Hodgson faces sternest test

Hands up who had heard of Brede Hangeland before Roy brought him into the side. Anyone? Our Norwegian giant was a virtual unknown and now look at him. The thought of facing any team without him marshalling the back four makes me sick to my stomach.

The point is this: We need to have faith in Roy. He steered us to safety after the diabolical Sanchez reign and has put together a side which has already drawn with Liverpool and Chelsea, and taken all three points at home to Arsenal.

Now, he has taken a risk in letting Bullard and Leon Andreason go – and I am certainly not convinced that Dickson Etuhu is the answer to our prayers in midfield – but Roy deserves the chance to make such decisions.

The next few games are crucial to our season, no-one can deny that. String a couple of wins together and we will find ourselves up into the top 10; suffer a couple of defeats and we run the risk of being dragged into a relegation dogfight…again.

Keep the faith everyone.

Bullard: Dispelling the myth

There is a lot to love about Jimmy Bullard. His infectious enthusiasm for the game, his non-stop running during matches; his ability to deliver a master stroke just when it’s needed most; and the smile that’s permanently etched onto his face.

However, he has also inspired more fiction to be written than Robin Hood. Read most articles about the shaggy-haired Londoner and the picture will be painted of someone who plays simply for the love of the game; a throwback to a simpler time.

It wouldn’t matter to him if he was paid 20 quid and his bus fare home. Oh no, just as long as our Jim can kick a football about with his mates he’ll be happy. The fact that he can actually make a living from the sport is just a bonus.

Well, surely his actions over the past few days dispel that particular myth – despite his desperate attempts to heap the blame for his £5m transfer to Hull at the door of Roy Hodgson and the club that refused to give him a new contract.

Yes, this was the very same club that nursed him back to health during the 15-months he was out with cruciate ligament damage to his knee. The club that – by his own admission – were “absolutely awesome” – and didn’t rush him back into action.

Despite the fact he has only played 40 times for Fulham since joining in April 2006 and still had 18 months left to run on his existing contract, Bullard felt that the fact he was actually back playing, and had warmed the bench a couple of times for England, meant he had the right to revisit the terms of the agreement.

Why on earth should the club talk about a new contract? He hasn’t come anywhere near repaying them for sticking by him during his injury crisis and helping to fund both his fishing success and the lowering of his golf handicap.

Maybe if he’d stayed put and helped steer Fulham to a European slot at the end of this season he would have been in a better position to open negotiations. But no, Jimmy ‘big time’ Bullard didn’t feel loved so he packed his bags and headed north.

“I want to play for a club that wants me, simple as that,” he was quoted as saying on the weekend. “I’ve never been interested in money.”

Hmm. Not sure about that one.

When he joined us from Wigan, Paul Jewell – then the Latics’ boss, said: “If we had decided to match Fulham’s offer then maybe we would have kept hold of him but I didn’t want to be held to ransom. That would be extremely unhealthy.”

Warning bells should have sounded then.

Now he has gone for a reported £45,000-a-week. Yes folks, that’s around twice the annual salary for a man in Britain.

Bullard may like to present himself as the ordinary guy getting to live the dream of the blokes in the stands, but he’s proved himself to be no better than the rest of the Premier League’s money grabbing mercenaries that kiss their badges one minute, and whore themselves out to the highest bidder the next.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am disappointed. For three wonderful years I bought into the Bullard legend, only to find that the story failed to stand up to scrutiny. What a shame. 

Hangeland for captain?

The Daily Mail is reporting today that Roy is set to appoint our giant Norwegian as the skipper for next season and that’s a decision I would wholeheartedly support. It always seems sensible to have the captain stationed at the back as they are in a far better position to see how the game is shaping up, identify where we are being over-run and spot weaknesses we can exploit.

Hangeland was also Roy’s captain at Viking when he was barely out of nappies so one would presume he has the communication skills to do the job. And anyway, apart from Brede, who else could do it? Aaron Hughes deputised for Brian last year so may also be a contender. The only fear is affecting a decent player’s game in a negative way, as seemed to happen when Cookie gave Boa the armband a couple of years ago.

However, Hangeland must be warned that the captain’s armband at Fulham appears to be cursed. Back when Brian ripped his knee apart last August we put together a list of the problems suffered by previous skippers. You can read it here. Fingers crossed nothing happens to him as I am convinced that he will be a vital part of next season’s team.

