The final month of a very long year and, hopefully, plenty to look forward to.
Teams in Tier 2 welcomed back limited numbers of supporters in midweek which is something we've all been looking forward to.
Manchester has to wait, of course, but our time will come and it definitely feels like things are finally moving in a more positive direction.
Fulham are today's visitors and Scott Parker's side have shown a big improvement in recent weeks .
They are a lot of people's 'second team' and a trip to Craven Cottage is undoubtedly one of the Premier League's most popular away days for visiting fans.
This meeting is at the Etihad, of course, and it was great to get back among the goals in our last home match.
Encouragingly, our 16 games in all competitions has produced eight clean sheets so far, with six coming in the last eight matches.
Though that is a collective effort, the arrival of Ruben Dias has certainly helped shore up the back line and if the goals can start to flow regularly again, it could be a really good month (and season) for us.
In this edition of our digital matchday programme, we have Pep's manager notes, Buzzer's column and an in-depth look at our visitors.
We look at the history between the clubs as well as highlighting 10 player connections . Kev Cummins recalls a photoshoot with Rodney Marsh and you can enjoy the FA Cup clash again from earlier in the year.
Enjoy the game!
Hello to everyone wherever you are reading these notes and a warm welcome to Fulham manager Scott Parker and his staff.
They arrive here this afternoon from London in confident mood after a big and important win at Leicester City, so we know we will face a strong challenge and a complicated game.
But we are in a very good moment, too. Our last home game ended with an excellent 5-0 win over Burnley and on Tuesday night in Portugal, we secured top place in our UEFA Champions League qualifying group.
We produced an incredible group stage. We did not concede a single goal in the three away games and only one in the five we have played. There are many top teams who are still unsure whether or not they will be playing in the knockout stages next February, but we can now relax as group winners and turn our attentions to the Premier League where we have a small amount of ground to make up.
The current, congested table shows how incredibly competitive the competition is this year and I expect that to continue over the coming weeks. Many teams can be considered potential champions and the fight for the top places will be intense.
We must continue to find our rhythm and consistency. We managed to get some minutes into different players in Porto on Tuesday and we created enough chances to win the game whilst limiting one of the top sides in Portugal to virtually no opportunities to score.
The team that played in midweek showed me, like the players who performed so well against Burnley, that virtually everybody is fit and ready. I have so much trust in all these players. They know they must be ready to play whenever they are called on in this extraordinary season when the games now come at us every three days. There is great spirit amongst the group, but they also are ready to compete with one another to start games. This is perfect for a manager.
We played with huge personality and courage in Portugal and all through the qualifying stages. Our work rate and desire were there for everyone to see. Now we must all produce more of the same in the busiest period of the season and climb the Premier League table as quickly as we can. Hopefully starting with three points this afternoon.
Please stay safe everyone and enjoy the match.
The Burnley game was important for us because we needed to score goals because that’s all that has been really lacking this season.
We got five, played really well and though I never like to see my old club Burnley lose heavily, it was just what the doctor ordered for us.
Porto in midweek was tough, but we controlled much of the game and they didn’t have many chances – we were unfortunate not to get at least one goal, but we are still creating chances and playing some great stuff.
It was wonderful to see our captain Fernandinho return in Portugal.
I’ve always thought he is a superb player, and players like David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne need someone like Fernandinho to be able to do what they do.
He reads the game superbly and we can’t forget that he played as a centre-half for much of last season and did a fine job, too.
He handles himself well and has been a magnificent servant for this football club and we are lucky to have him – plus, he’s a really nice man, too.
On to this weekend and the visit of Fulham.
We will start as favourites, but we have to be careful and approach the game the same as we did against Burnley – that is second nature to this side, of course, but cliché or not, there are no easy games in the Premier League and any team can beat anyone else on their day.
Finally – and something that’s been all too familiar this year – is the sad news of friends passing away.
