Fulham FC – a model for everyone

by Ashleigh Rose

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Last night’s jubilation of Fulham’s win over Hamburg undoubtedly went long into the night in South-West London. However it’s not just fans of the Cottagers who should be celebrating this morning, but fans of every aspiring bottom-half Premier League and Championship team alike. Because what Fulham did last night gave hope to the rest of us that anything is possible if stick to a simple and cost-effective business plan.

Back in 1997, Fulham were bought by eccentric Harrods owner Mohammed Al Fayed with him outrageously promising that he would make the club ‘the Manchester United of the South’. While Fayed’s claim was clearly tongue in cheek, what he has done in his time at the helm of this famous old club is probably beyond any Fulham’s wildest dreams. On the 12 May Fulham will step out against Atletico Madrid in the first ever Europa League final. Now that might have been seen as a mere consolation prize for the likes of Liverpool this season, for a club like Fulham it represents their greatest achievement the club has ever seen.

Especially when you take into account that Fulham’s campaign started way back in the middle of July against lowly Vetra, making next month’s final their nineteenth game in this season’s competition. Of course it has taken game saving missions against Juventus and Hamburg to get there but what manager Roy Hodgson has done in his short time at the club is nothing short of legendary. And plaudits must go to Fayed, for bringing the former Inter Milan man in when some clubs were still wary of Hodgson after his disappointing spell at Blackburn.

Hodgson has taken a team on the brink of relegation to the Championship to the Europa League final in just a year and half, which should earn him the manager of the year award without complaint. However if you look back over at Fayed’s reign, he’s has repeatdly made the right choices when he comes to manager of his football team. Few could argue with the success stories of Keegan (a promotion), Tigana (promotion to the Prem), Coleman (stability) and even though Lawrie Sanchez’s stint never quite worked out, credit is at least due for plumping for an up and comer then the usual names on the manager merry-go-round.

Fayed has also always worked within budget, and put faith in his managers to unearth gems and pick-up bargains where necessary. Ok so the money spent of Steve Marlet is still seen as a big Premier League flop but look that against the likes of Malbranque, Saha, Hangerlaand, Davis, Murphy, Davies, Hughes, Zamora, Gera, Smalling, Duff – the list could go on. And it proves that you don’t have to throw money at a squad to keep it in the Premier League but get the right managers and trust them to put a team together.

As a QPR fan, I should be looking over at our West London rivals in envy. But instead it’s quite the opposite and gives clubs like ours hope that the impossible is possible with a bit of hard work and sensible decision making. Having seen the complete reverse of this over the past few seasons at Loftus Road, I’m now hoping the ‘Fulham model’ will be applied with our new owners and new manager Neil Warnock. And I’m probably not the only one.

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  • Mike Somerville

    No surprises that I’m the first guy to comment on this blog! Huge Fulham fan as you may well know by now, and I’ve been saying this for ages now: ambition+ common sense= success. Hodgson has never got ahead of himself and his number one wish was to keep Fulham in the Premier League. Anything else is an added bonus, and my God we’ve had added bonus’ this year. Even the FA cup run has been great fun where we were 45 minutes away from the semi finals.

    The Europa leauge has been amazing this year. I can remember going to the first match against FK Vetra (fiver for a ticket can’t say no!) and seeing Damien Duff come on for his first appearence for the club. 10 seconds later, the ball’s in the back of the net through a brilliant Duff cross and a great finish for Bobby Z for his 2nd goal of the season. Who would have thought that he would be scoring 19 goals this year (and perhaps more?)

    Although the club is in a lot of debt (roughly 130 million) it is all owed to Mr Fayed and their is no interest on repayments so it all seems completely manageable. I’m not one to point and laugh at other clubs failings to keep their debts under control but I think Man Utd, Liverpool and Portsmouth are all looking with envious eyes!

    I hope I’m not getting too ahead of myself but I really can’t wait for next season already. With extra funds and a more well known club now we can afford to invest in some pace on the wings and a new striker. Perhaps some of the Atletico Madrid players would fancy to play on the banks of the River in the Premier League. I’m thinking Raul Garcia? Simao?

    This season has been all about team spirit, hard work, moments of sheer brilliance and a never say die attitude. Thanks for writing this blog: it means a lot to see Fulham on the footballing map for once!

  • garymadrid

    Hey all,
    we are 2 Irish fellas that are season ticket holders at Atletico de Madrid. We also have an independent blog and we would like to invite you to come and debate the forthcoming match.
    All views respected

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