Use a VPN to stream games Safely and Securely 🔒
A Virtual Private Network can also allow you to
watch games Not being broadcast in the UK For
more Information and how to Sign Up go to

Main Menu

Friday Fulham Stuff (14/05/10)...

Started by WhiteJC, May 14, 2010, 07:31:52 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Hughes 'proud' of Cottagers campaign

Aaron Hughes believes Fulham can still walk away from this season with their heads held high despite Wednesday's Europa League final defeat.

Diego Forlan ended the Cottagers' fairytale European adventure on Wednesday night when he struck in extra time to deny Fulham their first major trophy in the club's 131-year history.

Fulham accounted for the likes of Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk and Wolfsburg in an 19-match run which began back in July to make the final in Hamburg.

Hughes has been an integral part of the Cottagers European run, playing in 17 of the games at the heart of the Fulham defence.

He praised the way that the team handled the gruelling campaign and believes the club should be proud of the players' achievements.

"I think we've done the club proud. Everyone has really enjoyed the competition," said the Fulham vice-captain.

"It's been fantastic. I think we've approached it the right way.

"There was never any real pressure on us, which helped us because we just went out and played.

"Everyone was looking elsewhere at the other clubs and that us get on with it. Then all of a sudden we found ourselves in the quarter finals, the semi-finals and then in the final."

"Everyone was disappointed that we didn't get anything from the game but at the same time we've had an excellent season.

"It's just a pity we couldn't cap it off."

Forlan had put Atletico ahead on the half hour before Simon Davies rifled in a well-taken volley to level just before half-time.

The game looked destined for penalties as both sides laboured through the second half and extra time before former Manchester United striker Forlan sealed Fulham's misery in the 116th minute.

Hughes denied that the players had lost their focus towards the end and added that he thought Fulham could have won the match.

"I wouldn't say we were just thinking about penalties," said the 30-year-old.

"We were still concentrating on the few minutes that were left.

"It was just that Forlan did the stuff that he's done all through the competition, he sneaked in and scored a good goal.

"I don't think there was a big difference between the two sides. In the end it was just wasn't our night."


Roy Hodgson's run to the Europa League final with Fulham has made him favourite to be named manager of the Great Britain football team for the London 2012 Olympics. An announcement is expected some time next year. (Daily Mail)

Schwarzer desperate for Fulham not to repeat Middlesbrough mistakes

Aussie goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is desperate to see Roy Hodgson remain with Fulham.

Schwarzer is anxious for Fulham to keep Hodgson and avoid the same downward spiral suffered by Middlesbrough.

"Unfortunately, most of the Middlesbrough team broke up after we lost to Seville," said the 37-year-old Australian, who left the club the season before they went down. "It's well documented what's happened to Middlesbrough since then.

"Let's hope that it doesn't occur at Fulham. It would be a great shame if something like that was to happen. Hopefully, it won't. The guys really enjoy playing football at the club, it's a great environment and the set-up is fantastic. But in football you never know. Things change and they can sometimes change overnight."

Maidstone United General Manager Bill Williams hopes to attract lucrative friendly against Premier League side

General Manager Bill Williams has revealed Maidstone have asked Premier League Fulham for a money-spinning pre-season friendly.

The club are awaiting a response from the Cottagers, as well as Leyton Orient, Dagenham and Gillingham among others.

Mr Williams also revealed he expects the Stones to miss out on a cash windfall from the Cottagers as part of the Chris Smalling deal.

The Stones were set to receive a five-figure payment for every 10 first team appearances Smalling (pictured) made.

The defender – who will join Manchester United this summer – made his 19th appearance at Arsenal on Sunday, but will not now reach the 20-game milestone.

Mr Williams said: "There is always hope, but agreements are agreements. We did ask them to consider a few things officially and you never know, but I doubt we'll get anything.

"You are dealing with plcs and there is no compassion or sentimentality when it comes down to money."

He also revealed he would be inviting ex-Stone and current Fulham boss Roy Hodgson to attend a sporting dinner to raise funds for the club.

