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McCarthy's Blues Out for Third Craven Cottage Victory
Saturday, 8th Apr 2017 10:10

Town visit Fulham on Saturday looking to continue their winning run at Craven Cottage under Mick McCarthy and chasing back-to-back victories for the first time this season.

Since the West London side were relegated from the Premier League in 2014, the Blues have won both their away games against Fulham 2-1.

In addition, they are unbeaten at Craven Cottage since Boxing Day 1963 when the Whites recorded their famous 10-1 Boxing Day win over Jackie Milburn’s Town side.

Town got last season’s game got off to the perfect start when Freddie Sears netted after only 16 seconds.

“It was very early, very quick,” McCarthy recalled. “We’ve played well there on both occasions in the last two seasons and probably deserved to win.

“But it’ll be a completely different end to the game this time. I seem to remember Matt Smith coming on and they were putting balls into the box and I don’t think that’ll happen. They’re very much a different team now.”

McCarthy admits that the Blues will be far better than they were in the 2-0 Boxing Day defeat to Slavisa Jokanovic’s men at Portman Road.

“We were hopeless, let’s just clear that up,” he admitted. “It’s a lot easier when you’re a good team playing against a hopeless team on the day. It certainly helps.

“We never got after them and maybe that was down to my tactics, the way we played that day. I don’t know. Maybe we’d all had a good Christmas.

“They were very good and they are a very good team and if you let them play they can really hurt you. So we won’t be letting them play on Saturday.”

The Town boss was particularly impressed with midfield trio Kevin McDonald, Stefan Johansen and Tom Cairney during that game.

“Those three were brilliant, they were outstanding but equally Sone Aluko was as well. They were very, very good. But we didn’t put up a great deal of resistance. They are a good team but the [true] gap between us and them is not what showed that day.”

Fulham, who are seventh, 10 places and 15 points ahead of the Blues, are only two points off the play-offs. What does McCarthy believe is behind their progress this season having finished 20th last year?


“I think they’ve got some good players, first and foremost, which you pretty much have to have to play like that,” he said.

“I think the manager’s good, he got promoted with Watford with a lot of players that were brought in from Italy, but he still got promoted.

“They’ve invested in that team, they were in the Premier League three seasons ago, so I think that has a lot to do with it.”

Town's recent games at Fulham have seen big Town followings travel to West London with more than 2,400 fans - including two boatloads - set to make the trip this time around.

“Amazing, they’ve been really good performances and the crowd there behind the goal is fantastic,” McCarthy added.

“Our support has been great, it’s been terrific. They are the real diehards the ones that travel away, there’s no doubt about that. But I’ve no problem with the support at all, home or away.”

McCarthy, whose side could stick with his 3-5-2 system and essentially the same team - aside from Tommy Smith replacing the injured Steven Taylor - which beat Wigan.

Alternatively, he may look to switch to 4-4-2 with Fulham operating with a lone striker, having made a similar change against Birmingham and their single attacker system last week.

That would probably see skipper Luke Chambers and Christophe Berra at the heart of the defence and Jordan Spence at Myles Kenlock the full-backs with Bartosz Bialkowski again in goal.

In midfield, Emyr Huws and Toumani Diagouraga would be in the centre with Grant Ward on the right. The change of formation would allow Tom Lawrence, who is over his groin injury, to come in on the left and David McGoldrick and Freddie Sears to continue up front having netted once and twice respectively against the Latics.

For Fulham, Beccles-born ex-Canary Chris Martin is available again having missed Tuesday’s 4-2 defeat away against his parent club Derby County, while former England midfielder Scott Parker returns after a back injury. Full-back Denis Odoi is the Cottagers' only injury absentee.

Fulham boss Jokanovic says his side need have the self-belief to play their natural game: “We must be brave and play with confidence. If you believe our solution is to start playing long ball and not use midfield players, I don't believe it's our best solution.

“This situation is a legal part of football. We must choose and interpret this moment and what we must do.

“It's not a question of plan A, plan B or C. It's a question about what solution you can find in a different moment. If I believe plan B is not better than plan A we'll find a way for victory with plan A.”

