Category Archives: Fulham FC

FulhamFCTV – A warning of what could be ahead

As I’m sure many of you are aware, although given how the club have gone about it I understand if you’ve missed it, the club is soon set to feature a new service for fans called FulhamFCTV. This service will provide us with (to quote the club); Club footage, interviews and action from behind-the-scenes, stuff that we are basically getting already in the form of short clips on the main website.

However, the panic setting around the messageboards right now, is that what we are getting for free, might soon be costing us fans. In an email sent by Sarah Brookes to FOF’s very own ‘Gang’, she gave this response;

“Since our relegation to the Championship, we have understood the importance of ensuring that fans have access to match footage because it is not so widely available as it had been in the Premier League… As you may be aware the League is responsible for a centralised deal that puts all content behind a paywall on uniform designed club sites known as EFLDigital. The club charges vary but are, on average, £29.99 each month. The league protects the value this deal by charging the clubs that are not signed up to it, to air their own footage on their own platforms. Therefore for two seasons Fulham has paid a significant amount to the league, so that our fans could benefit from free content. As I’m sure you can understand, that’s simply not a sustainable model and we are, therefore, compelled to have a subscription service of our own. We will add value to this by ensuring that we create excellent content that fans will want to see, and produce features that are interesting and insightful. This will be at a fraction of the cost of other Championship clubs, and be far better quality as we also invest in extra cameras at our own home games matches, which few other clubs do as it is so costly. I hope that when you see the pricing and the level of content you will agree that it is great value for money, albeit no longer the free content we have offered previously and for so long.”

What this says to me, is that the parachute money from our days in the Premiership, has finally run out. The club has exhausted all the money it can from what it used to have, and is now financially thinking about how to get that money back, from other sources. With the money on offer in the Championship being a pittance compared to that of the top flight, and with FFP dangling over clubs (btw, we’ve already had one strike, we fall foul again, I fear point deductions are afoot), the pressure to keep the books as favourable as possible is becoming harder and harder. The club therefore has two choices; put up ticket prices or start up this subscription service.

What does this all entail? Well to put it simply, this year it is Premier League or bust. Many clubs have come down and failed to get back up (Leeds, Forest, Ipswich, Wigan, Sheff Wed, Wolves, Birmingham, Blackburn the list goes on).  This is brought about by a combination of two things:

A – The league being a ‘tough place to get out of’ in the first place

B – Not having the funds to splash out when they’ve been in the division for three years and the parachute payments run out.

Some clubs, like Newcastle United, because of the situation they’re in (big fanbase, 52,000 seater stadium, wealthy owner) could afford to bankroll themselves even without the parachute money. We however, are not in the same boat as The Geordies. Due to where we are, and given that The Cottage can only be expanded so much, we are VERY limited in terms of what we can do to grow financially ‘organically’.

To sum it all up, this FulhamFCTV service, I feel should be served as a warning to all fans (and to an extent the club), that if we do not achieve promotion this season, we could be stuck in the same position as the clubs I’ve listed before, floating around the mid table for what will feel like a generation.

The View From South Texas — Our Story so Far

After eight matches this season, we had earned the startling total of 1 point. Our clueless manger was out, and we were left with a squad full of promising kids and a few remaining players who could be best described as “journeymen.”

Four people who had not been involved during this stretch, turned that completely around in just a few months, bringing Fulham to at least mid-table respectability while providing interesting football that was FINALLY enjoyable to watch again. Who were those four?

1. Kit Symons — using the exact same squad that Felix was torturing, he turned Fulham into a side that — at one point — was averaging 2 points per match — up quite a bit from 1/8 points per match.

2. Marcus Bettinelli — despite his tender age, he inspired confidence and showed forthright courage and no little skill. While nowhere near the finished article, he was at least an equally talented replacement for the recently departed David Stockdale.

