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The old boys

I’m bored of the ongoing, and seemingly annual, goalkeeper saga at Motspur Park. If it’s not tales of Schwarzer possibly departing for north London it’s the “Will he, won’t he” confusion surrounding David Stockdale going out on loan. So instead I’m going to concentrate on what ex-Fulham players are up to. That’s much less depressing.

Chris Smalling who left last summer in a big money move to Manchester United has obviously impressed Sir Alex Ferguson as he’s just signed a new five year contract. Crikey. If you were Chris Smalling, you’d be pinching yourself wouldn’t you? In just a few years he’s gone from non-league football to playing in the best league in the world, receiving a call up to the senior England squad and receiving runners-up medals in two European competitions. Not bad going for a young lad.

Previous captain Michael Brown has been snapped up by Leeds United (let’s hope that’s it for their transfer activity). I had a quick look on Wikipedia for an interesting titbit about him. I found one which jogged my memory a little. Remember the tackles on Ryan Giggs and Ashley Cole? Perhaps Michael knew something back then that the News of the World (RIP) hadn’t quite latched on to…. Anyway, good luck to him as he moves up north from Portsmouth.

It seems Jimmy Bullard might be looking at a return to the Premier League as Hull have confirmed interest from our lovable neighbours QPR. Many may see that as a good fit. I’m keeping my opinions on the matter to myself. For once.

In a slight reversal of fortunes, Paul Konchesky looks to be slipping down the football league pyramid, with Leicester City reportedly interested in recruiting him for their next Championship campaign. Given that Ol’ Blue Eyes was on the fringes of Liverpool’s squad following Dalgleish’s appointment last season and sent out on loan, it’s probably a reasonably safe bet that he’ll be leaving Merseyside if an agreement can be reached. If you believe some reports it’s already a done deal.

Good luck to them all and here’s to success in their future careers. Yes, even Jimmy.

Clint Nets USA Winner. “Possible” Battle v Salcido Looms

Once again, Clint Dempsey comes up with a big goal at a crucial time in a must win match. Seems like a broken record, but it’s the truth. Clint’s goal in the 77th minute was the cherry on top of a sundae built by Freddy Adu & Landon Donovan which gave the United States a 1-0 victory over Panama and thus punching their ticket to the final.

Freddy found Landon, who found space & eventually…a sliding Deuce for the winner. Once again, not the best U.S. performance ever, but we’ve reached yet another CONCACAF Gold Cup final versus Mexico. Wait, doesn’t another Fulham player suit up for “El Tri?”

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Dempsey Scores His 20th In USA’s Win

Our boy Clint Dempsey netted his 20th international goal to help lead the United States to a 2-0 win over Canada in their opening match of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Deuce played 90 minutes and looked very active on the, for the lack of a better word, shit pitch in Detroit. By the way, just prior to Clint’s sliding goal effort in the 62nd minute, Clint nearly scored in what can only be described as a “matrix back heel” effort that nearly found the back of the net. Trust me, search you tube for that, had it gone in, it would have made his chip shot vs Juve look routine.

Let’s get back to Clint’s goal in the 62nd. Following a nice build up, Jozy Altdore sent a cross right to left in front of the Canadian keeper and Clint knocked it home with a sliding effort. Jozy would actually put the U.S. up 1-0 in the 15th minute and much like Clint, had a fantastic game.

Speaking of highlights, while you’re searching you tube for highlights, be sure to pay attention to Everton/USA keeper Tim Howard, who had a few beast-like saves late in the second half. I know I’ve spent much time highlighting Clint (for obvious reasons) but the entire squad bounced back nicely after their embarrassing loss to Spain over the weekend.

The United States will take on Panama on Saturday in Tampa, Florida. Panama slipped past Guadeloupe 3-2 in tonight’s opening match.

*EDIT: I’ve been informed what Clint attempted was a rare “scorpion kick.” Whatever it was, it’s worth watching again.

*Edit #2: Not the “scorpion kick” attempt, but CLICK HERE to watch Clint’s goal.

Next up: Birmingham (away)

What a difference a game makes. Before last week there was a storm up into the top half of the table, the possibility of sneaking into Europe via the Fair Play spot, some great performances from all of the players and a huge burst of optimism surrounding the end of the season. Then came those manager-and-left-back-stealing reds.

So where are we now? Well, we dropped three points and suffered a humiliating defeat. To add injury to insult, Simon Davies suffered an injury and Bobby Zamora has another small niggle, this time in his groin, so they might not feature. I do wonder if Zamora might have been rushed back too soon. I hope not, but at least we’re coming up to the summer when he can have a proper rest. Because that’s the other thing, with five yellow cards and a pending charge for Baird over obscene gestures to the referee, we may not be needing our passports next season. In some respects this is a good thing – if we qualify for the Europa League through the Fair Play route, we’d have to play in June around three weeks after the end of the Barclays Premier League season. It also allows for a full summer and pre-season ready for our onslaught on the league and domestic cups next season. Ahem.

But the season isn’t over yet. We’ve got two more matches. Birmingham away and then we host Arsenal at Craven Cottage on the last day. Be honest, how many points do you think we’ll take from the possible six? Three weeks ago, I’d have said zero, but now we’ve another away win under our belt and the players need to make up for a pretty shoddy performance last Monday so, together with Birmingham’s form this season, I’m reasonably optimistic about taking something from St Andrew’s tomorrow. What will be interesting is what team Mark Hughes puts out. We’ve issues at full back with Baird’s suspension and Salcido’s inconsistency, and I’ve heard a few people question whether Schwarzer should feature after his impression of Heurelho Gomes last week. Harsh maybe, and I can’t see him being dropped, but I do like Stockdale and would like to see him get more playing time.

The injury to Simon Davies means we may get another chance to see Gael Kakuta who seems to have impressed since joining us on loan from them up the road and after opening his Fulham account (even if it was slightly fortunate) at the Stadium of Light, it would perhaps be harsh for him to be overlooked. Or we may have a rare sighting of Zoltan Gera. Rumoured to be going just about everywhere else except staying in SW6 this summer, Gera is fit and could feature. Hughes has been reported as saying he’d like to keep the Hungarian captain at Craven Cottage next season but Zolly doesn’t seem to figure too highly in Hughes’ plans. Perhaps tomorrow will be a opportunity for him to change that. Sidwell continues to look good in midfield and although Etuhu has improved this season, I think we need Sidwell’s intelligence and speed in the centre of the park. Plus he’s not afraid to have a shot occasionally. Upfront we’ve a few options and I like that Hughes has been rotating the strikers. It’ll keep them all on their toes. Moussa Dembele seems to work well with whoever he’s playing with and I think that’s a strength we should definitely use to our advantage. I have my doubts about Gudjohnsen and I think I need to accept that my bet with Gatesy that AJ will score 8 goals this season simply isn’t going to happen, but we are still getting some goals in and that’s what matters. I couldn’t care less who scores them.

So, my XI for tomorrow assuming Davies and Zamora are unavailable; Stockdale, Briggs, Hangeland, Hughes, Kelly, Gera, Sidwell, Murphy, Dempsey, Dembele, Kakuta.

Do you agree? Who would you play?

 

England’s Number One

Well nearly… Congratulations to David Stockdale on a well-deserved call-up to Fabio Capello’s England squad for the friendly against Denmark this week. Stockdale has seriously impressed during his two periods between the sticks this season whilst Mark Schwarzer has been otherwise occupied with his own international career, and he was tipped for a place with the national squad last September but an injury sustained at Blackpool put paid to that. It’s good to see that a further chance to impress has done exactly that.

Good luck David!