On Boxing Day, goals from Martin and Ragnar Sigurdsson saw Fulham to a comfortable 2-0 victory over the Blues at Portman Road, their first win against Town for precisely 53 years.

Martin opened the scoring with a freekick on 36, then sub Sigurdsson headed home a corner in the 78th minute but the margin of victory should have been wider.

Last time at Craven Cottage, in December 2015, Sears and Brett Pitman were on target as Town beat Fulham 2-1 to win a fourth away league game on the trot for first time in more than 11 years.

Sears netted after just 16 seconds as the Blues made an explosive start, before Cottagers’ skipper Ross McCormack equalised with a freekick in the 14th minute, but Pitman secured the points when he turned in Sears’s cross on 57.

Historically, the Blues have been victorious on nine occasions (six in the league), Fulham on nine (eight) and with eight (six) games ending in draws.

Ex-Town loanee Ryan Tunnicliffe, who is currently on loan at Wigan, joined the Cottagers in January 2014 from Manchester United after ending his spell at Portman Road early, while former midfielder Brian Talbot is the chief scout at Craven Cottage, where he briefly played late on in his career.

Another ex-Blues loanee, Richard Stearman, remains a Fulham player but is on loan back with his former club Wolves for the season.

Town keeper-coach Malcolm Webster was a Fulham player between 1970 and 1974.

Saturday’s referee is Geoff Eltringham from County Durham, who has shown 99 yellow cards and five red in 35 games so far this season.

Eltringham’s most recent Town match was the 2-2 draw with Reading at Portman Road in February in which he booked Jonas Knudsen and two of the visitors.

He was also in charge of the 0-0 draw at Blackburn in October last year in which he booked only one home player.

Prior to that he refereed the 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday in April 2013 when he kept his cards in his pockets throughout.

His only other Blues match was the 3-1 defeat at Leeds in January 2012 in which he red-carded on-loan Town keeper Alex McCarthy for handling outside the area thereby denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, booked Luke Hyam and one home player.

Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Chambers (c), Kenlock, Emmanuel, Spence, Berra, T Smith, Digby, Huws, Diagouraga, Douglas, Bru, Williams, Ward, Rowe, McGoldrick, Lawrence, Sears, Pitman, Samuel, Moore.


Photo: TWTD



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ArnieM added 22:40 - Apr 6
anyone else sense a more defensive approach looming on Sat?
4

itfchorry added 23:13 - Apr 6
Going for a surprise Town win -

Our support is going to be emense

COYB
5

DanLyles added 07:19 - Apr 7
I normally subscribe to the 'if it ain't broke then don't fix it' mantra but I'm hoping we play the team Phil suggests in a 4-4-2. One of the many frustrating facets of the game I saw against Wolves last month was that we had 3 centre backs marking a lone striker when we desperately needed more impetus in midfield. This switch would not only accommodate Lawrence but possibly deploy Spence and Kenlock as two attacking full backs in a 4, not wing backs in a 5. Can't recall that happening too often, if at all, under McCarthy.

I watch a lot of Spurs games on tv, and being able to comfortably switch between a back 3 and four is a massive string to Pochs bow. He can tailor his line ups to counter opponents without unsettling his own players. Conditioning our players to do this will benefit us in the future, regardless of whether Mick is here or not.
11

DurhamTownFan added 07:22 - Apr 7
I see another bore draw coming and a loss of momentum because of it. Why not got for it and keep everyone looking forwards, and pleasing the guys who did so well during the week by keeping them in? Change it and you've got more evidence that MM doesn't know his best team, formation or approach
1

RoyalAscotBlue added 08:17 - Apr 7
lol... "looking to continue their winning run"

Come on Phil, 1 game is not a run.
7

RoyalAscotBlue added 08:23 - Apr 7
DanLyles... Burley's team was able to switch formation like that. Ahhh, those were the days.
3

mathiemagic added 08:28 - Apr 7
Cast iron guarantee that Douglas is a starter in a "Lets get a point at all costs" Approach tactic. Hope I am wrong.
2

