TOON SIGN DE JONG

Newcastle United has not had a very busy transfer window during January as they only signed Luuk de Jong on a loan deal that will be seeing the 23 years old forward playing at Newcastle United for the remainder of the season.

The Premier League club was interested in securing the services of the young striker for quite a while now. They initially tried to lure him into the club back in 2012 but Borussia Monchengladbach acted faster and signed Luuk de Jong for a price tag of €15 million.

Luuk de Jong went through a nightmare spell with the German club as he could only manage to score 6 goals in 36 appearances. The arrival of Raphael and Max Kruse overshadowed the few contributions that Luuk de Jong managed to make for Borussia Monchengladbach.

The Dutchman is now trying to reignite his career by moving to the Premier League and joining Newcastle United.

Steven McClaren is a coach that has vast experience in dictating clubs of different leagues as he has already been in charge of England, Wolfsburg, Twente and Derby County and the tactician suggested Luuk de Jong on not making a switch to Germany as he was not ready for it.

“The club knows what I think about it. Luuk de Jong would stay if it were up to me, unless stupid money is offered. Only since the winter of last season has Luuk been playing as a No 9.
He must have at least one full season playing as a real striker to become a top player at a big club.”McClaren stated.

The suggestion made by the former coach of England was not heard as Luuk de Jong made his move to the German side Monchengladbach some years ago and now is going to try spark it back to life in England, playing in Newcastle United.

TEAM EFFORT

Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale has said that only a team effort can help Fulham prevent relegation from the Premier league this season. After spending several years in the top flight, the club are in danger of relegation into the Championship.

The poor form throughout the season has culminated in the sacking of manager Martin Jol, but the results have not improved even after the appointment of former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen. The club, though, finally managed to break the run of poor form with a 2-1 win over West Ham on Saturday.

The win brought much-needed relief to everyone at the club, as it also helped them stay in touch with other teams fighting against relegation. There is still a lot of work to be done at Craven cottage in order to get the club out of trouble, and Stockdale reckons that it has to be a team effort. The red card to Kevin Nolan certainly helped in Fulham's case, as they came from behind to win the match. Sidwell opened the scoring for Fulham before Dimitar Berbatov secured the win. The Bulgarian striker is expected to score most of the goals for the club in the coming campaign, but he has been disappointing so far.

"I wouldn't say my save was pivotal. I'd say the second goal was pivotal as it won us the game. I'm just doing my job and, if I can keep the lads in the game, then so be it. It's not until afterwards that you think about it; at the time you just want the three points. We're in a relegation battle and we won't get out of it by sitting back and looking at individual performances - we have to play as a team," said the goalkeeper to the club's official site.

NOT IDEAL

The Fulham midfielder, Steve Sidwell, has admitted that his team hasn’t managed to make an ideal start to the ongoing season.
Fulham had secured victory in its opening match of the season against Sunderland, but, they couldn’t carry on that momentum further as they suffered defeats in their next couple of Premier League games against Arsenal and Newcastle United respectively and slipped down in the points table.

The Cottagers’ next Premier League game is against West Bromwich Albion. That’s a home game for them and it will take place tomorrow.

Talking to the reporters ahead of that clash, Sidwell said, “We have had a couple of tough games, but, there are a lot of games ahead. We are better than how we have performed so far and we will prove that in the upcoming games.”
“In one of my interviews a few months ago, I had said that we went through transitional period in the previous season. Now, in this season, we need to move on.”

“We are not lacking talent at all. If we play as well as we can, there is no reason why we can’t defeat top teams.”
Meanwhile, the manager of Fulham Martin Jol has said that the club is looking to extend the contract of Sidwell.

In a press conference earlier today, Jol said, “The talks are going on between the club and Steve regarding the contract extension. I believe he is interested in the new deal too.”

Sidwell had signed for Fulham at the start of 2011 after leaving Aston Villa. He has been pretty consistent during his 2 and half years tenure at Craven Cottage so far. He has featured for Fulham in 76 matches till now and has found the back of the net 10 times.

EXPECT MORE

Fulham were often mediocre performers last season, but midfielder Steve Sidwell expects the team to perform brilliantly as they have been working their socks off in pre-season.

Fulham manager Martin Jol has changed the training plan of the team significantly in order to bring about a new enthusiasm to the club, which recently changed ownership after 16 years.

Fulham have some players who are known for their lethargic attitude like Dimitar Berbatov. The club recently brought in Adel Taarabt on a loan deal from QPR. After the announcement was made, Sidwell has said that no player at Fulham can expect to get away with being lazy.

