Fulham ‘Til I Die

With enough time on my hands lately, I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and watch both the Sunderland ‘Til I Die episodes, and, must admit, that even if you aren’t a Sunderland fan, it’s a very good watch!

Not only does the series give a good insight into how poor ownership can kill a football club, it also gives a good insight as to how it affects a whole community, who rely heavily on their football.

One thing that did spring to mind, is that Sunderland fans are one of the most passionate in the country, and it was sad to watch their demise from the Premier League, to the Championship, and then to League One in consecutive seasons.

Don’t get me wrong, Sunderland as a Club are as much to blame for this, simply because of the business model they put in place, it wasn’t sustainable, and, when the owner lost interest, they were only heading one way.

The new ownership now see the value in Sunderland, they recognise the core values of the club, they understand they need to be self-sufficient, but, for me, I feel the long term damage will make this task a lot harder for them.

Being a Fulham fan, I’ve experienced the high’s and lows of the Club, from the dark days of nearly becoming Fulham Park Rangers, to a wonderful Europa League Final in Hamburg, to the most recent Playoff Final at Wembley.

One thing that does always stick in my mind though, is that Fulham could quite easily end up like Sunderland, not saying that we would, but the potential is there if our current owners lose interest.

Shad Khan is a very wealthy man, he’s worth in region of 9.6B USD, but, he never seems to be at the fore-front of Fulham, with other ventures being more important to him, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Granted, his son Tony Khan has been more hands-on with Fulham over the seasons, has made the odd mistake here and there, but even he has taken a step back lately, to concentrate on his All Elite Wrestling franchise.

The good news thought, is that Riverside Development has now pushed ahead, showing a level of long-term commitment from the Khans, at the cost of 100M+, which has been a relief to a lot of FFC fans.

Not only does this increase the capacity at Craven Cottage, it also increases the in / out of matchday revenues, and certainly adds to the future price of Fulham Football Club.

Having run at a significant loss since our recent relegation from the Premier League, my main concern, is how long Fulham can be sustain this, and how long will Kahn’s continue to invest?

Granted, they are doing a wonderful job right now, but, if circumstances change, then what? What is the long-term strategy of the Kahn’s, and what do they put in place to ensure we don’t end up like Sunderland.

I’d like to think these current owners are here for the life-time of the Club, but, with the likes of Chelsea just down the road, and other big London Clubs like Arsenal, Spurs just around the corner, at what levels are the Kahn’s willing to go with Fulham?

Make sure you check some other interesting articles over at the Friends of Fulham Forum:

https://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0

NEW PODCAST: Three old Farts and a 40 year old

Fulham fans, if you’ve a little time on your hands right now, then have a listen to the latest Friends of Fulham FOF’cast.

Three old Farts and a 40 year old

On this episode, Forum members Donald Love, Scott Tanfield, John Cummins and Roger Penycate discuss all things Fulham, during this COVID19 isolation period.

Remember to also check out the other topics over at the Friends of Fulham Forum

https://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?board=1.0

BARNSLEY BREAKDOWN – by member Matt10

The Barnsley match was a rough result. Was it really a bad performance though? The 90-minutes are posted, and I thought I’d approach this topic a bit differently. I wanted to break it down in 20 minute increments, with the 5 minutes to end the half and match. The reason is because it is common to come away with a general feeling, but then mistakenly use that general feeling and create a general assessment of not only our team, players, but overall tactics. I have a problem with this because we miss out on the positives and the areas we need to improve. There is already general talk of “should, would, could”, so why not analyze it and see how the “should, would, could” can be contextually applied to those moments.

Here’s my breakdown vs Barnsley. I will provide my overall thoughts after. (Disclaimer: I didn’t put much effort in researching name of the Barnsley players this go around. I know who they are, for the most part, but wanted to focus on Fulham specifically. Will adjust the next time I do one of these.)

Minutes 1-20:

  • Pace of play is fast, as it should be in the first 5 to 10 minutes. We are just a tad out of sync in making good connections. For example, Knockaert slips from a wide pass by Mitro near the top of the box.
  • Onomah slips on a one time pass from Cav. Onomah plays in a perfect through pass to Bryan, but the pitch speed has increased significantly due to the weather conditions.
  • Defensively we struggle via Joe Bryan and KMac. When we get in the attack, Bryan doesn’t drop back fast enough, resulting in exposing Kmac, as Barnsley players get behind our CDM each time.
  • This forces him to stick out a streteched challenge that misses – and results in Barnsley’s first shot on goal.
  • The second shot on goal from Barnsley comes from the same combination, but this time the Woodrow simply bulldozes past Kmac and lets off a shot, that goes just high.
  • The same combo of Bryan not dropping back quick enough happens because the referee doesn’t call a foul on Cav in which the winger gets basically pulled down holding the ball up. Hector cleans up the low ball into the box.

