By Morgan Phillips
Fulham fans will long associate 2019 with the club’s painful but brief stay in the Premier League. After a false start (losing at home to Reading) the new year of 2020 has prompted cautious optimism with a victory over Aston Villa in the FA Cup, and a win at Hull that keeps us firmly among the play-off aspirants.
After ignoring Fulham for months the nation’s football reporters got quite excited over the Villa tie, praising Anthony Knockaert and Harry Arter for their remarkable goals and finding human interest stories in the team (Arter is manager Scott Parker’s brother in law, and Jay Stansfield is the son of Adam, a Yeovil player who sadly died at the age of 31).
True, the Whites are unlikely to prevail in the Cup’s Fourth Round, having been drawn against Manchester City away. Whatever sort of team Pep Guardiola selects he will expect a thumping win. Fulham first came to the nation’s notice by beating Manchester United in the FA Cup back in January 1905 (on the neutral ground of Villa Park as it happens). A defeat for City would be every bit as historic.
There was nothing too memorable about the Hull match, described by some as gritty and by others as scrappy. Fulham managed only one strike on target, a typically spectacular effort from Ivan Cavaleiro.
City were twice as accurate, but were foiled by some valiant defending. The visitors’ most alarming moment came late in the game when Aleksander Mitrovic left the field on a stretcher. The Cup tie showed that the team can win without him but he helped us to promotion two seasons ago and he remains one of the best strikers in the Championship.
On a historical note the Times devoted two pages of its Saturday edition (11 January) to Roy Hodgson’s wondrously extended career.
His time at Fulham was skimmed over, with a sentence about Al Fayed and Harrods, but for many he remains the club’s top manager.
I am inclined to share that view though I could also make a case for Bedford Jezzard, Alec Stock or Jean Tigana.
Two other leaders were mentioned in the same edition of the Times. Apparently when Newcastle played Fulham 16 years ago there was a record age gap (for the Premier League) between Bobby Robson and Chris Coleman – 37 years and 112 days.
Speaking of longevity even I was not around in 1905 when the club’s first manager Harry Bradshaw masterminded that humbling of Manchester United.
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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