David Davidson didn’t play many games for us, but was at the Club in the 1953/54 season and I’d like to pass my condolences on to his family after he passed away recently aged 86.
And, of course, we lost yet another legend of the game with the death of Ray Clemence a week or so ago.
Ray was a fantastic goalkeeper and I’d been keeping in touch to see how he’d been getting on and like everyone else, was sad to hear of his passing.
He introduced the teams with me for the Community Shield against Liverpool a couple of seasons ago and he was a lovely man.
Again, my condolences to Ray’s family at this sad time.
The Season So Far
The compacted nature of the current season means that on 3 August, Fulham were still a Championship side.
just 24 hours later, two extra time goals from left-back Joe Bryan meant Fulham had returned to the Premier League at the first time of asking having beaten Brentford 2-1 in the Championship play-off final.
Preparations for the new season were reduced to a month or so and as Fulham fans caught their breath, the new campaign had begun with a 3-0 home defeat to Arsenal.
The Carabao Cup provided a lift with a 1-0 win at League One Ipswich Town providing a boost, but the next league game away to another promoted side initially looked as though it would end embarrassingly.
The Cottagers found themselves 4-1 down to Leeds United with less than an hour played but rallied to lose 4-3 and at least leave Elland Road having displayed the sort of fighting spirit Parker did during his playing days.
The Carabao Cup again provided a lift with a 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Craven Cottage, but a 3-0 reverse to Aston Villa five days later left Fulham pointless from their first three league matches.
It was not the way manager Scott Parker would have envisaged his team’s first month back in the top flight, particularly the loss to a side that had only escaped relegation on the final day of the 2019/20 Premier League season.
October wouldn’t be much better, either.
Brentford gained revenge for the play-off final defeat and ended hopes of a decent cup run in the Carabao Cup, winning 3-0 at the Brentford Community Stadium.
And a 1-0 loss to Wolves in the league meant it was four gams and four losses for Fulham – so the 1-1 draw away to Sheffield United on matchday five was a relief for Parker and his players.
Ademola Lookman put Fulham ahead on 77 minutes only for Billy Sharp to level five minutes from time.
Fulham’s next game was at home to Crystal Palace, but despite dominating large parts of the clash, Palace were more clinical with their opportunities and made the short journey back across the capital with a 2-1 win.
With just one point from a possible 18, things had to improve – and they did.
Bobby Decordova-Reid and Ola Aina both scored before half-time to give the Cottagers a 2-0 win over West Brom and, as a result, Parker’s side moved off the foot of the table.
But there was more bad luck to come.
Not only did Fulham concede an added time goal away to West Ham to go 1-0 down, Lookman’s attempt at a Panenka-style penalty with the last kick of the game floated harmlessly into Lukasz Fabianski’s arms to waste the chance of a precious point.
Parker was understandably furious.
And a 3-2 home defeat by Everton meant that just four points from 27 available left Fulham in deep trouble.
But though a trip to fourth-placed Leicester City looked daunting on paper, Lookman made up for his spot-kick miss against the Hammers and an Ivan Cavaleiro penalty gave Fulham a 2-0 lead at the break – and despite a late Harvey Barnes effort, those first-half goals proved enough to give the Cottagers an impressive 2-1 win.
That means Parker’s improving side moved out of the bottom three for the first time this season ahead of a visit to the Etihad.
The month of November has certainly injected new optimism for the West London side going forward and they arrive this afternoon looking to again upset the odds.
fixture history: city v fulham
Our 108-year history against the Cottagers
Today will be the 68th meeting between the two teams, with this fixture dating back to 1908.
The first meeting in the FA Cup, saw Fulham earn a 1-1 draw at Hyde Road before winning the return 3-1 at Craven Cottage.
The first league meeting the following season ended 1-1 in West London, with City winning the return 3-1.
