One supporters journey following Fulham Football Club.
Views from Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, California and Africa
Ahh what a glorious time to support Fulham this season. Only a measly few weeks and I would be watching my boys pull on the white kit of Fulham once more. It was through fair play and even Gera’s red card at the end of last season couldn’t prevent us from going on another European tour. I was elated even if we got in a rather well earned but interesting way.
Out were old boys Zuberbulher, Pantsil and Gera. We saw six months of play from Gudjohnson and Kakuta a piece and while Salcido did well at left back he had issues causing him to return home on loan. The only group of these I felt we missed this year was Gera, we could have used him in various matches domestic and European though the same could be said of Davies once back from injury.
The start of friendlies and European Qualification saw me in Pensacola , Florida for a bit of training with the Marines, I watched happily as the transfer window opened and saw witness to a 3 nil win at Runavik, I was happy to see the boys back in Europe and glad to start the year off with a win. During the space between the matches Jesus left us and while he did his job we had multiple players in his position and his loss was not felt too badly.
The appoinment of Jol was met by some with happiness and other despair, each their own reasons for believing thus. However one sentiment reigned supreme a former Fulham manager had gone from aggrieved Man City boss to utter ambitious bellend. I for one was happy with the Jol appointment for a few reasons. One he is the manager MAF originally wanted, and if MAF wants him then he was bound to give him what he wanted in transfer terms. Two he is Dutch and I have always admired their attacking style of play. Three he did a good job at Spurs and most of his transfers were good (look at Berbatov, Bale etc) a lot of the current Spurs team were brought in by Mr Jol and you have seen where that has them now.
Qualification went as smoothly as it could without being too “Fulhamish” and opening day saw me back in North Carolina where I am normally based out of and Fulham had a few new faces. I for one was most excited for one John Arne Riise, if in his prime it was a great transfer but if not , boy could he hit a free kick. Images of “krakens being released” filled my head and I had very high hopes. Two youngsters in Kasami and Gecov where brought in and I saw this as an attempt to get the average squad age down. Also brought in was a goalkeeper I had never heard of in Somogyi, apparently Jol had told the man that the next club he managed he would sign him. A man who kept his word I liked that. On top of that MAF opened his check book and signed highly rated Coasta Rican Bryan Ruiz for a hefty fee of 10.5 million, high expectations for the lad, survivor of the famous Juventus win Grygera and a striker by the name of Sa.
The first few matches of the season were interesting to say the least, six without a win and Jol’s tactics seemingly forced upon the team. Some attributed it to Jol, others to the squad not understanding the way Jol wanted the tactics carried it out. I attributed it to the fact that it is Fulham and something big was in the works. Along came Derby day and the last match I knew I would be able to catch before being sent to the Californian dessert for a Marine training excersice. What can I say about the match against QPR that hisn’ta already been said before. EVERYTHING and I mean everything seemed to work. AGE got a hat-trick and even scored off a cheeky little set piece, who on earth would have imagined that one actually working?
The following month I watched highlights of that match that I recorded on my phone, showing my beloved Fulham off to anyone who would be bothered for a few minutes. Imagine my surprise when I got to access Fulham results in the month of October, a loss to Stoke and Everton. Complaints that Ruiz looked completely out of depth in the league, talk of Martlet and to some extent AJ was silenced with a moment of brilliance against Everton and we slowly began to see glimses of brilliance from the lad.
Dembele and Dempesy seemed to have this telepathic connection during the whole season and for the first half I wanted to strangle Dembele for too many touches, one too many fancy flicks and the like. However all of those fancy moves made defenders pay more attention to him while Clint poped out of no where and scored bucket loads of goals. This telepathic connection soon had Ruiz in on the action and watching the trio in the center of the park was magical at times, you didn’t want to take your eyes off of them.
A really good match in the League cup saw us go out on penalties with a lot of our youngsters taking to the pitch, giving us an example why the next few years for Fulham will be good.
More draws and losses made you wonder if Jol was really up to it , if he had lost touch of the English version of the game but boy what a ride we were in for. A draw against Arsenal which should have been in all rights a win for the Whites was followed up by a great poachers effort by Clint and a win against Liverpool, fast becoming my least favorite club for many reasons. It also saw us fall out of Europe rather unemfatically only needing to win against Odense we decided to be Fulham and draw. Go figure right? We can beat all of these spectacular teams on route to our first European final but cant win against a team from Denmark.
The Fulham roller coaster continued at full speed during this time frame with a loss at newly promoted Swansea and a win against Blackburn. I made the journey to my home state of Ohio for the Holidays and pre deployment leave and drove to my friends house happy that a Fulham match was going to be shown on the television. My friend knows that when I am in town and there is a Fulham match on that his television becomes my property. The match I am refereing to is of course the Manchester United match, and as each one went in I still continued singing and yelling at the television much to the chagrin of my friend, he knew I would be back though, Arsenal was being played in a few days time. As Zamora’s match winning goal flew into the net and Jol hugged him happily at the end of the match, talk of a dressing room rift evaporated for a few days and then what do you know Zamora was a Ranger, so much for that.