Minutes 20-40:

  • I will bring this up in the overall thoughts, but Barnsley double team tactics on our wingers were crucial, and I feel Parker should’ve figured out a way around this. Unfortunately, in this moment, Knockaert tries to beat 3 Barnsley players, falls down, and a long ball over the top is assumed offsides. Unfortunately, it isn’t, and even more unfortunate, the Barnsley player runs into Rodak, but before that slaps the ball with his hand. That is also ignored, and we know the rest – Rodak pulls him down and the penalty is converted. Some wanted to complain about Ream here, but it’s clear as day that Rodak called him off and went for the ball – but mishandled it. Ream put himself between the attacker and the ball, just as any defender would. 1-0 Barnsley.
  • In response, we break their double team not once, but twice. First when they pressured high on Sess, who passes to Cairney, then he goes down the line to Knockaert, who is fouled quite hard.
  • We try to get the ball to Mitro twice, but the first time he doesn’t really put much effort in controlling the ball, and the second he takes a bit too long, but the deflection finds Kmac.
  • We get a free kick in a dangerous position, but Mitro’s strike hits the wall, and his second is scuffed. Cairney forces the ball wide to Cav, who tries to get the ball on his right foot down the side, but is double teamed (again), and Barnsley break right through and down the sidelines themselves, before Bryan cynically fouls to put a stop to the counter.
  • A fortunate bounce in the midfield, allows Cav to release Knockaert, but his left footed strike is deflected. Onomah controls, but just gets out of his grasp before it’s cleared away.
  • We finally get a decent attack that starts from the back where Kmac breaks the double team pressure by sending in a delicate through ball to Onomah, who is then fouled. Onomah plays it quick to Cairney, sends it wide to Bryan, who sends it quickly to Cav. Bryan streaks inside, which drags the defender away from Cav, who gets to strike with his right – but it’s well wild and high.
  • We manage a free kick that eventually sets up a deep throw in. Cairney gets free at the top right of the box and sends in a vicious cross, but it’s just out of Onomah’s reach.
  • We are really zipping the ball well now, especially in finding Knockaert, who is doing well to cut inside and be a threat. He manages to find Cairney, who takes a shot, but it’s well deflected by Barnsley again.

Minutes 40-45:

  • We finish off the couple minutes with Cav switching flanks with Knockaert. He holds off defenders, but again, the theme of the double team on our wingers is prevalent. We have no answer for it unless we can find someone central quick enough. We can’t, and Cav struggles to hold them off.
  • The ball is caught in the wind, but eventually we get control of it. A brilliant little chest pass into the path of Cairney by Mitro allows our captain to get a strike, but not enough conviction and is easily saved. Knockaert visibly upset, but would’ve been a tough pass. However, other teammates, including Kmac, are visibly signaling the pass should’ve gone to Cav who was open on the left. I personally won’t blame our captain for trying to find the back of the net.

First half thoughts:

How anyone can say we are playing poorly is beyond me. How anyone can boo their team is also beyond me. As if the players aren’t going to be hard on themselves already. They know it’s a match that they should be winning.

We are moving the ball at pace. We are building from the back. Yes, it’s risky, but it forces Barnsley to press higher, which in turn gives our  wingers more time. Unfortunately, we do not have enough pace centrally, so the wingers have noone to play off of. This is why many times our wingers are forced to hold onto the ball longer than intended. So not only Mitro is isolated, so are our dangerous wingers. We are creating chances, and we are absolutely not dominating possession in a slow pace. People say it’s boring, but that to me is a general assessment that is unchanged by stubbornness more than what is actually happening on the pitch. As I mentioned above, we are just out of sync at times. When we did start to look in sync, we were quite dangerous. However, the biggest issue to address is the double team from Barnsley. In my opinion, it’s time to change the formation to get more numbers centrally so those double teams look more like a risk to Barnsley versus a benefit.

