Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dispatches from the Relegation Zone

UF has a sterling track record of letting supporters of all stripes have their say-- always with a composed, balanced prose-- on their club. Yes, Bigus and his Canary Love may have slipped through the editorial cracks, but that fact that even three percent of his lust letters to Darren Huckerby actually get posted to the site is proof enough. Shit, my hero Joep wrote like a thousand words on Holland's group stage play during the Euros.

For the reason stated above, and because he's the man, I'd like to introduce you all to Captain Fulhamerica. He's an American ex-pat, living in London, and spending-- like so many other American ex-pats have-- his Saturday afternoons at Craven Cottage. Always a proper footy fan, and something of a 'keeper in his time, the Captain has kept me entertained with his dispatches from the relegation zone for some time now. Enjoy...

Headed home...
They called him "McGod"-- some of them at least-- and now he's gone. The man who for so many seasons near single-headedly kept Fulham afloat is now in Chicago, where we imagine the ghost of Jimmy Bullard will haunt his dreams. It's life after McBride for those crazy Cottagers and their evident despair (wait foooor it...) is a testament to the club's annual flirtation with the drop. The question this season then, as always, is whether Fulham can find some kind of drama that doesn't involve the threat of bus trips to Norwich and Scunthorpe.

(TLL note: the following "interview" has been culled from a wide-ranging email exchange that goes back to before Fulham's Saturday defeat at Hull.)

The Likely Lad: Captain, your thoughts on the upcoming season?

Gera will be our best signing hands down. The guy is an absolute Stud. Captain of the Hungarian team, was by far the Baggies best player last year and we got him on a Free how? Blows my mind. Our wings actually look excellent with Simon Davies easily being our top performer last year and again, Gera is just class.

Now, the Middle is the issue (mid and defending…). Who do we play? We have Bullard (well overrated, yea I said it… takes a mean free kick but that’s it. I've seen him play about 246 stupid balls that have almost and sometimes actually materialised in gift goals for the opposition, been taking loads of stupid shots when we have 1 – 3 people in much better positions on breaks… wouldn’t mind offloading him for 5 million quid if we could get it, given his dodgy knee and all…). Who else – D Murph, who I believe will be captain, he's a little less risky than Bullard, which is both good and bad. Andreasson and Andanik both more defensive minded but both REALLY REALLY good in my opinion… looking forward to watching these two get their time in. Andreasson is our only ‘hard’ guy.

Defence – Stoor was a huge signing on the right, hope to see him in their over Pantsil. Better both defensively and offensively… no brainer Roy, do the right thing… Konch on the left is decent, a bit overrated as well I think as ive seen him get burned quite a bit last year, but by the end he strengthened up and started making good runs. Hope this keeps up.

In the middle, the jolly giant Hangeland has been quite good actually, another captain candidate, but against the likes of LPool and Manure, he looked crossed up… granted that’s with most teams’ backs though. Hughes – other central defender, hes good. Not Great, but good. Waltzing Mark Schwartzer is money, good upgrade although I did love Keller (TLL note: Dude, seriously?)(almost caught his Jersey when we won at Reading, after our first win in roughly 32,572,468 away matches… cue the Great Escape tune!)

I'd like to see one more signing, another strong center back if possible… we've done a lot of other strengthening in terms of our squad so we have depth, but that's my starting XI.

When the inevitable injuries start piling up, we'll start throwing in our bench, which looks like our starting squad from last year. That's OK, I guess, but I’m not up for another season as frustrating as the last.

Captain Fulhamerica's next paragraph began with the words: "Off to Hull for the weekend..." He then goes on to hedge about how many points he'd expect his lads to take off the newbies, eventually settling on settling for a draw. He also called Gera "The Magyar Magician," which, if Saturday was any indication, may well prove prescient... ho ho! The Captain ended his screed by predicting an 11th place finish (TLL note: Hey, that's my club' slot!)

