The Tanner Report
Some things do not change in the fifty years I have been supporting Fulham and one is is the picturesque walk through Bishops Park. Yesterday I took an alternative route to Putney Bridge Station to enjoy it. There were three distinct groups : home fans, Everton fans and tourist football fans. Fulham must attract 5000 of those every game. The weather was warm, the river sparkled and the park was full of parents and kids. In genteel middle class Fulham, fan and local family mixed easily .
The match itself typified so many of Fulham’s performances this season. We played well in the first half, as we have done against Chelsea and Southampton, but could not maintain the intensity. If games lasted one hour we would be a top ten side. As ever in the dire situations lady luck was not present. The Everton first goal came off the instep of Gareth Barry and keeper Stockdale’s shin. It was one of those “what happened there ?” goals. There was no doubting the equaliser, as Dejegah cut in to drive a ball into the corner of the net. For ten minutes the crowd noise reached a pitch I have not heard since we beat Juventus. Could we go and win? Heitinga’s header and Kasami’s shot were both parried by their keeper Howard. It was Everton who scored and then again. The Fulham crowd was marvellous. We recognised the team had given their all and they were duly acknowledged at the end.
Afterwards a group of us met for a late lunch. An American Chris, who is perpetually optimistic, pointed out we could win our last three home games v Norwich, Hull and Crystal Palace. Of the three away – Villa, Spurs and Stoke – there are points there. I wish I could share his optimism. I can’t see our teen forwards scoring, nor us lasting out 90 minutes, and our goal difference is now -42. It is true that in the Great Escape season of Roy Hodgson we also had 24 points at this stage, but won 4 out of 5 of our final games, so we must still believe.
Michael Owen, who must have the the most boring speaking voice on TV, pointed out on MOTD2 that we have an excellent academy and Southampton – who produced Bale, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamerlain – benefited in playing them in a lower league. Sadly any further sensible discussion came to an end when the unfunny Mark Lawrenson, though he is one of the few people who consider himself a comic, enquired whether Dejegah should be called Mick. I thought analysis had matured from laughing at names and presenter Mark Chapman held his face in hands.