Minutes 45-65

  • Instantly you can see the aggression by us is there. Bryan shoves Woodrow out of the way, and Mitro holds off two Barnsley players. Eventually a long ball from Hector finds Mitro to feet, which gets defended, but the ball deflects to Onomah. Onomah skillfully cuts back onto his left, and sends in a clever through ball to Mitro, who lets off a low strike that is saved.
  • Shortly after, we get a corner. Safe to say chaos ensured as their keeper makes a mess of it, tries to recover, but takes out Hector (no foul), and Kmac strikes a low one that is blocked before Onomah’s volley goes over. More momentum.
  • Kmac is too tight on a throw in, which prevents him from being able to confront a Barnsley midfielder from releasing their forward over the top of Hector and Ream. It’s a brilliant save by Rodak though as the striker tried a deft touch past him – denied.
  • We go long ball again, and it reaches Cav, but the ball balloons to Mitro, which then is well defended via a diving header by Barnsley. Onomah tries to control the ball that is behind him, but Woodrow dispossess him and sends a long ball over the top. Ream is tucked inside and is expecting to just contain the Barnsley forward down the side, however Rodak has sprinted out of his box for some odd reason – and it’s 2-0 Barnsley. Momentum lost.
  • In response, we change formation, but not before multiple stands of double team by Barnsley again. Kmac coming off is not surprising now after the match because we switched to a 4-2-3-1 and our CDM would be required to chase down counters all over the pitch, which is why Arter was put in. I did not want to see TC go though because he’s a gamechanger and can hold onto the ball in crucial spots. I would’ve more so chosen Onomah to depart instead because he isn’t as creative as Cairney. I think the early through ball that set up Mitro was a point that swayed Parker’s decision to keeping Onomah in vs Cairney.
  • Immediately, my preferences were put to the backburner as Onomah was found by Mitro at the top of the box. Onomah sends in a brilliant through ball to Cairney’s replacement, BDR, who takes a soft first touch, but it’s well defended. He will play a crucial role into us not getting goals back unfortunately. Right place, right time, poor execution.
  • Instantly we are playing 1-2 touches brilliantly in tight spaces, looking quite quality. Barnsley can’t perform their double team because we’ve crowded each side of the pitch that the ball is on. One anchor point such as Reid or Mitro, with the winger in Knockaert or central of Arter or Onomah – fully supporting the attack. Reid’s through ball to Cav is just a bit too hard and is collected by the Barnsley defenders. Momentum is back on.
  • In the 4-2-3-1, Onomah and Arter essentially set up as a pivot two in the central midfield, but when they’re breached, it’s up to Bryan to track back and press high. Woodrow gets his chance because this is exactly what happens. Arter is just late on his challenge, and the midfield is breached as Onomah is forced to cover from the right side all the way over to the left. Bryan doesn’t press and doesn’t drop back, forcing Onomah even further to drop back, which confuses Ream and he’s given Woodrow too much space.
  • Last mention of 4-2-3-1 change is that we now have the numbers both centrally and on the wing. Knockaert and Sess overlapping and underlapping, breaking down the double team pressure again and again. Pair that up with the mobility of BDR, and goodness me, we’re a force to be reckoned with.
  • Against all tactics, ironically, was Barnsley’s next chance where it seemed we were completely surprised by their goal kick that went all the way over our defenders and set them up with a strike just wide.

Minutes 65-85

  • Kamara subs in for Sess, and now we’re at a true 3-5-2, with Arter basically dropping back in front of the defense. If we’re being picky, it’s more of a 3-1-4-2. What I liked especially about this was how we could now put Cav central and Knockaert on the left. This is something quite rarely seen this season, and I hope it’s enough for Parker to consider going forward as I feel Cav is so strong centrally than he is stuck on the wing. It also gives freedom to Knockaert to push out or in, similar to how he did against QPR at home where his movement off the ball set up Kamara’s goals.
  • As expected, the 3-5-2 will have some holes defensively, and it’s no surprise we’re exposed when Barnsley take a quick free kick and send the ball over the top of Hector. Another vicious shot, but just wide.
  • Really nice throw in direct to BDR, who chests it and sends a through ball inside the box to Onomah, who lobs it up for Mitro. Mitro controls it and finds Cav – who’s shot was surely to make it 2-1, but just went wide. BDR is making a huge difference.
  • After a nice run by Arter to suck in the midfield, he sends a nice pass to BDR at the top of the box. He opts to take a touch, but it’s heavy, and defended yet again. As mentioned earlier, BDR’s touch let him down, but more so his decision making when he was the focal point to score. He was exceptional in movement and creating chances for others though. The deflection bumps its way to Kamara, who cuts inside and tries an outside of the foot shot on goal which is well saved.
  • A handball should’ve been called on them as we were on the break via BDR, but eventually Kamara blazes down the side and cuts back inside to pass the ball to Cav central – who unleashes a shot that is unfortuantely right at the keeper, and we are unable to get the deflection before he smothers it.
  • Shortly after we’ve got a free kick at the half via Arter. Ball is sent up to Mitro, his shirt is being pulled by somehow gets to it and finds Hector, who’s left footed shot is off the mark, but it reaches BDR. BDR takes a silky first touch and tries a quick shot from point blank range, but it’s well saved yet again. Another key chance for BDR to score.
  • Terrible moment for us as Rodak makes a clean grab of their corner, but ambitiously tries a drop kick straight to their player. The driect pass is brilliant to Woodrow, who skirts past Hector, before making Rodak look poor beating him near post. All momentum lost. General assessments and assumptions commence.

Minutes 85-End

  • Hard to focus on the match after that killer. Mitro got a shot off that went wide. Onomah hits the crossbar. At this point, the match is over, and supporters are leaving early – don’t blame them of course.

Final thoughts

Contextually speaking, and reading through the breakdown, does it really sound like we played bad? When I was watching live, I definitely felt that we weren’t quite right, but once I was able to find the source of the issues being us not able to handle their double team – it all came together. I think the scoreline heavily favors Barnsley, and doesn’t give our effort justice. I think it’s unfortunate that there is a linear mindset of scoreline = degree of effort. Our keeper made 3 crucial mistakes, and we paid the price in the scoreline. Tactically we were beat in the stalling of our attacks because of their double team pressure. We answered with the change in formation and bringing on BDR to help Mitro. We further answered with the change to the 3-5-2 that allowed Cav and Knockaert to play close to eachother, but more importantly having Cav play centrally as more of a threat. We broke their double team pressure tactic as a result, and Kamara coming on created a freedom down the sides we did not have before.

