I know, it's a hard life, but someone has to do it, as the day job took me away last week to Toulon for the annual Bowling World Cup, for which we produce international TV distribution. The trip began with myself and the Shakhtar squad shuffling through airport security last Wednesday morning at Luton. The players' sombre mood after being trounced by Arsenal matched their awful grey track suits, no wonder they were turned away from Harrods last winter!
While the South of France was a sunny delight, with side trips to St.Tropez and Nice, by Saturday afternoon I was fretting to get at my laptop as the finals of the competition overran with your blogger trapped behind a bank of monitors.
Sadly it was a case of plus ca change as all recent issues aired on this forum were revisited at the Hawthorns. Contentious refereeing decisions going against us, the inability to defend a lead, toothless up front, anonymous in midfield, no spark, spirit or invention.
OK - I've caught up with the match action, noted the absence of our complete first choice midfield, and picked my way through the invective and doubt starting to pepper other FFC forums. Of a sudden the table does not make for happy reading, the January transfer window remains a long way off, and fixtures are about to get tougher after Wigan's visit. No surprise some terrace doubters are pressing the panic button and a groundswell of support for the return of Roy is growing.
Two points. That is not going to happen. And I learnt a long time ago after a run-in with Ray Wilkins managers take no notice of fan 'advice' when it comes to tactics or team selection. Hats off to Roy for getting our squad to over-achieve so spectacularly for two whole seasons. Even with his shadow squad in Europe or for certain EPL games, he was still getting results and minimising the absence of injured stars. This time around a lack of form in some areas alongside the inevitable injuries, some appalling refereeing, and the massive setback from Bobby's leg break, have all conspired to blow us off course.
There's work to be done, and with every passing week we must hope Hughes gains a better understanding of who perhaps will be heading for the exit door soon. I'm not going to re-ignite the debates on Paintsil or Kelly for full-back, where to best utilise Gera, and who is going to mastermind midfield. We can all post from now till Christmas, but only Mark picks the team.
A few goals, an even break from match officials, starting against Wigan please, and the side could easily be transformed. I sense however from here on to New Year it's going to be a tough few weeks. Fulham fans are well used to having their backs to the wall. Maybe we've been spoilt. Everything has only gone one way since that sunny afternoon at Pompey in 2008. Standing together now in adversity will make us stronger.
Time to keep the faith!