Why did Oleh Blokhin & Igor Belanov win the Balon D’or?

When you look through a list of Balon d’Or winners you see a who’s who of the biggest names in football history. From Stanley Matthews to Cristiano Ronaldo; every winner of the Balon d’Or has gone down in footballing history as an icon of the game. Every winner except for two. Oleh Blokhin and Igor Belanov. Two Balon d’Or winners from Dinamo Kyiv in 1975 and 1986.

So why did they win the most prestigious individual award in football in these years? In both years Kyiv won the Cup Winners Cup with Belanov leading the scoring charts in the competition in 1986. But surely that isn’t enough to warrant being called the best European player for that year.

Beginning with the 1975 winner Oleh Blokhin. A Ukranian striker who had a fantastic goalscoring record in the then Soviet League. scoring a career league total of 225 goals in 495 games. A great return for any striker but in a league of that quality should he have been a Balon d’Or winner?

In 1975 he scored 23 in 36 appearances in all competitions including five goals in eight appearances in the cup winners cup. Although it is a good return it is nowhere near good enough to be the called the best player in Europe. To score 18 in a poor league in the Soviet Union and 5 in Europes B list competition albeit in a winning effort. He wasn’t scoring at an unbelievable rate especially when you compare it to Jupp Heynckes who places 7th in that years Balon d’Or vote who scored 42 in 43 in the 74-75 season and won the UEFA Cup with Borussia Monchengladbach. Or Gerd Muller who scored 30 in 43 in that season as well as being the joint top scorer in the European Cup with 5 goals as Bayern Munich went on to win it. Muller only got 4 points in the Balon D’or voting whereas Blokhin got almost 3 times as many votes as second place Franz Beckenbauer who captained Bayern to the second of three consecutive European Cup wins.

Fast Forward 11 years and another Dinamo Kyiv player was picking up the award. Igor Belanov. A similar story to Blokhin in that Kyiv won the Cup Winners Cup and Belanov topped the scoring charts joint on 5 goals with no other than Oleh Blokhin himself. So why did Belanov win the Balon D’or in 1986? Upon further inspection, Belanovs top goalscorer award is not the amazing feat of goalscoring that it seemed. three of his goals were against minnows Universitatea Craiova as well as a brace against another small side in Rapid Wien. His other two goals were penalties.

There was an obvious winner that year in Diego Maradona but in those years the award was only open to European players. Even still there were two much more obvious choices than Belanov with Gary Lineker and Helmuth Duckadam. Scoring 38 in 52 for Everton in the 85-86 season, going to the World Cup in Mexico scoring 6 goals and winning the golden boot in the process. Then getting a move to Barcelona and continuing to score at a fantastic rate. Of course, there is much more to football than goals and stats but When Lineker was scoring at that rate as well as winning the golden boot in the biggest football competition in the world you have to question why Belanov won that year.

Helmuth Duckadam was a part of the historic Steaua Bucharest European Cup winning team. He pretty much lead the team to the trophy in one of the biggest upsets in European cup history. In the final Duckadam saved 4 penalties in a row in the Penalty shootout pretty much winning the cup for Bucharest single-handedly. In the league Duckadam was also a standout performer, conceding only 25 goals in 34 games and leading into the 86-87 season where he only conceded 17 in 34. An amazing goalkeeping record that deserved recognition like a Balon D’or win.

I can’t find any reason for Blokhin and Belanov to have won these two awards these years. Potentially European nations appeasing the Soviet Union by voting their players as Balon D’or winners as a political move perhaps a bit of corruption in the voting system. One thing is for certain though these two players were not the two best players in Europe in these years and these awards went to the wrong players in these years.

Fulham set to sign Jordan Graham on short term loan as Lucas Piazon replacement

Jordan Graham is having a medical at Motspur Park ahead of a loan move to Fulham on deadline day. The Wolves winger will join the whites until January as a replacement for the injured Lucas Piazon; who broke his leg in a game against Leeds earlier in August.