I think my thoughts are going to be wildly unpopular, but we simply didn’t find the back of the net, and conceded when our momentum was gaining. To be fair, Barnsley had their chances to add onto the score, but they failed just as much.

Overall, this leads me to think about the consistent argument of results vs how we’re playing. There is a camp that is so focused on how we’re playing, and thus downplaying results. Whereas there are those who are happy with the results, such as 7 unbeaten before this, but understand we’re not playing to our potential. Does that mean Parker In or Out? Hard to say, isn’t it? From a tactical perspective, he didn’t address the double team pressure until after halftime, and after we had conceded already. However, when he did address it, it proved the right move, but has been overshadowed by elements that noone can prepare for – which is not one individual error by one of our best players, but 3 total. I am not sure where I stand. If I was forced to choose, I’d say Parker in, but he’s on very thin ice – especially because his inability to address the opponent’s defensive tactics against us has hurt momentum. I think he’d be a fool not to utilize the 3-5-2 more often, but I have that luxury to say so because I only get to judge the end product. 

Anyway, I hope this was worth a read, if anything to pass the time until the next match. I believe that context is everything, and I personally dislike general assessments that aren’t validated without a bit more digging. As mentioned, I have the luxury to judge the end product, so I don’t go out of my lane and judge the elements I’m not privvy to such as office meetings, team drillings, etc. Note: I would’ve put this in a video highlight package if it were allowed, but unfortunately any match footage gets flagged.

https://www.friendsoffulham.com/forum/index.php?topic=74682.0

It’s time to grab your parka, Parker

It’s very rare that I take to blogging, my forte is running Forums, however, after that pathetic performance against Barnsley today, I thought I’d give it go.

When Parker was appointed full time coach, I was slightly sceptical, and after our car-crash of a season in the Premier League, I honestly thought we’d go for a bit more experience.

Don’t get me wrong, experience doesn’t always gain you success, especially in football, but, when the owners stated that promotion was the target this season, I was once again very sceptical.

I’ve nothing personal against Parker, I’m sure he will make a good coach someday, but, with such high expectations form the owners, was it really a good idea to place this responsibility in his hands?

If Fulham were planning on spending a couple of season in the Championship, and harbouring Parker whilst he learnt his trade, then fair enough, but that isn’t the case.

I can see what the owners have tried to do, they’ve tried to build a strong team around Parker, by keeping the likes of Mitrovic, Cairney, and adding the like Cavalerio, Knockhaert, Reid etc, in the hope that quality would see us though, but, it’s not panning out that way.

Unfortunately, we all know, that you can buy a Ferrari, but if you can’t drive it properly, then you’re not going to get the best out of it, and that is the case this season.

I look at our current squad, and I see an abundance talent there, enough to be challenging for the top two spots, and blowing some teams away whilst we do it.

Frustratingly, and even though we do go on a run of unbeaten games, the team always looks disjointed, and for the quality we have up front, we always lack a cutting edge.

If it wasn’t for Mitrovic and his 20 goals so far, I’d hate to think where we’d actually be in the league, certainly not where we are today.

For me, Parker doesn’t get the best out the squad he has, we always look disjointed, players seem to play out of their preferred positions, and we play a system where Mitrovic is constantly isolated.

On top of this, we don’t press teams enough, we play the short pass all the time, knocking it around the back, and inviting pressure on to us, which leads to mistakes.

When we do attack, the process seems so slow, we don’t utilise the channels very well, opting for inverted wingers, and by the time we do attack, other teams have nullified us.

Parkers ability to also change games also frustrates me, his subs seem odd, and we have an inability to use a plan B if teams come and work us out early.

All in all, this seems a carbon copy of what WBA went through with Darren Moore, and, although we sit third in the Championship, I feel it’s a very false position, and if we are not careful with our up and coming run of games, we could find ourselves slipping out of the playoff positions.

I was never a fan of Parker when he was appointed, nor do I have any emotional attachment to him as a player, or a coach, but I do find his style of football boring, drab, slow, uncreative, and something that doesn’t excite me like it did with Jokanovic.

The Millwall and Barnsley games were a reflection of this, with Fulham not even testing the Millwall goalkeeper after Mitrovic’s 3rd minute goal, and Barnsley today, bottom of the Championship, totally outplaying us at home.

Will the owners dare sack Parker whilst we’re sitting in 3rd position? Highly unlikely, however, I don’t see Parker getting us promoted automatically, or through the playoffs, so I’d take a gamble on someone else, in the hope they can improve things over the final stretch of 13 games.

With the likes of Derby, Forest, Leeds, WBA, Brentford all to come, we could do with all the experience we can get.

Verdict: It’s time for Parker to grab his parka.

Fulham 2018/19 end-of-season awards survey

Please complete by Tuesday 21st May 23:59 (UK Time)

FoF end of season survey

It’s fair to say that 2018/19 has been a season Fulham fans would prefer to forget. What did you make of last year’s recruitment policy? Were there any highlights this season? Are you hopeful about the future of the club? Is Scott Parker the man to turn things around?

