Unless you're lucky enough to be following a side still in contention for European or domestic cup honours, things have been pretty humdrum for the past ten days. I thought about blogging just for the sake of it, but scanning the press pages over the days for Fulham related stuff, nothing substantial commanded my attention. Oh, and I've also just had a month of visiting an ailing mother in hospital. She passed away Tuesday night. No sympathy notes necessary dear readers, she was 84, died peacefully in her sleep, and had a dignified end. Death is an inevitable part of life. Just remember to say all the things that matter while you can and treat time as a thief - live every day to the max.
So to Goodison. Will that unenviable record of defeats continue, or can we find inspiration for a second away win of the season? Whites fans travel with more optimism than recent years after our improved run of results since January. We have all our big players back in contention - bar Sidwell - while Everton are missing big names, Cahill, Arteta and Fellaini for starters. Nothing personal, 'cause he's my favourite Fulham players of the past 10 years, but I'm praying Saha does not start.
Last week Moyes boys could only scramble a point against distinctly average Birmingham. Everton remain light years away from turning into a top six side and finances there are tight. Yet they sit just above us in the table, and after a poor start to the season still came down to the Cottage at the end of September to play the better football in a game we deserved to lose. With the bottom half of the table so closely packed, Hughes knows we remain very much part of the relegation dog fight, being just 4 points better off than 18th placed West Ham. I feel Wigan now are doomed, and probably Wolves, though their spirit has yet to be broken, as they showed against Spurs. The team taking the third relegation place could come from any one of 7, including FFC. Bottom at Christmas, I can even see WHU finishing above us. It's been a crazy season. And one where, but for one limp display last month, we could well have got to Wembley...a big opportunity missed.
Hand on heart, I genuinely sense in the league we are going to be fine. Defensively we are the best equipped of all the sides in the bottom half. A win Saturday would indeed allow a mass collective sigh of relief in this difficult campaign. By Easter I predict we will be clear of danger, with a top ten final placing very much within grasp. Lose to Everton, pick up a red card for one of the back four and lose three key figures to injury in the next 10 days...well, there's a knee-trembling scenario to put us all on valium. Pray this doomsday prediction does NOT come to pass. But that's the unpredictability of football, and as I write this on the anniversary of our unforgettable win over Juventus, we all know following the Fulham does have a way of keeping you on the edge of your seat.
Following Fulham from next month will also allow you to be photographed next to a statue saluting the King of Pop. Yes, Michael Jackson somehow finds his way to a commemorative corner of the ground (usually populated by a large burger van) because, apparently he and the chairman had a 'special bond.' You couldn't make this stuff up. Today's press release from Mo's office tells us, "He was my friend, a man with whom I shared many happy memories and who died a tragic and untimely death".
Now I do know the bizarre crotch fondling popster did make one visit for a game back in 1999 as al Fayed's guest. Unkind cynics would have you believe this was nothing more than a publicity stunt two years after Mo took the club over...who am I to doubt that Michael perhaps then raided the club shop for replica kit, key fobs and teddy bears on leaving before establishing regular transatlantic calls from LA each Saturday to get an update from Maf on the team's progess. Do I think the Thriller album finds its way regularly onto Mo's hi-fi system at home, or that in more private moments our chairman is practising his moonwalk in front of the mirror? Er...no. But a Michael Jackson statue will be unveiled on the day of the Blackpool game. Will anyone be keeping a straight face? Let's hope the casting achieves the right level of pigmentation...or perhaps it will be designed to change with the seasons?
To another story that also requires elasticity of the imagination. Hughes to Bayern Munich? There's much speculative journalism on this topic today I note. When have Bundesliga clubs ever courted English managers? Why would they when their own are genetically stamped to coach the best footballers in Europe? One journo describes Mark as heading the short list after 'steadying the ship' at Fulham. Some might say it only started rocking once he turned up. Disregarding the unfortunate injuries early season to Zamora and Dembele, the Steve Sidwell deal was all but sealed by Woy before he left. Mark only had to rubber stamp it. He chose not to. We've all witnessed the upsurge of energy from midfield in the short time Steve's been with us, and we all saw the mediocrity served up by our old and slow midfielders in the dark days up to Christmas. The replacement front men were given nothing to feed off - a situation entirely avoidable.
Bayern need a big figure to regain their dominance of German football, winning European Cups is a further stretch entirely. And Mark is the man for that? Apparently Mark 'forged a close relationship with Bayern president Uli Hoeness during his stint there as a player in 87-88.' Really? In just one season? I worked in Germany for ten years...no German becomes your bosom buddy inside 12 months. Trust me.
Enough of this twaddle. The blogger is back, it's just that the world seems rather more crazy at the moment. I wonder if it's all related to the massive increase in solar flare activity last January?
Back with all the Fulham news later in the week as we return to reality. COYW!
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