There is life in the old embers after an eventful victory versus Newcastle yesterday. In his programme notes Felix Magath spoke of “positivity”. I am not sure if such a word – though often used – actually exists, but I get his drift. He is big on the attitude of the team, which he denigrated as complacent for not appreciating their position, but in the same breath observing that a win would rebuild confidence. If you read the programme and what emanates from the club, you might feel they are more interested in selling their products than appreciating that for us Old Fulham (and possibly New) we may never see Fulham again in the top flight. I recall in the bad, sad old days a message on the programme cover when we were facing relegation of “let’s pull together ” exhortation. .
Still there was much to be positive about after the game, not least the securing of 3 points. Young Cauley Woodrow gained in confidence and got the ball in the net. David Stockdale in goal gave a far more reassuring and confident performance than Stekelenburg. Johnny Heitinga, driving from the back, was the man of the match. Irony of ironies, Heitinga’s drive hit the underside of the bar and landed on the line. This time there was no linesman with whiskers called Bakramov to give the goal. We have goal-line technology, which showed by a millimetre that that ball had not crossed the line. Magath would have been 13 for the 1966 World Cup Final and Fulham were again in the top flight. This time Woodrow forced the ball in after it struck the bar, but the goal was disallowed. When Chris Coleman took over for the last 5 games after the sacking of Tigana in 2002, he used a young forward Elvis Hammond who did not score but was mobile and diligent. Woodrow is much the same: he showed his tactical rawness by being caught offside too often but he ran hard, his link-up play was effective and he deserved a goal. It was a brave decision to choose him ahead of the possibly fit Mitroglou, who was bought unfit for £11m in one of the many bizarre decisions that put us where we are, and Darren Bent who falls squarely into the complacent category.
Dejegah scored the winner. Palpably unfit, he came on, scored, and came off again. Talking of fitness, the boys looked knackered after 60 minutes. I hear there is hill running on the Friday before the game in the new regime. One hour of play tends to be the period when we lose our grip of the game, so we were all fearful to see Richardson, one of the fitter ones, hands on knees gasping for breath as an indication the team was shot. Magath made 3 substitutions, some reserve of energy was dredged up, and we won. I still think survival is beyond us. However after Manchester City next week, we either play our peers or clubs with little to compete for, so if we can recover our fortress Cottage status then its the 3 away games at Aston Villa, Spurs and Stoke that are going to be crucial as we need at least 4 points from those.