ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Fulham
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Posted by Phil Mison on 05/16/2012
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Value for money from following Fulham? You bet! Quite some season to reflect upon, running from June right through to last Sunday. Dunno about the players, but I'm done.

Can I begin by urging you all to revisit the posts after the opening games from last autumn. Vital Teddy felt a relegation battle loomed and a top ten finish was beyond us. Michael from Laramie was alarmed, while to a man we were falling over ourselves to damn the wisdom of partnering Senderos with Hangeland and sending Hughes out to right back. Many questioned the potency of AJ to lead the attack, expressed fears for our midfield, Riise's value to our defence, how BZ fitted into the system, and who Fulham were looking to attract in the transfer window.

All perfectly valid observations after three winless games and one solitary goal. Footballers rarely read the press - they know well enough how they've performed. Managers and coaches are for the most part a self-regarding chummy elite inside the game. Insular, instinctively on the defensive, too ready to ignore or deride terrace opinion from the gobby punters. But you have to say upon reflection - we sure as hell knew what we were talking about! The evidence is all there in the archive.

Maybe it's part of our heritage, in that we always did consider ourselves an educated and erudite football following public down at the Cottage. I'm not sure what medication I was on myself last August but the two madcap Premiership preview pieces I banged out before the big kick-off proved remarkably prescient (Premier League Unplugged). I'll never come close again to repeating the trick. If only I was picking up the kind of money Lawrenson gets for his ridiculous predictions...Check them out. Too early to embrace next season's forecast just yet, but it certainly gives one pause for thought looking back over the past campaign. Mundane it certainly was not.

Everyone at the club has expressed themselves satisfied with 52 points and 9th, although Mark somewhat flatteringly saw us sneak into 8th place, but with less points, in 2011. Certainly the football was more enjoyable, with some big wins along the way. Season ticket holders were rewarded with 10 home wins in the league, while Clint was the undoubted Player of the Season. By golly, Jamie Redknapp in the Mail had Dempsey in his Premier League team of the season, even if too many others overlooked the stature of the Texan's 23 goals. When you consider his 17 in league play from midfield was SIX better than any other EPL midfielder, you have a measure of the man. Sore groin or not, it didn't stop Clint getting straight on a plane Monday for Texas, so happy holidays and good fishin' boy - see you in July...?

That final day loss served as a timely reminder that there's work to be done behind the scenes to bring Fulham up another level. Let's hope the right recruitments are made for areas I think we all know need addressing. After a full season where professionals have to maintain such demanding levels of fitness and discipline, this is the time all hit the beach for some well-earned R&R. Unless, that is you are preparing for the Euros, where Fulham have a light contingent away for once. Of course, while no Fulham man makes the England squad, we do of course have Roy and Ray in charge. Congratulations to both, and to Lew in particular, who has been a tremendously loyal, and well-liked figure at Fulham down the years. What a remarkable bonus for him in the twilight of his career to find himself closely tied in to the national team. Bravo!

I was amused on the day we had Roy's squad to mull over to also note Kenny had jetted the Atlantic to have Henry swipe the crown from his head, payback for a miserable season at Liverpool. The 'King' has no clothes, as we've been saying for months. Next coaching job, if at all, likely to be some footballing outpost like Thailand or the UAE. Now I'm suddenly charged with a new enthusiasm for England's chances with Woy at the helm, and how wonderful would his revenge be if he can coax a real return from Carroll where Kenny could not? Oh, life can deliver these sweet moments at times if we all dream hard enough.

Dreaming of a better tomorrow also remains the fate of Villa fans, another club looking for a new manager. What is it about American owners of EPL clubs? WBA also will need to think hard about who can carry on Roy's good work at the Hawthorns. After a real cliffhanger end to the season it was pleasing to see the right team lift the title, although how they put their fans through the wringer! On balance, and this may not be a universally popular sentiment, it's good to think we can anticipate two more spicy West London derbies with QPR - and another six points of course. It does save on those long trips up to the north-west. Much as I did want Rangers to take the drop, Bolton only have themselves to blame for losing from winning positions in both their final two games. As to who comes up? Now let's be honest here guys - and it's not just Fulham fans I'm sure. The whole football community SURELY is willing Ian Holloway's Blackpool on to victory in Saturday's play-off final, aren't they? There's one London derby we don't need next season!

As blogged, I did attend the Academy Final saturday, where Kit's kids went one better than last year and were crowned champions. The five who stood out are the kids we've paid good money for - Ryan Williams, the Aussie winger, Jack Grimmer, the Scottish defender, Cauley Woodrow in attack, captain Ronnie Minkwitz and the livewire winger 'Mesca.' Our reserves came 2nd in their league as I'm sure you know and Trotta was 2nd top scorer here with 15 goals, despite being out on loan at Wycombe for three months - so that's all encouraging stuff as well.

But we'll have to bide our time and wait awhile to find out how the Fulham first team shapes up over the summer. I would be surprised if there's much transfer activity over the next 6-10 weeks. Managers surely will keep an eye on the Euros for any new faces making an impact, and the only thing one can safely predict is another absurd round of frantic late dealing in the last days of August. It'll be here before you know it.

Enjoy your summer. If anything big breaks on the Fulham front, it will get blogged. I will be posting a review of David Hamilton's book 'A Fulhamish Tale' once I've finished it. Available now from I've been told it's a blockbuster! twitter@fulhamphil

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Posted by Justin on 05/17/2012

"Michael in Laramie"? I'll be damned if I don't live in Laramie too. Two Fulham fans in this most American Football of towns? Seems crazy.

