Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday April 13 2007
Fulham make the short distance to Reading this weekend for a fixture that could shape their Premiership future.
After the upheaval of this week whereby Lawrie Sanchez has been drafted in to replace the sacked Chris Coleman, nobody is left in any doubt as to the severity of our plight.
With five games remaining, all against difficult opposition, there is every danger that we could slip into the relegation battle. Hopefully installing a fresh face at the helm will galvanise a squad that has looked to be very low in confidence in recent weeks.
If Sanchez cannot inspire an urgent revival then the possibility that we`ll be playing in the Championship next season will almost certainly become a reality. However, we can take heart form the fact that whilst we languish at the bottom of the form table Reading are only one place above us signifying it should be a close game.
We can`t let the opportunity pass not to use a classic quote from a player who no longer plays for our club. It concerns the recent departure of Chris Coleman and signifies just how low some people who, appear to, hold a vendetta can sink. Take it away Sylvain Legwinski.
"Sacking Fulham was the best thing that could have happened to Fulham."
"The only question is about the timing because it should have been done two years ago."
"The club has gone backwards under him. This season was the first where it could be truly called his team as there was no one left form Tigana`s era."
"It`s sad to see where they are now but, in truth, Fulham were lucky not to be in the relegation zone the last two years - and that`s because of Coleman."
Very harsh in our opinion.
Reading boss Steve Coppell will have to decide whether to utilise the services of his midfield player, Steve Sidwell. Whilst he is 100% fit his recent rejection of what would have been the highest salary ever offered to a Reading player in favour of a move to a more lucrative club may well persuade Coppell to try a new formation. Elsewhere, Fulham will need to be aware of the dangers that Kevin Doyle will present. The striker, signed from Irish League side Cork, has adapted remarkably well to life in the Premiership and his goal tally of ten, in the Premiership, demands respect.
Expect Reading to select from - Hahnemann, Halford, de la Cruz, Ingimarsson, Duberry, Bikey, Shorey, Seol, Oster, Gunnarsson, Harper, Sidwell, Hunt, Doyle, Kitson, Long, Lita.
His explosive pace can destroy defences. Has proved he is the perfect foil for Doyle but needs to cut out the fiery side of his game. Recently charged for an off the ball incident that occurred during his teams Easter Monday fixture. Hopefully, he`ll lose his appeal and will not be able to face us.
With Lawrie Sanchez picking his first starting eleven it`ll be interesting to see who he chooses. Hopefully Ian Pearce will be back after sustaining a foot injury against Portsmouth. The big question will be whether Montella will play, The striker on loan from Roma, was supposedly one of the reasons why those in charge decided to dispense with the services of Coleman. With his salary being so high there was, reportedly, apprehension amongst the board that he was not being played enough.
A new gaffer demands attention and that`s why we`ve chosen to focus on Lawrie Sanchez. By sheer coincidence Lawrie starts his Fulham managerial career at the very club he started his professional playing career. Sanchez made 250 appearances and scored 28 goals for Reading. Sanchez will be eager to transfer the results he has achieved with Northern Ireland to the domestic arena. For the sake of our Premiership survival let`s hope it is a feat he can do.
Reading will be looking to do the double over Fulham after having won 1-0 at Craven Cottage, back in November, thanks to a solitary goal from their marksman, Kevin Doyle. On this occasion the striker slotted home a penalty in the 17th minute after Ian Pearce had been sent off by Dermot Gallagher. Trawling through the history books we find that honours are almost even with regards to the outcome in away matches with Reading. In fourteen fixtures Reading have seven wins to our twelve with two draws. Overall, when considering home and away fixtures, it`s even closer with both teams having won eleven games each with seven draws.
Lee Mason (Lancashire) will be taking charge of his 11th Premiership game this season. So far he has dished out a solitary red card and twenty-three yellow cards.
It`s a game Fulham must win to champion their survival prospects whilst Reading will be looking for three points to re-ignite the possibility of a late surge towards a possible UEFA Cup place.
Blackburn at Craven Cottage.
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Date:Friday April 13 2007
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