Spyin' Kop - Fulham (Home)

Posted by Raul. on March 13, 2006, 10:43:52 AM

Matches continue to come thick and fast, as they have for the whole season, which seems to have started when some of us were still young men and women.  With spirits at a relatively low ebb following a few rather sub-par few weeks, the sickening defeat at Highbury came as a cruel of twist of the knife for the Reds.

Well, we are back at Anfield on Wednesday night, against opponents who have, to put it mildly, not travelled well this season.  Following their 6-1 thumping of West Brom, our opponents are on a 3 match losing streak, with manager Chris Colman saying after the 3-1 loss on Saturday to the Little People's Club, "It was probably one of the most painful games I've ever sat through".  So here's our chance to get the feel-good factor going again as we head towards the end of the season, 2 3 place and a summer of transfer speculation.

Our league season took a turn for a better after the away game against Fulham, loss though it was.  No reason why that can't be the case again after the home game against the same opposition.  And a good opportunity for all at RAWK, whatever their choice of textile, to get behind the lads. Come on Redmen!

Liverpool FC vs Fulham FC
Wednesday 15 March 2006 20:00
Anfield





So to the opposition for Wednesday.

The Club

Home
Away

Formed in 1879, the name Fulham was adopted in 1888 and the club had various addresses before settling in at their current Craven Cottage base in 1896. Fulham are in fact the oldest professional football club from the London area, a record that might surprise a few fans of some of the bigger clubs in the City, including one of their close neighbours, whose name may or may not begin with a "C".

The Cottagers entered the Football League in 1907 and had to wait over 40 years before securing a top-flight place, spending three seasons in Division One before a return the Second Division. Their second spell in the First Division was more successful. Talisman Johnny Haynes, who made 594 league appearances for the club between 1952 and 1970 and earned 56 England caps, helped Fulham survive at the top for the majority of the 1960s. Legendary figures Bobby Moore, George Best and Rodney Marsh were signed in the mid-1970s, with mixed success but Fulham soon gained a reputation for an attractive style of play. The 1980s and 1990s were financially insecure before Mohamed Al Fayed financed a revival.  In 1992, they were hoping to avoid relegation to the Third Division. Three years later, in 2001, Al Fayed invested heavily in the club and Fulham took the First Division by storm to secure promotion to Premier League, where they have done quite decently thus far.

Enduring Fulham FC images from days gone by, all sadly departed:







Honours

Fulham have never won a major trophy but has various other achievements.
•   1907 - Southern League Champions
•   1907 - Admission to The Football League as Southern League Champions
•   1908 - FA Cup Semi-Finalists
•   1932 - Division Three South Champions
•   1936 - FA Cup Semi-Finalists
•   1949 - Division Two Champions
•   1958 - FA Cup Semi-Finalists
•   1959 - Promotion from Division Two
•   1962 - FA Cup Semi-Finalists
•   1970 - Promotion from Division Three
•   1975 - FA Cup Finalists
•   1975 - Anglo-Scottish Cup Finalists
•   1982 - Promotion from Division Three
•   1997 - Promotion from Division Three
•   1999 - Division Two Champions
•   2001 - Division One Champions
•   2002 - FA Cup Semi-Finalists
•   2002 - Intertoto Cup Winners

This season

Fulham 0 - 0 Birmingham
Blackburn 2 - 1 Fulham
Arsenal 4 - 1 Fulham
Fulham 1 - 0 Everton   
Newcastle 1 - 1 Fulham
Fulham 1 - 2 West Ham
Tottenham 1 - 0 Fulham
Fulham 2 - 3 Man Utd   
Charlton 1 - 1 Fulham   
Fulham 2 - 0 Liverpool   
Wigan 1 - 0 Fulham   
Fulham 2 - 1 Man City   
Middlesbrough 3 - 2 Fulham   
Fulham 2 - 1 Bolton   
West Brom 0 - 0 Fulham   
Birmingham 1 - 0 Fulham   
Fulham 2 - 1 Blackburn 
Chelsea 3 - 2 Fulham
Fulham 3 - 3 Aston Villa
 Portsmouth 1 - 0 Fulham
Fulham 2 - 1 Sunderland
Fulham 1 - 0 Newcastle
West Ham 2 - 1 Fulham   
Fulham 1 - 0 Tottenham
Man Utd 4 - 2 Fulham
Fulham 6 - 1 West Brom   
Bolton 2 - 1 Fulham
Fulham 0 - 4 Arsenal
Everton 3 - 1 Fulham

Old man Brian McBride and young turk Collins John (10 goals) are their joint top scorers in all competitions, with Haidar Helguson just behind on 9.