PhilTWTD added 09:13 - Apr 7
RoyalAscotBlue

Read the whole sentence, "winning run at Craven Cottage under Mick McCarthy". Admittedly two may be stretching it a touch as well!
3

Steelmonkey added 10:04 - Apr 7
Well, unbeaten since 1963 at Craven Cottage, now there's a record just waiting to be broken.
1

braveblue added 10:47 - Apr 7
Cost a fortune to take visiting family along on Boxing Day. All were bored to death. MM not sure what happened. I can tell him. He set up with 8 at the back. He is a disgrace.
6

dirtydingusmagee added 11:07 - Apr 7
ha ha ,its a lot easier when you are a good team playing a hopeless team ! how many managers have said that to you this season Mick ? that's a cracker .
2

RoyalAscotBlue added 11:09 - Apr 7
Was there for the win last year. It was the last time I actually enjoyed a Town match - mainly due to the support/atmosphere (I have been to plenty since that I didn't enjoy). Freddie's goal straight from the kickoff got us off to a flyer, and it was an evening affair close to Xmas so spirits were already high... will be there again tomorrow but I'm not so sure that I will enjoy the game much? Fulham are a good side that play the game properly, on the deck, moving the ball around with pace and purpose. They embarrassed us this Xmas just gone and I suspect Mick will just employ his usual incredibly negative tactics simply to try and limit space and stop them playing.
7

RoyalAscotBlue added 11:12 - Apr 7
Phil. If we win tomorrow then 3 times in a row, at Craven Cottage, could be called a run.
1

hogster1970 added 12:08 - Apr 7
well the skuglas duo was in on boxing day and looked what happened, stick with what we put out lastime with smith in for taylor or go 442 and add tommy boy in on the left, and lets go at them, they will be desprate to win so aslong as we bide our time and we can get them on the counter attack.

if how ever dougie starts instead of big dave then yep we will be lucky to draw and we need a win but would still take a point aslong as we play it the right way
1

jjhbruno added 13:17 - Apr 7
Personally can't wait for tomorrow just so i can inform McCarthy of my thoughts on his latest foul mouthed comments. The man is an absolute disgrace to this club. He has no respect for the fans so i will not be giving him any from now on. Best of luck to the Ipswich Town players that's it. MEMMIM can kiss my....
4

OohOohSamassiAbou added 14:10 - Apr 7
No Bishop in the squad, any reason for this?
1

Ferguson added 14:32 - Apr 7
Come on - got to be 2-1 to TOWN on Saturday !
Let's just enjoy what's left of the season, and if that means that we're not safe in MM's eyes til 89th minute of the last game I wouldn't be surprised.

By the way, I wonder if anyone ever had a go at the young Mick McCarthy seconds after his team had scored ?
1

martin587 added 14:36 - Apr 7
As our CEO says,the team on paper can beat most teams.Remains to be see what team MM puts out.I will take a draw which I should think will secure another season in the Championship.😡😡
3

goat_man added 15:02 - Apr 7
“They were very good and they are a very good team and if you let them play they can really hurt you. So we won’t be letting them play on Saturday.”

So we're going to be starting with two defensive midfielders then, which is exactly what we did at home that didnt work.

How an earth has MM been promoted from this division twice?
7

oldegold added 16:16 - Apr 7
Don't illude yourselves..McCarthy will go for a bore draw.Me? I am waiting for end of season when he will be gone and hopefully the new manager will.place emphasis on young academy players,attacking football and winning back the hearts and minds of old and new supporters.Afrwr these 2 years of McCarthy drudgery it is time...attacking no hopefully for ticket prices to come down too to match the awfulness of his football.
1

jas0999 added 19:15 - Apr 7
Either we will go there and attack looking to win OR defend, bore and try to nick a 1-0. I wonder which one it will be.
1

dirtydingusmagee added 08:15 - Apr 8
I'm afraid I don't see us winning, can you believe we havnt had back to back wins all f#cking season ,and its nearly over.I don't think it will happen now looking at remaining fixtures.
1


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