It isn’t thought that Graham would be a starter at Fulham as he will find himself behind the likes of; Sheyi Ojo, Floyd Ayite, and Neeskens Kebano in the pecking order for wingers. Jordan Graham found himself missing the majority of last season due to a knee injury, but may flourish with a loan move to Fulham, as he could feel he has something to prove for when he returns to Wolves in January.

Jordan Graham would be Fulham’s 6th loan signing of the window. But as he is a replacement for Piazon whilst he is injured there is no worry of Fulham breaking the rule of only having 5 loanees in a matchday squad.

What do you make of the potential arrival of Jordan Graham? Discuss here or tweet me @charliejones141 or discuss at http://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?topic=55219.0

 

 

Fulham make record breaking £15 million bid for Dwight Gayle

Fulham last night made another huge move in the transfer market, bidding £15 million for Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle. In what seems to be a late flurry of activity. Fulham also completed the signing of Jota last night. 
Gayle would be the 3rd striker signed by Fulham in this window, after the arrivals of Rui Fonte and Aboubakar Kamara. However both Fonte and Kamara can be deployed on the wing, Rui Fonte can also operate as a shadow striker.
Dwight Gayle had an amazing goal scoring rate in the Championship last season, with 23 goals in 32 games. He would definitely be worth the £15m fee if he could replicate that form at Craven Cottage.
A £15 million fee would be the highest Fulham have ever spent, breaking the record previously set by Kostas Mitroglou. If the deal does go through every Fulham fan will be hoping Gayle turns out differently to Mitroglou. 
Breaking your transfer record this late in the window is a huge statement of intent from both the owners, and the manager. They seem determined to get the club back to the Premier League and will spend whatever it takes to make that happen. 
Lots of people are asking. ” How are Fulham are able to spend big late in the window?” The Khans seem to be making the most of the last of the parachute payments. Alongside the sale of Sone Aluko and recieving a fee from Man City for Patrick Roberts going out on loan again. 
What do you make of this late spending from Fulham? Will Dwight Gayle be worth it? Discuss here or at http://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0

 

Michael Madl placed on the transfer list by Fulham

Austrian defender Michael Madl has been placed on the transfer list this week by Fulham. It is looking likely that he will depart Craven Cottage before the end of the window. 
This follows the departure of Icelandic centre back Ragnar Sigurdsson on loan to Rubin Kazan. Madl leaving would leave Fulham quite bare bones at centre back, with the only centre backs in the squad signed permanently being; Tim Ream and Marcelo Djalo. Tomas Kalas is also signed but only on a loan deal, so Fulham fans may expect defensive reinforcements arriving in the next couple of weeks. 
Dennis Odoi has been playing as a makeshift centre back this season. The Belgian has impressed against both Reading and Leeds playing in his new role, so Fulham may not need to sign a replacement for Madl. 
Madl has been linked to a move to Legia Warsaw so a move to Poland may be on the cards for him. Madl joined Fulham on loan in January 2016 and impressed during that spell enough to get a permanent move in the summer. However he has now lost his place in the starting 11 and is deemed surplus to requirements. 
What do you make of Michael Madl leaving Fulham? Who would you like to see as his replacement? Discuss here or at http://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0

Fulham end pursuit of Joe Bennett and switch attention to two other targets after refusing to pay his wage demands

Fulham have turned their backs on a deal to sign Cardiff left back Joe Bennett, after he has demanded a weekly wage in excess of £30,000. Fulham are now set to turn their attention back to a previous target in Maxime Poundje, and young Porto left-back Rafa Soares.

The Joe Bennett deal looked all but done earlier in the week, as Fulham had activated his release clause and begun talks about a contract, at which point the deal hit a problem. Joe Bennett was asking for a wage in excess of £30,000 a week which is double what he is earning at Cardiff, and with Fulham being sensible spenders, they showed Bennett the door.

The Cardiff left back would have been a replacement for Scott Malone. After Malone’s departure, Ryan Sessegnon has been the first choice left back, but every Fulham fan can see that the young prospect is destined to go the route of Gareth Bale, and end up playing on the wing one day. Any fan can see that his attacking prowess is too great to be wasted at left back.

