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Great Adventure/Tony Banks

This is an account of the Mohammed al Fayed era, which defined the modern Fulham, by a Fulham-supporting journo.

It is diligent with interviews with al Fayed’s Director of Communications, Michael Cole, and most of the key personalities of that rollercoaster ride.

It’s neither ‘”warts and all”, nor a hagiography.

For example, his interviews with Fulham supporter and ex-Labour MP Tom Greatrex reveal that al Fayed was by no means originally committed to Craven Cottage and only became so when the other options – of the Dairy Crest site on Shepherd’s Bush and a ground share at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea – fell away.

The colossal financial investment of around £34 million to get Fulham to his promised land of the Premiership, the building of a state of art training ground, the appointment of Kevin Keegan, Jean Tigana, Chris Coleman, Roy Hodgson – and backing them all in the transfer market – ensure al Fayed’s status as Fulham’s greatest owner.

In the end he did not have the funds to match Roman Abramovich down the road and the dream of Fulham as the Manchester United of the south was never realised.

Mark Hughes left, disillusioned by the club’s ambition after a year, and his successor Martin Jol could not produce the same success at Tottenham.

Al Fayed’s relationship with managers often ended in rancour – notably in a flurry of litigation with Jean Tigana, whom al Fayed was convinced dwindled him in the acquisition of Steve Marlet.

Looking back on it £8 million was not that much for a regular in a France team that were World Cup and Euro champions and £7 million for Edwin van der Dar reasonable despite al Fayed’s criticism.

Edwin was one of the best keepers in the world.

I was privy to some information which the writer was not. At the time of signing Marlet – August 2001 – Tigana’s father passed away, causing the Frenchman to suffer a depression.

He was a workaholic and continued on his spending spree.

I very much enjoyed reading this account of a fascinating and successful time in the club’s history.

Fulham drew 3-3 at Sheffield United last Saturday with two late goals, one by Rodrigo Muniz – making 8 in 8 outings.

We have been dogged and determined this season as salted goal accounted for Manchester United.

Our mid-table position seems secure.

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About Alan Tanner

After a distinguished military service in the Catering Corps, Alan Tanner did well in mufti with his chamois as a window cleaner. Sadly he had to retire after falling from the fifth floor of Danny Murphy's mock Tudor home. He spends his retirement watching and writing about his beloved Fulham whom he has supported for over 50 years. The Alan Tanner Report is sponsored by Tanner Crystal Clear Ltd, Window Cleaners to the Gentry. More Posts

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