3. Lasse Vigan Christensen — the man from nowhere. I had completely forgotten he was with us, but Kit brought him in almost immediately, and he was magnificent. The last time I got as excited when a Fulham player tore upfield with the ball at his feet was when Luis Boa Morte was running our left wing. We suddenly had a fearless attacking force — with no little defensive nous — that opponents had to be concerned about. His inclusion in the starting XI made us a credible Championship side.

4. Bryan Ruiz — Yes, I know, probably 75% of you who read this don’t like the man, but I think you know that what I’m about to say is true. With Kit finally using the man properly, Bryan was able to help dictate the game. His short flicks and longer probing passes, spread out our offense and had us — for the first time since Hughes left — attacking across the width of the pitch. He showed a lot more defensive commitment as well, and was the settling veteran influence that this group of kids needed.

Were we still underperforming? Well, if you’re measuring our performance against the aggregate talent in the squad, then yes. But if you’re measuring our performance against what might be expected from any other group of talented but inexperienced kids, then I don’t think the answer was yes.

Others disagreed. Every time we lost the knives were out. We play long ball. I hate the diamond. X isn’t playing enough. Y is playing too much. Why can’t we play more than one good half? I hate Ruiz! I remember when we had just ended a 5-match unbeaten run with a loss and a significant percentage of Fulham forum contributors wanted a new manager, a new owner, and … I guess … a new bicycle for Christmas.

Now, of course, we are REALLY in a bad patch. Hugo is off form. Ross is feeling the loss of Ruiz in the lineup. LVC has still not recovered from his injury, Hyndman was unavailable the entire time that Parker was ill and, worst of all, Betts has suffered a pretty severe loss of form.

This happens all the time with professional teams. What SHOULD happen is that the experienced professionals make do with what they have, put up the best effort that they can, and the fans understand the situation and cheer harder until the overall health and form return. This isn’t happening.

The thing is that when the first XI is made up of 7 or 8 young still-developing players, a sudden loss of form is harder for them to cope with. They know that how they play now will inform the rest of their careers. They know that if they become the cause of losses, this may stunt their careers entirely. They are also more susceptible to barracking from the terraces than more experienced players are. As a result, they become tentative, hesitant, and terrified to go-for-broke for fear of incurring even more wrath.

One of his former National Team managers was asked what made Clint Dempsey so successful. His response? “Clint’s not afraid to try poo.” Our young players — aware of our gentle slide down the league table, and booed forcefully at home — are deathly afraid to try poo for fear of even more negative support. That’s why a good build-up ends in an interception or a loss of possession. Everyone is afraid to, as I like to yell pretty much constantly during our matches, PULL THE DAMN TRIGGER when in front of goal. The worse the abuse becomes, the more tentative they’ll be, and the longer this slump will last. I hope it ends at Millwall.

What do I think? I think that given the squad we have, there’s nobody around who can get more out of it than Kit. I think that we need to keep bringing the kids out there, but with a lot more REAL support. I would like to see more of Woodrow, and I’d like to see Roberts come off the bench EVERY match from 60-75 minutes just to scare the holy crap out of our opponents. I’d like to see Ruiz and a fully-fit LVC help energize the attacking midfield so that Ross can go back up front. I think we’ll get out of this, and I think we’ll end 12-16 before the season is over. I also think we’ll have a productive summer transfer period and put on a real dash for promotion NEXT season.

I just wish that some of the passion for their side that Fulham fans are known for was more “This is my team and I cheer for them no matter what” and less “I pay good money and I’ll shout anything I like at these spoiled over-paid jerks.”

Abbreviated View from South Texas — Fulham v. Watford

by HatterDon

First of all, I hate them damned Dirty Yellows. The Hatter in me has never had any good thoughts about that crew, and today didn’t change my mind.

Having said that, I’ve seldom seen such a textbook display of quality passing as we saw from Watford. Long, short, back, forward, sideways — all of them clear, smooth, and accurate. With that passing acuity against a 10-man squad, it was always going to get ugly early. And so it did.