Manager Chris Coleman
Assistant Manager: Steve Kean
Other back room staff: ex-manager Ray Lewington, Scottish legend Billy McKinlay, goalkeeping coach Dave Beasant. The first team physio is Australian Jason Palmer and the Fulham Academy is headed by John Murtough.

SPYIN' KOP
For a Fulham's eye view of their team, ours and the game, Spyin' Kop went sniffing around www.fulhamweb.com and dug out two of its finer denizens, Lacey and Alex Lowy.  Many thanks to them for some excellent answers and for turning their stuff around so quickly.

What are your expectations for the remainder of this season? Have they changed from day one?

Lacey: Well its funny you ask that, because only in recent weeks has it become obvious that we've really struggled this season, despite recording great wins over Spurs, Liverpool, Bolton and the 6-1 against West Brom, our league position says it all. At the start of the season I was worried, seeing as we'd lost big Edwin between the posts and signed next to no one to strengthen the already weakened squad, but things picked up and we brought in some great names this season in Bridge, Niemi and Brown (all of which will be out of the squad on Wednesday night luckily for you!). As I write this we're 2-0 down at Goodison to the same Everton side we comfortably beat at home early in the season, so yes you could say I'm worried that we'll finish bottom 4 or worse.

Alex: From pre-season, I was certainly nervous about the upcoming campaign. Our set of pre-season friendly results were poor, and we didn't seem to do too well in the transfer market. Niclas Jensen seemed to be the solution to our left-back problem, only for him to turn out to be the slowest defender in the history of the universe. Tony Warner was an unproven goalkeeper, at least at the highest level, and Heidar Helguson didn't seem too much of a good signing - those two have turned out to be fantastic for us. It took us 4 games to get our first win and, of course, we're still awaiting that first away win of the season. Until a few weeks ago, our expectations were pretty good. We were climbing up towards the top half of the table, with our brilliant home record keeping us above the relegation places. BUT THEN.... the lads decide to lose three games on the trot- 4-0 at home to Arsenal, 2-1 away to Bolton, and more recently, a 3-1 defeat to your best pals....those damn Toffees!! Now, we're starting to worry about the teams below us starting a revival, and dragging Fulham into the relegation scrap. We need an away win, and we need it now!

Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

Lacey: Any Fulham fan will tell you how important our captain Boa Morte is to the team, both mentally and physically he is superb, and in league for the most hard working player in the prem. With a full strength midfield, (Malbranque, Diop, C. Jensen and Boa) we're such a great attacking side, unfortunately we've lost two of those players for most of the season to injury, making Boa and Steed our main figures in the team. McBride is another favourite, our top scorer and a real team player, so pleased to see he's signed a contract extension aged 33! When Niemi is fit he's a great talent too, our ability to sign and keep world class keepers still amazes me!! And I can't not mention Wayne Bridge, although judging by the poor form of Del Horno (and Jose's option to bench him for Huth today against Spurs) it wont be long before he's back in Chelsea's starting 11, but we're happy to keep him here till then.

Alex: You can't look further than the captain, Luis Boa Morte. He joined us from Southampton for £1.7m in 2000, and scored over 20 goals in Division One that season, helping us to promotion. Since taking the captain's armband this season, a lot of his performances have been slightly lacklustre. Towards the end of games in which we're losing, he sometimes goes into a bit of a sulk - but at least that shows he cares. His passion for the game is abundant, and has found himself in a bad season, discipline-wise, picking up 8 Yellow Cards, and 1 red (from two other yellows). Boa Morte's best quality is clearly his blistering pace, but he also has tons of skill, and a very cool head (in front of goal, I mean - when he's on the receiving end of a bad challenge, his head is anything BUT cool!). If the chance to buy a player with the same qualities as Boa came along, but someone with less passion - someone who doesn't slide in at every opportunity, someone who doesn't say a word to motivate the team...then I would say no, straight up. Boa Morte was the subject of interest from Liverpool, as well as Newcastle and Sporting Lisbon, and you know what he did in response? He signed a contract extension. I wouldn't trade Luis Boa Morte for anyone. He could definitely use a rest at the moment, however, perhaps for one of our 'easier' games (I won't say who our 'easiest' games are against, because I'll probably curse it).

