ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Fulham
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Posted by Phil Mison on 05/12/2012

Where once again we won nothing. Except an enormous amount of respect, praise, positive headlines, stability, new followers, momentum and great memories. I'll take it.

© Getty Images

Oh yes, and don't forget the 50 plus points on the way. We'd all have settled for that late flourish when nestling alongside Villa in the table early March, having been given a real chasing around the park by a dreadfully average side. Martin arrived last summer with suggestions this team could be aiming for the top six. That doesn't seem so laughable now after our recent form of one loss in seven. In fact I'm almost prepared to go out on a limb right at the top of this piece and suggest 'Fulham are the new Arsenal.'

You achieve little in life without ambition, drive and being open to risk. That sentence could serve as a metaphor for Clint Dempsey's career in football. Apart from this blog I open up my computer each Monday morning and evaluate what balls are still in the air to keep the wolf from the door and turn up the heating in in my old age. Currently, I'm sweating on a big documentary proposal, still pitching a major drama for the stage I wrote in 2010, hoping on a book deal, dreaming of selling my songs in Nashville, negotiating a complicated rights issue with Eurosport, trying to sell my house...You get the drift. Life ebbs and flows like the tides. If it did not, it becomes stagnant.

Enough of the philosophy. What we really want to hear is more points for Fulham this weekend from our final game. Spurs are running scared I read, while we are going there unburdened of worries to decimate them with our free-flowing football. Yeh, right. You think Jol's prepared the team with that mind-set? This is a massive game for 'Arry's boys. We all know you-know-who says he's keen to play in the Champions League. Do you imagine the Spurs camp thinks any different? Their budgets over the summer will be determined by admission to UEFA's charmed circle of elite clubs again next autumn. Qualification will to a degree determine transfers in and out of WHL. Not to mention the hopes of their support. Having looked so fluent and tidy at Christmas, Redknapp will be giving Sandra hell all summer on the sunlounger (while she sorts out his tax returns) should the Spuds season of so much promise end with a sackful of ashes (and no top job with England either, Boo!).

As for Fulham. I doubt results will go in our favour for us to secure 7th, or manage 55 points. And no Clint of course to sprinkle his fairy dust. I can see it ending in a draw though, especially if Spurs get impatient and try to force the issue. We have the ability to frustrate them and play on the break, assuming Frei slots in for the missing Deuce. No Parker for Spurs is a major plus and van der Vaart has tailed off. Golly, I hope the Spuds are as insipid as they were at Loftus Road. Let's all focus our blame on them should Rangers dodge the noose! And while we're on the subject, don't we want with all our heart for Blackpool to come back up in the play-off with West Ham? YES WE DO!

I'm not going to add to the transfer speculation that's dominated all FFC themes since last Sunday's walkabout after the game. Conspiracy theories over Clint's injury niggle? Hmm, that holds water if indeed Spurs think they have a deal on the table and want him both protected and not appearing for us when they need a win. But the season's not over yet. Clint says he'll think over his future in the summer, Jol tells the press Friday there have been no firm offers for either Dembele or Dempsey. He sees them as Fulham players for the future. Mind you, he was saying the same thing about Bobby Zamora all through January...

My guess is the Deuce will walk back into camp early July for pre-season still under contract and see who has been added to the ranks. He'll hear Jol's vision for turning Fulham into a top six side and maybe 'doing a Newcastle.' He may well evaluate the situation and feel yes, this is now a London club that really is on the verge of bigger things, and better the devil you know. I turned in that survey of points thrown away last week to show realistically how much closer we could have come this season. Our Spurs game in November is a perfect case in point. 17 shots on target from us, while Spurs score three from four efforts on goal. Their first was an oggie and we had strong shouts for a penalty ignored as we battered them all 2nd half.

Here's hoping for a spirited display Sunday to end a fine first full season under Martin. Just as Tigana imported what he knew best - talented Frenchies - expect Fulham to seek more reinforcements from Holland. That usually is no bad thing in football. The ship's in good shape and now I'm off to check on our Academy boys and have a chat with Kit and Ray about the next wave of Fulham starlets. I'll be reporting back next week and surveying the season as a whole before watching some cricket. Been to Lord's once already for the Surrey game but it was hard going...forgot to bring my thermal blanket and a hot water bottle.

Thanks again for many kind comments in recent days to the blog, now approaching its 2nd birthday. Keep the faith and be proud to follow such a unique club. COYW!!!

