Friday, September 07, 2007

Liam Rosenior - Fulham through and through

Seeing Liam Rosenior move to Reading as part of the player exchange that saw Seol Ki-Hyeon move to Fulham was probably, for me, the most disappointing business we have concluded since Lawrie Sanchez took over. I was a big fan of Liam’s and whilst this was in someway down to sentimental reasons rather than football ones, I believe we have lost a very useful player who could go on to achieve much greater things.

There’s no doubt that being the son of a Fulham legend gave Liam a big leg up in many Fulham supporter’s affections. Leroy was a big bustling centre forward, who came through our youth ranks and was an instant crowd favourite. We were playing at Loftus road when I first heard talk that we were interested in signing Liam. Being the child of a former player does not guarantee anyone an easy passage to success, the game is littered with son’s and brothers of great players who were unable to live up to their forerunner’s standards. I had heard that Leroy was coaching at Bristol City so when I initially saw the name Rosenior in a match report I thought maybe he was still fit enough to have the odd run out. Liam made a few appearances for the Robin’s, mostly from the subs bench, and even managed to score a few goals. I think he was playing as a striker back then. Despite being a decent prospect, for some reason Bristol failed to sign him up to a professional contract. Fulham swooped and initially were able to sign him for nothing as he was effectively a free agent. I know Bristol weren’t very happy but eventually, either due to a tribunal or Al-Fayed’s goodwill, we paid a fee of £55,000 pounds.

In 2004 he went on loan to Torquay, where Leroy was now in his first spell as a manager, and played around 10 games, this time in midfield. There was a great article in Ful-Time last season, in which they interviewed Liam & Leroy and they spoke about how difficult it was being Father and Son as well as Manager and Player. I think they had a few arguments during this time, but Leroy knew that Liam was playing well below his level of ability. I finally got to see him play in a pre-season friendly between Fulham and Watford. It was a woeful game, which will largely be remembered for the argument over the number of subs we were allowed to make. This eventually led to the Referee officially abandoning the game at half-time and the second half continuing as an "exhibition match". Liam played right back in the first half, and although I was in the opposite corner that day, I was suitably impressed. He made his full debut in a League Cup match at Boston United. We won that game 4-1 but Liam managed to get himself sent off in the 90th minute.

In December, an injury to Moritz Volz saw Liam make his Premier League debut at home to Manchester United. He was superb that day and played his part in an excellent 1-1 draw. He continued to play, keeping Volz out of the side for a while, before switching to left back for the last few games of the season. The final match was played at Blackburn Rovers, a rare away win in which Liam was able to finish the season as he had started it, by getting sent off. This meant he missed the beginning part of the following season due to suspension, but he was soon back in contention. During 2005/06 he played some games at right back, but in a season where we were struggling to find a decent left back, Liam more often than not found himself filling in there. At times I felt Liam played better at left back than he did on the right. Despite not being naturally left footed he did a good job for us out there, and I wonder if the added concentration required to play out-of-position made sure he was more focussed playing there than when he played on his natural side. Last season saw Liam claim the Right Back spot as his own. Volzy was initially relegated to the bench, before being reborn as a versatile and combative midfielder. There was little to enjoy about the football we played in 2006/07 and Liam took more than his fair share of criticism. It was true that at times his passing went a bit awry, but then I think this was true of too many of our team then, and the general poor performances made it difficult for players to re-find their form.

Liam’s enthusiasm for the game always shone through, and it didn’t matter how many passes went awry I always felt he was giving his very best for the team. To me that counts for a lot and I’ll never criticise a player who I think has tried his all. One game that stands out in my memory was another League Cup fixture against Lincoln City. We fielded a typical mix of experience, youth and reserve players (it might have been the only time I actually saw Ahmed Elrich play). The game was an enjoyable shambles with Fulham racing into a 2-0 lead within ½ hour, before seeing Lincoln pull back to 2-2 by scoring late in the second half, the equalizer coming from a Volz O.G. We went into extra time and went 4-2 up, Liam scoring the third which was, I think, his only goal for the club. Incredibly we again let Lincoln back into the match as they levelled the scores at 4-4, before Brian McBride rose to head home the winner with seconds left in the game. Despite the chaos that was surrounding him, I could tell Liam was loving every minute. He really just enjoys playing football and sometimes I think professional footballers forget to do that. As we desperately made substitutions to try and salvage the game Liam was moved all over the park. Right Back, Right Midfield, Centre Midfield even up front for a bit. My point is that he didn’t really care where he played as long as he was playing.

I’ll miss Liam a lot, I think he was a true Fulham man through and through and I wish him every success in the future. Of the clubs he was linked with, I’m pleased he’s found a home at Reading. I think Steve Coppell is the right sort of manager for Liam, and will help him improve his football and hopefully achieve his potential. It looks as though Micah Richards is going to be the next great England Right Back, but I still believe there could be room for Liam. I’ll be just as proud as Leroy to see him pull on that white shirt for the very first time.

11 comments:

Rob said...

Very good piece on Liam and I echo your sentiments wholeheartedly. Whilst I wasn't shedding any tears to see Papa or Zat heading off, I was genuinely saddened to see Liam was being sold. Maybe there was more to it than we're being told because I can't believe we would willingly disregard such a great prospect.

brian said...

Nice piece!

Chopper said...

Thanks guys. Its taken me a while to get around to it but I wanted to say my bit about Liam. I always keep an eye on former players but will be especially interested to see how Rosenior Jr gets on.

Cottager said...

I will always remember the goal line clearance against Manchester City. Sad to see him go.

Anonymous said...

Rob, I've heard the rumour and I've heard someone better placed discounting it, so I really do think it's just down to Liam and Sanchez not getting along. I didn't rate Liam nearly as high as others, but even I could see that there was potential there. And if not, Sanchez should've done more to get a good price for the lad.

That said, Coleman hardly excelled with out of favour players did he?

Oh well.

Rich

Mike said...

Really nice piece - and I echo Rob's sentiments about Liam vs Papa and Zat - I always felt like Liam's worst trait was nothing more than bad luck.

Sorry to see him go.

Rob said...

Thanks Rich, that's quite reassuring to be honest...On the Coleman front, as much as I was a fan, his take on 'out-of-favour' players was sometimes a bit too hardline in my opinion...Leggy, Steed, etc...

Anonymous said...

The more you write on your blog the closer our views become. Thought your comments on Liam are so pertinent and I fully agree with all you have said, it's almost as though we had been discussing him for hours prior to you writing the article. John R.at Cooden will agree as well. Nice piece Chopper's Dad

Chopper said...

^ It worked! Cheers Dad.

kev_in_bellevue said...

It's good to see some support for a player I would have loved to keep watching for seasons to come.

He was probably the only player I can think of in recent seasons to acknowledge the supporters.

And of course there's his rousing performance against Liverpool in the win that kept us up. He whipped the crowd in to a frenzy in the 68th minute before the goal!

Chopper said...

Thanks Kev. I remember that moment in the Liverpool game as well, he was really in touch with the fans.