The win for Fulham did not clinch a Europa League spot, but it did ensure the Cottagers would finish this campaign with the clubs best ever Premier League finish. In the 2003-2004 season Fulham finished 9th. After Saturday's win over Newcastle United, the Cottagers worst possible finish is 8th place and their best possible finish ahead of next Sunday's match against Everton is 7th.
Saturday's win at St. James' Park over Newcastle United was not without controversy. After Diomansy Kamara opened the scoring late in the first half, Newcastle had a goal controversially disallowed after Kevin Nolan was said to have illegally blocked keeper Mark Schwarzer. Despite my being a Fulham supporter I have to admit that it was a bad call from referee Howard Webb and the goal should have been allowed. However, the call stood and Fulham picked up three points while Newcastle supporters are back in the drop zone ahead of their match next Sunday at Aston Villa.
I could write a chunk of this article to all of the Newcastle supporters who sent me emails or commented on my last entry about how Fulham is not worthy of Europe and how Newcastle was going to crush the Cottagers on Saturday. The one and only thing I will say to all of the Magpie supporters is this....the table does not lie. We are in 7th. You are in 18th. We need to draw against Everton on Sunday to qualify for Europe. You need to draw on Sunday at Villa to avoid relegation. Fulham beat Newcastle at their place on Saturday and showed they are the better team. End of story. I have bigger and better things to write and worry about other than a sorry Newcastle United team.
So, let me break things down heading into next weekend. As mentioned earlier Manchester City and West Ham are out of the picture now. Only Tottenham and Fulham remain. The Cottagers lead Spurs by two points in the table and Fulham also has a five-goal advantage in the goal differential column. With Fulham hosting FA Cup finalists Everton and Tottenham traveling to Anfield to take on Liverpool, I would have to say the advantage goes to the Cottagers to secure 7th place. All Fulham will need is a draw unless Tottenham beats Liverpool by five goals which is highly unlikely. Fulham fans cannot start printing tickets for the Europa Cup but they can start realistically thinking it is going to happen.
On another note, I wanted to thank everyone for their comments and emails regarding last week's column. Fans from other Premier League clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and others made comments or sent emails about how happy and deserving Fulham was to be where they are at right now in the table. It is nice to hear from neutrals that the Cottagers have earned some praise for their style of football and the way the team has performed all season long.
On the other hand, what is the deal with some of the commentors making childish jibes disrespecting Fulham and trying to convince people that his/her team, that shall remain anonymous, is way better than Fulham when that team is in the relegation picture? It makes no sense to me. I understand wanting to support your club and all, but if you are going to make a comment at least take off your rose-coloured glasses before doing it. All the crazy comments like this fire everyone else up and it becomes a free-for-all of back and forth he said-she said garbage. So the moral of the story of this....I love the comments and I want them to keep coming. However, if you are going to post something think it through before you actually start writing it. I do not mind hearing constructive criticism of Fulham, but to simply say they stink with no evidence, is just plain dumb. It makes the poster sound uninformed and nervous about the state of his own team. In this case, I should warn my Aston Villa colleague that the Magpie trolls are coming to him next.
I will leave you with this......the last two matches, Roy Hodgson has had Diomansy Kamara and Erik Nevland playing up top. With two wins, it is hard to argue with the success of those two. They seem to work well together as evidenced by the lone Fulham goal today as Nevland made a beautiful pass to Kamara, who was all alone, to slam it into the back of the net. Thus, my question to all of you is this.....with the Europa League on the line, who are you starting up front next weekend against Everton?