After the fabulous mid-week win in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final comes the mundane return to battling at the bottom of the Premier League. The fans are rightly buzzing at being on the brink of a visit to Wembley Way and hopefully the players will be able to carry that into a crucial basement battle.
The History Books
Finally, a Premier League head-to-head were we come off better than the opposition with 23 wins for the Lads compared to 18 for the Cottagers (and 19 draws). However, our recent away form is not that great in this grand old-fashioned stadium.
There was a bit of gap in games between the two sides since 2-0 home and away league wins for Sunderland in the dark days of Third Division football in 1988 to our next league meeting in the Premier League in 2001.
Since the turn of the century the Lads have played at Fulham 9 times in the Premier League, winning just twice, both times by a 3-1 score-line, with one of those wins being our last visit to Craven Cottage where goals from Fletch, Cuellar and Sess sealed maximum points.
On the back of four away games undefeated in the league the Lads will be looking to extend what is a pretty decent away form. Whilst we need to start turning some of our home form in the cups into league games too, if we can get something at Craven Cottage and keep picking up some points it will give us half a chance of surviving.
Fulham’s recent form is erratic but better than ours with 3 wins and 3 losses in the last six compared to just 1 win, 3 draws and 2 losses for the Lads. The Cottagers seem to be adding a new coach to the team every week with new boss Rene Meulensteen joined by Alan Curbishley and Ray Wilkins since taking over from Martin Jol. Fulham conceded 4 against both Everton and Man City, plus that 6-0 mauling at the Hull Tigers in recent weeks. However, they did manage to pick up useful wins against the teams around them – beating West Ham and Norwich by the odd goal, plus a 2-0 win against Villa; exactly the sort of thing we need to start doing if we’re to get out of the mess we’re in.
In our last away game at Cardiff City Stadium ex-Black Cat Frazier Campbell looked as though he had sealed another depressing defeat for us just when we seemed to be picking up. However a morale boosting late fight-back secured a draw which looked highly unlikely for the majority of the match. I could have focused on Steeeed, Mary Melville or even a certain no-longer dynamite-Darren but it’s Kieran Richardson that I’ve chosen to focus attention on in the played-for-both focus.
He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I quite liked Kieran. Man U fans nicknamed him ‘Lord Snooty’ and were glad to see the back of him but a young left footer with a bit of pace who can play in 72 different positions isn’t the common on the banks of the Wear so we were pretty chuffed to get him from what I remember. Personally, I liked him not only for his whole-hearted efforts on the pitch but even for his conversion to Christianity too. I’m an atheist myself but I like the fact that he wasn’t completely narcissistic and stepped out of the caricature Premier-League-Prima-donna that he’d threatened to be. Anyway, more importantly he scored THAT goal against the Mags which ended our decades wait for a home victory against the old enemy. Richardson’s Rocket earns him an eternal place in the book of former Mackems marked ‘good guys’.