As we finish off discecting the 3-0 home defeat to Fulham, we leave it to Fan Focus to round things out.
We were joined this week by Russ Goldman, a lifelong Fulham fan, and former editor of the Fulham website Cottagers Confidential.
Russ was very gracious in winning, and offered some words of encouragement, which is always nice when we can't seem to see any ourselves. Perhaps it needed an outsiders opinion!
Anyway, here's what Russ thought of the game, and how he sees things going forward for both our clubs...What a great result for your boys on Saturday, but how did you feel to see the starting line-up without Clint Dempsey and Brede Hangeland?
Russ: My initial thought was disappointment that Hughes was resting Hangeland and Dempsey. Fulham had only won once away from home prior, and I felt we were not putting out our strongest side. But, then during the game it was revealed that Hangeland had a virus, and the Dempsey had a slight injury. So, obviously Hughes had no choice on these two players.
What did you make of the game overall?
Russ: I thought it was a game of two completely different halves. Fulham did not play well in the first half as Sunderland really controlled most of the half. Fulham were fortunate to be up at the half by a goal. The second half was a completely different story as Fulham really pushed hard to get that second goal. Their continued positive play led to another goal as well. For me the game came down to Sunderland not having the players to finish. It was obvious that the injuries to the strikers stifled the team. Your midfield play was strong, and your control of possession in the first half was very obvious. Unfortunately, this positive play didn’t continue in the final third.
Bobby Zamora lead the line wonderfully for Fulham, his return to form will be crucial as Fulham look to cement a top ten position?
Russ: There is no question that Bobby Zamora’s presence on and off the pitch is so important to the club. His ability to be a real target man, and hold up the ball opens up much of Fulham’s play up front. His play in the final last 3 matches could be the difference in Fulham possibly ending in the top ten.
What did you make of Sunderland on Saturday, did any individuals stand out for you?
Russ: I thought your midfield was very strong. Steed Malbranque stood out for me, and always seemed to be around the ball. Also, I was impressed with Stephane Sessegnon. Unfortunately, he was forced to play the role of a striker, and just couldn’t finish.
There’s a lot of pressure on Steve Bruce now, if somehow you were in charge, would you call time on Steve Bruce’s tenure?
Russ: I think Steve Bruce is the right man for Sunderland. This season had many ups and downs for the team. Not every season is going to be a huge success. Sometimes you just have to survive the season. I think Sunderland has the right manager, and I appreciate how they play under Bruce. Changing the manager is not always the right move.
Back to Fulham - How do you feel this season is matching in regards to your pre-season expectations?
Russ: Well, I predicted that Fulham would finish seventh. I couldn’t have imagined the long term injury that Bobby Zamora would suffer. The fact that the club survived it, and is now thriving makes up for the tough first half the club dealt with. They are only 3 points away from Everton who are in seventh. So, I am happy with this season regardless of the final 3 matches. I also believe Fulham have the right manager to move them forward up the table.
Who would be your nomination for Fulham’s Player Of The Year?
Russ: Hands down it is Clint Dempsey. He has been the glue to keeping the team together during the tough times this season. He has scored key goals, and at times has put the club on his back. He is Fulham’s Player Of The Year.
Thanks very much indeed for taking part in Fan Focus, and I’m sure we will be having this chat again next season!