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Posted by kay on 05/12/2012

I share your optimism for next season. As a believer of Jol, and a believer of good football, I think we are destined for great things. I want to believe we can do 'a Newcastle' next season. That depends on who we keep and who we buy. I hope 'de Klint' stays, for his and our sake. He knows he can never get what we give him elsewhere. But we know it would be uneasy to get what he gives us that soon. All the same, I'm hoping for the best next season. For sunday,I don't expect Jol to do 'his beloved Spurs' any favour. Let's get at them.
Any possibility Jol bringing in his Berbatov? What a buy that would be.
Your email address Phil. Wanna discuss something with you.

Blog Central: Not a fan of Berbatov myself, would prefer Defoe, especially if Spurs covet Deuce we can deal?

Posted by Jessica on 05/12/2012

From your lips to Clint's ears, please. Oh how I'd love him to stay. Will miss him tomorrow but will be watching still as we got top billing in the US on Fox Soccer.

Congrats to the Academy boys on their win!

And I'm with you- bring on the Dutch. But just the strikers as I don't think they know how to defend over there. :)


Blog Central: Just back from the game. We rode our luck a little, Rovers were rugged and bigger. But we won it with two opportunist goals from close range.

Posted by RH on 05/13/2012

Clint's future is the most sweating I've done since Gera's. That turned out alright so fingers crossed we do manage something worthwhile if he does up sticks. It'll be a hard one to reconcile though, as I can't see anyone comparable/available slotting in. Perhaps its just my brain refusing to process the possibilities.
And Phil, wonder what you make of Borja Valero to come in and manage Danny's dwindling workload now that Villarreal may possibly have to offload. I'm watching that one with sad interest, considering their parallels with FFC for taking a punt on the forgotten and the discarded. I hope Jol is too. If not, have a little word, will you.

Blog Central: I just don't see latinos on Jol's radar at all. Martinez maybe? Mind you, Kit's academy is a right old league of nations

Posted by fraught_with_peril on 05/13/2012

Kudos to the U18s for winning the Premier Academy League. That's a helluva an achievement -- and now there is some silverware in the cupboard after all! Kit is doing a mighty fine job with that side. That Bangna looked like a mini-Dembele in the making out there.

Phil, there were a lot of first teamers there yday in the director's box. But a lot of absentees as well. Do you read anything from that into stayings and goings?

A lot of pressure on Spurs today -- let's add to it by starting on the front foot. We have nothing to lose today and the London mini-league to win, which we will with a draw or better.

Blog Central: To your question? No. Did you notice I had a long chat with David Hamilton at half-time by the dug out. He's got a book out 'A Fulhamish Tale.' A must read for all FFC fans who have travelled the journey over the past 50 years. Get it from

COYW !!!

Posted by Rob on 05/14/2012

Congrats to the academy and development teams for successful campaigns this season. Some will say it doesn't mean much, but winning never hurt anyone.

Phil - Do you believe Trotta will be given more chances in the first team next year(yes I assume Clint is gone). I believe only ManU wonder kid David Keane? has more goals in the development league.

When does the club usually announce their Summer/preseason schedule?

Blog Central: What are the criteria for drafting youngsters up to the first team, and them keeping their place? It has to be on merit. "If you get the shirt don't make me have to take it off you,"managers say. It's far easier to get a break if your club's on the slide or needing to sell. Fulham are just the opposite. So I feel Trotta, and some others, need to take the Cleverley, Welbeck route and play a full season at another club - if not EPL then certainly no lower than a footballing Championship side. Someone like Charlton perhap? As for breaking into the first XI on a regular basis? No, even if we shed 4-5 front line players (say, Dembele, Dempsey, Duff, AJ, Davies). Jol will be buying big with that money to really go for top six next season. He aint gonna gamble on kids to get us there. Pre-season news - and more - coming this week. Defeat at Spurs shows we still need added quality alongside the Pog.

Posted by Drago on 05/15/2012

The Tottenham match exposed Kelly and Riise again -- they're serviceable against the bottom half of the table, liabilities against the top clubs. Other than finding a strike partner for Pog, this is where Jol needs to spend.

I started following Fulham during the McBride years, but I really became passionate about the club under Roy. That Europa Final team had enormous heart, and if the turnover ends up being what everyone is predicting, it will signal the end of the Hodgson era. There are a lot of young players with a lot to prove -- Briggs, Kaca, Frei, Kasami, Gecov, Trotta. I'm not sure how much we can count on any of them next season. I'd love to see Fulham improve on its 9th place finish, but I don't see how, unless Jol drops a fortune for new players. Should be an interesting summer.

Blog Central: Agree. Both full-backs are sticking plaster short-term remedies. All these talented kids are relatively untested. Integrate one or two, but we need 3-4 big additional signings. The funds are there once Dempsey and a few others are shipped out. Anyone recall how many rumour stories you heard about FFC looking at Ba and Papa Cisse? That's the kind of signing that makes a difference. We can't afford another Ruiz scenario.

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