Berbatov opens up about his Fulham manager

Fulham forward Dimitar Berbatov has finally opened up about his relationship with manager Martin Jol and admitted that the Dutchman was the key reason he decided to leave Manchester United for Fulham last summer.

The former Bulgarian international striker scored 15 goals in his first season on the shores of the Thames last term and he puts his goal scoring down to the trust the former Tottenham Hotspur manager shows him on the pitch. The Dutchman was the one who brought Berbatov to English football when he signed him for a fee of £ 10.9 million from Bayer Leverkusen in 2006.

The two were together for just one season at White Hart Lane when he netted 23 goals for Spurs and that was enough for the two to develop a father and son relationship which has again been rekindled since his move to Fulham.

Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson paid a whopping £ 30.75 million for the player in 2008 to bring him to Old Trafford but he never reached the heights of his first season in England and was subsequently sold when United acquired Robin van Persie last summer.

And although several players have previously fallen out with Jol but Berbatov is one who does not fall in that category. Speaking to the club’s in-house magazine, the Bulgarian hero stated that he loves the guy. He added that it had been long since they worked together but he came to the club to team up with him again and it was great because they just click together.

The Fulham also stated that he can see the manager trusts him 100% on the pitch and that is something that inspires him to give it his all for the club on the pitch, which is good for both the club and him.

NOT CLEAR YET

Fulham manager Martin Jol has said that he is still not convinced by the fact that Fulham have managed to avoid the drop this season. Fulham have been one of the inconsistent teams in the Premier league this season.

As much as they struggled during the Christmas period, they have been one of the inform teams since the turn of the year. It has helped them avoid getting into a relegation dogfight, but the possibility of Fulham being relegated to the Championship still remains mathematically. As a result, Jol wants his players to concentrate on winning matches in the remainder of the season.

Fulham were recently beaten 1-0 by Newcastle during the weekend. As a result of the defeat, they remain on 39 points, which is just one point less than the psychological 40 point barrier that usually guarantees safety. Even though Fulham have a match in hand over their nearest clubs, Jol feels that the club still needs a couple of victories in order to ensure their safety in the Premier league next season. The signing of Dimitar Berbatov has been one of the main reasons for Fulham maintaining a position close to the top 10 of the table.

However, the striker was unable to prevent Fulham from losing during the weekend.

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. Ten years ago you needed 44 points and a few years ago it was 42 points. Five or six seasons ago you needed 36 points. I don’t know. You need a lot of points this year to be safe. I think we are fine but you never know. We have a very good goal difference compared to the other teams at the bottom, that is important. Of course, we would like to have more wins. It depends on the situation with the third club,” said Jol.

JOL HAILS FULHAM

The manager of Fulham, Martin Jol, has hailed his team for the win against Stoke City, but, he has also said that his team should have won the match by a bigger margin.

Fulham defeated Stoke City by 1-0 on Saturday. The only goal in the match was scored by Dimitar Berbatov. Berbatov found the net with a brilliant volley just a few moments before the half time break. After scoring that goal, the Bulgarian striker ran towards his manager as if he was trying to prove something to him.

In the post match press conference, when Martin Jol was asked why Berbatov ran towards him after scoring that goal, he said, “I had told him a few months back that he hasn’t scored even a single goal with volley. So, after netting with a volley, he ran towards me.”

“It was really a fantastic strike by Berbatov, but, I would give the credit of this win to the whole team.”

“Our goalkeeper was fantastic today. He made quite a few great saves and his contribution in today’s win was huge.”

Stoke had got a penalty in the 55th minute and they had a very good chance of levelling the scores. But, the Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer made a superb save and denied the visitors from scoring the equalizer.

Stoke came close to levelling the scores on a few other occasions as well, but, Schwarzer denied them every time and made sure that his team would maintain its lead right till the end.
With this victory, Fulham has now come very close to Stoke City in terms of points. Fulham has now only one point less than Stoke.

Fulham currently has 32 points in 27 matches, while, Stoke has 33 points in the same number of games. Fulham’s next match will be against Sunderland on Saturday.

FA CUP DRAW

The FA Cup match played between Fulham and Blackpool at Craven Cottage on Saturday has ended in a draw. Both the teams scored one goal each.

