Brede Hangeland

Season Preview: Fulham’s offseason promises much

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Premier League titles: 0 (Promoted last season)

FA Cups: 0

League Cups: 0

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Once the team of Clint Dempsey, Brede Hangeland, Mark Schwarzer, and a 2010 Europa League Final, the Cottagers were relegated in 2014 after a comical season saw Martin Jol, Rene Meulensteen, and Felix “Cheese Heals All” Magath run the team into the ground. After two seasons of flirting with a second relegation, Fulham found new life under Slavisa Jokanovic.

Jokanovic led Fulham to a playoff loss and a playoff win in his two full seasons in charge, and now gets a loaded Craven Cottage in both excitement and potential. Jean Michael Seri was an absolute coup — even at a record price tag — and Alfie Mawson, Andre Schurrle, and Aleksandar Mitrovic are household names for anyone whose paid minor attention to English soccer.

How high can it rise? How low can it fall?

Even if Fulham fails to build momentum, don’t be surprised if it puts together a final half-dozen matches to climb higher than expected: The Cottagers finish with Watford, Everton, Bournemouth, Cardiff City, Wolves, and Newcastle United.


Fulham will finish top-half because… They’ve got great talent, motivation, and spirit under Jokanovic. How quickly can they come together? Preseason hasn’t been kind to the Cottagers, but home tilts with Palace and Burnley inside their first three matches provide a chance to escape August with a foothold in the top half (A visit to Spurs the second Saturday might be kind to them given Tottenham’s heavy World Cup schedule).

Fulham will be relegated because… If the club cannot adapt quickly, it might find itself in mid-November with a five-match run of Liverpool away, Saints home, Chelsea away, Leicester home, Manchester United away. That’s not to say Fulham doesn’t have the group to navigate that run, but bad things can happen to newly-promoted teams.

Best possible XI:

Bettinelli

Christie — Ream — Mawson — Odoi

Seri — Cairney (c) — Johansen

Schurrle — Mitrovic — Sessegnon

Transfers In: Schurrle (loan), Mitrovic ($23 million), Mawson (#19.5 million), Seri ($35 million), Maxime Le Marchand ($4.5 million), Fabri ($7 million).

Transfers Out: David Button ($5 million), Ryan Fredericks (free)

Ranking their offseason: A+

Look above at who came in, and who came out; Nothing more needs to be said. Fulham killed it (and re-upped USMNT center back and club mainstay Tim Ream for two years as well).

Star player: Jean Michael Seri — A clinical passer with an eye for the final ball, the 27-year-old Ivorian was wanted by any number of strong European clubs. Fulham won his signature, though he’s never been tested at a week-in, week-out level like the Premier League. Should he fail, we’ll be writing “Star player: Aleksandar Mitrovic” or “Star player: Andre Schurrle” sooner rather than later.

Coach’s Corner: Slavisa Jokanovic — The former Watford boss was finally trusted with the keys to the kingdom, and has responded in style. A player’s coach, it’s fair to predict a long leash for the 49-year-old former Chelsea and Tenerife midfielder.

PST Predicts: Fulham stays up, earning safety early before making a late season charge to set itself up for a promising 2019-20 season.

Former Fulham midfielder Sidwell tells another amazing Felix Magath story

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German manager Felix Magath has always been known as a mercurial individual, but as time passes from his failed stint in charge of relegated club Fulham, more and more stories continue to flow from former players that absolutely boggle the mind.

The most famous story thus far has come from former Fulham defender Brede Hangeland about Magath’s suggestion that applying cottage cheese directly to his ailing knee would help solve his injury problem. Hangeland also spoke of how Magath would make the team run in the dead of night after returning from away trips, calling him “an awful human being.”

Now, former Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell, who spent three years at Craven Cottage, spoke up about his own experiences under Magath. Sidwell, now with Brighton but yet to make a Premier League appearance, told BBC 5 Live Sports about another time Magath was frustrated with his squad, and how he chose a different way to express that during training.

