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Monday Fulham Stuff (17/05/10)...

Started by WhiteJC, May 17, 2010, 07:48:17 AM

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Exceptional, And Not Just `For Them`

It must have been a curious business being a Fulham fan in recent weeks.

Quite apart from the day-to-day grind of the Premier League serving as little more than ways of killing time between the important business of the Europa League, they must feel like the footballing equivalent of a really cute puppy.

Bless Fulham, aren't they nice? Nobody has anything against Fulham, do they? With their lovely manager and their lovely neutral stand and their lovely players. Haven't they done well?

How very patronising it has all been. The general impression (an impression that this website may have contributed towards) is one of a team who have done terribly well 'for them'.

Plucky little Fulham, playing ever-so well against big clubs that are more used to winning. Let's allow them their little moment in the sun, then they can get back to being a fairly unremarkable club from west London who have never won anything of note, while normal service resumes.

Words like 'adventure', 'underdog', 'unlikely' and 'brave' have been banded around like doggie treats, rewards for being all nice and cuddly.

Such an attitude gets us nowhere. The backing of the 'underdog' is a romantic one that doesn't necessarily expect victory. A nation that is chronically suspicious of success, one that cannot help itself but try and knock down those at the top, lest they get ahead of themselves.

It suits such a mentality to support a team that isn't necessarily expected to win. It's the old 'a pessimist is never disappointed' theory, a defence mechanism to ward off let-downs and pain. If you didn't expect to win, then how can you be disappointed if/when you don't?

However, it's an attitude that gets us nowhere. Without suggesting Fulham didn't believe they could beat Atletico Madrid, or that it's the fault of an essentially well-meaning collection of neutrals, where might they have been had everyone taken them a little bit more seriously?

This is an exceptional achievement, not just 'for them', but for anyone. They started in July, and they have got past Roma, Shahktar Donetsk, Hamburg, Wolfsburg and Juventus. That would be an impressive list for the Champions League, never mind a competition with a fraction of the money behind it.

Never mind their relatively cheaply assembled squad. Never mind the club's generally unassuming attitude. Never mind that this was Sergio Aguero against Aaron Hughes, Diego Forlan against Chris Baird. Never mind that nobody, but nobody expected them to be in this position.

Let's stop patronising them, and take a moment for Roy Hodgson and Fulham. An exceptional run, and not just 'for them'.

Nick Miller