I've been reading through some old programmes from the Coleman era to draw a perspective on how this season rates for our great club, while it also helped alleviate some of the tedium from watching a very ordinary FA Cup final. The big game of the day was clearly at Bloomfield Road, but for all their pluck and enterprise Blackpool it seems are going to need a miracle to survive.
Which is where we may be able to help. Birmingham will really sweat their final day trip to Spurs if the Whites can replicate their away day win at Sunderland two weeks ago. Is a win at St. Andrews on the cards? The omens are not bad - the Whites have lost only twice on their last nine visits, Brum have been on a miserable run since lifting the Carling Cup - just two wins in 10 - and they have their two best players Gardner and Ridgewell serving bans.
So what Fulham will turn up? Coleman was good value in his programme notes. By coincidence I found him lambasting the team after a home loss to Birmingham at the end of 2004, but saying how you craved an early chance to put it right. Three days after that defeat we took on Crystal Palace and bounced back with a 3-1 win. All managers suffer setbacks, and all know it's how you respond in the next game that characterises your team.
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The big news of the week of course has been Mark's statement that he is going nowhere and intent on implementing a summer programme to 'improve on what we've got to take the club forward.' Continuity is a hallmark of the best clubs. Nobody knows that better than Manchester United. So Sparky's public comments have rendered obsolete one of the questions on my mini-survey. I know one of our regular posters who will NOT be happy with that...
Hughes and the boys would all have taken a bruising from Monday's shellacking. A team meeting was held in the week to get it out of the system. Now Fulham have to go to a side short on confidence, but battling for their lives, and turn in a very solid performance. The manager will not want anybody cruising, even this late in the season.
Team selection will be interesting. Baird's torrid time Monday saw him lose his rag with Lee Mason when carded, and he's taken a two game ban on the chin without appealing. A golden opportunity for fans favourite John Paintsil to make an emotional farewell? Would be hugely popular, but I don't see Sparky as a sentimentalist. Expect Senderos to feature in a re-shaped back four. As of Friday both Simon and Bobby limped out of training, calf and groin respectively. I pray both rise like Lazarus to feature, they were our two best players in the Sunderland win. But I'm not optimistic.
Whatever the team, Fulham fans will set out to enjoy the day. Tradition dictates some fancy dress for the final away game of the season, and with the pressure off to get a result we're gearing up for a party. And it's always nice to get a result at St. Andrews, one of the less savoury venues on our calendar.
Yes folks, we Fulham fans are nothing if not optimists. It hasn't quite morphed into the season we would have hoped, but let's be ruthless and nail that top ten finish. And looking on the bright side, by the time you come to review the next blog West Ham's relegation may be confirmed.
Finally, well done to Kit's U-18's for a terrific season and coming so close to glory Friday night against Everton's academy boys. And thanks to all those who took the trouble to partake in our little vote...Bairdinho for 'player of the year,' hmmm, interesting choice I must say. My view is we need two new full-backs for next season, definitely another striker to take the pressure off BZ, and - top priority - a new midfield dynamo to run the team. Open letter to Charlie Adam...life by the Thames can be so rewarding...Charlie, can you hear me? Oh sorry...what, you've got Kenny Dalglish on the line..?
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