He has said that everybody is expected to put the shift in this season. Taarabt is regarded as one of the finest technical players in the Premier league right now. His presence will certainly add to the creativity of the team according to Sidwell, who finally appears to have found a place where he can play regular football.

The former Reading midfielder has been having a few seasons of wilderness since departing Chelsea. Despite coming under the new ownership of Shahid Khan, the club has largely been inactive in the transfer window. Sidwell has said that the club certainly did not see the change in management before.

“The general joke going around the training ground at the minute is I’m going to have to do loads more running. I’m sure the manager’s looked at that and it’s great to have these players like Adel, Bryan and Berba but if they’re not going to do their job… everyone’s got to work for the team. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can’t be lazy, everyone’s got to put the work rate in," said the midfielder. The club will be having an away match against Sunderland in the first match of the season.

SETTLED SQUAD

The midfielder of Fulham, Steve Sidwell, has said that Martin Jol should make the summer signings early to give the squad a settled look before pre-season.

The last season wasn’t that successful for Fulham. They were inconsistent for most parts of the season and ended up at no. 12 in the Premier League points table. They managed to win just 11 out of their 38 matches.

When asked about Fulham’s performance in the last season, Sidwell said, “It was a mixed season for us. We were terrific in some games, but, in others, we were ordinary. We struggled for consistency throughout the season.”
“We had quite a few young players in the squad last season. So, you can say that it was a transitional season for us.”

“There will be some young guys coming in this summer as well. It’s important to make those signings as early as possible so that we can have a settled squad before the start of the pre-season training.”

“I am very excited to see who arrives this summer. Last time around, some hugely talented guys had come in.”
Fulham has already signed a few players this summer. The most noticeable of those signings is Maarten Stekelenburg who has plenty of experience in club football.

Fulham has bought Stekelenburg from Roma after paying a transfer fee of 6 million Euros.

Fulham’s other signings this summer are Fernando Amorebieta (from Athletic Bilbao) and Derek Boateng (from Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk).

Fulham is also linked with the English midfielder Scott Parker who is expected to be put on sale by Tottenham Hotspur.

However, securing the services of Parker is not going to be that easy for Fulham as many other clubs including Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland are also interested in him.

MURPHY LINKED TO BLACKBURN RETURN

The former Fulham midfielder Danny Murphy has been linked with a return to Craven cottage after his Blackburn Rovers future has been thrown into doubt.

The 35-year-old became an influential player for Fulham even though he was past his prime. However, the arrival of the Dutchman Martin Jol signalled an end to the Fulham career for Murphy. He then completed a move to Blackburn Rovers, who are playing in the Championship after relegation last season. Even though Murphy was one of the influential players for the club during the first half of the season, the new manager Michael Appleton has said that Murphy does not figure in his plans.

Murphy has also been stripped of the captaincy at Ewood Park. There have also been reports that Murphy could be set for a return to Craven cottage, but as a coach.

However, Jol has confirmed that Murphy cannot be part of his coaching setup because the midfielder does not have his badges yet. Jol prepares to face his former club Tottenham during the weekend. This could be one of the best times to face Tottenham, as the third placed team in the Premier league come on the back of two consecutive defeats. They were defeated by Liverpool in the Premier league, which was followed by a defeat in the Europa league against Inter Milan.

"In England, 10 years ago you could get your coaching licence from the supermarket with your bacon and your beans. Now you have to do your courses, so I don’t see that happening because in England it is quite firm. So no, I don’t see that happening. We haven’t thought about it and we haven’t spoken about it. I don’t even know what he wants. He is at Blackburn. It was his decision to go there. So maybe he will be a coach at Blackburn, I don’t know," said Jol.

WORK HARD

The Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell has said that the club should be working as hard as possible in order to bring an end to the contract dispute with the captain and defender Brede Hangeland.

Brede Hangeland has been one of the best defenders in the Premier league since his arrival a few years ago, and it was not a surprise to see him being named as the club captain after the departure of Danny Murphy. The player only recently returned from suspension and helped his team bring an end to the eight match winless run in the Premier league, which has made Fulham slip into the bottom half of the table.

The 31-year-old has been one of the main defenders for Fulham, which has even led to talk of him joining Arsenal a few years ago. However, he committed his future with the London club, but it seems that his stay at Craven cottage will be coming to an end this season. He is out of contract at the end of the season and will be available to leave on a free transfer. He is also capable of discussing terms with other clubs once the transfer window opens on January. Sidwell has said that Hangeland is one of the important players and the club should do everything to keep him.

