Writer: Ollie Sheehan
Date:Monday March 20 2006
Chris Coleman and the rest of the Premiership were ecstatic yesterday after Fulham's 1-0 win over neighbours Chelsea.
Every Fulham fan, player and of course the mastermind behind it all- Coleman- must have breathed a huge sigh of relief as a relegation sc**p was beckoning after four successive defeats prior to yesterday.
But beating the Premiership Champions is something special. What was even more significant about this victory was that after such a terrible slump in form, losing the last four and conceding fourteen goals in the process, The Cottagers not only kept a clean sheet, they scored against and beat the team that everybody eyes with jealousy.
The ugly scenes at the end of the game marred the occasion certainly, and Gallas' sending-off coupled with Drogba's 'goal' being disallowed did nothing to enhance the mood of ill-feeling on the Chelsea side.
Chelski do not like to lose. They look to excuses when things do not go their way, and more often than not allow their own arrogance and occasional resortation to cheating (notably Robben's dive earlier this season)carry them through, sometimes leaving their heads in the clouds.
But this Fulham win was not about anything unruly- the Drogba 'goal' disallowed for handball was notable only because of the way the officials reached their decision, which was by all accounts, the correct one anyway- it was about Fulham as Chris Coleman would have them.
They played solid, attacking, fast and entertaining football whilst rarely ever giving Chelsea an inch.
This is Chelsea, the same team that are twelve points clear in the Premiership and probably would have gone further in the Champions League had they met any other team at the same stage.
The club's are miles apart. Mohammad Al-Fayed's millions are nothing in comparison to Roman Abramovich's billions. Fulham's name in world football is closer to being a local village club when compared to Chelsea who are trying to market themselves worldwide and with their success, have managed to generate an even larger fan base.
But the team from Craven Cottage did everything right on this occasion. The bigger they are the harder they fall, and as a team Chelsea are colossal, but they fell and hit the ground hard.
The team, the manager, the players and the fans who have stuck by them all season should be very proud of themselves. Is this proof that Fulham's pride is everything? It certainly helped but really much of it was out of desperation for a win and damn hard work, so the answer is, probably not. But it is proof that no matter how big you are, as a club or as a team, how much self-belief you have or how much money you spend.
If you build yourself up as Chelsea have this season then eventually you find that that same pride comes before a fall. Chelsea should take note.
Date:Monday March 20 2006
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