Birmingham City Make £8m Approach for In Form Fulham Forward Bobby Zamora
Alex McLeish hopes to lure England hopeful to St Andrews'

Birmingham have made an official approach to Fulham about a double swoop for Bobby Zamora and Paul Konchesky.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is facing having to break up the Cottagers' heroic Europa League side with a string of his top men approaching the end of their contracts.

Skipper Danny Murphy and Konchesky head a list of six key players who have just a year left on their current deals, while Zamora has become much-wanted striker.

Birmingham officials were given short shrift by Fulham when they moved for £8m-rated Zamora and Konchesky.

But City are now expected to return with a big-money bid for Zamora, who is also attracting attention from Aston Villa.

Brum boss Alex McLeish has an interest in West Ham front man Carlton Cole but sees Zamora as the ideal target man to spearhead his team.

McLeish said: "You get a lot of strikers in football who are great at assists and they do a lot of work for other people to score. (Daily Mirror)

Now I can see why Birmingham City would be interested in Bobby Zamora but I would have thought that the in form forward will be offered a new contract at Craven Cottage given his great season. The former Tottenham man had become something of a figure of fun after a poor last season at West Ham and an even more disastrous debut season at Fulham.

However this term the 29 year old has clicked into gear and helped Roy Hodgson to a solid domestic campaign as well as a fantastic Europa League adventure where his eight goals have been a crucial part of the west London sides run to the final.

Birmingham City have had a great season of their own however scoring goals has been a problem with only four clubs scoring less goals than Alex McLeish's men. The former Rangers man is hoping to snap up Ibrox goal machine Kris Boyd and they may find it easier to clinch that deal than trying to nab Zamora from Fulham.

Roy Hodgson pledges future to Fulham after Europa League defeat

Roy Hodgson appears to have pledged his future to Fulham after watching his side lose the Europa League final to Atletico Madrid in heartbreaking fashion.

Diego Forlan won the game for the Spanish side deep into extra time – his strike four minutes from the end of the additional 30 minutes securing the 2-1 win.

Speaking after the game, Fulham's 63rd of a remarkable season, Hodgson expressed his disappointment at the result but declared he was "committed" to the club.

There has been continuing speculation in recent weeks the LMA manager of the year could be in line for a move to Anfield as Rafael Benitez's successor at Liverpool should the Spaniard move to Juventus as reported.

However, Hodgson moved to end the reports, saying he was dedicated to seeing out his contract at Craven Cottage, which expires in a year.

"As far as my future is concerned, I haven't given it a moment's thought," the 62-year-old said.

"I've been fully committed to Fulham as long as I've been here and always will be."

Hodgson said after the despair from last night's defeat lifted he and his players would be looking forward to next season, despite not qualifying for either of the European competitions.

"We can't promise the fans a Europa League final again as we won't be in that competition," Hodgson said.

"Our season next year will be quite a straightforward Premier League season. Just being a part of the Premier League is something special."

Magne Hoseth set for Premier League transfer to Blackburn or Fulham

Premier League rivals Blackburn and Fulham are preparing to do battle over midfielder Magne Hoseth from Norwegian side Molde.

The 29-year-old Norway international playmaker is being discussed as a potential cut-price arrival in England for around £450,000.

Both Rovers and Fulham are keen to bring the player to the Premier League in the summer to bolster their line-ups, with Sam Allardyce the current favourite to land his signature.

However, Cottagers boss Roy Hodgson could still gazump the ex-Bolton manager's advances through his network of contacts in Scandinavia from his time as Finland international coach.

Hoseth impressed against Scotland and the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign and is said to be a good fit for English football.

Before joining Molde, with talented midfielder had spells at Danish side FC Copenhagen and Norwegian league side Valerenga.

Davies - Hodgson is the best
Fulham midfielder heaps praise on 'best manager'

Fulham midfielder Simon Davies has heaped praise on Roy Hodgson, saying 'he is the best manager I have ever worked with'.

Fulham came nerve-shatteringly close to Europa League glory when pushing Atletico Madrid to extra-time in the final in Hamburg on Wednesday.

It was not to be, though, for the Cottagers, whose hopes of silverware were dashed by a last-gasp Diego Forlan winner minutes before the final whistle.

And yet, even in defeat, the players can draw so much from their monumental achievements under Hodgson this term.

