Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Monday April 27 2009
Fulham are still handily placed when it comes to qualification for Europe next season, but those lingering doubts about whether it being a good or bad thing continue to impede upon our thoughts.
The 1-0 win over Stoke City saw us go seventh in the table, if we stay there that will represent our best ever league finish in our entire history, as well as give us a place in the Europa League next season.
But, and it`s a big but, Roy Hodgson continues to give off negative vibes about such an achievement and after the Stoke game he went into a considerable spiel about it remarking,
"There is a danger a team can evolve too quickly. Europe would be a very big challenge and stretch the squad."
"The worst thing is that people get their heads turned by expectations. I`m not so certain that I would because I`ve been in football a long time but our players could quite easily get their heads turned."
"When we started this season, our goal was a clear and simple one - to make certain we kept our place in the league without the trauma we suffered last year."
"Fortunately, apart from a short spell at the start of the season when we had three defeats, we`ve not been in a position where we`ve had to worry too much about relegation."
"As a result the players have been free to express themselves."
An interesting point, it`s noticeable that the football has flowed away from the constraints of fighting a relegation battle. Continuing Roy goes on to discuss the fear of relegation that haunts the majority of the Premier League, commenting,
"It would start to worry me if expectations started too high. There are four teams in this league who never entertain a thought of relegation."
"But there are 16 others where the thought of relegation is never too far from their minds."
"Everton are a great example - fantastic this year but, not so long ago, they were struggling against relegation. That`s how the league is."
"First and foremost, for me, is playing the football we`re playing and staying in the Premier League."
But that old conundrum has to rear its head one last time with Roy emphasising that there is, or never has, been any pressure to secure European football explaining,
"If it meant something better, like Europe, then great. We`d be delighted but we`d have to be very careful before we started throwing money at making the squad bigger."
"In all the conversations I`ve had with our owner, Mohamed Fayed, we`ve never mentioned Europe."
"We talk about improving and winning as many games as we can but never once has he said -'I would like to see the team in Europe."
It`s certainly going to be interesting to see how those last four games plan out and if European football does come into the agenda.
Date:Monday April 27 2009
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