
Magath harshly consigned Bettinelli to the substitutes bench despite a creditable display in the draw against Cardiff, accommodating new arrival Gabor Kiraly, but the German’s coach departure left Kit Symons – a long-term admirer of Bettinelli’s – in charge of first-team affairs. His return to the number one spot came against Blackburn, where he was only beaten by a clinical Jordan Rhodes strike, and his penalty save against Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday was pivotal, as Fulham were just beginning to show signs of collapsing short of the winning line.
For a team not used to grinding out results, having confidence in the goalkeeper is absolutely essential. When the visitors were well and truly under the cosh at St. Andrew’s yesterday, Bettinelli stood tall. Lee Clark’s side should certainly have been well clear by half-time – and the fact that they weren’t owed much to a super save from the rampaging Jonathan Grounds before the half-time whistle. There was even better to come after the break as Brek Shea burst through on goal. The American’s fierce drive seemed destined for the top corner before the diving Bettinelli intervened to turn it over the bar. On such moments do matches then.
Encouragingly, there’s far more to Bettinelli’s game than reaction stops. His leadership qualities are impressive in one so young as is his ability to organise a defence that still looks alarmingly shaky at times. Bettinelli’s distribution can also aid a swift counter-attack as we first witnessed that night at Griffin Park and, an almost nonchalant throw-out, found an unmarked team-mate towards the half way line in the second half yesterday. It’s been a long wait – but Bettinelli’s patience and persistence has certainly paid off.
Kit Symons praised his side’s spirit after they battled back from a goal down at Birmingham to record Fulham’s first win of the season this afternoon.
Second half strikes from Tim Hoogland and Hugo Rodallega secured a 2-1 victory at St. Andrew’s and helped lift the Whites off the bottom of the Championship table. Symons saluted his players self-belief and determination after they produced a much-improved second half display to turn the match on its head.
I’m absolutely delighted for the players, for the fans and for the whole football club. Winning breeds confidence and gives you momentum. That’s what we’ve got now, two wins on the spin, and we need to build on it.
It’s a start, and that’s all it is. But it’s a great start to have. Belief was the word we spoke about before the game, and at half-time, because I don’t think we really showed the belief in the first half but in the second half we showed it in abundance. We’ve got really quality in this group but we’ve got real character as well, and when you get the two together, you’ve got a chance.
Symons admitted he had to tell a few home truths in the dressing room at half time after a lacklustre and disappointing display was punished by David Cotterill’s fine strike seven minutes before the break.
[I told them to] liven up a bit because we didn’t get going at all. Our defending was a little bit loose and our passing was absolutely awful. We were overplaying in the wrong areas and it was a poor first-half performance. Birmingham were the better side and they deserved their lead.
But the players took on board what we told them at half-time, what we asked them to do differently, and they came out and did it fantastically well. We got two goals and then we could have got a couple more. Although they were pushing for the equaliser, our goal looked pretty solid, pretty safe and we looked more likely to score the next goal as well.
In the three games since I’ve taken over, we seem to do either very well first half and drop off in the second half or the other way. If we could actually start playing well for 90 minutes of football, it’d be a doddle this job but unfortunately it’s not quite as simple as that.
Symons saved special praise for the performance of Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli who kept the Cottagers’ in the contest with a string of fine saves.
Marcus is an excellent keeper, we’ve known that for a long, long time. He been thrown in the first team maybe earlier than he would have imagined, and maybe we imagined. But he’s been given an opportunity and he’s taken it, and sometimes that’s the way things work out.
He can’t do a lot more than that, a penalty save to win us the cup game on Tuesday night and an inspired performance today. He’ll be very pleased, and I’m very pleased with him.