His impact since joining the then-troubled club in late 2007 has been unbelievable, leaving Davies, amongst others, forever in his debt.

A real shame
Davies admits that, having gone as far as they did in the tournament, to lose in the final was utterly heart breaking.

"You leave yourself open to get hurt more when you start believing that you can win it," he told the Daily Star.

"We have had an attitude all along the way that you do not dare to believe, but getting to the final you want to win.

"It is just a shame that we did not manage it."

He added: "Roy Hodgson is definitely the best manager I have ever worked with, 100 per cent.

"The way he has organised a team like us and got us to a final and an occasion like this is remarkable."

Hodgson had been linked with a move to Anfield in recent weeks when Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was touted for the coach's post at Juventus.

Davies says he hopes Hodgson stays at Fulham and continues his influential reign for the foreseeable future.

He said: "We are very proud to work with the manager and I would not be surprised if he had offers on the table and I am sure he is going to get that.

"It has been a great journey this year and we would love to continue it and for him to stay with us."

English eyes on Hoseth
Norwegian international in demand understands a number of English sides are chasing Norway international Magne Hoseth.

The Molde midfielder has enjoyed a fine season to date and his performances for club and country have alerted a host of clubs.

The 29-year-old could be available for a cut-price fee and both Blackburn and Fulham have been credited with an interest in the attacking midfielder.

Blackburn have held preliminary talks over a £450,000 deal for the attacking midfielder who has had previous spells with FC Copenhagen and Valerenga and has over 20 caps.

Hoseth's English agent, Dan Fletcher, has confirmed several English teams are tracking the player.

"There is significant interest in Magne from English clubs. But nothing has been agreed yet," Fletcher told

"Magne is a leading contender for the Norwegian Player of the Year this year, having been involved in 14 out of Molde's 17 goals so far and scoring five himself in 11 games."

Birmingham City make official approach for Fulham's Bobby Zamora & Paul Konchesky - report

Birmingham City are believed to have officially contacted Fulham to enquire about the potential sales of striker Bobby Zamora and defender Paul Konchesky.

The pair have been a pivotal presence for the Cottagers in their fairytale run in the Europa League, but manager Roy Hodgson may have to let some of his players go as six of his charges including Konchesky have only one year left on their contracts with the London-based club.

The Mirror has reported that Brum have made an official approach to sign the pair, as manager Alex McLeish is believed to have been assured of a flush transfer kitty.

It is said that McLeish is interested in West Ham United forward Carlton Cole as well, but views Zamora as a more interesting option.

Schwarzer relishing new lease of life

Two years ago Mark Schwarzer was written off after quitting ambitious Middlesbrough for struggling Fulham.

The veteran Australia goalkeeper was accused of lacking ambition for joining a club that had only survived relegation from the Premier League after one of the most extraordinary escape acts in top-flight history.

After two outstanding seasons for the Cottagers, and with Middlesbrough stuck in the Championship, few are questioning the Sydney-born 37-year-old's judgement now.

Fulham have been revitalised since Roy Hodgson took over as manager in December 2007 and Schwarzer has enjoyed a new lease of life under him.

Last season he kept 15 clean sheets as the Londoners finished a club-best seventh and qualified for the Europa League.

This term he has built on that and again been outstanding in a remarkable run to the final in Europe's second-tier competition that, after beginning in July, has included wins over Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus and Wolfsburg.

Now Schwarzer hopes to maintain that form into the summer as he rejoins the Australia squad for the World Cup in South Africa.

"From day one I have enjoyed my time at Fulham," Schwarzer told

"I have been fortunate enough over 13-14 years to have some pretty fantastic seasons, and definitely the last two seasons at Fulham have been very special for a number of reasons.

"The longer my career has gone on the more I have relaxed and enjoyed things and savoured the moment.

"This season is turning out to be pretty special and I hope it continues into the World Cup. That would really cap off a memorable season."

Schwarzer, who had won 73 Australia caps heading into the pre-tournament programme, is firmly established as his country's number one.

In 2005 he made himself a national hero with two penalty shoot-out saves against Uruguay to take Australia to Germany for their first World Cup in 32 years.

