Some Sunderland Musings

by Lydia on January 26, 2015

 

The FA cup 4th round tie between Fulham and Sunderland gave many fans reasons for optimism. Fulham played a very good game and were disappointed not to win against the Premier League side. The players, many of which have never played against PL opposition, gave a very good account of themselves and will surely relish the prospect of facing them under lights at Craven Cottage next week. Overall the performance was good but I noticed a few things about some individuals and about our style of play.

grimmer

The first man up for praise is right back Jack Grimmer. Some young players thrive when thrown in at the deep end while others struggle with the spotlight. I’m happy to say that the young Scotsman is definitely the former. In his first couple of games I wasn’t sure about him but his display on Saturday was absolutely brilliant. He ran all game and followed his man everywhere. A couple of times when Sunderland threatened a quick counter attack, Grimmer absolutely busted his gut in an attempt to get back and slow down the attack. His commitment impressed me the most but he has certainly taken his chance very well and I’m confident that he will just keep improving.

betts

I need to be careful when talking about Marcus Bettinelli because the last article I wrote singing his praises was the day before he got sent off and we lost 5-0. However, I feel that his performance on Saturday deserves a mention! Although we kept Sunderland at bay for most of the match, when you have a player like Defoe in your side, you are always going to be a threat. Our young keeper made a number of superb saves to keep us in the tie and his quick thinking to try and get us on the attack after gathering a cross ultimately caused the dismissal of Jack Rodwell. Obviously the aim is not to try and get other players sent off but it was clear that Rodwell was rattled by the youngsters quick decision making and panicked resulting in him illegally trying to prevent Bettinelli from starting an attack. It was positive play and I reckon Symons is making a point of getting the players to take free kicks and goal kicks quickly to catch the other team snoozing. It has been very frustrating in the Championship this season when Fulham have tried to play straight away from a foul and the referee has been having none of it. One thing that I would say about Bettinelli is that I think a couple of times he probably could have caught the ball rather than tipping it over for a corner, but all in all he is turning out to be a fantastic talent.

TunniPreSeasonPlace

I really like the look of Ryan Tunnicliffe. He is another one who will work back, put in a good tackle and breakup play. He is also quite a safe player. Ruiz kept trying to do these fancy little flicks that weren’t always working while Tunnicliffe was keen to find the safe pass. His vision is good so although a pass might be ‘safe’ he plays it early and can start a decent attack. I think he is the sort of player who will learn a lot under Parker and will be a similar type of player to him when he meets his full potential.

I found our style of play quite frustrating at times. We held the ball for much longer than Sunderland but too often we couldn’t find the final ball. Fofana still has a lot of learning to do. At times he looks smashing, while at other times he just holds on to the ball and runs it straight into the defender. I would much rather that he made the pass every time, than tried to go on his own and score one wonder goal a season. If he sorts out his decision making then he could go very far. When he heads back to City he should learn a lot from Yaya Toure as he likes to do the same driving runs that we see so often from Toure. However, the final product hasn’t been there yet so he still has a lot to learn.

There was a noticeable change in Fulham when Alex Kacaniklic came on in the 2nd half. It was the first time that a Fulham player really charged at the Sunderland defence with pace and, again, with better decision making in the final third, Fulham could have had a few more chances because of him. It looks like he has really benefited from his time out on loan and I reckon that he is going to be a key player for us in the 2nd half of the season. It’s important that we kept hold of him this summer.

The final thing I noticed was that it seems that Kit Symons is getting better at his substitutions. When he first took over that was really the only criticism that people were making, that he was waiting far to long to change the team up. I thought that the subs on Saturday were all good ones and it looks like he is learning more every game. It’s exciting to have a manager who really wants to be here for the long haul.

We played better than Sunderland on Saturday and with better decisions in the final 3rd we could have scored a few goals. Now lets not get ahead of ourselves, Sunderland are a struggling PL team, but it is encouraging to see our players really putting in a performance. More of the same will be needed when we face them next week, especially if they have the likes of Adam Johnston back from injury. If we progress we will have an exciting trip to Bradford to face the giant killers. It really could be the year for an exciting cup run for us!

#COYW

Follow me- @Lyds_campbell

 

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Ruiz late show seals Fulham win

by Dan on January 17, 2015

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A stoppage-time header from substitute Bryan Ruiz secured a priceless win for Kit Symonds as his Fulham side edged a scrappy encounter against Reading and ended a run of three successive league defeats.

Symons had called on his team to build on their penalty shoot-out success at Wolves in the FA Cup in midweek but they had to patiently wait for the breakthrough against a physical and cynical Reading, managed by Steve Clarke, who was rumoured to be the running to succeed Felix Magath when Fulham sacked the German coach in September. It was Swedish international Alex Kacaniklic who gave Fulham the lead, smartly latching onto a through ball from skipper Scott Parker, racing clear of the Royals’ defence and clinically finishing past Adam Federici. It was the perfect way to mark Kacaniklic’s first start for Fulham since being recalled from his loan spell with FC Copenhagen.

Fulham’s defensive problems during a difficult first season back in the Championship have been well documented and, although Symons has done remarkably well to lift the side he inherited with a single point to their name after eight games away from the drop zone, the familiar failings reared their ugly head again here. The identity of Reading’s goalscorer shouldn’t have come as a surprise as Pavel Pogrebnyak scored six goals at Craven Cottage during a five-month loan spell in 2012, but Symons would have been disappointed with the way the Russian striker shrugged off the attentions of Jack Grimmer to power Oliver Norwood’s corner past Marcus Bettinelli from close range.

