Posts Tagged ‘Chris Smalling’

January Transfer Roundup Pt. II: Goodbyes

February 1, 2010

Chris Smalling, well what can we say about that? Comes from Maidstone Utd as a promising youngster 18 months ago, makes a few appearances both in the Prem and Europe and then signs for Man Utd for somewhere between £7m and £12m incl. add ons. To describe this as a meteoric rise would be an understatement. For Fulham this represents fantastic business. Will he be worth it? For me, I think he will. He will be at Fulham for the rest of the season before joining Utd in the summer. When he does go, good luck to him. For now, it is good to have solid backup for Hangeland.

I have dealt with Dio already below, good luck to him.

Kallio, had fallen out of favour and could not even make it on the pitch despite Fulham’s problems at left back. I think this may be the last we see of him in a Fulham shirt.

Eddie Johnson, off to Greek team Aris FC. As above, I would be very surprised to see him in a Fulham shirt again. He came and did little for Fulham, but good luck to him. Maybe he will refind form alongside fellow compatriot and former FM wonderkid Freddy Adu.

And the rest (on short term loans): Stockdale (Plymouth), Matthew Briggs (Leyton Orient), Wayne Brown (Bristol Rovers), Matt Saunders and Uwezu (Lincoln). Of those it is only sad to see Wayne Brown go, I was hoping he might start to play a part in the first team. For the rest, it will surely be good experience.

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Stoke 3-2 Fulham

January 5, 2010

Unfortunately for Fulham the two goals clawed back against Stoke very much flattered an inept Fulham performance.  Many Fulham fans, myself included, fancied this match as some rare points on the road. At the weekend I saw this game as ‘make or break’ in terms of our season, but on the way home after work I realised that was a stupid snap judgement to make. Even if we lost the game (which of course we eventually did)  we wouldn’t have changed position so no danger of slipping down the table. Of course full credit to Stoke for taking advantage, they played well and wanted it much, much more. I like Pulis and his honest approach to the game so good luck to them for the rest of the season.

Now, the fun part, recounting the game. 3-0 down in the first half hour, all from terrible defensive mistakes and organisation. The first goal was simple. Corner swung in, Huth with the flick, finished by an unmarked (!!!) Tuncay on the line. Things only got worse as a foolish and hot headed Konchesky challenge resulted in a free kick in a dangerous are (where have we heard that before). Again, free kick swung in, no one there, Faye taps in at the back post.  Final goal, Etherington the creator, flicked on by Higgenbottom (who appeared to be offside bu wasn’t) and volley in off the ground by Sidibe. Game over. What was the most shocking was how dire the defending in the lead-up to the goals was. 2 years of Roy Hodgson have made us feel safe and almost impenetrable at the back, but tonight we got a nasty reminder that we are not Chelsea/United/Birmingham. We are fallible.

So where did it all go wrong? Firstly, Hangeland was obvious seriously unfit as he was consistently out of position and missing headers that are usually his bread and butter. It would be easy to blame the coaching staff for letting him play, but to be honest, before the match I was hoping he would start. I just did not know how injured he was. Secondly, we just played badly and Stoke played well. They were first to every challenge and pressed us off the ball in a similar fashion to Wolves a few months ago. Particularly poor performers include: Baird, Konchesky, Murphy, Kelly and Hangeland.  Thirdly, we did what we always seem to do when pressed or against more physical teams; hit the ball long. This for me was the worst part of the performance tonight. We were never going to win an aerial battle with Stoke yet time and time again it was back to the fullbacks and hoofed up field for Zamora who was chewed and spat out by the Stoke defence. I can see why we hoofed it under pressure but why did we not even attempt to pass round them? Our movement was poor and  there were hardly any through balls on the ground for AJ to chase. The key to beating the Stoke defence is pace, and rather than using BZ as a target man he should have been running the channels with AJ as he arguably has more pace.

The other option and one I am keen  on is to play 4-4-2 at home but revert to 4-4-1-1 away. This means Gera gives extra protection to Murphy and we have more possession to play with. It will be interesting to see what Roy does in future.

Other worrying things about tonight?: BZ injured. Lets hope it is not serious or it is a serious blow to our season. Hangeland struggling- lets hope he returns to full fitness, although Smalling played extremely well when he came on. Our full-backs, I think this was more of a blip than a trend but not easy to watch nonetheless.

Good Omens: Nevland came on and looked sharp. Smalling was excellent when he came on and even won some good headers in attack in the dying embers of the game. Gera played well considering he was back on the wing and everyone around him was poor. Clint came on and was a game changer-what a great goal and good performance from the subs bench. Once we started attacking more we actually looked dangerous away from home and could have snatched an unlikely draw. We play a severely depleted and demoralised pompey next (not that I am going to take anything for granted!)

In a few weeks/months this will be remembered as another away loss as we are poor away from home. Lets put things back on track this weekend!

Sunday update 1: Fulham 1-0 CSKA Sofia

December 6, 2009

I enjoy going to watch Fulham with friends who do not support them as it gives me the chance to get a different take on the team without loyalty getting in the way. This is one of the many things that is great about the Europa league (my non-fulham supporting friends actually want to come). I also enjoy the fact that whilst it would be good to progress through the group stages, it is not as ‘do or die’ as the premier league.

I begin with this sentiment because one of my friends who came offered an excellent insight during the match. On one of the counter attacks Fulham had, Bobby Zamora, instead of simply laying it across goal for an onrushing Gera,  lost possession and Fulham were denied a goal scoring opportunity. This lead to several negative comments from the fans seated around me, including ‘Zamora has has a stinker’. At this my friend and I looked at each other in bemusement and he said ‘ I guess it depends whether or not you understand the game as to how you think Zamora played tonight’. Whilst it might have been a slightly harsh comment it really struck me as true. In the first half Zamora had played an absolute blinder, with excellent touches and flick ons, and generally harassing the CSKA defence.  The second was not so good, but I put this down to a combination of tiredness and poor service and suport from the midfield.Zamora has been the most divisive Fulham player over the last 18 months, but this season he is flourishing. He may not be able to finish on a consistent basis but he is a damn good player.

As for the match itself, the trend of Fulham only putting in 45 mins of good play worryingly continued.  After Murphy missing a penalty ( I know, when does that happen?) Fulham pressed hard against a very poor CSKA side.  When Riise picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area, burst wide and lashed in an excellent cross, Gera popped up amongst a crowd of defenders to head home. A well worked goal and smooth finish. Things were looking up.  For the remainder of the half Fulham attacked relentlessly with Davies and Gera going close, both perhaps should have done better.

Then the second half. CSKA came out and looked a much better side. Fulham could not get the ball. When Michel Platini was brought on to many a laugh I had flashbacks to his goal in sofia. Suddenly Fulham looked hurried in possession and nervous. CSKA were looking the more dangerous side, but lacked a cutting edge. Several chances came and went and it looked as though Fulham would survive. Nerves could have been settled had Fulham put away one of the many counter attacking chances that presented themselves in the second half but it wasn’t to be. But in the end, defensive solidity shone through and Fulham survived to hold on to a crucial 1-0 victory.

I thought that Smalling looked assured in the first half but not so good after the break. This must be partly down to him switching sides to the left and struggling as he has a weak left foot.  Next time we see him I think it will be against Swindon and I am sure he will put in a good performance. After Bobby Z, the best player on the pitch for me was Riise. He was everywhere and looked very assured. An astute pickup for the europa league by Roy.

All in all a ground out win, but a win none the less. Basel will be very interesting!