Marcus Bettinelli’s fifteen year spell at Fulham is over after the club confirmed this afternoon that the goalkeeper has left Craven Cottage after his contract expired at the end of June.
A popular member of the squad, Bettinelli came through the Fulham academy after joining the club aged fourteen and made his senior debut in the 1-0 League Cup win at Brentford in September 2014. He soon established himself as the club’s first choice goalkeeper under Kit Symons and fought back from a horror knee injury at Hull City to eventually edge out new signing David Button as Slavisa Jokanovic’s side went on a memorable 23-match unbeaten run.
Bettinelli kept a clean sheet at Wembley as the Whites went up by beating Aston Villa – making an excellent save from Jack Grealish – and earned an England call-up after briefly returning to the first team in the Premier League. He found first team opportunities tough to come by after that, making fourteen Championship starts before being replaced by Marek Rodak in 2020. He spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough and will now be looking for a new club.
Bettinelli told Fulham’s official website: “To have joined the academy at the age of 14 and gone on to make the memories I have and lived every boy’s dream is just unbelievable. To have worn the number one shirt is a massive thing for me. I feel extremely proud and extremely fortunate to have done that.
My time at Fulham was mad special. I’ve been a fan, I’ve sat in the seat of a fan when I was kid watching the first team play Juventus and stuff like that, so I’ve always had the club in my heart. To come through the academy and play on the pitch that I used to watch the likes of Mark Schwarzer on, will always be special to me. I started at the club as a boy and matured into a man, and made some incredible memories with the fans.
He picks out that the magical day at Wembley as the highlight of his Fulham career.
“Without a doubt. If you had said to a 14-year-old me that I would one day play at Wembley in front of the White Wall, I never would have believed you. So to have done that and then gone on to play in the Premier League at Craven Cottage was something so special and something that I’ll hold forever in my heart.
The day at Wembley was just ridiculous but, strangely, the day we played Burnley at home in the Prem was a really emotional day. Because I’d always watched Fulham in the Premier League growing up, to then represent us in the Premier League having come through the academy, that day will always be special.”
Bettinelli also had a moving message for the Fulham fans, with whom he has always enjoyed a special relationship:
“I just want to say a massive thank you to them. They’ve supported me from day one at Brentford away in the cup, all the way through. Even when I’ve been out on loan, they’ve always backed me. They’ve always supported me regardless of what’s been happening or how we’ve been playing. To have that bond with them is special. I’ll never forget the feeling of running towards the Hammy End and hearing my name being shouted, hearing the fans roar.”
Bettinelli made 120 senior appearances for Fulham. We wish him all the very best for the rest of his career.
The former England under-21 international was likely to be second choice behind Marek Rodak at Craven Cottage this season and his chances of first-team football decreased further when the Whites bought in Alphonse Areola on loan from Paris Saint-Germain yesterday.
Bettinelli, now 28, has made 120 senior appearances for Fulham since turning professional in 2010. He was part of two successful promotion-winning sides from the Championship but lost his place to Rodak after a run of iffy displays in the Fulham goal last autumn.
Boro boss Neil Warnock said the opportunity to sign Bettinelli was too good for him to pass up:
I’m really pleased. I’ve been tracking Marcus since he first got into the team at Fulham a good few years ago and when the opportunity arose to bring him here, I was quick to the call. He’s a good lad, he’ll fit in well and speaking to him, I’ve been really impressed by his attitude and his desire to play for us.
The 28 year-old, who came through the Fulham youth set-up, lost his place as Scott Parker’s number one last autumn and has been offered the opportunity to play regular first-team football under Neil Warnock. Bettinelli, who was twice called up to the England senior squad by Gareth Southgate the last time Fulham were in the top flight, has made 120 first-team appearances in just over ten years at Craven Cottage.
This is the second time he has been a number two in a Championship promotion-winning side, although he did win his place back from David Button in time to keep a clean sheet in the 2018 play-off win over Aston Villa. Fulham brought in two goalkeepers that summer and, despite a brief spell in the first team before Slavisa Jokanovic was sacked, Bettinelli spent much of a dismal season watching from the sidelines. The loan deal taking him to the Riverside is expected to be announced later this week.
Yesterday’s result was for me the most disappointing of the
season. That might seem a strange thing to say given that West Brom are, on
paper, the best team that we have played against this season and will
undoubtably be fighting for promotion come May. But with how the game went, I can
only come away frustrated and disappointed. We were in complete control of the
game against a very strong side, but have handed the Baggies a draw away from
home on a plate. We have to learn from this, and quick if we want to stay
within touching distance of the teams at the top.
The big talking point coming away from yesterday’s game, is whether
or not we need a change between the sticks. Marcus Bettinelli hasn’t helped his
cause so far this season. He has always been a decent shot stopper, but isn’t
great in other areas. His distribution has constantly been called into
question, and he is now making mistakes far too often, costing the team points.