He then conceded just four goals in 14 matches in a comfortable qualification for South Africa 2010.

The Socceroos' reward for those performances was a tough draw against Germany, Serbia and Ghana but Schwarzer believes they can make an impression.

"If you look at our group it is very, very tough," said the former Kaiserslautern and Bradford player.

"We are going in again as underdogs, but the difference now is that we are not the unknown quantity we were last time.

"I'm quietly confident we will go to the World Cup in the best possible shape and condition and hopefully give it a real shake like we did last time.

"We definitely have more experience than four years ago and statistically experience helps you more so than anything else.

"This time around we also have a larger pool of players to call on.

"Hopefully that will keep us in very good stead throughout the World Cup."

With German parents and having first moved to Europe to play for Dynamo Dresden, there is little doubt which of the World Cup group fixtures has captured Schwarzer's imagination the most.

Australia open their campaign against three-time winners Germany in Durban on June 13.

Schwarzer said: "Nothing beats playing in a World Cup as you are representing your country, you're playing on the biggest stage on the planet and there are hundreds of millions of people watching around the world.

"To have the opportunity to play against Germany, and hopefully get a good result, would be a dream come true."

Looking beyond the summer, Schwarzer has one year remaining on his Fulham contract but, in the form of his life, he has no intention of hanging up his gloves yet.

"I would like to stay beyond that," he said. "Obviously at this time of your career it's a case of staying on top of your game and performing week-in, week-out.

"I want to keep playing at the highest level as long as possible."

Cottagers' pride remains intact

TEAMtalk's James Marshment says Fulham can still take great pride from their European exploits after their defeat in the Europa League final.

They've overcome obstacles as diverse as the might of an Old Lady and a volcanic ash cloud, but Lady Luck decided to desert the Cottagers when it mattered most on Wednesday night.

Nonetheless, Fulham and manager Roy Hodgson can take great pride from their Europa League adventure, which started way back in July in the preliminary rounds.

To overcome the likes of Juventus, Hamburg, Shakhtar Donestsk and Wolfsburg, amongst others, is a remarkable achievement for a club, which just two seasons ago was surviving in the Premier League thanks to a dramatic last-day triumph at Portsmouth.

Fulham's journey is all-the-more astonishing for me on a personal level. As an ambitious young journalism student up in Darlington, I remember seeing the Cottagers plying their trade in the fourth tier of English football and winning an enjoyable encounter at Darlo's former home Feethams. It may have been 13 years ago, but it's a remarkable rise nonetheless.

So fast forward to May 12, 2010 and the Nordbank Arena. It's the biggest night in Fulham's proud history and possibly the crowning glory of Hodgson's managerial career.

Unfortunately for the Cottagers it wasn't to be. After a nervy start, they fought back to cancel out Diego Forlan's opener with a superb Simon Davies strike and for long periods thereafter, they looked the more probable winners. But deep in extra time, Forlan struck again to send the Spanish into dreamland and the Cottagers into despair.

The quality of Atletico's front pair of Sergio Aguerro and Forlan proved the difference on the night, but we shouldn't forget either what a difference a 100% fit Bobby Zamora would have made. Dickson Etuhu didn't have the best of games in central midfield either as he gave away possession all-too regularly. But it's not a time for recriminations and the Cottagers still deserve enormous praise for their efforts.

English sides have done well in the Champions League in recent seasons, but in the Europa League - or the UEFA Cup as it was formally known - our teams have too often fallen short.

Whether that is a case of teams taking it too casually, I'm not sure, but Fulham have illustrated just what can be achieved when the competition is gone at full-tilt.

Next season, the likes of Manchester City, Aston Villa and Liverpool all have the chance to replicate - or even better - Fulham's achievements. Hopefully, they will have learned a lesson and give the competition their best shot.

A Different Week - Chelsea reign supreme, but Fulham take the plaudits

As the political power in the country shifts from red to blue, so it seems does the nation's footballing supremacy. As most people expected, Chelsea casually strolled past Wigan Athletic to secure their third Premier League title on the final day of the season. The ease of their strolling may have surprised some, but then this is some Chelsea side who are more than capable of hitting seven or more goals against even some of the tougher sides in the league, as Sunderland (7-2) Aston Villa (7-1) and Stoke City (7-0) will testify.