From the beginning it was obvious that something was not right with Betts. His crap decision making almost cost us a goal early on when Budurov had to jump in and concede a free kick. He completely lost his rag in giving up the penalty. Since when does an early red card become the better option? Whenever the keeper is sent off, two players suffer. With the exception of his weak distribution, our young keeper has impressed me so far this season. Today, it looked like he left his brain hanging on a hook with his civvies.

Fulham throughout looked confused and out of sorts. Watford looked like a calm, top table side, even given their four game losing streak, and man did their finishing match their passing. That 4th goal was stunning. Fully six Hornets caught the eye, but I’m not going to mention any of them. They’ll be in the playoff picture at least with this squad. Fulham? I’ve seen some great performances from the Whites this season, but today was about dispirited mediocrity. Down 2-0 inside 25 minutes is tough, but a resolute side would have stopped the bleeding and made Watford pay for every yard of turf. Today we never looked like causing even a single threat.

This season, there have been several Fulham players who caught my eye from time to time. Today, the only two players in white I thought put in a decent shift were Grimmer and LVC. The rest looked lost.

I still think we’re going to finish in the top half. I never thought we would be relegated. I never thought we were going to get promoted, but I really had hoped that we were going to stop playing like our manager was Martin Jol.

Oh, and my hat is off to the 2-300 Fulham supporters to stuck around for the bitter end. With the place apparently half full at best, there never was much atmosphere to dissipate with early exits.

There’s obviously no HatterDon Man of the Match in this abortion, but I’m also not going to single out any one person as responsible for this debacle. I’m hoping there’s a bunch of players looking hard at themselves and asking, “Couldn’t I have done more tonight?”

“Nobody loves Fulham like I do”

by EJL

Formalities first, Danny Murphy was an outstanding player for Fulham Football Club – a brilliant leader who made the team tick and demanded everything from his teammates. One year on, he still hasn’t been replaced, and many have called for the ex-skipper to be brought back to the club as a coach. I have the utmost respect for Murphy as an influence on the pitch, as a key part of the Cottager’s recent success and the way he personified what many wanted to see in a Fulham team. He is, however, a tad guilty of stirring the pot, so to speak, thanks to a few comments made during a call to talkSPORT on Monday morning.

The recently retired midfielder has been a refreshing addition to BBC’s Match of the Day, breaking the mould of its archaic, dumbed-down analysis usually offered by some of the show’s regular experts. But like the other pundits, Murphy hasn’t been one for confrontational opinion or noteworthy insight, so when I came across his comments about “certain friends” at the club complaining about players exempt from being dropped, it came as a bit of a surprise.

Perhaps Murphy wanted to add a bit of weight to his views, but his point wasn’t exactly a new one. One of the many well-explored qualms with Jol’s tenure at Craven Cottage was his unwillingness to drop underperforming individuals – players such as Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz. He was saying what many Fulham fans have been arguing since the end of Berbatov’s honeymoon period midway through last season. Therefore, what was the point in revealing how a few of his old friends felt about untouchable favourites?

As Murphy said himself, Meulensteen’s first job is to motivate a talented squad bereft of confidence and ideas. Jol is gone; a fresh start is supposed to beckon, but when someone like Danny Murphy – a person who still has a lot of influence on all things Fulham – is making comments about players going behind their teammates’ backs, it isn’t going to do anyone much good.

Oooooo Rene! — The View from South Texas

I am so pleased that Jol is no longer associated with our club and I’m more than ready to stand strong behind Rene. I have no idea what he’s going to do with the present squad, and I have no idea who he’s going to sign — or try to sign — in January. I WILL say this, though. I think that we’re about 75% certain to be relegated regardless of what he does, and I’m okay with that … IF

… there is a turnaround in how we play and how we approach the game. Over the last year or so, with only a few exceptions, Fulham’s play has been a blight on the reputation of the Premier League. If we had kept Jol and if we continued to play like 11 dead men walking, our relegation would have been met with a combination of joy and relief by other clubs and by television audiences around the world. It sickens me that this might have happened.

If Rene can get our guys playing in a more positive manner and once again make Craven Cottage a fortress again … if Rene can have 11 players fighting until they drop and doing it in every match that remains in what may be our last season ever in the Premier League, then I will sing his praises to the bitter end.