Your worst player(s)?

Lacey: Week in week out I sit in the stands at the Cottage shaking my head at the performances of Zat Knight and Simon Elliot, neither of whom play with the confidence and ability that should be expected of Premiership players. Knight being six foot six is strangely hopeless in the air, and Elliot's pace is embarrassing. Also, I'm delighted that former West Ham hero Ian Pearce has remained sidelined this season, as his performances last season were of non-league standard.

Alex: I'll just take a quick stab at it and say...Ian Pearce. Some of you may not remember him, but he's a centre back, formerly of Chelsea, Blackburn, and West Ham's colours. Contrary to popular belief, he's only 31...not 35!! But I just can't trust him when he's in the team. We have players who we really dislike at times, such as Zat 'the prat' Knight, 'Twinkletoes' Tomasz Radzinski, and Niclas 'as quick as a piece of excrement on the side of the road' Jensen. Those three actually have brief showings of talent every couple of games...Ian Pearce doesn't.

Do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs? Say something that happened to you that day or a decision you disagreed with?

Lacey: Well every Whites fan will remember the 2-0 victory this season at the Cottage, especially that last gasp goal that put the game beyond a Liverpool team that were edging closer and closer to an equalizer. Here's a little story for you - I went in to work at the pub I was working at that night wearing a polo shirt with a discreet FFC badge on it, and my Liverpool fan of a boss sent me home to get changed!! Sour grapes I think..!!

Alex: Well, a couple of seasons ago, Luis Boa Morte was given a straight red card (well isn't that a coincidence!?) for a bad tackle, I think on Sami Hyypia. Danny Murphy committed a similar tackle, although thought to be worse than Boa Morte's - which earned him a yellow card, not a red. In another game, Zat Knight conceded a penalty, but wasn't even punished- many Fulham fans believed that if the foul wasn't bad enough to be punished, it shouldn't have been a penalty. Both of these decisions were given by Uriah Rennie, by the way, a referee that has hardly been lucky for Fulham teams in the premiership, as statistics show. But the most memorable Fulham-Liverpool game in the premiership, at least for me, has to be 'the game of two halves'. In October 2004, Liverpool came to Craven Cottage, and were 2-0 down at half time. After bringing on Xabi Alonso at the start of the second half, the Spaniard helped turn the game around, and they managed to win 2-4, despite the sending off of Spanish defender Josemi.

How would you explain your fine victory against us at home this season, especially compared to the 2-4 turnaround at Craven Cottage in the last?

Lacey: Well our home form has been superb this season, lets not go into the away form (still the only Prem team not to win on the road all season!!), and when we're at the Cottage we play with an air of confidence about us, (except when we're getting thrashed 4-0 by the Gooners that is). I can only say that we raise our game against the big sides and although sometimes this riskier type of play sees us caught out, it often comes off, such as in the game against you, Bolton and Spurs.

Alex: As I just explained, that Liverpool victory was certainly a blow to Fulham, and took a good few weeks for Fulham fans to get over it. We've gotten used to losing after going ahead this season, with Fulham being the second-most wasteful team in the Premiership. However, very rarely do we get a real foothold in a game, being two goals up at half-time, and still losing the game. Of course, we still managed to turn you over at Craven Cottage earlier in the season - a convenient time to have played you, especially at home, because you were slightly struggling at the start of the season. Liverpool were poor on the day, and it could be suggested that Fulham legend, Johnny Haynes, was smiling upon the Cottage, from above, as that day was our first home game after the tragic death of the Maestro, after a car crash. A few weeks ago, someone posted a few questions on our own fansite, www.fulhamweb.com, one of them being "What has been your best moment this season as a Fulham fan?". Many fans chose that very match - it wasn't particularly the result that caught the eye of the majority of fans, it was the monument of defeating a huge club like Liverpool, but more importantly, I feel, getting a victory in devotion to, arguably Fulham's best ever player.

Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about?

