We are down. Oh yes, I know there are 6 winnable games to come, but only if you have a collective will to win and an ability to defend a lead and I do not see either. I am not sure what to make of Felix Magath. Initially we could only evaluate him through the distorted and absurd prism of our football press, who competed for stories about his eccentric training methods but did not bother to educate us on his tactics. His best quality is his breezy optimism that we will survive and the hard working ethic he imposes. Against this, his picks are bizarre. Yesterday he started with a debutant forward Cawley Woodrow, who scored 2 goals in 18 games for Southend on loan. Magath said it takes time for Mitroglou to adapt from the Greek league, but what about a 19 year old who has only played at an inferior level? He also set the team up with the slow Riise ahead of Richardson. In my experience fullbacks do not adapt to left midfield, whilst Richardson, who struggles at left back, has looked far more effective in midfield. Yet again keeper Stekelenburg made a howler. Brian Clough said a good keeper was worth 15 points. For years Mark Schwarzer was a highly reliable last line of defence, with Stockdale a capable deputy for the odd game. Now Stek is as guilty as anyone for the second half errors that beset the team’s second half performances under all 3 managers/coaches all season. In a word, to survive we have to display form, tenacity and organisation at a level we have not seen all season.
One of the most frustrating aspects of Fulham these past few seasons is you can rely on the fact that, if a team or scorer is on bad run, he will break it against Fulham. Thus yesterday Cardiff had not scored for 4 games then bang in 3 against us. Holtby, another bizarre dropping against Chelsea, equalised and got us right back into the game only for Stek to commit his error.
Although this will never happen, or at least for a few more games, I believe we should accept the reality of relegation, for the first time not react in panic but plan calmly in advance as to whether Magath is the right man to get us back, to work out who should go, who wants to go, who needs to go, and how many of our excellent youth are ready for championship football. I spoke to a senior football figure whose windows we clean, a diehard Fulham man, who said the players will shed crocodile tears. I suspect that the reason for the lack of a collective will to win in the group is that many of them are already onto their agent to find them a club that will pay the same wages or more. And that this is something discussed amongst them. In other words, they- like me and many supporters – accept relegation. Magath will continue to make positive noises, the programme will offer third team shirts at a discount as if nothing has happened out there, and Shahid Khan will try to rally spirits and justify his poor appointments and decisions. These are too many to list, but I come back to this first: the forced resignation of Cole, Collins and Turner and not retaining them in some advisory capacity.