Zamoras departure seemed to be a catalyst and motivation returned to the whole team. While Dempsey seemed to be banging them in for fun regardless of his team mates performance a Russian with a nigh unprenouncable name to some in Pogrebnyak waited in Paris for his paperwork to clear. It came through and what do you know the man can shoot. Left, right, his head it didn’t seem to matter, even if it proved to be a stop gap Pogrebnyaks signature was a good deal, could you see Zamora putting away those chances that he had? I don’t think so, Zamora’s hold up play was brilliant and added something to the team that we have since lost but Pogrebnyak can put them away when given the chance, his service dried up a bit once teams figured him out, but the goals scored this season was worth it and everyone seems generally happy to be at Fulham.
Around the end of the window there were rumours flying around the internet that Fulham had signed once 22 million man M. Diarra who had been out of contract. It proved to be true and you can see at times why he once cost that kind of fee, the news that he has signed for another year only bodes well for Fulham.
Multiple things happened around this window. Jol decided that Dembele was best suited as a central midfield player which was a work of brilliance but that issue has been written about and pondered more than me so I will give it a rest. The Senderos VS Hughes argument was still at full tilt. A few highly rated youngsters joined the club from various places and Stockdale had returned. Glad to see the club was taking an interest in youth I was fairly satisfied with the window and hoped we would see more of Stockdale. As for Senderos vs Hughes I like both since they offer different things to the club and would get behind whomever Jol picked that day as he is the manager, not I. Though Hangeland did say the different pairings was getting a pain to deal with at times.
The torch was lit under Fulham it seemed and a win against Arsenal saw me out of the States and on my way to Africa. I scratched my head at the lost to Blackburn, saw the first American Hat trick in the Premier League by Dempsey (still firing on all cylinders). A double over QPR and a barely lost away at Aston Villa. That after of course we showed Wolves how to pass and shoot. Swansea did the double on us and every Fulham supporter was enraged at Old Trafford, what can you say eh? Its Fulham. Losing Ruiz at Bolton didn’t have a big impact as it could have which was good for us since we were beginning to see his brilliance emerge, thankfully this is probably the best squad we have had in years and with other players taking up the slack (I wonder who) we did well without him
However Fulham seemed to get back to winning ways and with the occasional blip, that being our bogy team in Everton, Fulham lead the charge to the end of the season with 16 out of 21 points leading up to the final match of the season against Spurs. Would Jol get revenge on the club that sacked him, unfortunately no he didn’t and it was a rather Fulhamish performance by our boys.
Another season down and another winnable cup loss at Everton ( I swear if a team has a negative stat go play Fulham to erase it. I don’t have much to say on that match) and we are back into the fun part of being a supporter. The league is yet upon us so we can dream of transfers, look at the gossip and generally get carried away with our expectations.
I believe that this summers window will be the determining factor in Fulham’s short term and long term success. The first few weeks are critical and as you can see Fulham are no longer a “selling” club with offers for Dembele and Schwarzer being turned down multiple times by the club. If the right players are brought in then a good run next season is viable. If a player doesn’t wish to be here I wish them luck and thank them for their time playing at Fulham. Dempsey deserves a move to try his trade at Champions league football and I wouldn’t fault him for a move to get it, however it seems to debate if he would get the starts he wants. Dembele is a target that people are talking about as well and he isnt the finished product yet whether or not he wants to warm the bench at a top club is yet to be seen. If the right people are brought in I can see both of the Ds staying for attempt at a push up the league.
Regardless we have six senior players that could possibly leave the club and various other reserve team players on the verge of making their Fulham exit and we can expect to see many ins and outs at Motspur/Craven Cottage this year.
This year was an outstanding one in the terms of being a supporter and we experienced many ups and down. It was one hell of a ride and it didn’t come down to one player this year but two. Clint Dempsey and Brede Hangeland are my joint player of the season. The stats of these players are incredible. Hangeland played every minute of every Fulham match apart from one and amassed only seven yellows, that’s it seven, what a class player. What can we say about Clint this year that hasn’t already been said? For one 17 goals in the league and only 2 yellows in the league, that’s insane. He can score and he does it cleanly.
Another season is done and dusted and another is coming, expect inflated transfers as always with a major tournement around the corner, but the future has never looked brighter. Come on you Whites!
Special thanks to Billet, without your videos I couldn’t keep up with Fulham as well as I have this year.
WhiteNoise your match links have been immense.