Every one of us who has any dash of reality in us knows that — sooner or later — Fulham will be relegated. When that time comes, be it May 2014 or May 2030, I want EVERYONE to be sad that Fulham no longer graces the league, that a beautiful football ground will no longer host Premier League football, that fun-loving and friendly supporters no longer cheer opposing goalkeepers and perform creative chants. I want EVERYONE to hope that somehow we’ll be back in the league to provide that extra something that we’ve contributed over the last dozen or so years.

As long as Jol was here, as long as we were playing heartless, toothless football, our relegation was always to be celebrated by anyone who values good football. With Rene, we have a chance to go down in style or … and this IS possible — to survive to the general relief of football as a whole.

If that happens, I’ll be the first to say, “Oooooooo, Rene!”

The view from the Lighthouse

by Lighthouse

Well as there isn’t any View from Texas from Hatter as frankly he has a life to lead. I thought I would filll in the gap.

I couldn’t be bothered to watch any sort of stream of the game. Listened to radio Five Live which did have the game on live. Turned over to watch a few minutes of the awful Star Wars film. Went back to find we were three nil down.

The usual plaudits for Liverpool but mixed in were now comments about how awful our defending and our attitude was. The same comments that some on this MB have been saying for some time now.

It is not the score line. It is not even that some of our players make the same mistake week in week out. It’s not just the lack of investment. Its simply that as a fan and supporter for more than forty years. I know I will be bored watching us play. I don’t care anymore. When we beat Palace we knew the wonder goals hid the truth.

So win or lose I shall always have a place for Fulham in my heart. It has been a big part of my life. But while we play to bore. My view is simply this. I used to be proud of Fulham. My club, win or lose, I moaned but I loved the club. Now I am bored by them. Not sure I will ever forgive the club or the manager for making me feel like this.

Fulham on the telly? Wonder what’s on the other side. And before people tell me to go off and support somebody else. I can’t like the game anymore and so have stopped watching games or highlights. I am wishing for a time when Fulham, win or lose, become fun to watch and moan about.
Until they do, we will continue to say the same things over and over again.

Fulham you are boring. Now let’s have somebody to make us worth watching
We may still not win. But not winning and still being dull and boring. Just too much.

“Pottering about” – Post Stoke

So despite feeling like Death this Monday after, I am inclined to think that my current state could have been much worse had it not been for the introduction of Darren Bent late on Saturday. I am yet to defect across to the Jol out brigade but I will say that had we lost to Stoke then i would more than likely have come around to that way of thinking.

I have justified it so many times in my head but the main factors around supporting Jol remaining the same in terms of there being very few credible candidates who would inspire more confidence in running the team as well as that any incoming man would still have to work with the same group until at least January. I have however come to terms with the fact that we really aren’t very good, lack any real sense of style or shape and on present showing probably should be omitted from the group labelled as “To good to go down”.

While Mr Ambition’s post match press conference regarding how “Fulham will be embarrassed that they won that game” are perhaps a little wide of the mark given that 3 points is 3 points, any team that conceded 56% possession at home to a team like his certainly should not be proud of their performance. They also registered 16 shots to our 9 which from memory the first real attempt of our own was not until after at least 20 minutes. Whether or not Jol would have actually used Darren Bent were it not for the injury to Berbatov is up for debate although if Saturday taught us anything then it should perhaps be that the Bulgarian is no longer an automatic first choice week in week out.

One of the few positives to take out of the game I thought was the work rate and closing down by a handful of players. The efforts of Cardiff the week before reminded us all of why we were so successful under Hodgson with defensive work starting from the front and running all the way through the team. as one unit. It’s understandable that this could suffer with the introduction of players that perhaps pride themselves more on flair than work rate but the likes of Kasami, Duff, Sidwell and Boateng late on all all showed a genuine sense of passion and more than anything helped re energise the crowd.

