Where’s the love for Fulham?

The Premier League Owl

Match Of The Day is quite a good barometer for what’s going on in football media world, and so it was disheartening to hear the analysis of the Arsenal/Fulham game last night.

The Premier League is a commercial entity, and we all understand that the well-supported clubs are what sustains the competition’s global attraction – but we have to stop treating the less glamorous clubs as a sub-plot in the narrative.

A case in point, the reaction to yesterday’s game at The Emirates. Arsenal this, Arsenal that – there wasn’t even a discussion of anything that Martin Jol’s side did well in North London. The impression given, is that all clubs outside the traditional top-four are just an inconvenience that the glamour clubs have to sidestep through the course of the season, and that when points are dropped to them, the focus is only ever on the ‘big’ club’s failings.

Doesn’t that contradict the oft-repeated mantra about the Premier League and how competitive it is and the maxim chanted continually by journalists who subsequently treat the competition as a four-team league?

The sum of MOTD’s analysis on Fulham yesterday was a one-liner about Dimitar Berbatov’s myriad abilities, and even that seems to play into the ‘neglect’ theory, because the Bulgarian is a former Manchester United player.

You suspect that a lot of this stems from laziness, and the unwillingness of pundits to properly research teams and players who aren’t playing at Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge. Sure, we can all speak educatedly on Eden Hazard’s impact this season, but how many members of the media can make an accurate summation of Alex Kacaniklic’s pros and cons?

It’s not just Fulham, look at the reaction to West Brom this season – they’re treated as some kind of anomaly who will hopefully drop back into the pack at some point. ‘False position’ is a phrase which has been used to describe their start – really? Have you watched them play? Have you seen the chemistry and understanding that Steve Clarke has built into his side? It’s not a surprise at all, they’re a good side populated with players who are performing at a very high level.

But they’re just not box office enough, and so, like Fulham, will be dismissed with lazy platitudes.

What was so impressive about Fulham yesterday was their resilience. In seasons gone by, at 2-0 away from home, they might as well have got back on the coach and gone home – they didn’t recover deficits like that at those kind of grounds. But yesterday they did, yet nobody seems the slightest bit interested.

It’s ridiculous.

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9 Comments on "Where’s the love for Fulham?"

  1. Well, what can I say? Good luck to Fulham. It’s great to see the so called small clubs gatecrashing the top six…..but West Bromwich Albion 4th? On merit…. Defeated the European Champions. On merit. 😮

    It’s times like this that make all the years of suffering worthwhile. It’s why some of us are born to support a club and stick with them for life. No bandwaggons or glory hunting hangers-on here.

    About 20 years ago I travelled to Stockport County for a league game in the old third division. We lost 5-1.

    I wept.

    But being there then, and here now, is what makes me think this is what being a true supporter is all about. :)

  2. A brilliant post and a great reply from Baggies fan, Craig. Both 100% accurate.
    “Garth Crooks … was shockingly ignorant and disrespectful”. Is Crooks the world’s worst sport pundit, earning money for nothing? Surely you can’t know one who’s EVEN worse? When they use him on Final Score I have to turn the volume off. His ‘interview’ features are, frankly, a joke. You get more insight from a fortune cookie. It’s difficult to believe he ever actually played professional football, even though I’m sure I saw him play a number of times. I wish the BBC would stop wasting licence payers’ money on him – and on the rest of the clueless mob who ride this particular gravy train. Time for a big clear out. Perhaps there could be a role for The Owl, Craig and other like-minded football followers, who actually know what’s going on? Lee Dixon and Mark Bright are the only 2 on the BEEB I can think of who I can bear to listen to; though that’s probably only because they are under-used … and there’s also Clemmo, of course, on the lower leagues.

    I am a Fulham fan of 35 years standing, through thick and (mostly) thin. With only Twelve-Man United out-scoring us this season in the Premier League, it’s time lazy journos and commentators revised their unchallenged and negative paradigms about Fulham’s prospects and entertainment value.

    I, too, always look at Lawro’s rubbish predictions on the BBC website each week. They are simply hilarious. This season, perhaps just to emphasise how lazy and wrong he normally is, the BEEB now show a league table as it WOULD have been if Mr. L’s predictions had come true. Predictably, this shows Fulham in 16th place, just ahead of Swansea and his bottom 3. What’s even funnier, it shows us having scored just 10 goals rather than our actual 24. Last week, for instance, he had Fulham losing 2 – 0 at the Emirates. Not even close. He has WBA a little better off, in 14th. He has Liverpool, grudgingly, as low as 9th! Clearly not interested in reality; head firmly in sand, ostrich-like.