With these sorts of results behind them, it's easy to see why the Blues have not only taken United's throne, put pinched some of their crown jewels off them too - breaking their 1999/00 record of most goals scored in a season (97) with their own tally of 103. This was of course thanks mainly to the goal-scoring abilities of Didier Drogba and his last day hat-trick was more than enough for him to sneak ahead of Wayne's Rooney and steal away the Golden Boot from the Red Devils top-scorer. His petulant sulking as Frank Lampard put Chelsea further ahead from the penalty spot may have left a sour taste in the mouth, but the way he responded in his relentless attacking was marvellous and his teammates' relentless endeavour to help him on to the scoresheet was both touching and great to watch. Love them or loathe them, Chelsea are a fantastic side headed by a fantastic striker. Drogba, John Terry and Ashley Cole might not be top of the popularity polls outside of Kensington, but they are top of the Premier League and right now that's probably all they really care about.

They can cement their dominant position this weekend with victory in the FA Cup Final against a Portsmouth team who's own fortunes couldn't contrast much more with those of their affluent opponents. It's hard to see anything other than a win for Ancelotti's men, but Chelsea will be all too aware of what happened to Tottenham in the semi-finals. A win for penniless Pompey against the Stamford Bridge millionaires is unlikely, but not impossible. Securing a first League and FA Cup double for Chelsea would be a fantastic achievement for Carlo Ancelotti in his first, highly successful season at the club, but whilst Chelsea look to clean up the domestic honours, success on the European stage continues to elude them. Since Abramovich showed up in west London, it has been stated by various members of the Stamford Bridge playing and coaching staff that until the European Cup sits in the Chelsea trophy cupboard, then the Blues can never be considered as a 'big' club and yet despite all their best efforts, Champions League glory is still something Terry and Co. are yet to taste.

In fact, the only English team to really excel in European competition was, of course, Fulham, whose fairytale adventure finally came to an end in Hamburg last night. Despite falling at the last hurdle, Roy Hodgson's men can hold their heads high, having surpassed surely even their own expectations in a fantastic campaign that started back in July against FK Vetra and saw them travel almost 20 000 miles as they contested nineteen Europa League fixtures, including that incredible night at Craven Cottage when they came back from 4-1 down on aggregate to defeat the mighty Juventus 5-4. To lose out to Diego Forlan's late winner was a cruel way for it to end for Fulham, but the future looks bright for the Cottagers and in Hodgson, they have a fantastic leader, who richly deserved his LMA Manager of the Season award and has taken the west London club from relegation candidates to European challengers, building a strong team around honest, hardworking players. The likes of Mark Schwarzer, Paul Konchesky, Danny Murphy, Simon Davies and Bobby Zamora might not be the biggest names in English football and they may not be individually great players like some of their better-known counterparts up the road at Chelsea, but put them in a team together and they can even send Turin's Serie A giants packing. One certainly gets the impression that there is no room for egos or superstars in Hodgson's dressing room, refreshing in comparison to the glitz and glamour of the Premier League's other European representatives and another reason that, whilst Chelsea might claim the prizes, it'll be their unglamorous neighbours who deservedly pick up the plaudits.

  Club Focus - Fulham - Dizzying heights, shattered dreams, but a proud club still believes

Empty handed, yet full of pride. A 63-game long season ended with the mix of emotions that Craven Cottage has spilling from its walls. Hope sprung from several memorable comebacks from against the odds. Despair struck after Diego Forlan cruelly defeated Fulham 116 minutes into the Europa League final. Yet, ultimately, pride overruled any other feeling as the players, manager and fans reflected on what was, despite not actually winning anything, the most successful season in the club's history.

