Football Season Review

№19: Fulham

Fulham endured an awful overall campaign and deservedly go down to the Championship. There was sombre mood around the place right from the start of the season as many people were doubting Martin Jol and believed that he should go sooner rather than later. The squad was not replenished well enough after the poor ending of the previous campaign as the overall age remained very high and the players signed were mostly familiar names who were well over their best days. That said, Fulham did get a win on the opening day of the season before losing four of their next five games. Jol was forced to constantly bat questions about his future at that point of the season but two wins in a row lifted a bit of pressure off his shoulders. Yet, the defence never looked solid enough to provide a base for the rest of the team and the Cottagers went on to lose six games in a row, leading to early December. An emphatic 3:0 loss at direct relegation rivals, West Ham, eventually sealed the fate of the manager and Rene Meulensteen was appointed as a new boss. The Dutchman talked a good game and was brave enough to leave out some of the under performers but the results remained mostly mixed. Good wins over Aston Villa and Norwich were overshadowed by some dreadful displays, like in the 6:0 hammering at the hands of Hull. They results failed to get more consistent after the turn of the year and a particularly emphatic and costly 4:1 loss at the hands of Sunderland left them just above the drop zone. Three more defeats followed in the games after that while the club engaged in a slew of transfers right at the end of January. Konstantinos Mitroglou was a major signing but he badly failed to deliver for the rest of the season, starting just once without scoring. Meulensteen was starting to feel the pressure after a particularly dismal FA Cup replay defeat at the hands of Sheffield United and was dismissed a week after that despite positive performances against Manchester United and Liverpool. The club chiefs were clearly panicking with the team now sitting bottom of the table and running out of time to get themselves out of the mess they were in. The third manager for the season was chosen to be experienced German, Felix Magath, whose approach was a far cry from the more technical and overall relaxed approach of his predecessors. The team got into a bit of form in the next few weeks and wins over Newcastle, Aston Villa and Norwich in the space of four weeks gave the fans hope of a miraculous escape. But the game that eventually ended their chances was a costly 2:2 draw at home to Hull when they were two goals up, and on the verge of going clear of the bottom three, before coinciding twice right at the end. The loss at Stoke in the next round sealed their demise and it will be a long way back to the Premier League for what is a dysfunctional club that needs a major overhaul of its playing squad.

Player of the Season: Steve Sidwell