Question Time is back this week ahead of Bolton v. Fulham. Kristian Balkin of the SBN Fulham blog, Cottagers Confidential, was kind enough to talk to us. We covered Clint Dempsey, homesickness, and why Kevin Davies is nullified against the Whites. Hit the jump to read all about it.Clint Demspey has always been a popular player, but in the last couple of seasons he seems to have become more of a cult hero. He's already scored 1 more goal this season than his tally of 16 over the entirety of last season, and he'll definitely be looking to improve that number. What makes Deuce so lethal in front of goal and such a charismatic person? Would you back him to score this weekend?
Kristian Balkin: He's been a revelation for us in that he's been our main goalscorer and yet he plies his trade in midfield. What makes him so prolific is difficult to pinpoint but his aerial prowess and his knack for being in the right place at the right time certainly plays a part. Dempsey is undoubtedly one of the best players in the air within the Premier League and when his head meets the ball, nine times out of ten, it goes in. His accuracy with his finishing is quite astute too - worthy of any striker. If we were at home I'd put money on him scoring but away from home perhaps not. I'd say it's 40/60 for him to score.
Bolton have not won in their last 9 matches against Fulham, drawing 4 and losing 5. Not only that, but the Trotters have failed to even score in the last 4 league matches against the Whites. What about Fulham disarms Bolton so effectively?
KB: I'd say having the perfect antidote to Kevin Davies - in Brede Hangeland - has helped over the years. He's big, strong and agile and the aerial threat that Davies poses is easily countered by Hangeland's sheer presence and height. Under Coyle, I'm not sure, because you play some pretty nice football. I'd say that you're a team is in something of a transition and we've been so defensively solid under Hodgson and Hughes that we've been difficult to break down. I don't think we'll keep you out on Saturday though. We're somewhat leaky at the moment.
Fulham had an encouraging run in the Europa League, until being knocked out in the last seconds of the group stages. How was the European tour on the whole? What effect would you say it had on your season?
KB: This year's European antics were in all honesty a disappointment and in the end, a distraction. When compared to our exploits in 2010 - when we reached the final - it pales in to insignificance. To get knocked out as we did, conceding in the last few minutes at home to a relatively poor side, was shameful and to some extent demoralised the squad. Because of Europe, we started our competitive season in June and I think it's had its toll. We've conceded lots of goals in the last few minutes in games this season and a lot of draws could have been wins, and defeats could have been draws. It's a bit simple to say that it's because we've had a long campaign but it must play a part.
In their last 10 away matches, Fulham have only managed 1 win, and they have lost 4 out of the last 5. What is at the root of this homesickness?
KB: Nobody knows! It's been a problem for years now and no manager has been able to turn it round - although Martin Jol is probably doing the best out of all them at trying to change things. Most thought it was Hodgson's originally defensive stance away from home that seemed to mean we couldn't muster a win but when Hughes came in and the form continued, we were left scratching our heads. I would say it's got to the point where it's partly in the mind - Fulham players are going out every other Saturday thinking they're already on the back foot. We just need to get over that.
Currently Fulham sit 10th in the league, and overall this seems to be an accurate placement for a fairly average season. Would you call that a fair assessment? How has Martin Jol's first season in charge been?
KB: We have a team capable of better but tenth is by all means a fair reflection of how we've performed. We've been one of the most inconsistent sides around - bar three straight wins over a month ago - and its taken its toll. There have been great performances - Arsenal and Liverpool at home being two - but there have been even greater calamities. All in all, average is a fair assessment but it has to be noted that Jol wants to change things around at Fulham and bring the average age of the squad down. As such, it's been a turbulent year and we're in transition. In that respect, I'm perfectly happy and support Jol with all his plans for the club.
Finally, can I have a prediction for Saturday's match?
KB: I'd like to think we can win but we won't. 1-1.
Thanks again to Kristian and Cottagers Confidential for answering our questions! Keep an eye out for our answers to their questions.