Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Wednesday August 29 2007
The game may be still more than three days away but there is no denying it`s a big match.
Both sides enter the fixture under pressure, both sides desperately need to register a crucial Premier League win and, cynically, both sides will be dreading the onset of further media pressure if they suffer a defeat.
Martin Jol`s problems at White Hart Lane are very well documented. It`s no secret he almost fell victim to the 'Et Tu Bruto` scenario with Daniel Levy seeking a replacement. Such has been the furore in the press that London`s leading evening paper, the Evening Standard, has been banned from attending Spurs home matches and press conferences in a reporting capacity.
Quite how fragile Jol`s grip on the Spurs post is remains a touchy subject. Spurs have a history of making early season decisions on those in charge; two readily spring to mind Santini and Gross!
For Fulham it`s a different proposition. We`re not implying that Lawrie Sanchez is in any danger of losing his job. I personally may have my doubts about his suitability but there have been absolutely no murmurings from within the inner sanctum at Craven Cottage.
The Premier League is a tough league, the pressure is relentless and Sanchez, deep down, will be acutely aware that the season is inevitably shaped by how a side starts. He`ll also be only too aware that with the money he`s spent since taking over the helm from Chris Coleman, he needs to produce results.
Despite playing some attractive football and, as some have suggested, being unlucky, we`ve only managed three points from four games, it`s our worst ever start to a Premier league season. Sanchez needs to win on Saturday, it`s a fixture that`ll shape our future and, dare I say it, his destiny.
A defeat for Fulham will leave us with a return of three pints from five games or, if the form is maintained, a return of almost twenty-three points over a thirty-eight game period and we all know what that`ll mean. I doubt whether Sanchez is under pressure from the board yet but he desperately needs to string two or three wins together, he desperately needs his side to ease the pressure and to move into a mid-table position.
It`s almost as if the Fulham board have backed Sanchez to the hilt, the number of signings made has been unprecedented in our recent history, it almost resembles one last major gamble to reach towards the European place that remains our dream but as Jol has already found out, often that`s not enough. Finishing fifth in two consecutive seasons hasn`t been seen as success for this once successful club. They crave more but we`d gleefully settle for where they are now.
Come Saturday evening, the whole scenario will have moved on that little bit further!
Now who`s your money on with regard to feeling that little bit more comfortable?
Me! I reckon it`s too close to call.
Date:Wednesday August 29 2007
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