We want to hear what you think. It’s time to cast your votes in the Cottage Talk 2018/19 End-of-Season Awards, in 2 brief surveys. If you can please spare a few minutes to answer the questions and share these links with your fellow Fulham fans, this will be much appreciated.

Survey 1 – http://bit.ly/2WKLmyR_fof

Survey 2 – http://bit.ly/2W3g4X1-fof

Joka’s Puzzle

Joka’s Puzzle by Kent Cassandra

A nice little poem written by a member from Friends of Fulham about Slavisa Jokanovic. Have a read here, our over at the Forum

Image result for slavisa jokanovic

“Joka’s puzzle is a promise for a group of fit boys
To play attacking football with skill and poise.
In the premiership this would not be a prob,
But in the Championship, one has to play against yobs.
Even Messi would struggle in this league,
Soon succumbing to battle fatigue.
Smart fouling, cheating and up for a brawl,
Bombarding defences with the long ball. 
It’s the toughest league in the world
Refereed by black shadows from the underworld.
It’s a league that most good players try to avoid,
As the skilful ones soon get destroyed.
Teams can’t take out loans as businesses do
They are fined if too many debts accrue.
So, what is the solution to Joka’s conundrum,
It seems an almost impossible task to overcome.”

“Sometimes teams just click, like in Leicester’s year,
They were not considered good enough for the Premier.
Most Fofers say they want Joka to stay
So, we must back him to do it in his own way
From the current squad which players should he choose,
When playing against teams that ‘Mustn’t lose’?
Should he go positive to win every game?
Knowing if he loses he will get the blame.
To play joka’s way, needs a lot of support,
Cos players are human and sometimes fall short.
A factor of fail can be the rub of the green,
Injuries happen and refs can be mean.
Players lose form, trying too hard to please.
Teams can rise or fall on such things as these.
He’s trying his best to stick to his plan,
One should wait until May to judge him, if you can.”

“So, what can Fulham Fans do to help with his quest.
Give him encouragement, give bad mouthing a rest.
Dim all the ‘Gaslighters’ who have lately appeared,
For if he’s successful he will be revered.
He needs time and support from us and the bosses,
No one ever made it without some losses.
Blame is far far away from support,
Without evidence it is just like a kangaroo court.
Keep blame at bay cos if there’s too much distaste,
We will all be tainted by the toxic waste.”

Are you a member of Friends of Fulham? If not, you can register here

 

Mike Conroy FOF’erview

Mike Conroy FOF’erview

Having interviewed Mike, Super Micky Conroy, back in 2015, we thought it’d be nice to resurrect this one, for any new members, or Fulham FC fans, that didn’t get the chance to read it. Alternatively, you can have a read over at the Friends of Fulham Forum.

Q) What was it like playing under 3 different managers between 1995 and 1998 and what were their differences?

A) Playing under 3 different managers was not really much of an issue. Obviously once Mr. Branfoot moved upstairs within the club and Mickey Adams came in I think he started planning straight away for  the following season. We managed to avoid the dreaded drop and once that was achieved he could concentrate on who he wanted and who he didn’t, I might have fallen into the latter. In fairness Mickey changed a lot of the training and also concentrated on fitness levels although Mr.Branfoot was big on fitness also. Mickey just went about it with maybe more updated training in regards to fitness work. he also had a different playing style which at the end of the day helped me in a round about way. To be honest I can’t say I spent a lot of time working with the new regime but small sided games seemed to be Kevin Keegans method.

Q) How much of an effect did the boo-boys have on your confidence when you first joined us? How much of a boon or a hindrance can the supporters be when things are tough on the pitch?

A) I am glad the boo boys issue was raised, something you don’t forget in a hurry. I believe at the football everyone is entitled to voice their opinions, it’s how that individual reacts to that sort of treatment. I was lucky that i was brought up with a never say die attitude and if things are not going the way you want them to, then you need to work harder and turn things around. My father gave me  great advice as a youngster and even to this day. I can’t say it is nice but it comes and goes with the fact you are a professional footballer. Don’t get overly down when things are not going well but don’t get to carried away when the tables turn. What you put in you should generally get out. If you don’t put in you can’t expect anything out.

Q) What was the change at the club like from a players perspective when Al Fayed took over?

A) The change at the club was not dramatic but i think all playing staff and management new that it was only a matter of time. The club became so much bigger with two playing squads after Kevin and Ray came in. they started to bring players in that they wanted and the squad of 97 started to go elsewhere. Again that is the tough business of pro football. i suffered a foot injury at Millwall and that was more serious than thought and that was me finished as a Fulham player.

Q) During his period at the club who did he think was the best player he played with?

A) That is a very tough question to answer, all players played their part in gaining promotion and it’s hard to compare a m/f with a striker or a defender. You had international players like Chris Coleman and players of the caliber of Paul Bracewell all be it at the end of his career. We had Gleno who played top level with Southampton. Very hard to point to one individual.

Q) Was it true Micky Adams got you to shed 2 stone, leading to your blinding performances for FFC?