Rafa Soares may join Fulham on loan amidst interest from the whites. He is not currently Porto’s first choice in that position, as Miguel Layun and Alex Telles are both above him in the pecking order. The 22-year-old left back impressed while on loan with Rio Ave in Portugal last season. This signing would come after the arrival of fellow countryman Rui Fonte, and this move would help both players settle in.

The Maxime Poundje situation has also changed since this news. Similarly to his team mate Diego Rolan he remains hard to convince to join a Championship club as he feels it isn’t the best move for his career. This could still all change as he has been frozen out of the Bordeaux squad and as the window winds down he could be scrambling for a club, as could Rolan.

Should we have paid Bennetts wage demands? Should we still go after Poundje if he isn’t sure about joining? Discuss here or at http://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php

Cauley Woodrow to move to Bristol City as Rui Fonte is set to join Fulham

22 Year old Fulham striker Cauley Woodrow is set to join Bristol City on loan with view to a permanent deal. After a second loan spell with Burton didn’t come to fruition. The England under 21 international is not currently in manager Slavisa Jokanovic’s plans, as he is moving on loan again after going to Burton Albion for the second half of last season.

Continue reading “Cauley Woodrow to move to Bristol City as Rui Fonte is set to join Fulham”

Exploring Fulhams Strangest Signings.

With the departure of Jozabed for a reported £4.5 million this week it made me think back to how many strange signings Fulham have made over the years. A number of players who were signed only to make a handful of appearances only to never be heard from again. Fulham seem to have had so many of these in recent history so I thought it would be interesting to look into them and see why it all went wrong.

Adil Chihi

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Starting off with maybe the weirdest of the bunch. Adil Chihi signed for Fulham on a free the season after they were relegated and it all seemed promising. Over 120 appearances for Koln in his 9 years at the club with a lot of these appearances coming in the Bundesliga. Chihi seemed to be a good replacement for the departing Ashkan Dejagah but it was not to be. He played only 1 game for Fulham and seemingly went missing for the rest of the season to be released at the end of the year. The Moroccan international has not fared much better at the clubs he has joined since Fulham playing for three different teams making a combined 14 appearances.

Zakaria Labyad

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How many Fulham fans forgot we ever had this guy? Considered a great prospect during his time at PSV and Sporting respectively Labyad grew to have a serious attitude problem. Making his Eredivisie debut at the age of 16 and scoring two goals in six appearances in his debut season Labyad seemed to be set for big things. A move to Sporting didn’t work out. Similar to fellow countryman Adel Taarabt in that he seemed to have a serious talent but an ego to match that didn’t fare him well on the football pitch. Now playing for FC Utrecht back in the Eredivisie. He made two appearances during his six months at Craven Cottage and most Fulham fans will probably forget all about him.

Jozabed

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What would this article be without the man who inspired it? seven bit part appearances in half a season at Craven Cottage Jozabed didn’t settle in England as he struggled to learn the language and couldn’t cope with the physicality of the Championship. Making a loan move to Celta Vigo in January that has now been made permanent. Clearly, a talented midfielder as he flourished in La Liga with both Rayo Vallecano and now with Celta. His only memorable moment for Fulham was hitting the crossbar with a free kick against QPR.

Larnell Cole

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The only reason I can think that Fulham signed Larnell Cole is because while buying Ryan Tunnicliffe from Manchester United they said “You can have this lad as well if you want.” and we said, “Yeah why not.” Somehow conning his way into staying at the club for 3 years making only one appearance against former club Manchester United in the famed 2-2 draw where they put in 81 crosses. To be fair to Larnell Cole in his 10 minutes in a Fulham shirt he was one of the fastest players I have ever seen at Craven Cottage.

Mark Fotheringham

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I think I join the majority of Fulham fans in saying that Mark Fotheringham is the worst player I have ever seen play for us. The quintessential Felix Magath signing every fan was baffled when we announced a player who had been poor for both Ross County and Notts County. Just read the replies to the twitter announcement of the signing and you will know how baffling this signing was. While we were looking to bounce back from relegation at the first time of asking we signed a player who was League 2 quality. Not the first Magath signing to appear here and definitely not the last.

