ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Fulham
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Posted by Phil Mison on 08/27/2012

Three games in a week just to keep the boys sharp. And opposition coming from football's broad spectrum. So how will the Whites end the week?

Easy question for us all to answer in the wish fulfilment stakes on the pitch. So we've lost the first of the three - let's quickly put that to bed and make sure we show the fight to win away at Wednesday and West Ham. We certainly don't want to see any repeat of Fulham's fragile form away from home as endured for far too long now. That would be a backward step in a season that both Jol and fans sense could be somewhat 'exciting.'

Defeat with considerable kudos at Old Trafford still leaves a sour taste, because the chances were there to wrest a point from Saturday's enthralling game. The really big moments in the game went against us after our lightening start. A goal inside three minutes, and artfully crafted to boot. How encouraging was that! Right through to the end of last winter Fulham sides away from home spent the first 10 minutes trying to decide which way they were playing. Sometimes poor AJ never quite worked it out.

Now we have the chance against lesser opposition to show this re-shaped Fulham side really does have the bottle to take their game into enemy territory and come out on top. Frankly, we never scaled the heights we are capapble of in that first half against the Reds and Jol was quick to admit it on the final whistle. Van Persie's wonder strike knocked us off our stride and United suddenly were right on it - for 30 minutes irresistable.

But we talk of the big moments that decide games. Schwartzer will be unhappy with both goals two and three. Cleverly has been watching all those old videos of Paul Scholes, position on the edge of the box for corners, hammer it straight back as hard as you can. In fact, didn't Scholes do that to us at the Cottage two years ago? But for the parry to fall so obligingly to Kagawa, and only on-side by a very narrow margin... As for full-back Rafael winning a back post header, and squeezing it beyond Mark, he'll not manage that again all season. Just our luck. And talking of luck, de Gea pulls off one great save from Damien, but knows nothing of Petric's follow up that cannons up off his legs and away off the bar to safety.
There was the turning point for me just on half-time.

All credit to the lads for turning up the heat in the second half and carrying the fight to United. An additional five minutes and they surely would have buckled as Dembele had near command of the midfield. Looking at that United bench in the 2nd half I feared the worst, but in fact the introduction of the old stalwarts did nothing to reverse the flow. We saw little more of van Persie and I'm very interested to see how Rooney's future plays out once he's fit again. This could just be the beginning of the end for Wayne.

So it's now nine straight losses at United since the days of the mighty Imamoto, but give thanks for actually getting on the score sheet for the first time in six visits. And that's got that one out of the way against a side I predict are destined to finish first or second. I'm sure the players would have taken much heart from this game, and will know we are getting closer to the biggest club in English football.

Which brings us on to Tuesday's League Cup trip to Hillsborough. Well, we could have landed an easier tie, and will surely not be playing the first eleven, so the game is nicely set up for Wednesday to rough us up a little. They hit three Saturday and will certainly be all out to pull off a shock. It won't be a stroll in the park, and this is one competition where Fulham have a pretty dismal record. Jol no doubt would swallow a loss if he was guaranteed three points Saturday. However, let's go for a win and build momentum ahead of the Hammers trip. Before the champions arrive at the Cottage at the end of September we have three very winnable EPL fixtures - West Ham, WBA at home and Wigan away.

A keynote of our record last season was the team's infuriating unpredictability. Only through February did we put three back-to-back wins together, to be followed by our worst display of the season against a woeful Villa side. Remember January? We saw in the New Year with that thrilling fight back against Arsenal and ended it thumping Newcastle 5-2. In between we lay down and surrendered to 10 man Blackburn on a miserable afternoon at Ewood - another dreadful team. As already posted, this season I'm looking for less volatility and some serious performances on the road against the league's little clubs.

But more of West Ham later in the week. Before signing off there's a hint of what's on all our minds over the coming days in the top line. Yes, who will still be in Fulham colours come September 1st? Not wishing to add to the tiresome speculation over last season's top scorer, I believe the club are still to receive a serious offer that matches their valuation. And with every passing day I see the business elsewhere being conducted. Sunderland have just done £14 million on Fletcher, West Ham £10 million for Jarvis. Both played last season in a Wolves side that failed and was dead by March. Now Spurs are replacing Modric with Millie V'nila from France and hoping to lure Willem. Sir Alex says his shopping is done. That leaves Arsene as the last man standing who needs reinforcements and can offer Champions League football. He has no record of signing Yanks and rarely buys anyone approaching 30...

See you after the Wednesday cup tie. If you're heading up there, let's make some noise and let the world know, we ARE the WHITES. Apologies by the way that we are still in limbo with the 'new look' site. All should be resolved this week



Posted by Rob on 08/27/2012

While the team showed nightmarish flashes of last season’s away form it was a positive outing overall. I take back every unkind thing I've ever said about Dembele. It was an absolute joy to watch him boss the midfield. He open a lot of eyes across the PL with that performance. He will be playing for a top club next season. I can't help but think if Clint was playing we would've come away with a point.

I'm calling for 3 points against West Ham next weekend. I watched the Swans crush them to the point that big Sam looked like he was going to take a nap. These are the games where Fulham can prove they’ve turned over a new leaf under Jol.

My fear is Clint will not play for Fulham again. He will end up in Liverpool or the new Man City of the north Sunderland. He could have left a conquering hero, but instead will leave as a hated man. Hopefully one day the truth will come out. Clint has implied on his twitter that Jol's version of events is not wholly accurate.

Posted by Jessica on 08/27/2012

I think we accounted well for ourselves on Saturday. After poking the bear early on, we were lucky to keep them at three before the half. And to come back and not quit and keep going forward in the second half is what I hope will be a foreshadowing for the rest of the season. I am with you- more consistency would be nice and that should start Saturday with a very winnable match. I will have to set about three alarm clocks to get me up by 6:30 am on the Saturday morning of a holiday weekend, but I'm willing and hopefully they are able. COYW!!

Blog Central: Hmm, 'poking the bear,' well I know those long winter nights in the north can get kinda lonesome...

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