It would be the start of a good run for City against Fulham, with four wins and a draw in the next five league and cup meetings – and the Cottagers wouldn’t taste victory again until 1938/39, with a 5-3 win at home and a 2-1 win on their first visit to Maine Road completing a first league double as both sides missed out on promotion from Division Two.
After the Second World War, City thumped Fulham 4-0 at Maine Road on the way to promotion, drawing the return game 2-2.
Fulham won promotion themselves the season after with both sides wining their home game that campaign.
The next decade saw just four meetings, with City faring slightly better (two wins and a draw), despite Fulham’s biggest win yet in 1959 – 5-2 at Craven Cottage.
There were 11 meetings in the 1960s, with City winning seven and Fulham four and 52 goals scored (31-21 in City’s favour) at an average of almost five per meeting.
The teams wouldn’t meet again until 1983 and it was the start of Fulham’s only dominance in this fixture, as City won just four of 16 meetings over a 23-year period (Fulham winning six and drawing six).
Interestingly, between 2006 and 2009, Fulham won on three of their four visits to the Etihad, giving the Cottagers one of the best records of any visiting side up to that point at our new home– many considered them to be something of a bogey team.
But such notions have been well and truly put to bed in the past 11 years.
City are unbeaten in the last 15 meetings between the sides, winning 12 and drawing three with a goals aggregate of 41-11.
It’s the longest unbeaten run for either team in 112 years of clashes – with City hoping to make it a sweet 16 for the latest meeting this weekend…
Premier League Stats
Hit woodwork: 8
Headed goals: 11
Right-foot goals: 10
Left-foot goals: 2
Penalties scored: 4
On target: 89
Shooting accuracy: 36%
Yellow cards: 13
Red cards: 2
Clubs: Newcastle United, Fulham
International caps (Serbia 2013-20): 61
International goals: 36
Club career appearances (all comps): 338
Club career goals (all comps): 138
Our last meeting in January 2020 ended with a comfortable home win....
Our last meeting in January 2020 ended with a comfortable home win....
Several players in the modern era have played football for both City and Fulham.
We’ve chosen 10 who played for each club, no matter how long they stayed or how many games they played for either team.
We’ll begin with Rodney Marsh.
Marsh began his career with Fulham in 1962 and later joined City in 1972 from QPR where he would remain until 1975 having played 150 games for the Club.
He left for North America, but returned on loan to play for Fulham again, memorably linking up with George Best for a few months during the winter of the 1976/77 campaign and the pair played exhibition football before a run of bad form (and weather) encouraged them to return to the States.
There was a nice symmetry to Kit Symons’ spell with each club.
He joined City from Portsmouth in 1995, stayed three seasons and made 139 appearances before moving to Fulham where he also stayed three years and played 102 times.
We’re Not Really Here regular Michael Brown started life at City, progressing through the youth ranks before going on to make more than 100 appearances for the first team.
He left in 1999 and after spells with Spurs and Sheffield United, joined the Cottagers in 2006, staying for 18 months and made 44 appearances.
Next up, Patrick Roberts.
Roberts broke through to the Fulham first team in 2014, making 22 appearances before being snapped by City in 2015.
He has only made three appearances for City to date, having spent the rest of the time out on loan at various clubs.
Terry Phelan enjoyed a productive spell with City, making 121 starts from 1992 to 1995.
The Republic of Ireland star enjoyed a lengthy career, and had one season at Craven Cottage in 2000/01, making just 18 appearances.
Dickson Etuhu broke through to the City first team under Kevin Keegan in 2001/02 and looked a terrific prospect, but unable to agree a contract, he left for Preston North End.
He joined Fulham later in his career, staying for four years between 2008 and 2012.
Andy Cole had two spells at Craven Cottage with his time at City coming afterwards.
Cole joined the Cottagers on loan in 1991/92 from Arsenal, and after joining Bristol City, Newcastle United and then Manchester United, he spent three seasons with Blackburn Rovers before signing for Fulham in 2004 – 13 years on from his first spell.
