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Fulham: 2010 Team Preview | Odds

English Premier League – Fulham 2010 Preview

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Odds to win the 2010-11 Premiership outright: 500/1

In one year Fulham slid from 7th to 12th on the Premiere League table but proved that they are a formidable side by grabbing the final Europa League spot in 2008 and continuing their way into the final, where they lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid in extra time.

It was a fairytale season at Craven Cottage, but now critics and supporters alike are questioning how the exit of hero Roy Hodgson’s departing for the greener pastures of Anfield will affect this year’s Premier League campaign.

After a failed attempt to lure Martin Jol from Ajax, Fulham appointed 46-yeald old Mark Hughes to manager. The former United legend is best known for taking Blackburn to the heights of sixth in the 2002-03 Premier League season before being sacked in 2008 by Manchester City after dragging the club to tenth place in his first season.

Unfortunately, things may not be any easier for Hughes as Cottagers fans may have delusions of grandeur, and finishing mid-table in 2010-11 could be considered a failure. Not to mention ownership, who will influence Hughes’ preseason promises of bringing bring in some new transfers to Craven Cottage.

However, the club did sign Philippe Senderos (Arsenal) and Jonathan Greening of West Bromwich.Bet on Soccer at Sportsbook.com

But Hughes’ biggest challenge will be establishing his own philosophies without disrupting the team’s current synergy. He will need to direct the sides focus away from another incredible run to the Europa League final, and get the squad fully centered on succeeding in the Premier League.

He will look for help and leadership from team captain Danny Murphy as well as striker Bobby Zamora. The 29-year old Zamora had a magnificent 2009 campaign leading the team in scoring with eight League goals and three in each the English FA Cup and UEFA Europa League. Murphy finished league with five goals and one in the clubs Europa bid.

Both players along with veterans Simon Davies, Clint Dempsey, and Damien Duff will also be called upon to improve the squad’s form away from Craven Cottage.

The Cottagers road record was abysmal last season with just a single win, seven draws and 11 losses with a goal differential of –19, and 1.63 GA per game, fifth worse in the league.

Lastly, the area that is likely to see the most transformation is Fulham’s propensity to be one the leagues less aggressive teams. Hughes’ likes his players to be physical and challenge for the ball with intensity.

His never-say-die attitude should sum up this year’s club message.

Fulham 2010 Prediction: Hughes should do fine, but will he do well enough to get Fulham back into the Europa League is the real question at this time. The focus will obviously be on besting the team’s recent 12th place Premiere League finish.

It’s likely that Zamora’s totals will dip, but Fulham should still finish in he top 10.

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Matt Martz is a sportswriter for the Bakersfield Californian located in Central California. “ Football (soccer) is a game in which a handful of fit men run around for one and a half hours watched by millions of people who could really use the exercise.”

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