    Time for a major reassessment, please!

  3. roaminrich | Nov 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm |

    I have now now stopped watching MOTD live so I can fast forward through the “expert” opinion. I only ever used to listen to Lee Dixon before as he occasionally added true defensive insight but even he’s gone now. Great article and maybe some if the pundits could try to follow Craig’s example of well thought out criticism, but that probably sounds too much like hard work for them.

  4. It looks like I’m rapidly moving down the table James!…..In the manner of West Brom, once the honeymoon period ends, which according to Garth Crooks was about a month ago!….but thanks anyway.

    It’s rather more difficult to feel sorry for Spurs. True they haven’t had the same level of adoration thrown at them on MOTD, but that’s because none of their old players has been deemed stupid enough to become a pundit and tell the viewers how utterly marvellous they are.

    There was an attempt to turn ‘arry Redknapp into a pundit, but unfortunately he is beyond thick. A man so inarticulate, he makes Gazza sound like a linguistics professor. When confronted with an opportunity to offer insight into any team, he invariably reaches for the platitudes……If you follow his line of thought, all of the newly promoted teams will be fine because they’ve spent money and have good managers, the other clubs at the lower end of the league have spent money and have good managers….so they’ll be fine….. Hence no team can finish in the bottom three come May…and there will be at least eight teams in the top four next season according to Knobnapp, including Liverpool, who he said after West Brom had already tonked the f’krs 3-0 (not necesarily on that day), when asked if Liverpool will be in the top four at the end of the season said ‘oh yeahr….DEFINITELY…they got a grea’ squad, triffic yang manaja, YEAHR….they’ll be fine’.

    Thanks ‘arry. Here’s your fifty grand fee…in rolled up fifties as requested.

    Before I go, here’s a joke for you:

    Andre Villas Boas!

    😀

  5. This is a great article. One that won’t be read by enough people and will be rejected by most people that do read it. It’s matched only by the brilliant comment by the West Brom fan below.

    As a supporter of a small club that’s doing well this season, I feel like I’m in a cult. Even though I usually mentally switch off when Shearer starts waffling, on Saturday, due to the fact that we were on as the second match, I was listening.

    I have a feeling that this is less to do with MOTD and more to do with pundits. To get a punditry job, it seems to be that you need to be an ex-player that isn’t tactically aware enough to be in management. They say what they know. ie. When Ruiz nicked the ball off Arteta, and then got brought down, I get told by Shearer that Ruiz nicked the ball off Arteta and then got brought down. Brilliant. Thanks for the insight Alan.

    It’s not just the lack of insight, they often pick a player that’s playing well, and say he’s too good for the club. Saturday it was Berbatov, in August it was Dembele, last season it was Dempsey. It goes to the players’ heads. I’ve never heard a pundit saying Suarez should be snapped up by a top 4 club.

    There’s no “with the addition of Berbatov, Fulham are building a top 6 side”, it’s always “this is a strange anomaly, isn’t someone going to fix it?” With Spurs on 17pts, Arsenal on 16pts and Fulham also on 16pts, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that if Spurs hadn’t played the Big Club Card and bought 2 of our best players, we wouldn’t be above them now. That said, any side with Berbatov, Ruiz, Dembele and an in form Dempsey would be a difficult for any side to stop scoring.

    It’s also a bit annoying that they give credit to how West Ham play football. Against Fulham they put the ball up to Carroll every time then had a shot. It’s a tactic, fine, it works. Once or twice throughout the whole game they passed the ball around. MOTD pulled this up and pointed out that this is a massive part of their game! It’s not. It’s because Carroll got injured so they were forced to pass it around in their own half.

  6. Liverpool comes into this so much it makes my blood boil.

    The last few redknapp years of spurs where we have been a top 4 side
    we haven’t had the gravitas of old school teams like liverpool who are a top ten side.

    weird..

  7. To the WBA fan above, that is one of the best posts I have ever seen on the Internet.

    From a Fulham fan

  8. When you read reports from the 60s you see a review of an encounter between two teams, such a shame its deteriorated to sucking up to the masses. The worst was during Fulhams Europa run when Liverpool gatecrashed as a CL dropout. Two teams from the same country at the same level in a competition and it was all about Liverpool, the avalanche of coverage of when we reached the final and they didn’t simply illustrated the difference in coverage before.

