Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Monday January 28 2008
Fulham make the trip to the Reebok Stadium this Tuesday knowing that anything other than a win will not suffice. Normally, considering our dreadful away record whereby we`ve not won away from home since September 2006, a point would be considered a result, unfortunately, things are getting pretty serious down the bottom end of the table and any points dropped, against potential relegation rivals, are another nail in our coffin!
With players arriving by the second, Hodgson had this to say about our latest arrival Erik Nevland.
'He is a particularly good striker and that's one of the reasons why Sir Alex Ferguson brought him to Manchester United 10 years ago.
'He plays with his heart outside his shirt and that is the type of player we need right now.'
It`s been a right old merry-go-round at the Reebok with regards to the managers position in recent weeks. Sam Allardyce left for Newcastle, Chris Hutchings had a bash but was shown the door and Gary Megson has slipped into the hot seat. Since his appointment, Megson has steadied the ship but Bolton still find themselves in a dangerous position. Movements, during the transfer window, have seen Nicolas Anelka sold to Chelsea whilst long term servant, Gary Speed, has moved to Sheffield United. With his squad dwindling in numbers, rumours are circulating that Megson has made an approach to sign their former striker Eidur Gudjohnsen from Barcelona. It`s an audacious move and one that, if successful, will not be completed in time for him to face us.
In the absence of Anelka, Megson is looking to Kevin Davies to provide the muscle and power down the middle of the park. Whether Davies is up to it remains to be seen, indeed, with Anelka having been sold, you have to ask where Bolton will get their goals from.
In midfield Nolan appears to have worked hi sway back into favour and if he can find the form he displayed eighteen months ago he could be considered a threat, also, the portly Ivan Campo is always capable of the odd spectacular moment, although his appearances have been relatively restricted in recent weeks.
El-Hadji Diouf and Abdoulaye Meite are away on Africa Nations Cup duty but new signing Gary Cahill may be available.
Strong, powerful and a real handful at times although he can hardly be considered a prolific goal scorer! It`ll be interesting to see how our defence copes with his bustling style.
Roy Hodgson has some important decisions to make! Does he stick with those he inherited or does he blood those he`s recently signed, Brede Hangeland, Leon Andreasen and Eddie Johnson, even though they may not quite be ready for a Premier League introduction. It`s a quandary he`ll have to solve but the sort of decision his pay cheque requires him to adequately do especially if he wishes to collect the rumoured £1 million bonus for keeping us up.
Should Hodgson introduce Hangeland into the centre of defence partnering either Bocanegra or Hughes, should Bullard be paired with Andreasen, should Hodgson go with Johnson and Dempsey up front? As you can see there are now numerous permutations to be assessed. Unfortunately, with fifteen games to go, time isn`t on our side.
However we can tell you that the following are definitely out of contention are Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Lee Cook and Philippe Christanval, all of whom are back in training but who are not considered fit enough for selection.
Our potential saviour is freshly returned from injury and raring to go. Jimmy played 120 minutes in the mud bath that was the Memorial Ground last week and was the best player on the pitch. No doubt that he`ll start and hopefully his sheer infectiousness can kick our side into life help us get our drained confidence back.
The last two meetings have both ended 2-1. Back in August Fulham registered one of only two wins so far this season with Healy and Smertin scoring whilst in the fixture at The Reebok last season goals from Speed and Nolan beat us with Knight replying!
Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
It`s hard to feel confident about winning this one, especially when you`ve not tasted a victory, away from home, for sixteen to seventeen months in the Premier League and also considering our last away venture saw us fail to score against League One side, Bristol Rovers, in over two hours of football. However, our luck has to change sometime so how about Tuesday night/ Bolton are no major-players in the Premier League and since Sam Allardyce left, they`ve seriously struggled. The fact that our near neighbours, Chelsea, recently poached their best player may also affect the outcome of this encounter. Therefore, we`re going to be bold, we`re going to be brash and suggest that a Jimmy Bullard inspired Fulham side will crack this nut and come back to West London with all three points after winning 2-0. How about that for confidence?
After two away trips in succession, Bristol Rovers and Bolton Wanderers, Fulham face Aston Villa at Craven Cottage, next Sunday, in a fixture televised by Sky Sports.
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Date:Monday January 28 2008
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