I can easily recall a conversation with a Fulham supporter some 22 years ago. There were only 2500 of us then, so we were all on first name terms. Justin, in assessing our chances in the forthcoming season, said ruefully but correctly:
“Just like every other season. Out of every competition by November …“
Fast-forward to May 2010, the final of the Europa League, the last game of the season, Fulham the only English team left in Europe and our season had not ended.
Five years on we are in the Championship and, after being defeated by Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup on Saturday, we are out of every competition by early January. It’s quite a demise. If you include Stuart Gray, over the past two years we have had 6 managers/coaches. The most damage was inflicted by Magath. He even managed to spoil a vintage crop of youngsters. Mohamed Al Fayed had recognised that Fulham could not compete in the transfer market with the top clubs so there was an investment in the Academy. This produced the likes of Patrick Roberts, sold for £8. There is now much interest in Moussa Dembele as there is always in teenage goals scorers. Al Fayed’s vision paid off in every sense.
Despite a significant summer investment in players we are nearer the bottom than the top and concede two goals most games. But for the goalscoring of Ross McCormack we would be in the bottom three. Because the financial fair rules were infringed there is a transfer embargo. We are rumoured to get in Steve Sidwell on loan, a wholehearted player who should have never left us in the first place.
These are sad times at the Cottage.