Date:Sunday January 15 2006
FULHAM 1 NEWCASTLE UTD 0
FULHAM: Niemi, Rosenior, Knight, Pearce, Niclas Jensen, Radzinski (Malbranque 62), Boa Morte, Legwinski (John 73), Elliott, Helguson, McBride.
Subs Not Used: Warner, Volz, Goma.
NEWCASTLE UTD: Given, Carr (Elliott 45), Boumsong, Ramage, Babayaro, Solano, Bowyer, Clark, N'Zogbia (Chopra 77), Shearer, Luque (O'Brien 80).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Brittain.
Chairman Freddy Shepherd claims Newcastle have the best squad of players in the history of the club. Yet I sat through this utter rubbish and witnessed another Newcastle performance that ranks alongst the worst of the late 1970's when we were relegated.
Officially, Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque celebrated his come-back from injury by heaping further pressure on Graeme Souness. Unofficially Souness is (and should be) a dead man walking, because if this is the best he can come up with after 18 months in the job ... he should be stacking shelves at ASDA. It's the same old rubbish - eleven players thrown on there with no guideance, no pattern, no purpose. It's a simple 'get out there and do yer best'.
We suffer the same garbage week after week, and the same excuses come forth. Yes we've got injuries, but we had eight internationals on the pitch at Craven Cottage, and they looked like a team of Sunday League p**s-heads having a kick-about before going on the raz.
United only kick-started the match late in the game after they went behind. It took a goal against to motivate them. It did more than Souness had managed in the previous 75 minutes. Do players listen to him? Does he have anything constuctive to say?
The Cottagers offered more as an attacking force with striker Heidar Helguson squandering the best opportunity of the first-half and striking the bar after the break. But Antti Niemi made his Fulham debut after completing a £1million move from Southampton earlier in the week and made two magnificent late saves when the Toon players finally decided they could be bothered.
Titus Bramble failed a fitness test after damaging his foot. His defensive partner Jean-Alain Boumsong again looked poor but it was his chance that was cleared off the line at the death and would have snatched a share of the spoils but for Niemi's late brilliance.
Alan Shearer was jeered when he appeared to elbow Pearce and the ex-England skipper was lucky not to see red. His efforts at beating Milburn's record never brought any reward as Fulham virtually snuffed him out of the game.
Given tipped a fine long-range effort from Radzinski over the bar, and tempers began to fray with several players going into referee Alan Wiley's book for heavy challenges - Fulham's Sylvain Legwinski and Newcastle's Lee Clark and Stephen Carr all seeing yellow.
Newcastle's misery was compounded when McBride threaded a pass to Collins John and the substitute tried his luck from an acute angle and forced a fine save from Given. But the ball fell into the path of Malbranque, who made no mistake from close range.
Fulham fans couldn't resist the temptation to sing 'Souness Out!', as once again, we become the joke team of the league. The Toon fans replied with a bit of sarcasm: 'If it wasn't for the injuries we'd be top!'
I ask you one question .... do you see Souness as the man to transform this club and have us challenge Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool?
When it comes to tactics the man is totally CLUELESS! You look at class players who suddenly don't want to know. The banter has gone, they look like a team under pressure before a ball has been kicked, and we have to ask where the hell we go from here?
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