“We played poorly – I can’t remember what game it was – and we got off the bus and he said ‘right, well everyone in tomorrow at 8:00 and we’re gonna train.’ We was due a day off but we’re gonna be in for training. So everyone got in, we got outside…there was no balls coming out with us so we’re thinking ‘right, ok.’ So he’s gone ‘right, your formation yesterday, can you get in your positions?’ So we got on the pitch…goalkeeper, back four, midfield four, two strikers…stood there. And he said, ‘right, you didn’t want to run around yesterday, we’re not gonna run around today.’ And he just blew the whistle, and he said ‘everyone just stand still.’ And we had to just stand still. And it was a cold day, and there was a couple lads with gloves on, they was off straight away. There was leaves blowing across the pitch, you couldn’t make eye contact with anyone, you had to just stand there, and I think we was just there for about 40 minutes just standing there.”

In. Credible. Stuff. Sidwell also said that Magath had every player participate in a pint night before each and every away game, often in the hotel bar.

Magath was fired in September of 2014, just seven months after his hire, with Fulham having suffered an eleven-game winless streak. The Whites were eventually relegated later that season, and have not recovered since, still in the Championship looking for a return to the top flight.

Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Crystal Palace

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The Eagles are on the rise but this season is huge in dictating how lofty their ascent will be in the next few years.

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Alan Pardew‘s side started off like an express train last season, hovering around the Premier League’s top six around the festive period but then dropping away drastically in the second half of the campaign as they became embroiled in a relegation battle. Granted, their run to the FA Cup final played a part in that, but there’s no doubting Palace need some reinforcements to turn them into a club challenging for a top six finish.

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With American investment providing funds to help renovate Selhurst Park, plus add more transfer funds to the kitty, Palace is entering a whole new era. Don’t forget, they were only promoted to the PL in 2013 but they’ve quickly cemented themselves as a solid PL outfit and are now looking to make that next step.

The Eagles will soar into the top six because… They have an experienced manager who knows the league inside out. Pardew sets his teams up to be difficult to beat and lets his wingers and full backs push on at every chance. If they can sort their home form out this season then Palace will threaten the big boys. There are few better atmospheres in the PL than the one generated down in south London.

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Most likely they’ll sit in midtable and maybe push into the top 10: Our old friend pragmatism has arrived. With Connor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell around it is unlikely Palace will score loads of goals. Pardew needs a poacher and that was the main reason for Palace’s slump last season. In defense and in midfield he’s set. Palace are willing to spend big to get a 20-goal a season man. If they fail to find him then it’s a case of midtable mediocrity.


Best Possible XI

— Hennessey —

— Ward — Dann — Tomkins — Souare —

— Ledley — Cabaye —

—–  Zaha —– Bolasie —– Townsend

— Wickham —


Transfers In: Steve Mandanda ($2 million, Marseille), James Tomkins ($13 million, West Ham United), Andros Townsend ($18 million, Newcastle United)

Transfers Out: Emmanuel Adebayor, Reise Allassani, Andreas Breimyr, Marouane Chamakh, Connor Dymond, Brede Hangeland, William Hoare, Chris Kettings, Adrian Mariappa, Paddy McCarthy, Oliver Pain, Christian Scales (All released), Dwight Gayle ($13 million, Newcastle United), David Gregory (Free, Cambridge United), Jake Gray (Free, Luton Town), Alex McCarthy (Undisclosed, Southampton), Jerome Binnom-Williams (Free, Peterborough United)

Last Season: After winning just two PL games in 2016 Palace’s season ended poorly and they finished in 15th place. Pardew’s side reached the FA Cup final where they eventually lost to Manchester United 2-1 after extra time despite leading 1-0 with 12 minutes to go. A certain premature victory dance from Mr. Pardew will live long in the memory…

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 16: Andros Townsend #17 of Crystal Palace FC controls the ball during the match against FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium on July 16, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Crystal Palace FC defeated FC Cincinnati 2-0. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Star Player: Andros Townsend – This man had a sensational finish to the season with Newcastle United and did everything to try and keep the Magpies up following his January move from Tottenham Hotspur. A pure out-and-out winger, Townsend will cut in from the flank and fire shots at goal. Has the potential to be Palace’s leading scorer and will push Bolasie and Zaha all the way in the fight for the three attacking midfield positions. Yohan Cabaye, technically, is Palace’s most gifted player but injury and a severe loss of form hampered his impact last season.