But before we start calling for his head, we need to look at things close up,
and then look at things in from a wider perspective.
Well it doesn’t look great, does it? A good corner into the
right area, but why is he flapping at that? And why is he trying to claim a
foul when Austin did what every front man in world football will do at corners?
He just wasn’t strong enough, and his reaction has only made it worse. He has
now come out and accepted the blame, and fair play to him for that, but really
the mistakes need to be cut out.
However, while Betts made the error, there are a couple of other
factors involved in this particular occasion. Firstly, why on earth do we not
have a man in between Austin and Betts? For me, that’s a huge error in
judgement from our defensive coaches if it was supposed to be like that. Of
course West Brom are going to put Austin in there trying to put the keeper off,
so why was Ream, or anyone not there to give him some sort of cover? Also,
Mawson can’t come away from that scot free. He was supposed to be on Semi
Ajayi, but he has let him run off him so easily. For a big lad, he sometimes
doesn’t use his strength. So, while Betts has made the biggest error of all in
this situation, he certainly wasn’t helped by his defence.
Wider perspective –
A lot of people won’t like this, but I think there are a vocal section of fans who don’t help the situation. At Barnsley away I was a couple of rows from the front and Betts was having abuse hurled at him from the word go. His distribution from the start was at it’s usual level, but a number of fans were on his back in a pretty abusive way straight away. This isn’t helping. Now, I know we have all paid hard earned cash to follow the team up and down the country so therefore have the right to express opinions, but for me there is a huge difference between that and just hurling abuse non-stop. If you honestly think that will encourage our players to up their game then you are mistaken. All it does is make the burden heavier and heavier, until someone will turn around and shout back, which is what I hear may have happened yesterday, although I can’t confirm that this. Another example is Cyrus Christie. When he came on against Nottingham Forest a few weeks ago we had some numpties booing him straight away. The guy looked terrified every time he got near the ball, and unfortunately as a fan base WE have to take some of the blame for that. It’s embarrassing.
I have no idea who we will start in goal against Sheffield
Wednesday, but I do think that Rodak must be in with a chance. If Rodak does
get the nod, then it should spur Betts on to up his game. Competition in that
area of the pitch is important. But for us as fans, maybe it’s time to have a
think about how we respond to whoever is on the pitch.
A terrible goalkeeping error from Marcus Bettinelli cost Fulham the chance of ending West Brom’s unbeaten start to the season as Scott Parker’s side had to settle for a point having dominated the Championship’s early kick off this afternoon.
Bettinelli, who was furious at the award of the goal having felt he had been impeded by Charlie Austin as he tried to reach Matheus Pereira’s corner, only managed the tamest of contacts and allowed Semi Ajayi to head home the simplest of equalisers. The tall centre back was delighted to score his first goal for West Bromwich Albion, who were rewarded with a point for their late pressure on the Fulham goal.
The home side looked likely winners once Anthony Knockaert chipped Sam Johnstone from a tight angle outside the penalty area four minutes after half-time, although the on-loan winger later confessed that he was trying to find a team-mate at the far post. The goal was fitting reward for Fulham’s first-half dominance, but it would have worried Parker that his side are still labouring fruitlessly in front of goal despite enjoying so much possession.
Slaven Bilic’s side were disciplined in defence and set up to try and frustrate Fulham but the home side still fashioned a number of chances as they probed away patiently. Ivan Cavaleiro, who endured a frustrating afternoon out wide as he struggled to find a final ball, had a couple of early shots blocked and then an outstanding tackle from Nathan Ferguson denied Bobby Decordova-Reid as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Fulham should have taken the lead midway through the first half when a brilliant bit of vision by Harrison Reed freed Tom Cairney in behind the Baggies defence. The Fulham skipper opted to go high as he bore down on Sam Johnstone but the West Brom goalkeeper managed to tip his finish onto the bar. The former Aston Villa custodian then produced a couple of excellent reaction saves to deny Knockaert and Decordova-Reid in quick succession.
The pattern persisted into the second period, with a desperate lunge from Ajayi almost ending up in his own net as he tried to deal with a dangerous cross from Joe Bryan. Johnstone gathered a downward header from Mitrovic from a set play but Knockaert’s opportunistic finish appeared to set Fulham on the way towards three points – although Parker’s side failed to find the killer instinct.
The expected surge of Fulham pressure never really materialised with Johnstone turning over a Decordova-Reid shot on the turn and a long-range effort by Bryan was deflected wide. Instead, Albion were rejuvenated by Bilic’s double change midway through the second half when he threw on Kyle Edwards and Filip Krovinovic to inject some life into their attack.
Darnell Furlong flashed a drive into the side netting, but Fulham failed to heed the warning and retreated deeper and deeper. Ajayi nodded in the equaliser and the Baggies might well have nicked a winner as well when Furlong headed agonisingly wide from another Pereira corner. Fulham will need to be much more assertive if they have serious ambitions of joining the automatic promotion race.