There was a good article on www.hammyend.com which went beyond highlighting the appalling errors made this season to consider a faulty management structure. The great thing about Mohammed al Fayed was not just his love of the club and its supporters, but that he had a vision, not necessarily the same one. When he took over he targeted Premier football in five years and we got there in four. If the manager was not good enough to deliver, like Ray Wilkins or Paul Bracewell, he was sacked. Once in the Premier, he realised he could not continue to write out cheques for £25m, so sustainability became the name of the game. Thus he targeted a successful academy as the way forward for a smaller club, as Southampton have proved. So he recruited Huw Jennings, Malcolm Elias and Steve Wigley from the Saints and last week we competed in the final significantly against Chelsea.
Sadly, as Shahid Khan knows little about the Premiership or the club he owns, he finds it tougher to devise a strategy, let alone form a structure to implement it. His first decision was to get rid of the directors who understood the club and hope that his Chief Executive could do everything. British Airways in its heyday had a chairman in Lord King who was a global player and Colin Marshall, a superb operations man. Both skills are vital but complementary. I am surprised such a successful businessman fails to see this. Al Fayed did.
Magath has indicated he will stay on with the same confidence that he said he would keep Fulham up. Some of his selections defy belief, for example playing 6′ 7″ Dan Burn at right back against a tricky Stoke winger, but we probably have had too many managers and he does seem prepared to give youth its chance. His very public denunciation of Holtby as having no fight shows why players gave a party after he left. His rigorous training methods are well documented, but criticism of players is best kept to the dressing room. Perhaps the most heartening thing to take from last season happened in the 94 minute of the final game v Crystal Palace, when young Chris David struck a 25-yard drive into the goal. David, Dembele, Roberts, Hyndman, Woodrow, Burn and Tankovic represent the future of Fulham, with perhaps Sidwell as skipper to provide experience. Stockdale is a decent keeper but the rest that took us down can go… if they – whoever “they ” are – can get rid of them .