After one campaign, he signed for City for one season, scoring 10 goals in 23 starts.
Wayne Bridge had a brief loan spell at Fulham while he was a Chelsea player, and then signed for City in 2008 – though injuries restricted his appearances to just 58 in four years.
Danish left-back Niclas Jensen spent 18 months at both City (2002-03) and Fulham (2005-07).
Finally, veteran striker Gordon Davies may have spent just one season with City in 1985/86, but is a verified Fulham legend, spending one six-year spell at Craven Cottage (1978-84) and a further five-year stint from 1991 to 1996 – his 178 goals in 450 appearances made him the Cottagers’ record goal-scorer.
So, plenty of links between the two clubs, not to mention Kevin Keegan’s tenure as City and Fulham boss…
HERE’S TO BRIGHT BLUE SKIES …
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Your wellness, our priority
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Meet our mascot for the Fulham game...
Name: Sophia Crook
From: Potterhanworth, Lincolnshire
Favourite player: Sergio Aguero
Bio: Sophia is part of a family of City supporters and started attending matches when she was two. She became a seasoncard holder when aged four and enjoys the whole matchday experience.
She remembers fondly sitting in our old seats just behind Joe Hart’s goal and him waving to her every game! She recalls the confetti after winning the title in 2017/18 and the kindness of other fans who gave their confetti to her!
She attends matches with Mum, Dad, sisters and granddad, uncle, and cousins. Since lockdown she has missed meeting up with the family very much and missed sitting next to her granddad at games. Her biggest hope is to get the chance to all be together again at the game again soon.
She loves City Square - the live music, the club store, and the playmakers. And this time of year she is missing the trips to see Santa in the Square!
Her favourite City game was the Carabao Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley as she remembers waving at the Gunners fans as they all left early!
Her favourite City player is Sergio Aguero and she loves any City goal scored in front of us in the Family Stand - although her favourite was the Raheem Sterling last minute winner against Southampton a couple of seasons ago!
Looking at popular fans songs or hidden gems that maybe didn't quite get the airing they deserved...
(To the tune of ‘Bare Necessities’ from Disney’s 1967 Jungle Book movie)
“Coz we’ve got Vincent Kompany,
The Rock at the back for Man City,
Don’t worry about Zlatan or Rooney....
Coz we’ve got Vincent Kompany,
He’s more than you will ever need,
Don’t worry about clean sheets or trophies...
Coz we’ve got Vincent Kompany,
The rock at the back for Man City,
Don’t worry about Mahrez or Vardy…
Coz we’ve got Vincent Kompany,
He’s more than you will ever need,
He’s the captain and leader of Man City!”
What’s the Story?
Likely this was thought up on the journey to an away game or even by some talented songster in a Manchester bedroom somewhere. A cheerful chant, even if it didn’t get the plaudits of our former skipper’s classic anthem ‘Here’s to you, Vincent Kompany’, based on the Simon & Garfunkel classic ‘Mrs Robinson’
Presumably, this lost gem emerged during the 2016/17 season when Leicester started the campaign as defending champions – hence the inclusion of Jamie Vardy and future Blue Riyad Mahrez. Also, that ties in with Zlatan Ibrahimović’s spell with United.
The Original Tune
Written by Terry Gilkyson for the animated Disney classic ‘The Jungle Book’ in 1967, the song was sung by the character Baloo the Bear in animation, and by actor Phil Harris (Baloo) and Bruce Reitherman (Mowgli) in real life.
It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song.
'Oh, rodney, rodney!'
Kev Cummins' affectionate look back at a City and Fulham legend...
I was hoping to be writing a piece for a print issue programme this weekend and going to my first game since the derby on 8 March. But Tier Three put an end to that.
So here are a couple of photos of Rodney Marsh - still one of my all time favourite City players - and a player who started his senior football career almost 50 years ago for today’s opponents, Fulham.
The photos were taken in Tampa Bay in Florida when I was working on a series of 100 portraits to celebrate City’s centenary in 1994.
