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Fulham (A) - Sat 6th Aug 2022 (12:30pm)

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And so to the real start of the season. It doesn’t feel like that long since the end of the last as the past couple of months have practically flown by. We’ve seen the departure of a club legend (Sadio, in case you were wondering!) and a couple of cult heroes (Div and Taki, in case you were wondering!), and also seen the addition of a change of tack in the forward line plus a youngster who could be a star in the making. Oh, and Mo finally signed his contract extension. A little bit of a state of flux is always needed to keep things from going stale, but a total overhaul would have been a massive risk. It’s a Saturday lunchtime start down in London and while it was scheduled several weeks ago, the ongoing public transport issues may well cause problems for fans travelling south, never mind trying to get around London. Anyway:

 

Nous. Organisation. Class. Order. Tactical flexibility. Tenacity. Audacity. Grit. Intelligence. Nerve. Gumption.

 

I don’t ask for much.

 

It’s a stadium that has seen a new stand go up over the past couple of seasons, and it is likely to be ready for the start of this one. While the stadium itself is pretty ordinary, it does have a couple of nice features (the Cottage itself in one corner, plus the listed facade on one side) and it’s in a really nice part of town. Our games at the Cottage have been a little topsy turvy it must be said. Some games we’ve utterly dominated and won handsomely, and others where we’ve been put under the cosh and not been 100% focussed ourselves. In early May 2011, then-caretaker boss Kenny took the Reds down to west London in very good form. The on and off-field problems of the autumn and winter looked a thing of the past. We had new owners, a rebuilt forward line and there were signs of life to be optimistic about. Record signing Carroll had only been involved sporadically due to ongoing fitness issues, but our other big winter signing had hit the ground running. Not so much in terms of goals, but in terms of general play. He was a total menace and completely unlike anything we’ve had before or since. Suarez and his unique combination of outrageous skill, utter will to win and street-smart wiliness made him a pest for defenders for the whole 90 minutes. They could never switch off against him, and that is mentally tough to keep doing.

 

It was fellow South American attacking midfielder Maxi Rodriguez who was in the middle of a purple patch. Throughout his career he had always racked up very good goalscoring numbers for a player in his position, and it was largely down to his ability to find space and his composure in front of goal. At Fulham, he would bag his second hat-trick in a fortnight (he’d registered 3 against Birmingham at Anfield too) in a highly entertaining game.

 

Suarez ran clear down the left in the early stages. His low ball across the six yard box was deflected onto his own post by a Fulham defender, and Maxi was on hand to fire the loose ball home. Just a few minutes later he doubled our lead, volleying in at the far post unmarked. Dirk got in on the act to make it 3-0, smashing a low shot in at the near post from the right corner of the area. Schwarzer in goal made a right hash of his attempt to save it, letting the ball go right through him at the near post. Dembele pulled one back for Fulham, but Maxi blasted a 30-yard rocket into the roof of the net for his third and the points were absolutely safe. Suarez had done everything but score thus far, and he was not going to be denied here. He got on the end of a great through ball, rounded the keeper and rolled it into the net for 5-1. There was still time for Sidwell to fire in a cracking second goal for Fulham past Pepe from 25 yards, but the game was long over. Liverpool’s fans were bouncing in the stand, and within days Kenny would be announced as permanent manager. The final 2 games were a damp squib as the players went into on-the-beach mode, so in hindsight maybe that announcement should have been delayed until the season had ended. Maxi and Dirk had been important to the team’s revival post-Owl, but they would find themselves marginalised from this point on. The goals from the Fulham game can be seen here from 15:15.

 

 

Norse god Thor would be the latest MCU character to get the big screen treatment, with the Asgardian hammer wielder sitting atop the box office in May 2011. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, Thor starred Chris Hemsworth in the title role, supported by Natalie Portman as Jane his love interest, Anthony Hopkins as Thor’s father, the Norse god Odin, and Tom Hiddleston as mischievous adoptive brother Loki. It’s entertaining and fun, a good start to the Thor franchise, but not the best in the series (I still think that is Thor: Ragnarok). The MCU is very good with the energy in its films, and loves a big explosive scene, but the other thing they generally do better than the DCU is humour. This one is but one example.

 

 

The big news story on 9th May 2011 was Pakistan’s prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani issuing a warning to the United States and President Obama about protecting the country’s airspace following American forces’ capture and killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden a week earlier, who’d been in hiding in a compound outside Abbottabad in the country. The warning stemmed from humiliation that the terrorist had been hiding in their country this whole time, humiliation that the Americans were able to mount a covert operation inside Pakistani airspace, and worries over the notion that Pakistan was aiding and abetting terrorists in their own country. Gilani vehemently denied collaborating with al-Qaeda. Much like with Saddam Hussein’s capture, news of Bin Laden’s demise came out of the blue a little even though there had been a regular trickle of news about the wanted man’s whereabouts and that the US were trying to do something about it.

 

mark-bowden-barack-obama-osama-bin-laden

 

Queef and Diogo will be missing for this game, but Jurgen has stated that he hopes Ali will be back. The Brazilian has missed most of pre-season after picking up a knock in the first pre-season friendly against United, so hopefully he is now ready to return. In addition to that, I hope we see more of the intensity and sharpness we saw for large parts of the game against City. Fulham have been very much a yo-yo team in recent years, too good for the Championship but not good enough for the Premier League. They’ve got Liverpool old boy Harry Wilson in their ranks, and will be hoping Mitrovic continues where he left off last season when he was busy tearing the second tier a new arsehole. They’ve lost creative fulcrum Phil 2.0 to us though. It shouldn’t matter what they do. If our players have the right focus and do the right things, we can start the season with 3 points. We have what it takes, so just go and do it.

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It'd be good to make an example of them early on and let the rest of the league know that dissent will not be tolerated. 4-0 reds. Diaz scores first, Henderson will also be on the scoresheet. 

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Get in, get the three points, get out. The last time we played here we were robbed when Salah was pushed in the back during their goal. We owe them the defeat.

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They are shite - but this is hardest time to play them, when hope at start of season and excitement is there, crowd are up, players full of desire and adrenalin etc.

 

Best time to face these shite teams is when they have had a good 3 months of being snotted and reality has kicked them in the teeth.

 

All that said though we are of course much, much better than them and we are a team with a really strong backbone these days and we don't often fail against shite like this anymore even when it is the hardest time to play them.

 

If we are anywhere near our best (even at this early stage when being at very best is never going to be case) then we win and handily....

 

I expect us to be good enough and to win.

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22 minutes ago, an tha said:

They are shite - but this is hardest time to play them, when hope at start of season and excitement is there, crowd are up, players full of desire and adrenalin etc.

 

Best time to face these shite teams is when they have had a good 3 months of being snotted and reality has kicked them in the teeth.

 

All that said though we are of course much, much better than them and we are a team with a really strong backbone these days and we don't often fail against shite like this anymore even when it is the hardest time to play them.

 

If we are anywhere near our best (even at this early stage when being at very best is never going to be case) then we win and handily....

 

I expect us to be good enough and to win.

But on the flip side, they'll also have a go and not be cowering with everyone behind the ball. 

 

It'd be nice to get a few goals up and get Carvalho on towards the end of the match. It will get his first-game nerves and playing against his old team out of the way in one hit. 

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It'll be the same line up as the Charity Shield.

 

I'd have to go back and look but, from memory, we tend not to rotate too much in the first batch of games up until the first international break/CL starts so this starting 11 will probably be largely settled until then.

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