The Fulham players brought literal meaning to the age-old blood, sweat and tears metaphor on Wednesday night. Bobby Zamora pushed himself beyond the pain barrier for the last few games of the season, Danny Murphy had worked so hard he could barely stand come full-time. And

Zoltan Gera collapsed in a heap of emotion at the end of extra-time, summing up emphatically how everyone connected with the club - and to a certain extent plenty of outsiders - felt at that moment. It was a cruel, cruel way to end a season of such hope, with this last game proving just one tiny step too far for Fulham to get the recognition they deserved - the Europa League trophy. When the fans at the end of last season were singing "we're all going on a European tour",not one of them expected to take in 19 fixtures, seven countries and thousands of air (or coach) miles, but their club has been the footballing story of the season and all it lacked was a fairytale ending. This, however, was real life, and 120 further minutes was simply too much for such tired legs.

Those supporters old enough to remember the club's last golden era will be only too aware of the club's ability to make promises only for luck to change its mind at the last moment - somehow it just would not have been Fulham were it Murphy lifting the trophy on Wednesday night. Over the years Fulham have fluctuated between the top flight and the bottom of the football ladder, and despite missing out yet again on a major trophy, the 2009/10 season far eclipsed all others that had gone before it. And for that reason, even accounting for the late heartbreak, 2010 will be remembered as a major success. Not in the league, perhaps, although a safe mid-table position is still a remarkable achievement when considering the team's two cup runs (let's not forget the FA Cup quarter-final), but the overall view of this year will be of how one man and his troops overcame the odds from every angle to succeed beyond anyone's wildest expectations.

That man, Roy Hodgson, took the defeat as he takes any result - with humility and grace. Clearly devastated by the outcome, he took the opportunity to praise his players, and rightfully considering the consistently high performances from the majority of them over the slog that has been 2009/10. Zamora, with Hodgson's continued support, has been a revelation. Damien Duff's career has been rejuvenated since his summer move. And Gera has filled in (and improved upon) for Andy Johnson spectacularly, particularly in Europe. All the above - and most of the rest -have thrived on the team-focused tactics that the manager demands, and now at the end of the season their performances can be judged on consistency rather than temporary form. No player can be accused of underperforming, and that really is testament to the talents of Hodgson.

Had Fulham won the Europa League then there would have been a case for the manager achieving all he could at the club - not that Hodgson would ever make such a claim. Now, however, he could well feel like he has unfinished business. The potential that this quaint family-friendly club alongside the river was clear this season for the whole of Europe to see, but the pain of the harshest of defeats served as a reminder that, whether they go on to bigger and better things or not, the spirit of everyone involved will always remain.

The important question now is whether Fulham will sink back into the comfortable surroundings of Stevenage Road by the river, or whether this past year, combined with the fact Craven Cottage will host no European fixtures next season, will spur the club on to further success and a regular attack on the top seven. In truth, a lot rests on whether Hodgson is plied away from the esteem he has built in SW6 for one last chance to prove himself at an already established outfit or whether he, along with Mohammed Al-Fayed, can keep the bulk of the squad together and improve on it with more clever transfers. For those who witnessed each of the 63 games this season provided, dare they dream that things could get even better? For they, more than anyone, know the pain that is caused by dreams being shattered

by Dan on May 14, 2010

It's only natural that the overriding emotion just after that sudden blow to our collective solar plexis was crushing disappointment. Getting that close has to hurt. But, given a couple of days to place the whole experience in the broader picture, I challenge any Fulham fan to be feeling anything other than very, very proud.

Proud of how Roy Hodgson handled defeat. With characteristic frankness, he set the defeat in it's rightful context minutes after the game had finished. In that analytical manner of his that seems to have been borrowed from a sixties schoolmaster rather than a modern football manager, Roy conceded that found it difficult to make a technically gifted and exceptionally dangerous Atletico Madrid. When Sergio Aguero was leading all and sundry a merry dance after Forlan's first goal, I feared Fulham might buckle under the pressure.

That goes against everything we know about the team Hodgson's built. In adversity, we saw those familiar qualities yet again – endeavour, teamwork and the will not to be beaten. That spirit had carried Fulham through far greater crises that this and Simon Davies' sweet strike had our hopes soaring. It's right to acknowledge his contribution here too. Davies has been written off by some as past it and injury-prone over the past season, but he scored one of the best goals I've seen in a high-pressure situation to get us back into the semi-final and demonstrated that flawless technique at the far post again on Wednesday night.