Sakari Mattila

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Not a terrible player by any means. A Finnish international Mattila made 6 league appearances for Fulham. Making his debut in a man of the match performance against Stoke City in the League Cup Fulham fans thought they had a great player on their hands. He was then benched or left out of the squad for the rest of the season for the likes of Ryan Tunnicliffe and Lasse Vigen Christensen. He had his contract terminated by mutual consent at the end of his first season.

Gabor Kiraly

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More famous for his tracksuit bottoms than anything else Gabor Kiraly was another Magath signing brought in to replace Maarten Stekelenburg and David Stockdale. He was 38 when he signed for Fulham and he only made four league appearances for the club. It is fair to say he was quite bad in those appearances. He came back into the public eye at Euro 2016 being the starting keeper for Hungary and doing some insane tricks. Kiraly is still playing at the age of 41.

Kay Voser and Elsad Zverotic

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May as well lump these two in together. Two fullbacks who came in from Switzerland and both were as unimpressive as each other. Voser made 10 league appearances for Fulham being generally quite awful. Zverotic made 16 appearances and wasn’t very good either. Neither of these players will be remembered at Craven Cottage but Zverotic was a very frustrating signing as he came in on deadline day when fans were expecting fireworks but ended up with Zverotic.

Adam Taggart

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Taggart came to Fulham with a lot of hype after being the A-league top scorer and young player of the year. Fulham fans thought they had a great signing for the Championship as his goalscoring record in Australia was excellent and he had played in the World Cup that summer. Taggart never made a first team appearance for Fulham and was shipped out to Dundee United on loan and was then sold back to Perth Glory.

Thomas Eisfeld

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Thomas Eisfeld was one of Fulhams first signings after relegation and it filled fans with hope that promotion at the first time of asking was possible. Touted as a wonderkid at Arsenal when he ran the game against West Brom on his debut in the League Cup. Fulham signed Eisfeld on a two-year deal aged 21. He never delivered on his apparent potential in England making just seven league appearances for Fulham before departing for VFL Bochum where he is still not a standout player. A man who upon signing him Arsene Wenger said he had “the attitude and technical ability to be a valuable addition to our squad.”

Ange-Freddy Plumain

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Not so strange in the fact that he was just a youngster signed who never came to anything. However, Fulham almost got into a lot of trouble for signing Plumain as Lens claimed that he had signed for The Whites while still under contract with them. Fortunately, nothing ever came of this and Plumain never played a game for Fulham. Strange nonetheless.

Derek Boateng

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It seemed like we were linked with Derek Boateng for about 3 years so it was very relieving when we finally got the deal over the line for the Ghanaian international. He seemed to be a great replacement for Dickson Etuhu who had left a year prior. Being a good combination of strength and tackling ability he looked set to make the holding midfield spot his own. Unfortunately for Derek Martin Jol preferred the duo of Steve Sidwell and Scott Parker so he only ever played 5 games for Fulham in all competitions picking up a stunning 3 yellow cards in that time.

Kostas Mitroglou

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What could have been? Mitroglou came to Fulham on deadline day for a record fee and every Fulham fan thought that he was the man to fire Fulham to safety. And during any other time period under any other manager, he may well have been. Making only 3 league appearances at Fulham before going back to Olympiakos on loan and then joining Benfica. During his time at both of those clubs, he has scored prolifically so who knows what he could have done if he had more game time in the Premier League.

Rafik Halliche

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The only reasons any Fulham fan would remember this name is because of his terrible debut where he gave away a penalty and because of all the Algerian fans on every Fulham fan forum. The Algerian fans were adamant that Halliche was the new Maldini clamouring for him to play every week. He was poor and only made one league appearance for the club.

Jari Litmanen

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An absolute legend of the game in his prime. Winning the Champions League with Ajax and being Finlands most capped player and highest goalscorer. Litmanen joined Fulham late in his career aged 37 and never played a game. This was due to him returning to Finland after heart concerns. After leaving Fulham he played for three more years until retiring at the age of 40.

 

Who do you think Fulhams strangest ever signing is? Comment below or discuss at http://www.friendsoffulham.com/index.php?board=1.0