20 Reasons why Fulham were relegated
1) dismantling the old Fulham board of Cole, Collins and Turner when Khan took over;
2) believing Alastair Mackintosh the CEO could run the club without the input of a Fulham board;
3) not having an adequate left back all season;
4) getting rid of Aaron Hughes, without whom Brede Hangeland was never the same;
5) retaining Jol when it was clear he could not produce any points;
6) appointing a coach in Rene Meulensteen who had never managed a premier club and had no experience of a relegation dogfight;
7) appointing Ray Wilkins, who had already failed at Fulham;
8) lack of leadership on the pitch;
9) woeful defending, particularly from set pieces and conceding goals late in the game;
10) lack of fitness;
11) having an ageing team, notwithstanding our best academy side ever;
12) building a team based on players who had no team ethic, e.g. Berbatov, Ruiz and Taarabt;
13) the bizarre selection policy of Felix Magath, who rarely played the same team twice and sometimes not the same system. When he had to win at Stoke, he played one forward and central defender Dan Burn at right back. Nor could he motivate the team into winning ways;
14) Inconsistent performers – only Sidwell played well from first day to last;
15) taking down the Michael Jackson statue on the basis that fans had objected to it;
16) Playing too many players;
17) making training too intensive prior to games;
18) having an owner who did not understand the premier league;
19) having an owner who did not empathise with Fulham fans;
20) buying an unfit striker Costas Mitroglou for £12m who only started one game.
Good list, Alan. Here are four more that I’d put real high on the list:
1) Systemic under-investment in the squad for at least four seasons, and perhaps dating back to the latter part of the Hodgson regime. We all know the aging MAF had been looking for an exit with this under-investment a consequence of that. This is more specific than saying we have an “ageing” squad;
2) Woeful home form: 17 points in the 18 League matches at the Cottage isn’t even close to cutting it. In contrast, our away form was in line with or better than what we’ve experienced in many recent seasons;
3) Deplorably ineffective use of our own corners and free kicks;
4) Go-for-broke playing style under two Dutch managers that reduced our chances of scraping results against top sides at home or many sides away. Jol, in particular, prioritised “attractive football” over the discipline to set up for and achieve a result.
For a first-year owner, Khan deserves more credit than he receives above. His outlay was more-than-sufficient to keep us in the League; it just wasn’t deployed productively enough. Further, I think his connection with the supporters was on par with or superior to many first-year foreign owners. (He does live more than 4000 miles away.)
It will be interesting to see where we go from here. The parachute structure translates into healthy likelihood of returning in the first year. (Witness West Ham, Newcastle, Birmingham City, West Brom and perhaps QPR or Wigan in recent seasons.) But as the parachute amortises, so does the likelihood of returning.
Our situation is both helped and complicated by our great academy. We want to play these players and accelerate their seasoning, but most of them will be at least a season away from being top-class Championship players. Hopefully a good half dozen of them can be highly productive for us next season.
Finally, now that we’re outside the Premier League, will our academy continue to be able to attract the caliber of player of the past few seasons? I have to think our ability to do will be compromised unless or until we’re back in the big time.
We’re now at a major crossroads, Alan. Your peers Stefano and Rex are obviously keen observers of the game. Do they also have any insights on what’s gone wrong and where we go from here?
The supporters wanted to “believe”. The first five letters in believe are “belie”. As you have been highlighting for months, our performances have “belied” our Premier League status. And now we have lost it. What a shocking season, but perfectly understandable and deserved outcome.
What a flaccid performance on Saturday. Too many Biancas and not enough Micks in that side.
Four years ago, we reached the Europa final, which put us no lower than 18th in all of Europe (behind only the 16 sides in the Champions knockout stage and Europa winners Atletico). And our UEFA ranking was even higher than that, even pushing into the Top 10 if I recall correctly.
To think we’ve gone from that to 19th in the Premier League and relegated in four seasons is just unbelievable.
Alan, I will presume to speak for your readership. We would love to see an exhaustive analysis of the key factors that have led to a first-season bounce-back for the Clubs that have managed it in recent years.