Over the course of the last six or seven years, being a Fulham supporter has meant you have taken your fair share of losses and tough times along the way. From the numerous end of season relegation battles to the lack of signings to woeful managerial decisions, it was very difficult to remain positive about the state of FFC. However, after last seasons's club best 7th place finish and the wonderful start in league play and the Europa League, my mindset and attitude toward the club has changed.
Today Fulham opened up the playoff home and home tie with Russian outfit Amkar Perm. As was the case in the last round, the Cottagers rolled in the opener to a 3-1 win heading back to Russia in a comfortable position in a week's time with a great chance to reach the group stage of the Europa League.
Andy Johnson opened the scoring in the 4th minute at Craven Cottage before Clint Dempsey and Bobby Zamora each scored second half goals to help the Cottagers cruise to victory in front of the excited home faithful in southwest London.
Not only has Fulham started the season with four wins in four matches, this team is quite good. The Whites are strong defensively and the likes of Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora are creating a nice partnership up front that gives Fulham the scoring punch it needs to be a successful team both domestically and in Europe.
In years past I had very little confidence in this club getting many positive results. Fulham was the epitome of inconsistency in league play. One week the team would draw against one of the big four and the next week they would crash to defeat to the league's cellar dweller. It left supporters like myself wondering what this club really had.
With the appointment of Roy Hodgson 1.5 years ago, there is a new, glorious chapter being written in the club's history. Many people think last seasons's 7th place finish was a fluke but I am not one of those. This team may not go out and spends tens of millions of pounds on new talent but they have added some players to the squad and most importantly, they have kept the core of this team together.
Going into last weekend's match with Portsmouth and Thursday's match with Amkar Perm, I fully expected Fulham to win both matches. Was I nervous about each match? Sure I was. However, I have belief that this team has what it takes both physically and mentally to succeed in all competitions it enters. That is not to say there will not be tough times along the way this season, but I can't see this club losing 3 or 4 matches on the trot unlike past Fulham teams from earlier this decade.
Fulham will continue in league play on Sunday at the Cottage against Chelsea. While I am not sure the Cottagers will win, I do feel they can win. In years past I would have written this match off. However, the Whites will play at their fortress along the River Thames and will give Chelsea all they can handle and then some. The Cottagers have played Chelsea well over the course of the last two seasons. I expect another great match on Sunday between the neighborhood rivals.
How do you feel about this club? Do you now expect Fulham to win? How has your mindset changed over the course of the last year based on the club's success? I am curious to read your thoughts.