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Hughes will make an impact, says Greening

Jonathan Greening believes Mark Hughes will move quickly to make his mark at Fulham this season.

The former Blackburn and Manchester City manager, appointed as Roy Hodgson’s successor at Craven Cottage last week, has reportedly identified transfer targets in a bid to build on the club’s recent success. Greening, who completed a permanent move to Fulham in the close season, reckons the new man will be motivated by a desire to show City that they sacked him too early.

I am sure he will stamp his own mark before the season starts. I was a bit surprised he left City because he had a lot of money to spend but didn’t have a lot of time to gel the players and the team.

I am sure he will say he has a point to prove to himself and to everyone who has doubted him. I believe he will come in and give it his all and it is up to us players to help him become successful.

More poor away fare

Timmy made this point yesterday but it bears repeating.

Look at the two chalkboards below: they illustrate conclusively the contrast in styles we witnessed at the KC Stadium yesterday.

by Guardian Chalkboards

Hull: determined, direct and aggressive. Fulham: deliberate with shorter, probing passing. We played a staggering 174 more pass than Hull yesterday, but didn’t have anything significant to show for it. Sometimes in the heat of a relegation battle less is more. Sometimes, we’re just too passive for my liking away from home. Of course, it doesn’t help when a struggling side is given a helping hand in front of goal (or in this case in Jozy Altidore’s back).

I was excited to see Bjorn Helge Riise in the side yesterday as he can be a real asset when running at defenders and whipping in a good ball. Sadly, that never really happened. He wasted most of the opportunities he had to swing a decent cross over as this diagram shows:

by Guardian Chalkboards

Roy seem frustrated afterwards by the second string’s inability to take the opportunity to impress. You have to mention in Kagsisho Dikgacoi’s defence that he’s just back from injury, with a couple of reserve games under his belt, but we seemed so much sharper in possession once Jonathan Greening replaced the South African. Say what you like about the on-loan West Brom midfielder but he rarely wastes a pass:

by Guardian Chalkboards

Hodgson’s forward selection puzzled me. Dempsey’s far more suited to playing the withdrawn striker role, but he ploughed a lone furrow with Okaka and Nevland both left on the bench. It wasn’t Clint’s best performance – and he wasn’t helped by a distinct lack of service. It was Zoltan Gera who came close to grabbing Fulham a goal, but once again we lacked a killer touch on the road:

by Guardian Chalkboards

It would be unfair to blame Hodgson for our inability to impress away from the Cottage as this malaise has afflicted the club ever since we returned to the top flight. But it’s difficult to see where we’ll pick up a second away win of our league campaign this season:

11-Apr Liverpool A
24-Apr Everton A
09-May Arsenal A

We’ve never won at Anfield, not beaten Everton at Goodison Park since the 1974/75 FA Cup run and have never come away from Arsenal with the points. On the bright side, if it were to happen, Hodgson’s boys would be history makers.

Greening: We’ll have to be at our best

Jonathan Greening says Fulham will have to call on some of that Shakhtar spirit to compete with the mighty Juventus in Turin tomorrow night.

It’s just what dreams are made up. If we can put in a good performance like we did against Shakhtar – then everything is possible. We’re well prepared under the gaffer because everyone knows their jobs.

Danny Murphy’s suspension gives Greening an opportunity against Juventus, though he’s had plenty of European action already this season.

I knew we would be in Europe this year and that’s one of the reasons I came. Danny’s captain and has been playing well – but it gives me a chance to come in and do well. Every player wants to play in these type of games.

The missing men

Last season, Fulham were fortunate with injuries. Roy was able to let the same side settle into a system that gradually became successful. With the amount of key players we’ve lost this year, it’s a wonder the Whites are still competitive on three fronts at this stage of the season.

Looking at a couple of the Tottenham blogs last night I was surprised to read descriptions Hodgson’s negative tactics and complaints about ten men behind the ball. That struck me as strange given that Fulham had more of the ball and tested Gomes more often than Tottenham troubled Schwarzer. The 4-4-1-1 has worked wonders since it was largely forced on the wily old coach because of an absence of strikers and Zamora especially has revelled in being the leader of the line. He was at it again yesterday, giving a masterclass in the art of playing with your back to goal, and when Zoltan Gera’s come alive in that advanced role you’d be foolish to tinker with it.

What Hodgson demands of his players above all else is discipline. Dickson Etuhu summed it up last month:

The Manager has made sure we all know what we have do to. I have never played in a team like this before – where everything is just so simple. It certainly works for us and is one of the main reasons we do well.

That work ethic and organisation is one of the main reasons only three teams have beaten us at home this season. Hodgson knew that, even without a lot of options in midfield, he had to clamp down on Tottenham’s creativity. Modric looked threatening but never really found the space to wreak havoc and Kranjcar drifted in and out of the game. Perhaps Spurs’ biggest threat was the brilliant Gareth Bale, who was buzzing up and down the left flank like a Duracell bunny, but the persistence of Chris Baird and Damien Duff’s tracking back meant he couldn’t have had the kind of impact on this game as he’s had on other games against Fulham.

Furthermore, Hodgson would have badly rued the absence of his own two injured midfielders. Danny Murphy’s failed fitness test was a particular blow. Not only would he have been keen to prove a point against Tottenham, but Murphy has the ability to both spot and execute the killer pass. In his absence, we were a little lost in central midfield. Etuhu’s a decent enough stopper but his distribution was woeful yesterday. Twice he surged forward with the ball into space having won it back: in the first half, he chose the wrong pass, and – after the break – he gave the ball to Jonathan Greening and stopped running bringing a promising move to a standstill. Greening kept things steady in the engine room but wasn’t inclined to try a few forward passes.

What Clint Dempsey might have done drifting infield dangerously is anyone’s guess. As the game progressed, Duff became more influential and came close to breaking the deadlock on two ocassions. Dempsey offers you that X-factor that a workmanlike Fulham side sometimes lacks: the ability to beat a few players or deliver a telling cross. Whisper it quietly, but he just might be back for the replay.

Greening signs three year Fulham contract?

Are the Scarborough Evening News sure that they meant to divulge this?

JONO Greening believes that new footballing facilities in Scarborough are vital.

The 31-year-old, who has just signed a three-year deal with FA Cup quarter-finalists Fulham, graced the Athletic Ground’s terraces on hundreds of occasions to watch Scarborough FC when he was growing up as a youngster in the town.

Hat tip: White Noise over at FOF.