Lacey: Well as for the squad to travel to Anfield I'd doubt there will be any surprises on the bench, probably the usual suspects Colins John, Radzinski etc, but we'll possibly be drafting in young Liam Rosienior to replace the injured Bridge, who I've always been a fan of. I'd like to see Heidar Helguson start, as his clinical finishing might be difficult to deal with for you.

Alex: There better not be any talent scouts lurking!!! We've got a pretty good youth system at Fulham, with a lot of young players doing well on loan. A young full-back named Liam Rosenior has broken into the first team since December 2004, and when played at right-back, he's done fantastically, winning the Man of the Match award on his debut, against Manchester United! I won't mention any names, with the club's best interests at heart, but we definitely have an effective youth system. I think that we'll get 2-4 more young talents breaking into the first team squad next year, when everyone has returned from their respective loan spells.

What sort of line-up will put out against us?

Lacey: After what I can only assume will be a defeat at Everton, we'll be in search of a win and nothing else, hanging above the drop zone is a sure fire way to get Coleman the sack and our big names leave the club, so as much as I might regret saying this we'll be going for the jugular and fielding an attacking side. I can only hope Niemi will return because Warner hasn't performed well in his absence. I'd expect to see McBride & Helguson start, along with Boa, Steed, Elliot and Radzinski. Our shaky back four is likely to be Voltz, Goma, Knight and either Bocanegra or Roseinor. Doubt that line-up will have you losing sleep!

Alex: I feel that Chris Coleman will once again opt to make changes. We'll be doing all that we can to avoid a fourth straight defeat, and, with a few exceptions, such as yesterday's defeat at Everton, we have played very well in our away games- we've just not had the results that some performances have merited. Antti Niemi is likely to return in goal, with Wayne Bridge and Papa Bouba Diop returning to fitness, I expect to see them both start the game. I have a feeling that Collins John will be given another chance to start a game, having scored 10 goals, mostly as a substitute, this season. This might mean that Coleman would revert to a 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation, with John and Helguson in very advanced wide positions. If Bouba Diop returns, we might see Mark Pembridge retain his place (although I personally hope not). Although, with Liverpool often playing very good, attacking football from the midfield, Michael Brown may get another start in midfield, after regaining his fitness. Bouba Diop and Brown would make a very strong, tough-tackling midfield, in order to stop you from playing 'nice' football.

Do you have a favourite/best chant(s) and perhaps any that require an explanation?


Lacey: I quite like 'He's old and weird, he's got a dodgy beard - Legwinski oooaoo' and any excuse to sing 'stick your blue flag up your ar**' or 'are you Tottenham in disguise'!! of course we'll be singing 'champions league, your having a laugh' after your hasty exit to Benfica midweek, but secretly most of us would have liked to have seen you win that game!

Alex: I have to mention the chant for Mohammed Al Fayed:
"Al Fayed, oh oh oh! Al Fayed, oh oh oh!
He wants to be a Brit, and QPR are shit!
Al Fayed....oh oh oh! Al Fayed, oh oh oh!"

A real favourite of mine hasn't been heard at home games...yet! A mate of mine told it to me, and it made me laugh my head off...
"I've never felt more, like having a **nk, every time I see Steeeeeed Malbranque!
Oooooh Steed, you got me havin' a w**k!..."

"We are Fulham, we are Fulham, we are Fulham, FFC!
We are Fulham, super Fulham, we are Fulham, f**k Chelsea!"

Our other chants are mostly ones that you'd hear at other grounds- there is one about Frank Lampard, but I can't remember the words to that one!

Where do you expect - and Liverpool - to finish in the Premier League?

Lacey: Realistically? Liverpool 3rd/4th, Fulham 14th/13th

Alex: I'll start with Liverpool. They're obviously a cracking team, but I feel that they're not quite on par with Manchester United, and that they'll have to settle for Champions League Qualifying once again - 3rd place it is. As for Fulham, our four seasons in the premiership ended with us finishing 13th, 14th, 9th, and 13th. Not only can I see us finishing around 14th, but it also goes with the current pattern. I can't see Fulham pushing into the top half of the table, but things aren't seeming TOO bad, in my opinion. I'll go for Fulham to finish 14th.

Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

Lacey: Garcia and Alonso are both pretty deadly, and Kewell's performances of late have been dangerous, I think we'd struggle to defend against Crouch also, so there's quite a few,
if I had to say one I'd say Alonso.

Alex: I don't know how you can't consider Steven Gerrard to be Liverpool's most dangerous player. I'm not even going to say why, because it's obvious...your skipper is one of the best central midfielders in the World, and if there's only one player separating us on Wednesday, it will be that man. Running in a close second is Xabi Alonso - he came on at half-time in Liverpool's infamous 4-2 win last season, and totally changed the game. His range of passing is magnificent, and he's currently one of my favourite Premiership midfielders. I can see it as a possibility for his red card to be rescinded, after his second booking against Arsenal was perhaps undeserved. Hopefully (from a Fulham fan's point of view) his suspension will still stand for Wednesday's game.

Care to predict the score? Go on!

Lacey: Ha ha ok if you insist, I cant see us winning to be honest, poor away form mixed with a bad string of results, but don't expect it to be easy! I think we'll score but you'll do us 3-1.

Alex: Our defence is leaking goals by the sackful at the moment, and we aren't scoring many either (2 goals in our last 3 games, but 6 against West Brom four games ago!). I'll just swallow my pride and say 3-0.

Do you think of Liverpool as primarily a Scouse club or a major European force? What do you think the new 'Spanish flavour' has done to Liverpool?

Lacey: Well the history of the club speaks for itself, and as we stand you're still champions of Europe, so I'll go with a bit of both, the ability to be European giants is there, but I think a bit more confidence and a lot of big name players would get you all the way.

I think the Spanish influence it's at the heart of your league success, Morientes has the pace, and I've seen some cracking goals from the other Spaniards this season.

Alex: The new 'Spanish flavour' has given Liverpool a lot more flair to their team. I consider Liverpool as a very strong European force, but the cup-winning consistency isn't quite there - hence your exit to Benfica. Luis Garcia is one of Rafa Benitez' Spanish recruits, and he is somewhat of an enigma. He plays well one game, and average the next - followed by a fantastic performance, only for him to play poor the next week. I don't think the new Spanish players have done any harm to your team at all, I praise Benitez for bringing those players in - even Morientes, who I still hold firm belief in.

Have you been to Anfield before? What are your impressions/expectations. How do you find atmosphere, things like YNWA etc. What one thing would you change in terms of how away fans are treated here? Any memorable encounters with Liverpool fans and their well known wit and humour?

Lacey:  I haven't been to Anfield before no, its a strange one because I've been everywhere else except Sunderland and Newcastle. I know what the Kop can do, and we're pretty silent fans as it is so we expect to hear you loud and clear! we wont be travelling in big numbers by the looks of it either so it'd be unrealistic to say we won't be slightly intimidated. However, we know how much you love your football up there and to be honest its the football we're there to see, so really its gonna be a great day out even if we do get a bit of a hiding. I envy the fact that Liverpool fans are so die hard, proud and loud, and players like Stevie Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are all part of that sweating blood sweat & tears for the team thing you have going. The only Liverpool fans I've come into contact with are glory hunters from around here (London) so I cant call them real Scousers. I still have a football figure of the great Ian Rush sitting on my desk though!

Alex: I was at Anfield for last season's 3-1 defeat, and it is a very nice stadium indeed. Quite a step up from Craven Cottage, and although I can't make it for this Wednesday's game, I'll be wishing all my fellow Fulham fans a good time at Anfield. It certainly has one of the best atmospheres in the Premiership, and I've only been to Anfield twice, so I can't make too many comments about how away fans are treated- there was certainly no trouble when I was there.

Finally, free for all – bung in anything you would like to about Fulham, Liverpool or the game.

Lacey: Out of the top 4 teams, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd. and you, we'd be happier to see you succeed rather than any of them, so with that in mind I wont be completely gutted if we get a beating, however, since I last mentioned it, your fellow Merseysiders just banged in a third against us so it looks like we'll be making our way up to Liverpool for our second Scouse beating in a week!

Come on the mighty Whites lets pull one out of the hat!

Alex: Thanks very much for giving me the opportunity to share my views with fans of another football club. Good luck for the rest of the season.

Once again, sincere thanks to Lacey and Alex for some cracking responses.

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