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Match Preview - Fulham v Middlesbrough 25.08.04

last updated Wednesday 25th August 2004, 9:06 AM
Fulham Manager Chris Coleman

Fulham boss Chris Coleman is convinced he has finally found the missing ingredient to challenge the Barclays Premiership's elite after adding Andy Cole to his squad.

The former Manchester United striker, who has scored more than 200 career goals, joined the Cottagers on a free transfer this summer after being surplus to requirements at Blackburn Rovers.

Cole has been a regular goalscorer throughout his career and, after he got off the mark for Fulham with a pair in last week's 2-0 win against Bolton, Coleman believes his new man is set to hit top form.

Fulham struggled last season after the departure of Louis Saha to Manchester United but Coleman believes the arrivals of Tomasz Radzinski, Brian McBride and Cole will give his side more than enough firepower this season.

"Andy scored two and missed another three on Saturday - he has got that desire and arrogance to score a lot of goals,'' said Coleman. "We've now got strikers who are always going to score and that was proved on Saturday.

"Last year we were accused of grinding out 1-0 wins and there's nothing wrong with that, but last weekend we played particularly well. We looked like scoring goals.

"We were close to 10 out of 10 against Bolton and if we do that again against Middlesbrough, I can't ask any more of them than that - whether we win, lose or draw."

Coleman admitted he had tried to bring Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to Fulham over the summer, and he has warned the Cottagers to be wary of the veteran striker.

"I talked with Jimmy (Hasselbaink) about coming here but he had already spoken to Middlesbrough and promised to sign for them. But when he did sign he was good enough to get back to me.

"But I got Andy Cole and I'm not disappointed. I rate Jimmy highly - just like Andy - and he must be a good player because he has scored a couple of hundred goals. He's no spring chicken but he has that desire like Andy.''

Coleman has warned his squad against complacency and fears a possible backlash at Craven Cottage on Wednesday.

"Steve McClaren has brought in some quality players and he has got a good squad to pick from,'' said Coleman. "But I've told my players that it won't be any harder than Saturday's game against Bolton.

Source: premierleague

BIG-MATCH FACTS from BBC Sport

FULHAM defend their unbeaten start against a Middlesbrough side, who are yet to win. The Londoners are vying to complete back to back victories in the top division for the first time in 11 months, which would also keep their 100% home Premiership record against the Teessiders intact.

Last season's corresponding fixture was Chris Coleman's first as permanent Fulham manager and The Londoners won by the odd goal in five.

  • Never attained seven points from the first three matches of a Premiership season.
  • Last achieved successive victories in the top tier when a 0-2 win at Blackburn on 28 September was followed directly by a 2-0 home win over Leicester on 4 October last year.
  • Victory would take Fulham past the 150 all-time Premiership points mark (148 at present).
  • If he participates, Mark CROSSLEY will be facing a former club.
  • If selected in the 11, Lee CLARK will be making his 150th start for Fulham.
  • If on the field at kick off, Claus JENSEN will be making his 200th English League start.

MIDDLESBROUGH go to Fulham desperate to end a four match losing run on their Premiership travels.

'Boro are notoriously slow starters. Having scored five but conceded seven in an opening home draw with Newcastle and eight goal game at Arsenal on Sunday, they now look to improve on last terms' first five games total of only one point. In 2001/02 they lost their first four in a row.

  • Middlesbrough have never played Fulham outside the League, and have not beaten them in London in 19 years. Their only maximum in eight visits spanning 21 years was 0-3 on 21 December 1985. The Teessiders' only top flight victory at Fulham was 1-2 on 6 May 1950.
  • Managed one win in seven Premiership outings.
  • Lost successive League games on the road to Wolves, Liverpool, Portsmouth and, this season, to Arsenal.
  • Not won in nine away League games.
  • Drawn two and lost seven on the road since beating Manchester United 2-3 at Old Trafford on 11 February.
  • Gone eight matches in the top division since keeping a clean sheet - that being 0-0 at Chelsea on 10 April.
  • Lost 49 all-time Premiership matches under Steve McClaren.
  • If he plays, Ugo EHIOGU will be making his 100th Premiership appearance for Middlesbrough.
  • Should he come on, Carlo NASH will be making his 150th career League appearance.

HEAD TO HEAD TOTALS
League: Fulham 19 wins, Middlesbro 21, Draws 6
Prem: Fulham 3 wins, Middlesbro 2, Draws 1

HEAD TO HEAD at Fulham
League: Fulham 12 wins, Middlesbro 8, Draws 3
Prem: Fulham 3 wins, Middlesbro 0, Draws 0



Boro Boss

Middlesbrough full-back Michael Reiziger is out of the Barclays Premiership trip to Fulham after learning he faces six weeks on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.

The former Barcelona defender will travel to Switzerland at the weekend to undergo surgery and then faces a lengthy period of rehabilitation.

Skipper Gareth Southgate (knee) and fellow central defender Ugo Ehiogu (back) both face late fitness tests, but striker Mark Viduka is available after completing a two-match ban picked up during his time at Leeds.

Andy Cole is coming to get youBut Boro boss Steve McClaren is confident his squad can cope despite the injuries to his key defenders.

“The season is nine months, it’s 38 games - and hopefully, we’re going to play more than that,” he said.

“Within football, we know you have to handle injuries, you have to handle suspensions. At some stage of the season, you’re going to get them.

“Unfortunately for us, it’s been to our back-four players in the first two weeks of the season. Once you get over that, then you see a lot of promise ahead.”

Meanwhile, McClaren confirmed World Cup winner Juninho has agreed personal terms with Celtic and his third spell on Teesside will come to an end if the two clubs can come up with a deal.

“I think now the two clubs are getting together and just ironing out the final details."
Source: premierleague

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