The manager of Fulham, Martin Jol, decided not to make any change in XI that had started the previous match against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday. So, Fulham went into this match with its full strength.

On the other hand, Blackpool made three changes to the starting line up that had played against Hull City. Wes Thomas, Stephen Crainey and Gary Taylor-Fletcher were left out and on their places; Nathan Delfouneso, Bob Harris and Phillips came into the side.

Both the teams looked a bit slow in the first 45 minutes and the first half went goalless. But, in the second half, Blackpool started aggressively and took the lead in the 60th minute. The goal was scored by Ludovic Sylvestre, but, Delfouneso deserved the credit as well. He set up the goal with a brilliant pass from the right and Sylvestre did the rest by controlling the ball beautifully and then, tapping the ball into the right hand corner of the net.

Fulham came back into the match with a leveller in the 80th minute. Giorgos Karagounis was the one who found the net for Fulham. It was an excellent effort by the Greece international. He got the ball on the right flank and beat a couple of players in the way before entering the penalty area. The goalkeeper charged towards the ball, but, he didn’t manage to stop a blistering shot and the ball flew into the far corner of the net.

The Fulham players got a few more opportunities in the remaining time, but, they failed in cashing on them and ended up getting only one point from the match.
Fulham’s next match will be a Premier League encounter against Wigan Athletic at the same venue on Saturday.

JOL BACKS SENDEROS

The manager of Fulham, Martin Jol, has said that Philippe Senderos will be included in the starting XI on the place of Brede-Hangeland in the match against Stoke City This will be Senderos’ first start of the season.

The 27 years old Swiss defender had been struggling with leg injury since a long time. He regained 100% fitness just a few days back and he is ready to make a comeback for Fulham.
Talking to the reporters ahead of the match against Stoke, Jol said, “Unfortunately, Hangeland will not be able to play in the upcoming match because of the ban. On his place, Senderos will get the starting opportunity. “

“He has struggled a lot with the leg injury in the last few months, but, thankfully, he has fully recovered now. He has been training since the last two weeks and he has also played a few reserve matches. He looked quite good in those matches and that’s why we have decided to give him a go in the next match. Hopefully, he would come good.”

When asked how hard it is to comeback from such a severe injury, Jol said, “It is very hard, but, he is a tough bloke. He is a fighter. The last 6-7 months have been pretty tough for him, but, he is eager to show his talent at this level again. The way he has played in the reserve games, if he manages to maintain the same kind of form in the league matches as well, he would prove to be more than handy for us.”

When asked about the ban of Hangeland, Jol said, “Losing the skipper because of the ban is pretty disappointing. But, it’s part and parcel of the game and we need to get on with this.”

FULHAM TAKE ON WIGAN

Fulham has defeated Wigan Athletic by 2-1 in a Premier League match played at the DW Stadium on Saturday. This was the third victory for Fulham in the ongoing Premier League. Martin Jol’s boys carried on the brilliant form that they had shown in their previous match against West Bromwich Albion.

Martin Jol didn’t make any change in the starting XI that had played against West Brom. On the other hand, the manager of Wigan, Roberto Martinez, made two changes in the XI that had started the match against Manchester United.

It was Hugo Rodallega who opened the scoring for Fulham in the 31st minute. It was a sharp cross from Berbatov and Rodallega made full use of that and beat the Wigan goal keeper with a superb header. This was the first goal of Rodallega for Fulham. The Colombian winger has joined Fulham this summer after leaving Wigan Athletic.

The Wigan players looked much better in the second half. They attacked and created quite a few opportunities, but, they didn’t manage to capitalize on the scoring chances. Wigan got down by 2-0 in the 68th minute with the goal of Damien Duff. Rodallega got the ball near the left wing and passed it to Ruiz. Ruiz got rid of two Wigan defenders and gave a cross to Duff who made no mistake in flicking the ball home.

After that second goal, the Fulham players got a bit defensive and were just trying to prevent Wigan from scoring any goal. They succeeded in their intention till the last minute, but, in the injury time, Wigan managed to sneak in a goal to restore some pride.

In the post match press conference, Martin Jol said, “It was another fantastic performance by the boys. The players executed the plans brilliantly on the field. There were one or two mistakes here and there, but, that’s part and parcel of the game. Overall, it was really satisfactory for me.”

