While the win may not mean that much to other English clubs in a similar situation, it means a great deal for Fulham supporters who have endured some tough times throughout the years. From dropping to the bottom tier of the football league to seeing the club finally make it back to the Premier League only to see the team mired in relegation battles year after year, this win on Wednesday night was a special one for a special club.
Not too long ago Europe was a pipe dream for Fulham fans. The biggest ambition this club had was avoiding relegation. And quite frankly, that was okay with me. I knew the budget was tight and I knew it was going to be hard to buy big name players and recruit talent to the Cottage. However, something changed nearly two years ago that has resurrected the club from the pits of the Premier League to advancing to the knockout stage of the Europa League and who knows how far in the competition. That change was Roy Hodgson.
Hodgson inherited a mess when he was hired in late December of 2007. The club was playing poorly and relegation seemed like a foregone conclusion (not David Brent's band that supported Texas). However, with mere matches to play Hodgson was able to will his players to a miraculous turnaround to avoid the drop on the last day of the season in Portsmouth.
Since that mid-May 2008 day, things have been nothing short of unreal from a Fulham supporters perspective. The club finished an all-time high of 7th during last season and qualified for Europe in the process. While bigger clubs like Newcastle and arguably Middlesbrough were being relegated last season, the Cottagers were playing beautiful football and not just avoiding relegation, but finishing in the top ten. That my fellow friends is nothing short of a football miracle in my world.
Roy Hodgson is a legend and will be remembered by Fulham supporters that way for a long, long time. He has shown his managerial prowess both on the pitch and in the transfer market. He has made people both within the club and outside the club that the Cottagers are a dangerous team and not just the weak pushover they seemed to be for many Premier League seasons earlier this decade. I wish I could tell you what Roy has said and what he has done in the dressing room to inspire these results, but I can't. Whatever it has been, I hope he keeps doing it.
This team has shown perseverance under Roy like few other Premier League teams have shown. Wednesday's win was yet another example. When Roy took over this team could not win on the road against anyone, let alone a European team like FC Basel. However, faced with the must win challenge, Fulham stepped up to the big boy table and knocked off the Swiss outfit on their home soil. I know FC Basel is not Barcelona, Bayern Munich or even Shahktar Donetsk, but still they are a formidable opponent and the Cottagers did exactly what they had to do to advance.
I have no idea how far this team can advance in the Europa League or where this team will finish in the Premier League. The draw on Friday will give us an idea. What I do know is that this team will battle hard every match and give it all they have to march on in the Europa League and up the table in the Premier League. And in all reality, that is all I or anyone else can ask for in the club they support. If the Cottagers play hard and get knocked out by a better club or lose on Saturday to Manchester United or another big club this season, I will go to bed at night knowing they gave it their all. With Roy at the helm I know that is case each and every match.
Today is a great day to be a Fulham supporter. The club gave us an early Christmas present in Switzerland. Enjoy this while we can. These days do not come often for supporters of this great club. We all deserve it and we all owe a great big thank you to Roy Hodgson.
IN ROY WE TRUST!!
What did you think about Wednesday's match? How far can this team go in Europe? Let me know what your thoughts are on the match and Fulham's chances in the Europa League.