The atmosphere in the last 25 minutes was completely alien to the general pessimism and sense of feeling sorry for ourselves that festered throughout the first half. That is not to say that we were any more entertained but it certainly makes a difference when you can see that the players are actually trying. An 80 yard burst of pace from Riether did much to lift the Hammersmith end even if he was perhaps dead on his feet by the time the chance to shoot came around. Kasami’s throughout was admirable leaving many questioning why it has taken him so long to get more of a chance around the first team. As much as he didn’t necessarily stand out, the return of Damien Duff really benefited the side particularly in terms of holding the ball up in the final third and providing a much needed experienced voice in the absence of Hangeland and Parker.

At the back we still look incapable of defending set pieces and were it not for Riether being well placed on the line a few times then the outcome could have been much much worse. Amorebieta and Senderos didn’t do any worse than when Hangeland was on the pitch although that is perhaps more a reflection on the Norwegians recent form than anything else.

The final whistle did not signal a turning point or that fundamental changes had been made to ensure a win but rather that we had just rode our luck a little more than in recent weeks. The win will suffice in buying Jol more time in the job but the performance will do nothing to relieve any pressure from the fans. The performances of a few did little to compensate for what on the whole is a shadow of the Fulham we know. I will try and hold out a long as possible on the #JolOut front although every week is going to feel like sudden death for a while. The injury to Berbatov on Saturday was without doubt a blessing in terms of securing 3 points but if Jol is to ever shape this team as a functioning unit capable of “Being To Good To Go Down” then he should perhaps prolong that blessing to a while longer.

Could things get Mutch worse?

First of all please forgive me for the appalling pun in the title but I just couldn’t help myself. If someone had told me before the start of the season that after 6 games we would be 3 points behind Manchester united then I would have expected a fairly positive and trouble free set of opening results accompanied by a rather upbeat atmosphere around Craven Cottage. What in fact we now have a club in crisis where the majority are keen to see a change in management and feel that Jol has had his last chance to shape a group of players who at times barely resemble a team.

The fact that the last home win in the league was on April 1st is probably the most worrying statistic especially for a club who have primarily based their success on good form. While a home defeat to Arsenal is forgivable, a draw at home to West Brom is disappointing and a loss at home to newly promoted Cardiff is unforgivable. Everyone was expecting to kick on from last Tuesdays come back against Everton and re establish ourselves as a force at home but yet again this just didn’t happen.

Admittedly in the first few games we had looked sluggish going forward but this weekend in defence we displayed an equal level of incompetence that had not been previously as evident. Hangeland had one of his worst games in a Fulham shirt and seemed a shadow of the towering giant we are used to. As club captain the Norwegian appears far less vocal on the pitch since the arrival of Parker and seems to have delegated the responsibility despite continuing to wear the armband. With Parker being subbed after only a few minutes on Saturday it may not be as much of a surprise that as a team we lacked any form of organisation or routine when defending set pieces as well as in most other areas of the pitch.

Were it not for a rare piece of genius from Bryan Ruiz just before half time I suspect that the reception that greeted the players as they left for the break would have been as inhospitable as it was at the final whistle. It must have been a rather humbling moment for Kacaniklic to be subbed before half time for “tactical reasons” but he can draw strength from the fact that it could have been any of 5\6 players that may have been hauled off for Ruiz at that stage. The Costa Rican showed signs of the form that many of us have always believed he is capable of and in his post match comments spoke about the desire to fight and play for his manager although at this stage it all seems the case of to little to late.

Many gave Jol credit for a substitution that made an instant impact although it was another of his changes that perhaps prevented us from grabbing a winner. Having replaced Darren Bent minutes before, we were presented with a chance when Richardson broke down the left and drilled a ball across the 6 yard box. There is no doubt that it was exactly the type of opportunity the England international thrives on but in contrast his strike partner Berbatov, who remained on the pitch, didn’t even make it in to the six yard box to contest the ball. In fact despite being the last minute, the closest to reaching it was Sacha Reither.

