Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Wednesday January 23 2008
After last night`s defeat in the FA Cup, our attention must start to be focussed on the forthcoming Premier League clash with Bolton Wanderers.
Victory last night; would have seen us take the relatively short journey to Underhill to take on a Barnet side that beat Swindon Town 2-0 on penalties. We`d have seriously fancied our chances of making the last sixteen of the FA Cup and then anything might have been possible, however, that`s all in the past now and it`s time to concentrate on Premier League survival.
Our FA Cup exit gives us a blank weekend and a chance to regroup before we head off to play Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium. After seeing Sam Allardyce leave to take the helm at Newcastle, albeit a short lived affair, Bolton handed their managerial role to Chris Hutchings. The new manager didn`t make the desired impact and has since been replaced by Gary Megson. In recent weeks Megson has seen his talisman forward, Nicolas Anelka, sold to our near neighbours. Chelsea.
Subsequently, Bolton find themselves in a similar position to us, although not quite as bad, of having to fight for Premier League survival. It looks like being the first of several six pointers that Megson and Hodgson need to negotiate if they are to ensure neither of their sides slip into the Championship. Considering our recent away form, no wins since September 2006, a point would normally be considered a good result, in this case it`s probably fair to say a point is as good as a loss.
Prior to the Bristol Rovers defeat, Hodgson had suggested that Bristol and Bolton were teams we should be looking to defeat.
Although the game is almost a week away, it`s interesting to speculate just how Hodgson`s team will line up. Will he decide to ring the changes and introduce the signings he`s already made and those that are in the pipeline or will be introduce them on a gradual basis?
With Dejan Stefanovic likely to be suspended following his sending off at the Memorial Ground, there is every chance that Brede Hangeland will get an immediate introduction to life in the Premier League, that is off course if his international clearance has come through. Also likely to make a debut is our recent midfield acquisition, Leon Andreasen possibly partnering Jimmy Bullard and Danny Murphy in a midfield three. Up front, it remains a lottery with regard to who`ll feature. Will Nevland, Cousin or Litmanen feature or will the obstacles have been overcome enabling Marlon King to start?
Despite all the doom and gloom you cannot help but feel that these are interesting times at Craven Cottage. We may be on something akin to a rollercoaster ride but like the steepest plunges on the steepest of rides you know there`s a slow climb to come before it all comes to a juddering halt next May. Let`s hope the wheeling and dealing sees Fulham climb just high enough to endure it all again next season.
Date:Wednesday January 23 2008
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