Pogrebnyak’s first league goal of the season prompted Reading’s most impressive spell of the game and winger Garath McCleary twice went close to putting the Royals in front. First, he delivered a teasing cross after a tricky run that eluded everyone as he flashed across the face of goal and then sent a rising drive into the Putney End. The visitors then saw Simon Cox’s close-range finish chalked off for offside and the former West Brom forward then sent a deflected shot narrowly wide as Clarke’s side pushed for a winner.

Nick Blackman failed to make contact with McCleary’s excellent pass as he surged clear in the first minute of injury time and that proved crucial. Just seconds later, Fulham burst forward and Ross McCormack’s deep cross was cleverly headed back across goal by Cauley Woodrow and Ruiz rose bravely to restore the home side’s lead. The two substitutes had enlivened a predictable Fulham front line – and Symons insisted that the Costa Ruiz captain, who has been linked with a move to Boca Juniors this evening, remained ‘fully committed’ to Fulham.

Such stoppage-time drama was in stark contrast to a turgid first half that was more memorable for a sub-standard refereeing performance from Mark Brown than the standard of football. Reading had started the brighter, with McCleary to fore, but captain Alex Pearce and Hal Robson-Kanu spurned their clearest openings. Pearce’s downward header was headed off the line by Kostas Stafylidis and Welsh international Robson-Kanu curled a 20-yard effort narrowly over the crossbar. The home side’s best chances fell to an out-of-form Hugo Rodallega. The Colombian striker sliced inexplicably wide from six yards out after excellent approach play from McCormack and then drove an instinctive effort against the far post after Adam Federici had brilliantly kept out Shaun Hutchinson’s header.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Bettinelli; Grimmer, Stafylidis, Bodurov, Hutchinson; Parker; Tunnicliffe, Fofana; Kacaniklic (Ruiz 78); McCormack, Rodallega (Woodrow 73). Subs (not used): Kiraly, Burn, G. Williams, Roberts, Dembele.

BOOKED: Bodurov, Tunnicliffe, Kacaniklic.

GOALS: Kacaniklic (55), Ruiz (90+2).

READING (4-4-2): Federici; Gunter, Obita, Hunter, Pearce; D. Williams, Norwood, McCleary, Robson-Kanu; Pogrebnyak (Mackie 84), Cox (Blackman 84). Subs (not used): Andersen, Kelly, Cooper, Guthrie, Karacan.

BOOKED: Gunter, Cox, McCleary, Pogrebnyak.

GOAL: Pogbrebnyak (63).

REFEREE: Mark Brown (Lancashire).

ATTENDANCE: 17,381.

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Opposition Opinion

January 16, 2015

Tweet Helping us preview this weekends game is Matt Joy (who you can follow on Twitter @MattJamesJoy) my co-host of our student radio show, the Weekend Warm Up, which you can listen to every Saturday at 2-3pm on Nerve Radio. In your words, how are Reading doing this season? Frustratingly inconsistent, hopefully this will be […]

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Why New Contracts and Player Development Trump Transfers at Fulham this January

January 16, 2015

Tweet The announcement this week of contract extensions for both George Williams and Cameron Burgess, the latter of whom immediately went on loan to Scottish side Ross County, comes as most welcome news for Fulham fans. This season can so far be best described as a voyage of discovery. We are in a new league, […]

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Ditching the diamond?

January 9, 2015

Tweet An old fashioned system, some would say, but the simplicity of 4-4-2 has served Fulham well over the years, particularly under Roy Hodgson, as we added a Europa League run to a Great Escape in his tenure. Largely using the two banks of four, which provided defensive stability, aided by exceptionally setting up his team, […]

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A Look at Officials: What could Football learn from Hockey?

January 8, 2015

Tweet   This isn’t really anything to do with Fulham specifically but just shows my thoughts on issues surrounding refereeing in football. One aspect of football that the game could do without is the lack of respect towards the referees. Rarely can a match be complete without a player angrily arguing a decision that has […]

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Up next: Bournemouth (a)

December 26, 2014

Tweet Kit Symons’ quiet rejuvenation of what was a horribly dishevelled Fulham side faces its sternest test this afternoon with a festive trip to the Championship pace setters Bournemouth. The Cherries have been in quite scintillating form, surprising almost everybody with their free-scoring, attractive football to sit atop of the table ahead of many of […]

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The emergence of Lasse Vigen Christensen

December 23, 2014

Tweet Counting the bright spots in Fulham’s 2014 won’t take you too long during this festive season. They were conspicuous by their absence as the club’s thirteen year tenure in the top flight came to an end with a whimper, but the emergence of Lasse Vigen Christensen represents a real fillip as the most f0rgettable […]

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Promotion Push

December 5, 2014

Tweet It was difficult for even the most pessimistic of Fulham fans to believe the torrid start we had to this season. The constant squad re-shuffling along with a manager who just didn’t seem to get what was required in the Championship saw Fulham gain 1 point after eight games. We had become the laughing […]

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A Tale of Two Teams: The Jacksonville Jaguars Week in London

November 11, 2014

Tweet This past weekend saw the Jacksonville Jaguars roll into London for their annual road show and a game against the Dallas Cowboys at a packed Wembley Stadium. As a Fulham fan and one of the NFL in general, the events of the past week have provided insight into the on-going relationship between Shahid Khan’s […]

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