  9. Well said Sir!

    I’m a West Brom fan….40+ years supporting them through thick and mostly very thin indeed! I didn’t ask to be a Baggie. It was a disease I caught of my father who smoked heavily and therefore coughed a great deal. Sadly he departed this life five years ago, but at least witnessed the semblance of a revival in our footballing fortunes.

    However, he’d have been as sickened as I was (and have been all season) by the attitude of lazy, incompetent or downright biased TV pundits who cannot see what you, I and everyone with a mind for a decent football team can see. It’s NOT all about having the biggest wallet. As far as I’m concerned (and many an impartial observer must concede), West Brom are the best managed club in the country, both on and off the field. Of course, the pundits only relate to pound signs, so they scan the signings pre-season and see we’ve spent sod all. So even when they see the quality of players like Mulumbu, Yacob, Long, McCauley etc. their brains can’t accept the possibility that we”ve bought £20 millon pound players for peanuts, while Liverpool for example, have paid £30 million for 5 to £10 million players…Adam and Carroll…and that other clubs have paid ludicrous money for medicocre misfits or ‘mercurial’ i.e. inconsistent and moody types like Robinio and, latterly, Balotelli.

    The comments on Fulham were particularly disgraceful last night. I didn’t expect high praise for us putting the in form Wigan to the sword. But Fulham were tremendous in the way they attacked Arsenal, their guts, determination, but above all their SKILL. Yet all those buffoons could talk about last night was Arsenal….even to the point of suggesting they should have bought Berbatov and not (by implication) an inconveniently (for the BBC) successful club like Fulham. Not a word of credit to those who had the foresight to snap him up, nor for the solid squad on a shoestring that has evolved at Fulham in recent years.

    Wenger admitted he didn’t even know Berbatov was on the transfer list!! Time for the daft Frenchman to go meethinks…..but still he gets no stick off the pundits; whilst elsewhere the ludicrous ‘Lawro’ suggests that if Southampton don’t win soon, Adkins should get the sack!! So, a manger who has achieved an incredible feat of dragging a club from administration to the Premier League in a couple of years is deemed useless, while a manager who has won nothing at a massive club like Arsenal for seven years, keeps losing his best players to his biggest rivals and generally is a twerp, is considered to be beyond criticism?

    I’m not a big fan of the eccentric Egyptian who owns Fulham, but the feat that has been achieved at Craven Cottage in establishing a club of Fulham’s size in the Premiership is remarkable. Similarly, although Albion do have a fantastic heritage and history of top flight football dating back to the original 12 founder members of the league, they’ve never been perceived as credible rivals to the likes of Aston Villa, never mind the so-called ‘big six’….to which Liverpool are still under the delusion they are part of. That club was nothing before the 1960’s and is, through gross mismanagement, in long term decline. But that idiot ‘Lawro’ and his cretinous sidekick Hansen, are soaked in the blood red memories of a glorious but brief past.

    On the BBC website, Lawro continually predicts the Baggies to lose and Liverpool et al to win(he reckoned Wigan would beat us yesterday). A few weeks ago the moronic Garth Crooks was eulogising about Everton on Final Score. Gabby Logan gamely said ‘but what about West Brom?’…Crooks said that West Brom were in a ‘honeymoon period’ with their new manager and would fade away but Everton have the class for a top 5 finish. They may well have, but this was shockingly ignorant and disrespectful of my club, particularly as we’d beaten Everton 2-0 on merit only a week or too before!

    And so it goes on. The BBC is already in disrepute with the public, but the licence payers’ money squandered on these so called experts to spout their stupidity on Match Of The Day etc., etc. is almost as disgusting as the things Jimmy Savile got up to!

    Of course, nothing lasts forever, and eventually ALL football clubs hit fallow periods, but TV punditry, if we must put up with it, should always be based on impartial, knowledgeable insight. They should dismantle stubborn supprter allegiances, not reinforce them! But all we get is praise for the big boys when they play well, and excuses for the big boys when they don’t. And for as long as my TV licence helps pay for a round of golf for the smug Alan Shearer, I have to agree with you:

    It is, indeed, ridiculous.

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