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Runström on loan to Luton Town

It seems like the arrival of V.Montella will keep Björn Runström out of the team during the spring. This means that Björn Runström will play his football in Luton Town for a month. The loan might of course be extended longer.

Hopefully this spell will provide Björn with some much needed play time and experience.

Good Luck Björn, and welcome back better than ever!

WEST HAM v FULHAM

Premiership Upton Park Saturday 13 January 2007, 3pm

Saturday’s short trip to Upton Park should see Fulham come face-to-face with former cult hero Luis Boa Morte only days after the loveable winger left the Cottage. It is remarkable that with the Portuguese international’s £5m departure, the Whites have now sold every member of the starting eleven that recorded their only previous Premiership win at West Ham in 2001. Whether he still holds a place in our collective hearts is up for debate, but of greater concern to Chris Coleman will be reviving the Whites faltering away form.

The most gleaming memory from the festive fixtures has to be that point but at Chelsea but, having watched replay after replay of Carlos Bocanegra’s tap-in at Stamford Bridge, I’m still subdued by our holiday points haul. Our previous meeting with the Hammers failed to trouble the scorers and grateful though we were to draw with Charlton, the all-too usual defensive cock-up had put Fulham in danger of giving Alan Pardew the perfect welcome back to the Premiership. A point against Watford followed by a Cup draw at Leicester (however good the atmosphere created by the travelling supporters) means maximum points are a must if the Whites harbour realistic ambitions of breaking into the top half of the table.

Coleman’s transfer window dealings have been modest so far, although according to those in the know this may have more to do with pushy agents than any lack of ambition. Vicenzo Montella made a brief debut at Leicester and has since asked the fans to give him time to adjust to the helter-skelter world of English football and with the departure of Collins John seemingly imminent there is a need for our very own ‘Little Aeroplane’ to start firing soon. The joy of Clint Dempsey’s arrival via a Home Office tribunal means we might see some flair back in the midfield after the departure of Steed Malbranque and Luis Boa Morte plus the untimely absence of Jimmy Bullard. The industry of Michael Brown and Moritz Volz, whose goals at Chelsea and Leicester make it seem odd that Arsene Wenger turned this promising midfield prospect into a right back, can’t be overlooked but Dempsey could offer the kind of quality to strike fear into the hearts of top flight defenders.

Antti Niemi is expected to return in goal to face a West Ham side who had hinted a resurgence under Alan Curbishley before their horror show at the Madjeski Stadium. Curbishley’s standing as a former West Ham player, respected manager and his activity in the transfer market still mean that there is no cause for despondency amongst the Boleyn Ground faithful and with the talent he can pick from, there’s no reason why the Hammers shouldn’t be clear of the drop zone by May. Fulham will need Niemi plus the back four to be alert if they are to come away with anything. There is still a slight doubt over the fitness of Philippe Christanval so Ian Pearce remains on stand by to snuff out the threat posed by his former employers.

Fulham have been full of goals of late with Brian McBride and Heidar Helguson belying their advancing years up front. McBride has fine memories of Upton Park, having scored a blinding opener from fully 25 yards when the Whites won an FA Cup replay there two years ago, and Helguson, despite being left on the bench until this time last year, has made such a compelling case for his inclusion that neither John nor Bjorn Runstrom have been able to secure a regular spot in the side. You get the feeling that the Whites will need another couple of goals if they are to record their first away win since victory at Newcastle way back in September.

Text by: Daniel Crawford

Did we substitute the Ego for Team Spirit?

A few fans have brought up an interesting point the last few days. Are we performing better as a team when your biggest egos has either left the squad or been injured? The players branded as egos are of course Greed Malbranque and Luis Boa Morte.I’m not sure that the reason for the “new-found” team spirit is this simple, but I’m sure it play its part.

