Team of the season

by admin

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Small club syndrome thrives – but Fulham break free

As the final whistle blew at Villa Park on Sunday, consigning Newcastle to the Championship, a familiar epidemic swept across the terraces at the Stadium of Light Sunderland’s supporters, having just witnessed another pitiful defeat against a Chelsea team playing on autopilot, sung with glee and waved their home-made banners for the television cameras, as the news of their foes’ demise filtered through. What these supporters were suffering from was ‘Small Club Syndrome’. There is just the one symptom; taking pleasure from your rivals’ failure, in an attempt to cover up for your own shortcomings. It is the sister of that other deadly virus that can be found among football supporters, called Sour Grapes. Sunderland have been terrible this season, but no matter. They are the Premier League’s only surviving team in the north east, and for that we can allow them a small party, as they are by no means the worst sufferers.

In my own circle of friends it is the Tottenham fans who like to spend more time looking out for the results of Arsenal and Chelsea as yet again their mid-table mediocrity gave them little to get excited about. Tottenham are a club that printed t-shirts to commemorate their first league win over Chelsea in 18 years, and brought out a collector’s DVD of the 4 – 4 draw with Arsenal this season (the implication that it was some kind of massive achievement). But as The Gunners tumbled out of the Champions League against Manchester United the text messaging and Facebook status updates said it all about these Spurs supporters.

The following evening it was Chelsea’s turn as they succumbed in the last minute to the tournament favourites, Barcelona. The Spurs fans hollered and gloated in the sheer ecstasy of the moment. It did not matter to them that they had surrendered so meekly in the joke that is the UEFA Cup (now Europa League), or the only time they might get the opportunity to play against such glamorous opposition would be in a meaningless pre-season friendly. As far as they were concerned, an Arsenal/Chelsea cock-up equalled a successful season at White Hart Lane.

And now we come to the west-London outfit with the eccentric millionaire at its helm, whose team have produced some of the best football of the season and gave Manchester United a good sound drubbing. No it’s not Chelsea, it is Fulham. At Stamford Bridge you are unlikely to hear any hateful whispers, anti-Fulham songs or witness a pitch invasion should a game between the two produce a Chelsea victory. Fulham are many Chelsea supporters’ ‘second team’. But down at Craven Cottage it is very different. Fulham are a club who have lived in their big brother’s shadow for most of their history. And when they get one over us they love to tell us about it. But I don’t begrudge them that as I would fully welcome a true rivalry between the two clubs. Rangers have Celtic, Sunderland have Newcastle, Arsenal have Spurs, the list goes on. I guess we feel a little bit left out.

So I take my hat off to Roy Hodgson and his team. Last season they produced one of the great escapes from the relegation zone, and they have used it as a springboard into this season. Never once have they looked in trouble, even when they have lost they have played some fantastic football and they have gone about their business quietly and without any unsavoury headlines.

Roy Hodgson has shown what a manager can do with limited resources but an abundance of football knowledge as he made Manchester United’s back four resemble that of a Sunday pub league outfit, keeping the title race interesting in the process.

For that, and for finishing seventh and earning a Europa League place, Fulham are my team of the year.

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  • stevie

    good choice,Rwoy Hogdson has worked miracles since he took over.

    I think David Moyes, Tony Pulis and as much as it hurts to say this Harry Redknapp has done a remarkable job, no doubt giving the Spuds yet more false hope of finishing in the top 4 next season

  • Darren

    Stoke City, everyone’s favorites to go down, stayed up with ease, played to the strengths, not pretty but they are in the Premier League and Newcastle who were woeful are not.

    Stoke City

    No doubt everyone will lick Man ‘money bags’ United ars when they Barca on pens on Wednesday. And They will end up being team of the season, again.

  • Dexy Longshot

    yep, probably will be. Gotta go with Fulham I think although Harry has done a good job and Pulis has been brilliant.

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