New look strike force

A late surge of form helped Fulham achieve their second highest ever points tally in the Premier League, finishing on level pegging with Liverpool, thanks in no small part to the goalscoring consistency of on loan striker Pavel Pogrebnyak.

Despite being beaten to the permanent signing of Pogrebnyak by Reading last week, Fulham manager Martin Jol has acted quickly to reinforce his attacking line with the addition of two new forwards, both of whom have been snapped up on free transfers following the end of their contracts.

Firstly, experienced Croatian international Mladen Petric, a 6’1” target man known for his technique as much as his physical prowess. He arrives from Hamburg having scored 51 goals in five seasons in the German Bundesliga, and indeed one against Fulham themselves in the 2009-10 Europa League semi-final. It was also he who scored the winning goal for Croatia on that fateful soggy Wembley evening in 2007 to end England’s hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008.

Fulham’s other new addition is quite a different kettle of fish- former Wigan man Hugo Rodallega has bags of pace and a box of dribbling tricks large enough to fool even the most experienced Premier League defenders. Despite enduring a mixed season in the North West last term, Rodallega has proved on a number of occasions during that he has the quality to score goals at the highest level, and is Wigan’s all-time leading goalscorer in the Premier League.

If the two new arrivals can quickly form a successful strike partnership, and if Fulham can keep hold of midfield maestros Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembélé, allegedly coveted by Liverpool and Manchester United respectively, then Martin Jol’s side have a real chance of smashing their record tally of 52 points and challenging the likes of Liverpool once again for a place in Europe.

SENDEROS WANTS 7TH

Fulham defender Philippe Senderos has said that he is extremely confident that the club can reach the seventh position in the Premier league table, which will equal a club record. After a slow start to the season, Fulham have been spectacular in the second half of the season winning many crucial matches.

As a result, they have a real chance of overtaking both Everton and Liverpool in the final few matches of the campaign to finish in the seventh position. Current England manager Roy Hodgson led Fulham into the seventh position a few years ago, which remains the best Premier league finish to date.

Philippe Senderos scored the 89th minute winner against Wigan recently that gives his side all three points from this match. Now, the Swiss defender is targeting key victory in the remaining matches so that they can finish in the seventh position ahead of Liverpool and Everton. It has been a disastrous season for Liverpool, but Fulham have been able to perform exceptionally well in spite of having to play in the Europa league during the early stages of the campaign. Fulham are exceptional in the match against Wigan, who are one of the inform teams in the Premier league.

“We have to be ambitious. We have a great quality in the team and our home form has been brilliant this season. If we continue like this and playing well and getting goals like our forwards have been doing then I think we have got a chance (of finishing seventh). It is up to us now to see where we are going to finish. We have very important games until the end of the season and we are an ambitious team. We have very good players and hopefully we can look forward to the top rather than looking backwards,” said Senderos.

FULHAM TIPPED TO WIN GROUP STAGES

Fulham defender John Arne Riise has said that he is quite confident that Fulham will be making it past the group stages of the Europa League.

Even though many consider the Europa League to be a major distraction, John Arne Riise begs to differ because he thinks that the prospect of playing in the final of the prestigious European competition is simply too good to pass away. Previously, the likes of Harry Redknapp and many other English managers have criticised the Europa League competition saying that there are just too many games one has to play before getting into the final. The number of games are so huge that it would be totally distracting them from their main objective – domestic success.

Fulham have a real chance of making it into the draw for the next round should they achieve a win against their opponents Odense. Wisla Krakow do have the opportunity to capitalise on the mistakes Fulham may make in the match, as they are the second best placed team in the group to qualify for the next round. Fulham won their first match against Odense 2-0 and they will be feeling extremely confident about the result. Even though they defeated Liverpool recently at home, they suffered a confidence denting 2-0 loss at the hands of Swansea on Sunday.

“I think every competition and every game is important. The Europa League is going to be interesting now after the Champions League last week, with both Manchester teams now in and Valencia and stuff. But now I’m focusing on the game on Wednesday and after that game, we’ll see how it goes and focus on Bolton on Saturday,” Riise said. The rift between manager Martin Jol and striker Bobby Zamora seems to be affecting the squad.