Defensively we were clearly stretched but the boys kept going. Dickson Etuhu imposed himself on proceedings and quelled some of those speedy Atletico breaks. There was plenty of courage on display. Most of our back four were carrying niggling injuries and Damien Duff soldiered on despite the calf strain from Stoke. Bobby Zamora battled gamely for the best part of an hour and caused enough consternation to create the goal. Everyone was a hero.

Tactically, we were difficult to break down but, if anyone doubts that Roy's too nice for the pressure-cooker, get them to watch the video again. The difference between an anxious first half and the positive manner in which the Whites started the second half was remarkable. As ever with Fulham, with a bit more luck, the balance might have tilted our way. But don't take too long to consider the 'if only's' – the memories should simply be happy ones.

Remember all those people you told you that the Europa League would wreck Fulham's season. That we'd be a relegation dogfight before we knew it. The astounding thing about this season is that, for all the thousands of miles the same players travelled week in, week out, the Whites still finished well clear of the danger zone. Think about the sides we've played and beaten: Basel, Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus and Hamburg. We fell in the final seconds against a team that possessing one of the most frightening strike partnerships in all of Europe – there's no shame in that.

The enormity of all of it could have been too much. I first started going to Fulham in the early 1990s – and many of my friends have been following the club for far longer. Sadly, I couldn't make it to Hamburg, but it felt like I was there. Not just because of the sheer number of phone calls and text messages I received from my Fulham family, but those banners, the black and white masses and the songs that came through loud and clear on the television.

Most football fans will never get to see their team in a European final. We did – and the boys certainly didn't let us down.

Fulham risk seeing Euro final team broken up

Fulham's Europa League final team face being broken up over the summer.

The Independent says there is still doubt over the manager Roy Hodgson, who has been tipped as a contender for the Liverpool job should Rafael Benitez leave, but it is his team that faces the most uncertain future. Amid suggestions that chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed could reinvest some of his £1.5bn windfall from the sale of Harrods back into the squad there has not been a decision yet on a handful of major players.

Mark Schwarzer, Chris Baird, Paul Konchesky, Simon Davies, Dickson Etuhu, Danny Murphy, Zoltan Gera and John Pantsil, the latter an unused substitute against Atletico, all have just one year left to run. With an ageing squad there are suggestions that Fulham will attempt to move on a lot of these players this summer for a fee and attempt to recruit younger, cheaper replacements.

They are also losing Erik Nevland, who is set to go back to Norway when his contract runs out at the end of next month. The club have already signed certain players such as Brede Hangeland, Clint Dempsey and Aaron Hughes to longer deals, demonstrating that these are the individuals they are most keen to keep.

A Fabulous Journey

Fulham's European dream may have ended in heartbreak in Hamburg, but Damien Duff is already targeting a successful domestic campaign next season to boost the Club's chances of experiencing another European adventure in the future.

"It's been a fabulous journey," explained Duff. "We can take a lot from that, but when you get to a Final you want to win it, so we are gutted.

"At the start of the second half on Wednesday I thought we were really strong and perhaps that was the time to capitalise and take our chances. We're all devastated.

"I've obviously had some massive highs and massive lows in my career and getting to the Final there have been so many highs - but losing a Final is not a nice feeling.

"I hadn't trained for a week so I was tired at the end and it was always going to take its toll. The Club did great getting me fit and out there but it would have been nice to win.

"We obviously won't be in Europe next season but hopefully we'll have a better chance to pick up more points in the league. Hopefully we'll do a lot better in the league and get into Europe again."

Duff has enjoyed a fantastic inaugural season at the Cottage and before the Team departed for their summer break, the Republic of Ireland international was keen to pay tribute to Manager Roy Hodgson following another historic season for the Club.

"I think the fact that he was named Manager of the Year by the LMA on Monday speaks volumes. He's a top Manager, a top coach and it's about time he started getting the recognition he deserves.

"I can't speak highly enough of him – you can see what he's done with us this year. He's a top man."

Duff had one final note of praise to deliver for a playing colleague, whose inspirational goals in the UEFA Europa League played a pivotal role in Fulham reaching the Final in Hamburg.