The Likely Lad: What was that you just said about Bullard? You'd be playing at Coventry... or Norwich if it wasn't for his "246 stupid balls."

The nerve to call this lad unattractive!

Don’t get me wrong. I very much do enjoy Jimmy B, he’s the sweetheart of the team, the jokester, one of those guys that could kick you in the bollocks but you’d have to forgive him just looking at his endearing smile (even though he is quite ugly if I must say so myself).

He’s been our most creative player along with Dempsey, but the ratio of creativeness to goals isn’t too high, to be honest and sometimes quite dangerous as stated before. He works really hard too, constantly all over the pitch but gets caught moving forward too often leaving our mid wiiiiiiiiide open. I’m telling you, pair him up with Andanik in the middle rather than Murph and we might be on to something.

Speaking of Dempsey, remember the Americans? He’ll make a few sub appearances but shouldn’t be starting over Gera. Boca gone, Keller gone, McLegend will be forever missed... and Eddie Johnson: his sole use is for songs along the lines of "Your wife is gonna leave you cos we got two Johnsons"... stuff like that.

The Likely Lad (on Monday): So big fella, how was the trip? Who had a worse weekend, Spurs or Fulham. Tell us of your travels!

The train up to Hull found myself having a few with some Spuds on the way up to Borough. They were optimistic about the season and rightfully so (TLL: The Captain has put off panic mode, for everyone, for this week at least), they agreed that a 12th spot finish would be doable for my (not so) mighty Fulham as well. But we aren’t here to talk about Spuds anyway is we… (TLL: Certainly not. Thank God.)

Lets just hope Roy Roy really does have that much of an impact in terms of the spirit of the lads, as he showed once again his tactics are sub-par. Why on earth would he start Seol? I wasn’t surprised (or happy) to see Bullard and Murph pair up in the middle either, and to be honest after the first 20 minutes I was fairly confident the result would be roughly 5 – 0 to the whites.

Then, as Fulham often do, we stopped playing. Just stopped, played as though we won the match already and stopped going in hard for tackles and the first/second balls other than Pantsil, surprisingly, who seemed to play the hardest along with waltzing Mark Schwartzer…

Nevertheless, we needed a substitution at roughly the 60 minute mark. We all noticed it in the Fulham end. All shouting to bring on fresh legs, maybe spark some inspiration in the rest of the lads but no – then Konch makes the mistake and we're down 2-1. Then the 70th minute, still no subs. 80th minute and still no subs… Taking off Zamora in the 85th minute as your first sub? That’s a fairly shotty job if you ask me. I guess we just have to have faith he’ll sort it out…

Gera – shocking. He could’ve had a hat trick in the first half alone but didn’t even get a shot off. Im still confused about that. Simon Davies, as per usual, good game that goes unnoticed to the untrained eye (BBC and the like…).

Positives from the day – the usual Away banterdom b/w fans. Hull's support were brilliant and got their lads moving. Got me out of my seat more than Fulham did and made the trip worth while, to be honest. There was also that first 20 minutes: We looked like a Prem team who cared as well.

Oh well, in for another frustrating season? I sure hope not… Bring on the Arsenal!!!

So there you have it folks. Direct from the frontline. The battle for 17th place continues on Saturday, at the Cottage, against those ghastly Gooners. Until then, let's send our best to Captain Fulhamerica!


Autoglass said...


This is glorious. Such utterly futile yet deeply felt passion. I love the guy, but fear for him.

Posts like this should be a regular feature of UF. Seriously, we need more lunatic, semi-rational, completely blinkered raving analysis.

I say we hit up your friend and mine...Let's get Relegation Zone Mikey!

The Likely Lad said...

RZM, as you call him, supports a club that has finished 5th in the league in 2 of the past 3 seasons. and the only club in london that won anything last year. so i dont think this would be the proper forum. how about dispatches from the my club beat michael ballack in a cup final zone-- lots of folks could join!