One thing that strikes me when I see your boys play lately is that they seem to have fun again as well as they that they seem willing to go to great lengths in order to work for each other. Another factor that we should bare in mind is the change of captain. I’ve never thought of Boa as the ultimate leader on the pitch, he rather leads by example than by words. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it seems to me like Zat is more of a verbal leader on the pitch. If this is the case, and I’m sure Coleman/Keane would know by now, I vote for Zat to keep the armband. 

One thing that is fairly similar to this is what has happened in the Swedish national team the last few months. The head coaches did suspend Olof Mellberg, Christian Wilhelmsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovich for one game following them breaking the teams rules and going to a night club on an evening they were told not to go out. Speculations followed that this was a way for the coaches to punish these players who have created a group within the group which has lead to friction in the team. After their suspension Zlatan is the only player to have not been willing to come back to the team. The actions taken by the coaches did send a signal to the players –”No individual is greater than the team”. A typical Swedish approach 😉

I feel that the same kind of management would benefit the English team a lot. There’s too much focus on the players wives, pets, jewellery, hair colour etc. If Smiling Steve wants to keep his job he needs to do something about the egos and build a group once again. Englishmen at their best are always performing better as teams than individuals in my humble opinion. I for one hope that Coleman can preserve the team spirit and continue to build a team by being a modern leader and coach.

A mature Zat Knight?

Chris Coleman has described Zat as; “He’s concentrating for 90 minutes and he looks a much, much better player. It’s the best I’ve seen him play since I became manager.” And despite I fairly recently branded him as “promising for the 7th year running” I have to agree with Coleman. Zat has been a huge asset to us so far this year. We’ve even discussed on the forum if it might be a good decision to let him keep the captaincy when Boa is back. Keep it up Zat!

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Our old friend, Jean Tigana, is now blaming the dispute with Al Fayed for having cost him the France Job. –Well, Jean, maybe you should have thought about the consequences before taking part in dodgy transfer dealings?  

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Hammarby has finally managed to win at home again. Yesterday they beat ‘top of the table’ Elfsborg 1-0 at home making their share of points won from the top 2 teams 9/12 this season. If only the Swedish FA could give back the 3 points they stole from us back and we’d be back in the title race.

Fulham fails to end unbeaten run for Villa.

Yesterday the boys travelled to Birmingham to play Aston Villa at Villa Park. We haven’t won a league game at Villa Park since the early 70’s and knowing that they so far is the only unbeaten team in the league this season didn’t really help to get my hopes up.

Villa started the game better than us and you could clearly see that Coleman had praised “safety first”. Even if Villa had slightly more possession they didn’t create many chances to score. Most of the time they hoofed the ball in to our box just to see it won by Pearce and Knight over and over again.

The ref for the day Chris Foy didn’t have one of his best days at all. First he “missed” a handball on Rosie and a few minutes later he did the same in the Villa box. Shortly after he made the poorest decision of the day, when he gave Villa a penalty out of the blue. It wasn’t even close to be a penalty, hardly even contact between Rosenior and Petrov. The decision has been criticised by Chris Coleman, and he’s backed by Martin O’Neil as well. Oh well, Villa and penalties hasn’t been a good combo lately but Barry stepped up and score a good penalty.

After the Villa goal Fulham started going forward a bit more and eventually got the well deserved goal. The scorer was very unlikely but it was truly nice to see the joy on his face after Moritz Volz scored his first league goal for Fulham. He got a good cross from Radzinski out left and score from a few meters. The Villa defenders did poorly when giving Volz so much space. But in all fairness, 1-1 was a pretty fair result at half time.

The second half started with Fulham being the better team and seemed more motivated than the home team. Even though Fulham tried going forward they failed to produce any high class chances. The best chance of the second half was a set piece from Villa but all four Villa players who went for the ball missed it and the ball went passed the goal mouth.

Surprisingly enough none of the teams seemed willing to go for all three points, I’m actually a bit disappointed that we didn’t change formation to 4-4-2 when we had them pinned back for a while.

At the end of the day, I’m pleased with one point away to Villa, and in a televised game. We’ve now gone three televised games in a row without losing; it has to be some sort of a Fulhamish record.