"He's [Zoltan Gera] been brilliant and I love Zoltan to bits. He was fabulous again in the Final and he's been brilliant all season." 

Read more:

From Pain To Pride

The pain of a Final defeat was palpable as Fulham's players departed the Hamburg Arena on Wednesday evening, but despite a cruel end to a memorable European adventure, Fulham's pain will eventually be replaced by pride, as Brede Hangeland explained.

"It was difficult to come so close to penalties and lose it at the end," said Hangeland after the game. "It's going to take some time to get over that disappointment but I'm sure in a while we'll be proud of having reached the Final and the fact that we gave a good account of ourselves.

"I thought on the whole they were probably the better team and created more chances but when you're that close to penalties it's very harsh and very difficult to take.

"All four of their attacking players are top, top players. For most of the game I thought we did really well and they didn't create that much but they scored two really good goals and Forlan is always dangerous in the box.

"I'm sure in time we'll be able to look back and be proud of our performances in Europe but when you lose a Final it's hard to be positive but we have done well."

Before departing for the team hotel on Wednesday night Hangeland paid tribute to Manager Roy Hodgson, who has guided Fulham to heights that many would have never thought possible only a short time ago.

"He's the main reason we were in the Final, explained the Norwegian international captain. "We've got a good group of players that work really hard but it's all masterminded by the manager. He's been crucial to the success we've had over the last two years.

"I think if we hadn't of played in Europe we could have finished higher in the league but we needed to balance the squad with the number of games we played and for a small Club to get to the Final is a great achievement."

Read more:

5 Reasons why I think the Europa League was worth watching and not just for Fulham fans

During this whole Europa League tournament I have heard and read criticism of the Europa League. Some soccer fans and critics might feel the tournament is not that important. I have read comments to my own stories that if Fulham won they would only be the 17th best team in Europe. I have also read comments that this journey that Fulham was on in the Europa League was a nice story, but not really that important. My question to these critics and fans is did you actually watch the Europa League matches this year?

If any fan or critic did not watch this tournament I think you missed out on some great football. I have to say this Europa League was not just about Fulham. I will tell you below the "5 reasons why I think the Europa League was worth watching and not just for Fulham fans."

I was exposed to teams I normally would not watch.  I found watching teams from different countries fascinating. I was able to see Fulham play FC Basel form Switzerland, CSKA Sofia from Bulgaria,  Shakhtar Donetsk from the Ukraine, and Amkar Perm from Russia. Fulham, in different rounds played home and away matches to these clubs.I really got to respect just how phenominal a club Shakhtar Donetsk turns out to be. I never would have been able to appreciate that club without the Europa League.

I watched and appreciated players I had just heard and read about prior to the Europa League.  Before this League I had only heard about Edin Dzeko. By watching Fulham play Wolfsburg I now see why he is a player in such demand. I also got to appreciate players like Diego Forlan, Mladen Petric, and Sergio Aguero. 

I got to see many different styles of football. I have to admit I watch mostly the English Premier League. The Europa League exposed me to different styles of football from the many leagues in Europe. I got to see teams from the Bundesliga, Serie A, Russian Premier League, and La Liga. It was fascinating to see Fulham play against different styles of football. 

The Europa League offered European football to a smaller mid level club. A club like Fulham might never play in the Champions League. Who knows the next time Fulham will play in Europe again? This was a chance to see my team be rewarded for a great season the year before. Fulham took this tournament seriously.

The best reason to watch the Europa League was the quality of competition.  Is the Europa League the same competition as the Champions League? The answer to that question is "no". But, the teams that played in this competition wanted to win. The games were exciting and extremely competitive. Fulham played against the current German Champions, last year's UEFA Cup Champions, a Bundesliga power, the current Europa League Champions, and a Serie A legendary team.  I never thought I would see Fulham play these type of clubs in one competition in my life.   

In concluding, some fans and critics can laugh at the Europa League. If I am a fan of Aston Villa and Manchester City I would be watching the Europa League next year. Your clubs have a chance to win a League that I think is very good.

Fulham will not be competing in the Europa League next year. I will still be watching the Europa League matches. I appreciate the quality of the competition that will be in this league next year.