By Tim Harrison
When noisy neighbours move away, it’s a source of rejoicing. But when they reappear after four years, the feelings are more mixed.
Fulham’s victory in the Championship Play-Off final means the Blues and Whites are once again on an equal footing.
Former Chelsea captain John Terry – whose every touch was booed at Wembley by the white hordes – missed out on the chance of a final season in the top flight before hanging up his boots as the Cottagers achieved a 1-0 win in the sun.
But ex-Blues midfielder Slavisa Jokanovic, affectionately known as Slavisa Joke-on-the-pitch after he left the Bridge for the Spanish second division in 2002, is riding high. Tactically, he got everything spot-on at Wembley, and if owner Shahid Khan backs him with good signings, the team could spring a few surprises.
So how do we assess the ‘friends reunited’ situation in Fulham Road? It’s one of the strangest relationships in football. The Whites hate Chelsea – they resent the modern-day success, the arrogance, the fans’ smug sense of superiority and the swagger.
Chelsea’s attitude to Fulham is the same as the view of QPR and Brentford. Fans are vaguely aware they exist, but can’t quite pinpoint where they are; a kind of patronising indifference borne of that arrogance, smugness and swagger.
The west London derby is back on, with just a handful of stops on the 14 bus route separating blue from white.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
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