clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Q&A: Wigan Athletic vs Fulham

Paul Gilham - Getty Images

The number five game mark is coming, and this season we face a team that I have already said, I don't like when Wigan face them. They are truly the bogey team for Wigan, whatever happens expect Fulham to play okay and yet somehow win. Not to say that we are selves (Wigan) play well.

Yet this is a new season, and under or great management staff we are looking to break records. We did a few last season, so why not end ten games without a win against Fulham. That's an awfully long time and a lot of games. Yet we can hope.

So I went over to Cottagers Confidential and asked Kris Balkin just what he thought of Fulham's season, and of course what flavor pie he most likes!

1. Fulham have started this season so well, and last weekend’s 3-0 win over West Brom must have been the Icing on the cake, what do you put that down to? Has Martin Jol finally got the team together he wants? Or has the team just clicked this season?

I would say, more than anything - and this isn't me just being a pessimist - we've had a favourable start to the season in terms of our fixture list. Norwich City at home is a game I always saw us winning and winning well and we did just that. I also thought we'd take some momentum into the Manchester United game and at various points at Old Trafford we were more than their equal. We were appalling against West Ham but that game was unfortunately timed - we'd just lost Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey and they'd just gained Andy Carroll. West Brom came along next and although they've started well, we always maximise home advantage and that is a huge influence on how well we do. We're solid at Craven Cottage and I can't see that changing. As for Jol finally getting the team he wants - I genuinely think he's nowhere near it. He wants young, fresh and exuberant but the average age of our first team is far too close to thirty and - in terms of our starting eleven - above thirty.


2. With the departure of Clint Dempsy and Moussa Dembele, how well do you think you squad has reacted? And how much of the miss are the two talents likely to be? Will it hurt you later on in the season when you need that inspiration?

Whenever you lose two players of such a calibre, it's obviously going to hurt and it's going to affect things. However, in the case of Dempsey, his sale was foregone conclusion since the tail end of last season and so, I suppose, we were all prepared for being without him anyway. Plus, Dimitar Berbatov isn't a bad replacement.

We will struggle without Dembele though because he was truly one of the best players to ever play for the club. Martin Jol's decision to move him into midfield was masterful as from there he could control the tempo of the game and put in the required defensive duties that seemed to go unnoticed. Dembele won't be replaced because he can't be replaced - Spurs have themselves a top player.


3. The signing Dimitar Berbatov must be such a massive one for your club. What do you think it means to the fans? Does it show the ambitions of the Fulham staff to get them back into Europe?

I think it came as somewhat of a shock, yet not because we could attract a player of his talent but more because Al Fayed must have broken his wage structure to accommodate him. In that sense, it's a signal to the fans that both he and Jol want to take Fulham to the next level and that comes hand in hand with our ambitions of getting back into Europe. We're just about to upgrade our stadium and Mo is still pumping money into the club - a sign that he still has his huge passion for Fulham.


We'll undoubtedly remain cautious and therefore on sound footing, though, so I won't be getting carried away. I suspect we missed out on a number of deadline day targets simply because we had to put money aside for Berbatov. I don't mind so much now, however, because it's quite clear we have ourselves a top quality striker who can really allow us to push on.


4. Do you feel that Europe is a realistic target this year? If not where do you think you will finish this season?

I'm not sure, to be perfectly honest. It's realistic in the sense that it is definitely attainable but if you were to ask me where I think we'll finish, I doubt we'd make the cut. This has a lot to do with the loss of Dembele and his lack of replacement. We have recently brought in Giorgos Karagounis but he's a completely different type of player and, more notably, about twice his age. Berbatov will give us that cutting edge to such an extent that a push on the top eight isn't out of the question but, also, I'd argue it's unlikely.


5. Fulham have been a bit of a bogy team for Wigan over the year, what do you put that down to? Are there any memorable games of Fulham vs Wigan that stand out for you over the years?

I'm not sure why but last year's match at the DW stands out for me simply because we got out first away win of the season so early on. As a Fulham fan, over the last few years I've been used to our first win away from the Cottage coming well into the season, around March, but we got it in October and that felt like a distinct positive. It was also memorable, though, because we didn't actually play very well and certainly didn't deserve to win. I'd take that again this time around, though.


6. How do you think the game will be played out? And what will the result will be?

I think you'll attack us and, as such, you'll probably expose us a couple of times because we are looking fragile at the moment. You'll grab a goal (or two) but I see Jol setting us up to push forward as well. With Berbatov up there I think we'll just prove that bit sharper in what will be a closely fought game.


7. Now for the Pie Eaters Footie special, what is your favourite flavoured pie?

Chicken and Mushroom!

Cheers Kris best of luck to Fulham with the rest of the season bar this weekends game, head over to Cottagers Confidential for all the latest Fulham news and my Q&A for them!