A) Another good question, after a difficult first season i spoke to Mickey and he told me he was making me available for transfer as he was looking to bring in some new faces and needed to sell first. I had no problems with that, the shedding of two stone was never brought up, i never felt i was a player who had issues with his weight. I am a non-drinker, non-smoker, non-gambler and so not the type of professional who over ate at any stage. I missed a lot of pre-season the year i joined Fulham as I was up and down to my family in Lancashire, I was out looking for property to rent when at times I should have been training. I had a new 5 month old baby we had to get settled quickly but not easy to do with London rental market. Certainly not an excuse but sometimes people don’t see the whole picture. In no way was there a mention of losing two stone.

Q) That goal from the half way line against Wycombe… What the heck were you thinking about????

A) The goal from the halfway line…what can I say? Miss and hit the corner flag and I am in for some stick not only from the coaches but no doubt the fans. I remember it well. Glen passed me the ball just at the edge of the circle. The centre backs had backed off and allowed me to turn, I had a quick look, then another, and noticed the goalkeeper out off his line. if you don’t shoot you don’t score. Luckily for me the gamble paid off this time. One goal I am very proud of but would have been just as happy to tap in from 6 yards. There is  no such thing as an easy or bad goal, not in my book.

Q) What is your best memory of the promotion winning season?

A) My best memory, happy to say I have lots of great memories during that time. Looking as far back as the game against Carlisle when we went head to head with what was thought the best team in the league, we won 1-0 in a very tough competitive game and I managed to get the goal. I remember the game against Cambridge when they were flying high and we hammered them 3-0 and I managed to get two. No complaining from me about not taking the penalty when Blakey made it three. Keep things right until the final whistle. Then we played Swansea, again they were riding the wave and we beat them 2-1 with Paul Brooker getting the second after the goalkeeper had parried my attempted lob. Obviously the day we won promotion is up there, up in a wet cold Carlisle. My mum and dad came down from Glasgow to see the game so was very pleased to get on the scoresheet and take part in another very good game of football and Rod’s winner was good enough to grace any game of football.

Q) You were our leading goalscorer with 21 league goals in our promotion winning season in ’96-’97 from division three, was that your most memorable season of your career?

A) It would be fair to say it was a very memorable season. I started the season on the transfer market and finished with a medal and the honor of being the first Fulham player to score 20 league goals in 20 years. Talk about football being a funny game. Certainly that season that started the ball rolling for Fulham would be a season to remember. However the Championship winning year with Burnley maybe just tops it. As I stated earlier, no Burnley player had scored 20 league goals in 26 years so to do that and actually win the league must just be the best a player can ever dream of. It is frustrating though that we had a better goal aggregate in 97 although Wigan had scored more we had a better goal difference.

Q) Did you feel proud seeing Fulham in the Premier League and Europa League final? Did you feel part of the era which started all of that off?

A) It was great to see Fulham reach the Europa Final and of course the Premier League, however the Fulham I joined and the Fulham of then I have to say was a totally different club. It will always be a lovely thought to know that you played a small part in the history of such a club but very difficult to compare as the club had went through so much change within that time. I will always be very proud though that I represented such a club and knowing I was the first player in 20 years to score 20 league goals. Many good memories.

Q) Of all the teams you have played for, which one did you feel the closest affinity with, and why?

A) As you are probably aware I had my fair share of clubs throughout my career. I enjoyed every minute of every day playing for all the clubs I represented. If I had to pick one then I think Burnley would get the nod. Moving from Reading to Burnley turned out to be a fantastic move for myself. Burnley went on to be Champions of the very last 4th division and I again managed to be the first player to score 20 league goals in 26 years. I also lived in Burnley which I suppose brings you closer to everyone as you are often seen walking down the shops or just getting petrol for your car. With London being such a big city even the big stars can walk about unnoticed. Burnley as a town revolves around the Football Club and in a big way reminded me of Glasgow. The passion and love they have for their club is total and living so close to that I would have to say my closest affinity came with playing with Burnley. I had made a lot of friends while there and would have probably lived in that area if I had not moved down under.

Q) What was your most memorable goal in your whole playing career?

A) Goals, goals, goals, I loved scoring goals. Whether it be a tap in or from the halfway line or a header I loved scoring goals. Having to pick a favorite or most memorable is very difficult. i scored a nice header for Clydebank playing against Rangers in the Scottish premier league 1986 just after Souness had taken over as coach. We beat them 2-1, the first time ever Clydebank had beaten them. Being a Celtic supporter might have something to do with that! My very first senior goal for Clydebank away to Kilmarnock, came on as sub with 15 minutes to go scored with three minutes to go, I got booked for celebrating with the 30 or so Clydebank supporters who came through to Ayrshire. Then we conceded with 30seconds left. The goal against Carlisle I feel was a very important goal as I think with that result we really took a lot of confidence going into the season. 1-0 Victory at the Cottage. then there was the equalizer in the 2-1 victory on promotion day. I am sorry i can’t really single one out. I loved them all and remember all.

Q) You scored a memorable hat-trick in one hour in our 7-0 win against Swansea City (who were a division higher) in the FA Cup in 1995. Do you remember the goals? Nick Cusack was your provider for two of the goals that game, were there any other players in your career you developed an understanding with?