Unfortunately the Club ultimately decided they were going to do something else to celebrate the centenary. This amounted to having a sew-on patch and a pin badge for sale in the Club shop. It was disappointing because I felt it would have made a great book/exhibition at the time.
Marsh is often unfairly criticised for supposedly costing City the League title in 1972. But this is a form of praxis. We didn’t win the title, so writers and players looked back for to find reasons and filled the gaps in - perhaps rather unwisely. Yes, we lost three of our final nine games, but in a period of five days, we also beat West Ham 3-1 with Rodney bagging a brace, and won by the same score at Manchester United when Marsh scored a vital third goal.
We also beat Derby (who won the title by one point more than City )in our final game when Marsh put on one of the finest shows ever seen at Maine Road. In my opinion, the game that cost us the title was our defeat at the Baseball Ground in December (before Marsh arrived), when we lost 3-1 to the eventual title winners.
Marsh would probably be considered a luxury player today. To compare him to a player in our recent history would be unfair - but if pushed, I’d say ‘Super’ Mario Balotelli was similar. Frustrating at times, but capable of winning the game on his own, or having the confidence to do something so outlandish, it had to work out, otherwise they’d end up ridiculed by the opposition fans. I’m still glad I got the opportunity to see both players in sky blue - they definitely enriched my City supporting life.
But I’ll bet Rodney wishes he’d thought of wearing a ‘Why Always Me’ T-shirt all those years ago - before Super Mario was even born...
the life of riley
The musings of BBC 6 Music DJ Marc Riley...
As I type this column I am sat watching our next opponents Fulham giving Leicester a run for their money - currently 2-0 up at the King Power Stadium. Fulham have a long and noble history, but of course for a while, the thing most talked about in relation to FFC for a long time was the fact that their owner - Mohamed Al-Fayed - had for some reason decided to erect a statue of Michael Jackson outside Craven Cottage. One of football's most abiding mysteries, is that.
I did see it on one occasion. It was far less impressive than the array of ninja warriors who met the entering supporters inside the gates of the ground - dressed in black from head to toe - with large vats of beer strapped to their backs and helpfully enabling some responsible drinking to take place without one actually having to queue at a bar!
IT’S THE FUTURE I TELL YOU.
DIEGO MARADONA R.I.P.
Manchester Derby ; 2012 - I was talking to somebody on Tower X whilst my wife Trace was watching the comings and going around the players' entrance. As I wrapped up the conversation Trace pointed and said “I think that is Sergio’s wife and baby”. They were stepping out of a white four-wheel drive. It was once they were out of the vehicle that we saw the front door of the motor lift to the air… out of which came the Greatest Footballer Ever (probably)!
It was hardly up there with the ‘Hand of God’ moment…but I’m still talking about it!
What a player and what a sad loss...
On to a different subject now.
I was recently talking to a mate of mine who is an audio engineer for the BBC. His job is a mixed bag which sees him mixing live bands for me one night - and helping get a football match on air the following!
He was recently at a ground (that shall not be named) working with a sports presenter (who shall not be named). They were positioned right behind the dug-out rather than their usual situation much further up the ground tier. At one point said commentator said something less than complimentary about the footwork of one of the players not so very far away from him. It was a quick turn of the head and deathly-glare that informed said commentator that he was actually closer than he thought. In fact he was close enough for the commentator to realise that the player in question actually heard his besmirching utterance!
There’s no denying… the game has changed.
2-1 now…. 4 minutes plus extra time remaining….
2 minutes left of extra time.
Leicester corner… Kasper Schmeichel comes up for it…LEICESTER LOSE THE BALL …WILL FULHAM BE ABLE TO CAPITALISE OF THE CALAMITOUS DECISION AS THEY BREAK TOWARDS THEIR OPPONENTS' NET!???!!!!!
Leicester City 1-2 Fulham… full time… just in case you were wondering…