Coach’s Corner: Pardew is back at home at Palace and the former Eagles player is now entering his second full season in charge of the club. He has cut the deadwood from his squad and brought in three experienced campaigners so far with Townsend and James Tomkins having plenty of PL nous. You know what you will get with a Pardew team. They’ll be committed, dangerous from set pieces and tight defensively. Palace will scrap for every point but if the Eagles have another season of failing to crack the top 10 then it could be quite delicate for Pardew at the end of this campaign. He really needs to sign a top-class finisher this summer.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 09:  Alan Pardew (R) Manager of Crystal Palace and Yohan Cabaye (L) applaud home supporters after their 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Norwich City at Selhurst Park on April 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

PST Predicts: Best case scenario for Palace is finishing in 8-10 place in the table. They won’t challenge the big boys who have spent big this summer but they will dish out plenty of shocks along the way. Expect another good cup run and a big push for a top 10 finish under Pardiola.

Watch Live: Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (Lineups & Live Stream)

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A battered and bruised Crystal Palace side with some of the Premier League’s rising names hosts Chelsea who still sits just three points above the relegation zone, live from Selhurst Park on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Crystal Palace, unbeaten since late November, will be without Patrick Bamford after he returned to the Blues upon the cancellation of his loan, plus the suspension of Yohan Cabaye through yellow card accumulation. In addition, injuries continue to keep out attacking players Yannick Bolasie, Connor Wickham, and Dwight Gayle, while Bakary Sako is on the bench. That puts an additional weight on the shoulders of James Puncheon and Wilfried Zaha up front for the Eagles along with Frazier Campbell.

WATCH LIVE: Crystal Palace vs Chelsea live online at NBC Sports Live Extra

Despite the injuries, Palace has kept a clean sheet in three of its last four games, led by Scott Dann and Brede Hangeland at the back. Hangeland will sit today upon the return of Damien Delaney who missed the last match against Swansea.

For Chelsea, Diego Costa returns from his one-game yellow card suspension and starts up front, while Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy are both unavailable due to injury, leaving Pedro on the bench to back up the Brazilian. John Terry starts alongside Kurt Zouma in the middle of defense as Gary Cahill misses out with an ankle problem.

LINEUPS

Crystal Palace: Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Lee, Jedinak, McArthur, Puncheon; Zaha; Campbell.
Subs: 
McCarthy, Kelly, Ledley, Mutch, J. Williams, Sako, Chamakh.

Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Fabregas; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Diego Costa.
Subs: 
Begovic, Baba, Matic, Loftus-Cheek, Ramires, Traore, Pedro.

Crystal Palace 0-0 Swansea City: Eagles wasteful

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  • Zaha, Bamford go close
  • Palace still in fifth
  • Swansea keep clean sheet

Crystal Palace drew 0-0 with Swansea City at Selhurst Park on Monday with Alan Pardew‘s side missing a chance to close ground on the top four.

Palace missed multiple chances with Wilfried Zaha and Patrick Bamford going close, with Gylfi Sigurdsson having Swansea’s best chance.

The Eagles remain in fifth, while Swansea sit two points above the relegation zone.

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Zaha looked lively for Palace in the first half but a brutal battle played out in midfield with both teams eager to assert their dominance.

That manifested itself in a battle between Yohan Cabaye and Jack Cork with the former shown a yellow card for a nasty tackle on the latter.

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In the second half Palace continued to push for the opener and Brede Hangeland‘s flicked header from Cabaye’s free kick was saved by Lukasz Fabianski at the back post.

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A cross from Jason Puncheon just evaded substitute Bamford with Swansea clearing the danger.

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In the final 30 minutes Swansea finally woke up as Barrow forced Wayne Hennessey to tip the ball over and then Gylfi Sigurdsson had a dangerous cross cleared.

Sigurdsson then had his free kick well-saved by Hennessey, then Bamford struck straight at Fabianski and Zaha flashed an effort just wide of the post with Swansea holding on for a point but Palace frustrated.