A) If memory serves me well the goals came from Nick getting a flick on, then one came from the goalkeeper parrying and I got on the end of it with the third coming from  a corner that Nick flicked on at the near post. Can always say I scored a hatrick in the F. A. Cup. While at Burnley myself and Roger Eli struck up a very good partnership with Roger getting 14 goals the season we won the league while I got 24. I think Nick and myself were a wee bit similar but Roger complemented me with his speed while I was stronger in the air.

Q) When Al Fayed bought the club and had the money to buy players like Paul Moody, did you feel the writing was on the wall for you at Fulham, and did you feel you still had something to offer?

A) Paul Moody was actually bought by Mickey Adams if my memory serves me well. I think all the players including Simon Morgan believed the writing was on the wall. Morgs did very well to survive the cull and go on and get more success with Fulham, which in my mind could not have been more deserving to a great Fulham player who gave so much to the club. Did I have more to offer? i think goalscorers always have something to offer.

Q) Do you still visit the Cottage regularly?

A) I now live in Melbourne so don’t get a chance to see any live football. I really miss being involved.

Q) What are you up to now?

A) I am now involved with the Japanese sport brand Mizuno. We do running shoes which i do at least three times a week and we are Luke Donalds club of choice. We do fantastic running shoes and golf clubs. So get on board!

And a final word from Mike…

If I could just sign off by saying that although my first season did not go down to well I still finished top goal scorer and that I always tried my best whenever selected to play. I have no issue with taking some stick as it’s part and parcel of being a footballer and especially if you are a striker. It comes with the territory. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Fulham and have many happy memories that outweigh the not so happy. i would like to thank everyone for their backing during the 97 season and I hope you enjoyed watching the team as much as we enjoyed playing as a team. I feel very blessed to have played my part in the ongoing story of Fulham Football Club.

Thank you Mike!!

Rufus Brevett FOF’erview

In this FOF’erview Dannyboi speaks to the one and only Rufus Brevett. 2 promotions, the Intertoto Cup and playing in the Premier League. It’s a fantastic Fulham career and one of the many reasons RUUUFUUUUS was so popular.

Dannyboi Hi Rufus. Thanks for agreeing to speak to us, its an honour for me personally as your team gave me the best memories so far as a supporter and that Tigana side remains my favourite team.  I suppose I’ll start off by telling you what a legend you are and that you’re very popular with supporters. How did you feel about your relationship with the fans?

Rufus Right from the minute I signed the fulham fans have been amazing with me, the chants of Ruuufffuuusss use to make me give everything for them and the club, great fans who deserve to be back in the premiership.

Dannyboi I’ve met you a few times, most recently at the Cottage. I saw you and Barry Hayles in McBride’s last game of last season against Bolton. All the supporters were queuing up for a photo with Tunnicliffe and I tapped you on the shoulder and said “sod him, I want a picture with the legends lol”. I don’t suppose you remember, you must get this a lot?

Rufus Yes I remember, it’s always nice to be appreciated from the fans for my time there.

Dannyboi You played for Doncaster, QPR, Fulham and West Ham amongst others. What club do you class as home?

Rufus I loved my time at Doncaster Rovers. Its where it all started for me. But QPR and Fulham I class as home (even though I’m not a Londoner!).

Dannyboi Lets talk about how you started out for a second. Who was your role model in football growing up?

Rufus I loved watching Kenny Sansom and Stuart Pearce, I replaced Kenny at QPR which was very strange.

Dannyboi Did you always set out to be a left back?

Rufus I started playing as a striker then moved to left midfield. When I got released by my home club team Derby County, Doncaster Rovers needed a left back and the first time I played left back was for Doncaster on trial, I signed the next day and was in the first team 3 months later!

Dannyboi How did you become a footballer?

Rufus Being a footballer is always what I wanted to do, when I got released from Derby I was determined to proved them wrong, I did that when I signed for Fulham. Arthur Cox, who released me at Derby was now the Director of Football at Fulham, and said to me “I knew you’d make it”. I didn’t reply!

Dannyboi Looking back at your career, when it became clear that you were not going to get an opportunity to play for England, were there any other countries you were eligible for and do you look at it as a missed opportunity that you never played international football? Barry Hayles played for Jamaica for example, and Matthew Briggs has a cap for Guyana!!!!

Rufus I had a chance to play for Jamaica but there was a lot of unrest in their squad with all the English jumping on the band wagon so I decided not to. I regret that decision…

Dannyboi What made you choose Fulham? Was it the fact it was a straight forward move from QPR, Kevin Keegan or a different reason?

Rufus I never wanted to leave QPR but I was told if I didn’t leave I would be stuck in the reserves. Kevin Keegan sold it brilliantly and all what he said came true. In a phone call to me he said “this is Kevin Keegan, we are the big club around the corner from your little club”, I laughed because QPR were a division higher, and he said you won’t be laughing in a couple years! He was true to his word!

Dannyboi Was it weird playing under Bracewell after just being promoted with him as your team mate?

Rufus Brace is a great guy and a proper football man, we all wanted him to succeed and he tried is best.