Posted by Michael in Laramie on 05/18/2012

I'm flattered to be mentioned here, even if in the context of being overly worried for the season. I am pleased with how it turned out, but I remain a touch skeptical this summer. I am not fully confident that Mr. Jol can and will retain or rebuild the core of the team. I know its not all his decision, but a key aspect is who he will bring in to replace them if they go. The replacements may be great; they may not. His reluctance to use what was good on this team raises doubt, though, as to what he'll do in the future. We'll see... That's part of the fun, isn't it?

And Phil-- I love reading your work here-- its been great to know Fulham all the better. Cheers!

Posted by Daniel in Drasco on 05/18/2012

Thanks, Phil! I really enjoy reading each year.

Posted by 5815dan on 05/22/2012

Phil, great way to finish off the season. This blog has been a pleasure now for two years running.

And now we wait for transfer news...

Sad to see Blackpool not making a return to the Prem. But West Ham played better throughout the season and probably deserved it more.

Enjoy your summer. If you make it to NYC, look me up!

Posted by Rob on 05/24/2012

Phil - Just as you predicted Fulham are looking to dump Ruiz and as expected it will likely have to be a loan while fulham eats most of his wages.

**FC Twente chairman Joop Munsterman has ruled out a return for Fulham attacker Bryan Ruiz.

The Costa Rica international has been linked with Twente after a difficult first season in England.

But Munsterman says: "We could never pay what Fulham would want for him. His return is ruled out."

Posted by KEVIN O'CONNOR on 05/27/2012

Dear Phil, I enjoyed your comment, "The whole football community SURELY is willing Ian Holloway's Blackpool on to victory in Saturday's play-off final". But, it was West Ham who won. And this made me very unhappy. As, in 1975, I was listening alone on BBC World Service Radio, to the FA Cup Final, West Ham V Fulham, next to my mud hut in a village in Northern Nigeria, where I was a volunteer teacher. I love my nephew and his father, who happen to be W Ham supporters. But I have never been able to forget or forgive that day in 1975, so I wish W Ham had stayed in the Championship in 2012.

Posted by 'Sota Dan on 06/19/2012

Good-bye, AJ. "Ambition" awaits. Now the front is a bit thinner. Surely we have to sign the Pog. What about bringing up Trotta? Is he ready?

Posted by fraught_with_peril on 06/25/2012

A lot going on, Fulham Phil, and nothing but silence?

Please make sense of it all for us.

Blog Central: It's just gossip and guesswork. I've said all along nothing will happen till the players report back July 9th. And I'm on vacation...

Posted by Simon Kew on 06/27/2012


Great article and also super to see you're tackling David's book in the summer months. I'm halfway through it and it is a cracking read. Funny, touching and, there's a photo of me in there!

I used to be David's right hand man on the touchline for a good few seasons. A true gentleman, legend and a great student of the game too.

Posted by The Don on 06/30/2012

So what do you think, Phil? The Pog out and the Petric it a good move for our main man Martin? I think we know how you feel about letting AJ and Danny go, but what kind of gaps will they leave? What about our side do you think needs bolstering most this off-season, if we're to compete for higher places next season than seventh or eighth?

I know you've been holding off in order not to get ground up in the rumor mill, but here are several tangible moves that are just aching for some thoughtful, scathing, insightful, and obviously biased commentary. You wouldn't happen to know anyone like that, would you?

Blog Central: Back from 8 day assignment in Sweden. Will run the rule over FFC developments in coming days. Underwhelmed by activity to date.

Posted by Rob on 07/03/2012

Did I hear Dan Mason correctly on the last euro2012 podcast? Most EPL teams started pre-season training yesterday? Where has the summer gone?

Jol has started cleaning out the closet as we all expected. Now the real test begins in restocking it. I've come to despise the transfer window. Lots of exciting rumors that lead to no where and watching the rich get richer.

My day dream is Jol somehow convinces Fergie to loan us Berbatov.

Posted by Chris D on 07/11/2012

Nailbiting times for all of Fulhamerica, especially here in the states, goodness the rumour mill is running rampant about Dempsey! Liverpool rumoured as suitors to be but I just don't buy it, probably because I hate the scouse!

If Clint wants Champions League football he won't find it at Anfield, and surely goodness me can we get more than the chicken feed 7.5M! That's an insult that!

A bit gutted about Danny, but we should replace him without too much worry, Poggy did well for us, sad to see him pack up so soon. AJ good luck with your "ambitions". Moussa seems to really want to be there, hopefully his form can rise to his aspirations. Lot of questions still though, and I'm sure like the rest of you it's day to day with frequent checks of the Transfer Blog.

Absolutely cannot wait for the new campaign and at end of the day, Deuce or *gasp* no Deuce, it's FULHAM til I die, and I am and always will be proud to scream and scream loud....COYW!!!

Blog Central: Things are warming up. Boys back in training, three friendlies in Germany next week, Jol homing in on transfer targets, new kit launch. Blogging duties to resume shortly boys and girls...

Posted by Michael in Laramie on 07/12/2012

Great news on the Hugo Rodallego signing. I'd love to see Deuce stay and play with Hugo. I imagine them pairing quite well together, and providing some flair to the team.

Blog Central: I like it! Free transfer, 26, pacy and can play wide or up the middle. Watch Wigan's all time top scorer in the PL blossom with better players around him.

Posted by Rob on 07/31/2012

My worst fears are coming true. Clint is going to pull a Modric and try to force his way out of FFC. Skipped the club trip and stayed in London to take in the Olympics. I was really hoping this would end well. It would be a shame for everyone to remember Clint for this instead of all his great moments as a player.

I say we take the money and buy Allen from Swansea. Swansea would love to stick it to Rodgers after he promised to keep away.

Blog Central: Er, what club trip exactly was that Clint skipped? Did FFC photoshop all the CD pics from Germany then? I know my army of followers are gagging for a post...but I'm still on vacation. Chill guys.

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