Last weekend wasn’t the best for Fulham. Has it been a disappointing season all round?
K: It’s been an incredibly disappointing season from pretty much start to finish. We got lucky on the 1st day of the season against Sunderland when they pummelled us but we won 1-0, we then conceded late against WBA and Cardiff and looked totally disorganised. The worst result we had last season was the 4-1 against yourselves. You looked the better team up until the wonder goal from Kasami and then Sidwells fantastic strike. If we’d lost that, I think Jol would have gone which if he had and we’d replaced with Magath then, we’d have stayed up. Since that point, the turnover of managers and lack of direction has cost us dear.
NS: We’re disappointed at Fulham’s relegation, but not overly surprised. Its almost predictable manner has angered many of our members. There have been two seasons of inadequate to downright poor governance and direction at FFC, which have meant that we sleep-walked our way into Division Two. This started in 2012 with sales (and non-replacement) of Dembele and Dempsey to a club whose start of season’s ambitions are the same as ours, i.e., finish 17th. or higher. Our dismal form for the latter third of the 2012/13 season should have resulted in the dismissal of the manager, Jol. However, the Club has stated that the administration of its sale to the current owner precluded attending to this matter. This reasoning lacks rigour. Grossly sub-standard acquisitions (Parker, Bent and Taarabt), three managers, bizarre positional selections and the use of more than 40 players have all contributed to Fulham’s relegation.
K: I think he’ll organise us well and we’ll be a team that can last the full 90 minutes which we hadn’t looked like under Jol. Some of the decision against Stoke though we’re baffling ie Burn at RB against one of the fastest players in the league and playing Bent from the start which knocked my confidence in him.
NS: Magath has an 18-month contract, so, in theory, he has time to effect Fulham’s return to the top division. Further, the received wisdom is that the current owner will play a greater part in Club affairs after the first season. This initial passivity may work in a franchise-based league where there is neither promotion or relegation, but cannot be said to have been a successful strategem in a pyramidal structure, at least where Fulham has been concerned. Much will depend on the resources made available to Magath and his willingness to clear out the dross and the crocks (Parker, Bent, Arne Riise, Richardson, Amorbieta, Mitroglou, etc.) and build a more youthful side that might avoid relegation to Division Three.
How have you viewed Palace’s season so far- have we done well?
K: I think you’ve done fantastically well. I think after 7 or 8 games, you looked certain for the drop but the defensive organisation Pulis bought you so quickly, started to breed confidence within the team. Since then, as well as being incredibly hard to score against, your wide men and strikers have started to score. An amazing turnaround by Pulis and the team and you thoroughly deserve to stay up.
NS: Palace’s players performed admirably as ‘on field’ extras when Pajtim Kasami smashed home the ‘Goal of the Millennium’ and their season has improved from thereon. This has confounded all the so-called ‘experts’, who had them relegated long before Fulham put in a determined challenge for 18th. place. It’s just a shame that The Glaziers’ recovery had to be under the loathsome Tony Pulis, who will never be welcome at Craven Cottage. Palace deserve full credit for derailing the bandwagon of fawning media grovellers, so desperate were they to award the title to Liverpool, and for reducing that racist and incorrigible cheat, Suarez, to a blubbing wreck. Putting a spoke in The Hitlerites’ wheel in March provided a great deal of cheer in these parts, although it did little to help us.
Who have been the stand out performers so far this season for Fulham?
K: None? Sidwell has done well and as ever, shows lots of energy and has scored 8. Apart from that? None really and the only positive has been the introduction to the 1st team for the likes of Roberts, Dembele and Woodrow. We’re finally bringing our talented young players through and I hope they play regularly in the Championship.
NS: It’s more a case of which have been the least atrocious! Steve Sidwell has laboured doggedly in a losing, and then lost, cause. The potential of Kasami has been misused, and to his evident frustration. After a fine initial performance (against Everton in the League Cup), the virtual non-use of the skilled (and adaptable) Elsad Zverotic was nonsensical, but symptomatic of the lack of ‘joined up’ thinking, both on and off the field, at the Club. Several of the reserves and the Academy players show plenty of promise, so there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.
Who do you think carries the greatest threat in the Palace side?
K: Obviously Puncheon was in fantastic form towards the end of the season but Bolasie has delivered on his ability too. Jerome is a better players than people give him credit for and his pace and strength can cause problems.
NS: Any eleven you care to field, I should think! Yannick Bolasie’s skill and trickery were noted during Palace’s promotion season and he could have a field day on Sunday if the likes of Arne Riise continue to usher opposition right-wingers into goal-scoring opportunities.
Finally, what’s your score prediction for the game?
NS: The team’s demoralisation after the ceding of a 2-0 lead against Hull City was evident in last week’s capitulation against Stoke City. It’s hard too see anything other than a comfortable away victory for The Glaziers.