"You want to keep all of your best players. His partnership with Hughesy (Aaron Hughes) has been instrumental to the club's success throughout the past few years. You want to keep your best players to progress as a football club in the Premier League. We lost (Danny) Murphy last year skipper-wise and Brede was a natural leader on the pitch when Murph was here," said Sidwell. The 30-year-old midfielder has scored four goals in 17 Premier league appearances for Fulham this season.

SIDWELL FEARED FOR FUTURE

The Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell has said that he feared for the worst when he suffered a number of new problems last season. The former Reading and Chelsea midfielder has now said that he almost came to the end of his career last season, but is now fit and ready.

The midfielder has now there was even a time when he discussed the options he had once he retired from football. The feeling of retirement from football at 29 years of age, though, helped him to kickstart his recovery. The 29-year-old will now be facing Aston Villa during the weekend as one of the best players of the Fulham team this season.

He says this is a remarkable progress from the dark and gloomy days of last season. The hernia problem that he initially suffered was turned into a groin and abdominal problem subsequently. He has said that the operation he decided to undergo last season would be the final attempt at recovery. Thankfully, for the operation was a success and he has been able to resume his playing career. He has said that football has been his life since the age of five and it would have been a catastrophe if there was certainly no football left in him.

“It was a hernia that turned into groin problem, then an abdominal problem. It was a nightmare. The last operation could have been the last throw of the dice, but it worked. There was a time when I sat down with my advisors to look at what circumstances I would be in if I had to throw in the towel. Fortunately I had this operation that worked and I did all the rehab,” said Steve Sidwell. Fulham come into the match after having drawn their previous encounter 3-3 with Arsenal.

SIDWELL WANTS CHANCE

Steve Sidwell has said that he wants to get regular first team opportunities for Fulham. However, the English midfielder admitted that he is not likely to be included in the first XI in the starting matches, but, he said that he would try to impress Martin Jol, the manager of Fulham, in the limited chances that he would get.

As per Sidwell, no player wants to sit on the bench. Everyone wants to go out there and contribute for his team. But, every player can’t be included in the first team. So, it’s important to grab the opportunities that come your way. If you keep performing well playing as substitute, you would definitely be able to secure a place in the first XI at some point of time.

In the last season, Sidwell had suffered a serious hernia injury which ruled him out of the team for the second half of the last season. He had to go through three surgeries to get rid of this serious problem. As per Sidwell, he had this hernia problem since a long time, but, it was not disturbing him too much. So, he kept playing with that.

But, it became quite severe in the last season. That’s why he opted to have a surgery. According to Sidwell, he didn’t use to take the small niggles seriously and always used to ignore them. But, that was not sensible at all. A sportsman should take care of his fitness properly. You can’t take your fitness for granted.

Danny Murphy who had captained Fulham in the last season has left the club this summer. On being asked about that, Sidwell said that Murphy was a good leader, but, his exit would not affect the performance of the team much as there are many experienced players in the team who can take over the captaincy.

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SIDWELL PLAYS AGAINST KOGE

Steve Sidwell has recovered from his injury and he made a comeback with a pre season friendly match against HB Koge. This was the first match for Sidwell in five months. He had been struggling with a severe hernia problem since February. Sidwell came to play as a substitute in the second half of the match. Sidwell was moving well on the field and it seemed that he has got rid of the injury completely.

After the match, Sidwell said that it’s wonderful to be back on the field again. As per Sidwell, last five months were very tough for him. He started to think negatively and feared that he would not be able to play football again. He said that recovering from such a serious injury was not easy. He had been working hard on his fitness since the last few months. He is happy that he has recovered completely now.

Sidwell joined Fulham in January 2011. Sidwell’s first match for Fulham was against Stoke City. He played as a substitute in that match. He performed decently in the 2010-11 season. He played in 14 matches and scored 2 goals for Fulham. He also started the 2011-12 season on a good note and played well in the games of Europa League. But, after that, he discovered the hernia injury which ruled him out of the team for a long time.

The manager of Fulham, Martin Jol, has said that it’s good to see Sidwell playing for Fulham again. He is a very good midfielder and a dedicated player. He creates a lot of goal opportunities on the field. His return has strengthened the Fulham side. On being asked about the performance of the team in the pre season matches, he said that the team is playing quite well in the pre season matches, but, the players would have to carry on the good performance in the Premier League matches as well.