It is true that the strike from Mutch is just something that you can’t legislate for in football given its quality and the fact it was an unstoppable strike but what you can legislate for is the abject and limp performance that had engulfed the previous 90 minutes.

What struck me more than anything was the work rate of our visitors and their willingness to fight for every ball. The trait is exactly what we used to see week in week out at Craven Cottage but now non existent among the current crop of players. It is all very well injecting more creativity and flair in to a side but when that comes at the expense of the basics that have served us so well in maintaining our Premier League status then perhaps is time to go back to basics.

I haven’t gone to much in to the Jol out argument in this blog as I have a few thoughts I would like to put in a bit more detail. What is for sure is that performances like Saturday are unacceptable and as a team we are displaying no sense of balance, stability or understanding. The atmosphere around the club, both at Craven Cottage and on social network among fans at the moment is poisonous and something has to give. Whether or not Martin will still be at the helm come next game is unlikely although I personally believe the problem doesn’t end there. If Martin Jol is unable to motivate players who in many cases specifically joined to play under Martin Jol then whoever is next in charge has a major job on their hands.

I usually finish the blogs with a positive and uplifting look towards next game although forgive me for not being to optimistic at the prospect of Mr Ambition coming back to Craven Cottage with a smug look plastered across his face.

COYW …..

Partnerships: Hodgson and Jol

by EJL

Martin Jol will go into Fulham’s game with Stoke on Saturday knowing that only a win will likely be good enough to save his job. The Whites have won just one of their opening six Premier League fixtures, now totalling only three wins at home since the start of 2013.

Often when teams are struggling, like Fulham were last season, they rely on cliques or partnerships on the pitch to get results. Apart from the constantly disjointed right-flank of Ashkan Dejagah and Sascha Riether, there was nothing but an occasional moment of brilliance from Giorgos Karagounis or Dimitar Berbatov to carry them through games. Jol was the first manager to really take apart the 2010 Fulham team and attempt to mould his own squad and style, but the Dutchman has failed to find that grouped consistency that made Hodgson’s sides so difficult to beat.

Under Roy Hodgson, the entire team was constructed around numerous sets of players that complimented each other perfectly. Firstly, the formerly named ‘Thames Barrier’ — consisting of Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes — played a significant part in the Cottagers only conceding 34 goals in the Premier League during the 2008-09 season — the fourth best defensive record in the division. Hodgson famously said upon appointment at Fulham that everybody in his squad was the same size; there was no commanding defensive presence to slug away in a relegation battle. Sure enough, he solved the problem by bringing in the 6 ft 5 Norwegian, forging one of the best centre-half partnerships outside of the top four in recent memory. Hughes provided the athleticism, pace and conservatism that Hangeland lacked, whereas the latter’s sheer size, strength and aerial consistency compensated for the Northern Irisman’s flaws. It was a running theme in Hodgson’s system: start players that have one or two outstanding strengths and team them up with their near polar opposite.

Another example of Fulham’s balance was exemplified in the centre of midfield. Dickson Etuhu’s contribution towards getting the best out of Danny Murphy shouldn’t go without praise. A 2008 summer signing from Sunderland, Etuhu came to Fulham with just a season’s worth of Premier League experience under his belt and a fiery reputation. Similar to the strengths in Hangeland’s game, the Nigerian added a physical and ubiquitous presence to Hodgson’s new look midfield. His job was to break up attacks before they had a chance to bloom, collect the ball, give it to Murphy and let him ‘do his thing’. Mark Hughes’ attempts to convert Etuhu into a rampaging box-to-box midfielder were admirable, but it was his role as the enforcer that suited him best.

Those two pairs were Fulham’s spine for a good three-and-a-half years. Other notable duos included Bobby Zamora and Zoltan Gera’s exploits in the Europa League, and the connection between Zamora and Damien Duff — their trademark being a one-two coming in off the right-wing, sometimes leading to a goal (Everton 2009). The problem with Jol’s time at the club has been failure to establish, or continue, successful partnerships.

