Fulham - Friend to the Promoted!
Fulham is nothing if not friendly.
Why, we`ve recently been credited with having the best-behaved fans, who generously contributed the chant of the season. We won the 2008/09 Fair Play League. We were tops in the disciplinary table with only forty yellow cards and a single red card. And, our astute, but humble gaffer recently received the Barclays Spirit Award which goes to manager or player who best encompasses the spirit of the game. My goodness… warms the heart, doesn`t it?!?
Well, another area where our friendly nature comes out is our treatment of the newly promoted clubs. As it was not terribly long ago that we were a newly promoted club, ourselves, we love to make the new guys feel right at home by dropping as many points as possible to these upstarts.
All joking aside, this has become one of the more infuriating aspects of our performances over past several years. Where we should be taking advantage of these opportunities to maximum points, we often let them slide by with little or nothing to show for them. Feel free to double-check my numbers, but just a quick look at our record over the past few seasons paints a bleak picture.
2005/06 - 6 points (Sunderland - 3 points; Wigan Athletic - 3 points; West Ham United - 0 points)
2006/07 - 5 points (Reading - 0 points; Sheffield United - 3 points;
Watford - 2 points)
2007/08 - 7 points (Sunderland - 1 point; Birmingham City - 4 points;
Derby County - 2 points)
2008/09 - 7 points (West Bromwich Albion - 3 points; Stoke City - 4
points; Hull City - 0 points)
To summarize, over the past four seasons, out of a possible 72 points (six matches per season), Fulham have collected a measly 25 points against newly promoted clubs. It must be noted that during this period Fulham played four matches against the worst two sides in Premier League history, 05/06 Sunderland and 07/08 Derby, and collected a paltry five points from a possible twelve. It`s shocking to realize that this season we collected nine points from the 'Big Four` and only seven points from West Brom, Stoke and Hull.
Don`t get me wrong. I`m not suggesting that newly promoted clubs should be push-overs. I`ll freely admit that many are larger, more heralded clubs than ourselves. And, to be perfectly honest, until this season, we were only marginally better than the clubs that were eventually relegated, so it shouldn`t come as a shock that we have performed so poorly. I`m simply saying that this is a trend that needs to be stopped. With Europe being added to the equation for 2009/10 and the number of fixtures greatly increasing, we cannot afford stumbles against clubs that should not be able to afford the same quality of player that our Premier League status and associated revenue over the past eight seasons should garner us.
So, for 2009/10, I wish Wolverhampton, Birmingham City and Burnley the best of luck, and with all the friendliness that Fulham can muster, I hope we flatten you!