While still basking in the euphoria of our devastating display in the Cup, the Fulham squad must now shift focus to maintaining league status, starting with a win over Newcastle
I honestly can't see it happening though. Too many compelling reasons suggest three more points to ease us away from the drop zone. We were the width of the bar from taking all three points up there (Dembele's close range rocket) and two seasons ago condemned Shearer's love children to relegation by winning both home and away. The Toon don't usually do well down here against us, overall we've won more than we've lost in our history of meetings. United did sneak a lucky win on a sombre night at the Cottage in December 2007, but the silver lining from that loss was that it accelerated the departure of Sanchez and opened the door to Roy.
Alan Pardew's appointment before Christmas caused much headshaking among supporters well used to erratic behaviour from the unpopular Mike Ashley, but two wins and two draws in 2011 has silenced the critics. How the Toon army react to the sale of Carroll however we are yet to find out. Newcastle arrive in the same position as our last league visitors Stoke, 9th in the league and four points better off than us.
Carroll's sale has no effect on our tactics. He was already ruled out with a muscle strain. What I think of his move to Liverpool you can find below. The dangerous Kevin Nolan has been fighting a knock but should be fit, why Bolton ever sold him I will never know. As for Fulham, yes our loanees Kakuta and Eidur are available, I will be amazed to see either feature at all. Stockdale keeps his place in goal, Etuhu won't be risked and Sidwell looked totally convincing Sunday anyway. The team surely will be unchanged, unless Baird is over his virus and Hughes decides Salcido must step aside.
Our back line has been playing as well as at any time this season. With no chance at all yesterday to plug the hole left by Carroll's transfer demand - something that clearly irked Pardew and casts a big shadow over Newcastle's run in - I don't see the Magpies getting behind us.
So to the transfer window. I wrote it up earlier in January as 'Madness.' It ended yesterday in lemming-like lunacy, with Liverpool leading the charge over the abyss. Financial deficits and tight credit be damned as TEN times more money changed hands than a year ago. Fulham thank heavens stayed largely on the sidelines.
With little financial risk we have however added three exciting players who all have the ability to influence games. Welcome to Eidur and Gael. We know you play football in the right way and we look forward to being impressed when you get the chance. As for Sidwell, he's slotted straight in and looks just the ticket to alleviate the pressure on Danny. Professional job done by Mark and the board. The players may just be sensing Sparky's building something to match Hodgson's legacy in SW6, viz Gera's decision to rebut offers and fight for his place.
What a difference a month makes. Since Sunday I fear nobody, feel a Cup run blossoming, and later this month look forward to a lung bursting cheer when Bobby jogs back into first team action. If Carroll can command £35 million in the transfer market from half a season in the Prem how much for our own England striker?
Chelsea and the £50 million pound man mid-month? Bring it on!
The final word on transfer dealings belongs with Blackburn, where Newell's Old Boys Formica has been recruited to play in a flat pack four...
Keep the faith and Rock the Cottage Wednesday!
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