Dannyboi What was the reaction of the squad when Tigana arrived and did he have all the players teeth checked? I bet that was a first lol?!

Rufus We all knew what a world class player he was and there were rumors going round that he would bring all his own players in. I had been out for 6 months when he came in and only just started pre season, he set out how he wanted us to play from Day One. I ended up getting a gold tooth!!

Dannyboi A game that’s often spoken of is the famous win over Blackburn with Seany Davis popping up with the winner. “IN YOUR FACE SOUNESS!!!” Sorry, got a bit carried away there lol. Obviously this game was a mixed bag for you as you were sent off in the first half. I know how I felt during the game and then afterwards. What was going through your mind in the changing room and how did you react to that goal?

Rufus That was one of the most satisfying wins of my career , a lot said before the game from Souness how they were the best team in the league and right from the start they tried to rough us up. I stupidly got sent off and I just thought I’d let everyone down. When Sean scored it was an amazing feeling. Even the usually-quiet Tigana showed some emotion running down the touchline! He just said to me to learn from it. We stayed up north and clinched promotion on the Saturday

Dannyboi It was a special occasion at Old Trafford for the first premier league game. Was this the first time you’d played there and can you describe how it felt? I was there and I remember feeling the whole occasion was surreal, like a dream. But the team didn’t seem overawed by the occasion, if anything we looked the better team for most parts.

Rufus I was suspended for that game, there was no pressure on us and we were magnificent on the day.

Dannyboi Where’s your medal for winning the Intertoto Cup? It’s always a trophy that is the butt of most jokes and of course we have the song “we won it one time”. But deep down I think Fulham Fans are proud we won it, I certainly am. It’s just a shame we won it “over there” rather than at the home of football – the Cottage. Where does it sit in a list of your proudest career achievements?

Rufus It will be in a drawer somewhere, it’s a very proud moment lifting the tiny cup, it was a great experience playing teams in Europe. I captained the team so I was thrilled .

Dannyboi How many of your Fulham team mates would make up the best eleven you’ve ever played with throughout your career?

Rufus

Maik Taylor

Me
Melville
Coleman
Finnan

Boa
Collins
Davis
Goldbaek

Les Ferdinand
Saha

Subs
Van Der Sar
Goma
Lee Clark
Di Canio
Hayles

Dannyboi What was Al Fayed like?

Rufus Al Fayed was brilliant, who else would bring Micheal Jackson to a championship match??

Dannyboi The promotion under Keegan was also special but it gets forgotten a bit, overshadowed if you like by the Tigana promotion. Yet both teams achieved 101 points. Do you prefer one to the other looking back or are you equally proud of both?

Rufus Both were great achievements, and both teams played without fear. I think Tiganas team kept the ball more than the other team who would get tired trying to chase the ball, then gaps would open and we’d be 3 or 4 up.

Dannyboi This is a tough one. Who’s got a bigger mouth, Clinton Morrison or his mother?

Rufus For the record his mum never had a go at me, Clinton had all the mouth on the pitch but couldn’t back it up off the pitch! He started trying to talk Jamaican to me so I politely reminded him that he was actually Irish 😂😂😂

Dannyboi Who was your room mate when staying in hotels?

Rufus Wayne Collins was my roomie.

Dannyboi Who were you closest to in the team?

Rufus We all got on with a great team spirit. Collins, Coleman & Finnan if I had to pick.

Dannyboi Do you keep in touch with anyone?

Rufus A few via twitter.

Dannyboi During your time at FFC who was the best player that you played with?

Rufus Best player played with has to be Van Der Sar or Saha.

Dannyboi You played for Keegan, Bracewell and Tigana. What were the differences between the 3 of them?

Rufus Tigana was a great coach and had a “total football” approach. Keegan was a great motivator. Bracewell was very organized.

Dannyboi Do you remember either of your two Fulham goals (one was a winner v Stoke in a league match, the other was an equaliser v Rochdale in the league cup).

Rufus Stoke was a 1-2 with Bracewell and a finish from a tight angle. Rochdale was on 9/11, we got to the hotel and saw the pictures on the TV, just awful. We were losing the game and I gambled on a flick on and shot from inside the box, my celebration was taking my shirt off only because that’s what their player did when they scored! Very embarrassing.

Dannyboi When you joined West Ham it was a bit sudden. Was there any particular reason why you left?

Rufus Because Tigana told me he was leaving, if I knew Coleman was going to be the manager I would’ve stayed.

Dannyboi You’re back in management now with Hanworth Villa. How did that opportunity come about and how do you feel about the upcoming season? Have you clashed with the stats guy over transfers yet??

Rufus We have a good bunch of players, finished third last season so hopefully we can build on that.

Dannyboi And finally, it’s a Friends of Fulham tradition to ask……..pie or pasty (which filling)

Rufus Pie, steak and kidney please .

Dannyboi Thanks again Rufus for giving us so much of your time and effort. We really appreciate it. On behalf of Fulham fans everywhere, thank you for some very special times and I wish you the best of luck with Hanworth Villa.

Rufus Thank you.

www.friendsoffulham.com