Developing understanding has been toughest in the centre of midfield. Fulham fielded thirteen, yes thirteen, different midfield pairings over the course of last season. Those ranged from Moussa Dembele and Mahamadou Diarra — who started the Whites’ first two matches against Norwich and Manchester United — to then loan signings Eyong Enoh and Emmanuel Frimpong lining up against Swansea on the final day of the season. To comprehend the sheer number of variations Jol used, Steve Sidwell, who started more games than any other Fulham central-midfielder, lined up alongside five different partners.

Partly down to the departures of Dembele and Danny Murphy, along with the incessant injuries of Diarra, the inconsistent midfield selection caused games to be won and lost in a matter of minutes. There was no similar harmony of playmaker and powerhouse for long spells until Enoh and Karagounis started together. But, of course, the following week a brand new and unbalanced midfield would wipe out any chemistry built the previous match. The standard and type of player that the club needed to bring in during the summer was painfully obvious. Fulham lacked, and still do, a central-midfield playmaker who can pass the ball well under pressure.

Bryan Ruiz, Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele were starting to show that said chemistry midway through the 2011-12 season, but the departure of the latter two saw the Costa-Rican struggle to work equally well enough alongside the remaining Fulham squad. Jol’s attempts to accommodate Ruiz have stretched as far as deploying him in a wide midfield position — a role the Costa-Rican unsuccessfully played in for much of his debut season — causing the split of the aforementioned partnership of Dejagah and Riether.

Even this season, with Jol under immense pressure from fans and, more recently, the media, team selection is still too varied. The 2-1 victory over Everton in the Capital One Cup was supposed to be the turning point of Fulham’s season, but instead of starting the same eleven that won the game, Jol made five changes for the following must-win match against Cardiff. If he survives the encounter with Stoke at the weekend and is given a vote of confidence by the board, his first port of call ought to be establishing the side that works the best. Hodgson proved that he didn’t need luxury players like Dimitar Berbatov or Bryan Ruiz to make the team tick. Relying on favourites now rather than in-form players and maintaining the law of divine right would be Jol kicking the chair away.

Refortification

The only thing that has been lingering over Craven Cottage longer than the lack of a home win is the atrocity that was the Michael Jackson statue. After what has admittedly been a rather bumpy start to the season I am delighted to say that within the space of 24 hours this week we have effectively relieved ourselves of both burdens.

It is rare that a League cup victory would inspire such a jovial mood but given that fortress cottage seems to have turned in to more of an open house of late we perhaps had every right to celebrate. Yes Everton did field a weakened team but as the old saying goes you can only beat what’s put in front of you.

What was said at half time that inspired the turnaround remains a mystery although I would suspect that Jol may have had a few choice words to say to his players (Picture Mike Bassett at half time against Mexico). The reaction following the draw at home to West Brom clearly hurt him and perhaps prompted a more frank approach to the half time team talk on Tuesday. I have always been a believer that we are most vulnerable in the first ten minutes of the second half but the way in which we acquitted ourselves this week was a breath of fresh air. There is no doubt that the pressure has been building but it seems that the players who cited him as the main reason behind joining the club in the first place finally seem willing to show some fight for their Manager

Of course a League Cup victory is nothing to write home about but it feels like it may be the turning point our season needs. The honeymoon period of a new owner, new players bedding in and the novelty of a new kit is well and truly over and now is the time to get down to business.

The removal of the Michael Jackson statue as much as anything is a symbol of out with the old and in with the new as well as being a sign that the opinions of the supporters are being taken on board by the new regime. There is no doubt that the legacy of Al Fayed runs much deeper than just a Madame Tussauds cast off but Khan is finally starting to stamp his authority on the club.

The mood around the ground come Saturday when Cardiff visit will hopefully be one of optimism and that we may once again make Craven Cottage a hard place to come to. Had we not recovered in mid-week then the atmosphere could have really turned nasty although now it feels there may finally be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Let’s get behind Martin and the team on Saturday because as much as anything else it is we the fans who help make the Cottage the fortress it was and soon will be again.