John Terry – what a farce!

If you haven’t read the papers yet today then I suggest you don’t eat anything until you do as they will make you want to vomit. The ridiculous, sycophantic tosh that is being written about John Terry’s ‘heroic performance’ in last night’s friendly against the USA plunges new depths.

Take the Daily Mail for example. Under the headline: “Redemption!”, it tells in breathless fashion how the Chelsea captain “eased the pain” of last week’s Champions League defeat and quotes Terry himself as saying: “I’m a big man, I like the big games and it was great to score.”

Now, I’ve got a heart. I even felt a bit sorry for him last Wednesday when he fluffed his penalty but this farcical, media-inspired, Diana-esque outpouring of grief just makes us football fans look pathetic. I can see why those who don’t follow the game look upon us with a mixture of pity and loathing.

For goodness sakes let’s get a grip. Last time I checked Terry hadn’t just been diagnosed with an incurable disease and I’m fairly sure that neither of his legs have been blown off. All that happened was he missed a penatly. BIG deal.

FtF End of Season Awards

Here are our inaugral just for fun awards…some less serious ones are also on their way…

Player of the season
Winner
Simon Davies

Highly recommended
Jimmy Bullard
Brian McBride

Best new signing (since May 07)
Winner
Paul Konchesky

Highly recommended
Brede Hangeland
Danny Murphy

Best team performance
Winner
Reading away

Highly recommended
Man City away
Birmingham home

Most important goal
Winner
Danny Murphy’s header against Pompey away

Highly recommended
Joe Kamara’s winner against Man City away
Brian’s opener against Birmingham at home

Goal of the season
Winner
Joe Kamara’s overhead volley against Spurs at home

Highly recommended
David Healy’s super strike against Sunderland at home
Jimmy Bullard’s free kick away at Blackburn

Best individual performance
Winner
Joe Kamara against Man City away

Highly recommended
Brede Hangeland against Everton at home
Simon Davies against Chelsea away

Most valuable person for our season
Winner
Brian McBride

Highly recommended
Roy Hodgson
Jimmy Bullard

Unsung hero award
Winner
Simon Davies

Highly recommended
Danny Murphy (yes, I know, unsung by us as well!)
Aaron Hughes

Best goalkeeping performance of the year
Winner
Antti Niemi against Derby at home

Highly recommended
Antti Niemi against Blackburn at home
Kasey Keller against Pompey away

Chant of the season
Winner
We’ve hit it three times, we’ve hit it three times, that f*cking crossbar, we’ve hit it three times
Sung at Reading away after Brian, Jimmy and Hangeland all came close.

Highly recommended
Jim Bullard Bullard, he’s better than Steve Gerrard….
We won it one time, we won it one time, the Intertoto, we won it one time

Best atmosphere at a match
Winner
At home against Birmingham

Highly recommended
Away at Reading
Away at Pompey

We are staying up!!!!!!!!!

To experience games like yesterday at Fratton Park is the reason we all follow football. An unbelievable, emotionally draining 90 minutes of sheer agony, and then undiluted joy. Amazing stuff. Will be back on later with a full report on our trip along the south coast but for now I have just one thing to say: The Whites are Staying UP!!! Sounds good, doesn’t it?

The reasons we will be relegated

There are two of them: failing to invest in Chris Coleman…and then sacking him. Simple as that.

If Cookie had been given proper resources a couple of years back then there’s no way we’d be staring relegation in the face. If any further proof was needed then you only have to look at who have been the best players for us this season. McBride (Coleman signing); Bullard (Coleman signing); Dempsey (Coleman signing); Niemi (Coleman signing); Davies (Coleman signing).

Cookie’s critics accused him of running out of ideas. Oh right. I presume they mean the box of tricks that Sanchez and Hodgson have brought with them. Well, they have worked very well haven’t they? If their goal was to bring Championship football to the Cottage then I’ve got to say that the master plan seems to be working. Well done guys.

Everyone forgets what Cookie brought to the table. He took Tigana’s underperforming side and turned them into a classy outfit that clinched our best ever league finish in the first full year under his reign (9th). We then became a selling club…Saha, Van der Sar, Malbranque, etc, etc, and he wasn’t given enough resources to bring in fresh blood to the team. He paid for this situation with his job.