I am still reading Inverting the Pyramid, the brilliant book about the development of football tactics by Jonathon Wilson. This morning on the way to work I read a passage about the Brazil side of the 1970 World Cup. Considered by many (including me) as the zenith of football ability, combining success with artistry. Wilson makes an excellent point that had Brazil not won the World Cup that year many of their most celebrated moments (Pele’s lob from the halfway line against Czechoslovakia that hit the bar and his dummy to evade Uruguay’s goalie which he followed by missing an open goal) would have been viewed as counter productive extravagances rather than beautiful football.
I continue to be frustrated by so called analysis on British television that rarely tells you anything you couldn’t have seen for yourself and is very much focused on contentious decisions and praising the side that won the game. A player might receive great praise one week because he played a key part in a side that kept a clean sheet but be taken apart the following week because he made one mistake that led to a goal. I understand that winning is important, I know I would not be happy if we lost stylishly EVERY week, but I’d like to see football analysts look beyond the result a little more often.
The great thing about live football is that you see the game you want to see. I’m thoroughly enjoying the current style & panache of Martin Jol’s Fulham. Sunday’s match was the first time I can remember enjoying a game we lost. Early on we were so comfortable it looked like we’d cruise to an easy win and there’d be little need to get excited. Hangeland’s sending off changed the game (a ball winning tackle that ironically brought to mind Bobby Moore’s tackle on Jairzinho in the 1970 World Cup) and wasn’t helped by the fact we’d not long replaced Alex Kacaniclic. Despite the imbalance in numbers we still dominated the first half and to my mind were the best side in the second half too.
Berbatov was supreme throughout, drifting into fabulous positions and picking out passes that perhaps only Johnny Haynes would have been able to see as clearly. Ruiz buzzed about and, though he does have a tendency to give the ball away at bad moments, looked like he was going to be able to unlock the Sunderland defence until his unfortunate injury. Having replaced Ruiz, Petric started like a steam train and even when struggling a little after getting studded whilst scoring, looked threatening for the rest of the game. So many positives throughout the team that I felt the performance outweighed the result.
Even at 3-1 down I felt we had a chance to get a result. I was enthralled to the end and proud that we didn’t try and shut up shop and went for the win. Perhaps at times we were a little naive in defence but I think rather than try and posit blame on individuals we need to understand the disruption caused to the team balance from the loss of a player. Poor old Philippe Senderos got a tonking from some of those people around me. Whilst I’ve not yet been convinced of his abilities myself, he really was on a hiding to nothing and left horribly exposed on several occasions.
Obviously results do matter. If we lost stylishly every week I’d soon tire of it but we’re having a great season so far and I’m excited to see this Fulham side playing. We’ve got a tough few weeks ahead in which we’ll be missing key players. Hopefully this will give the opportunity to some of the squad to show us what they’re capable of. Senderos will almost certainly get a little run. He needs to perform. I’d like to see more of Dejagah and Petric. I’d also like to see what Rodallega could do in a more central role. Whoever plays though I’m sure it’s going to be fun.
Christmas is just around the corner so it seems like a good time to remind you all about our good friends at Ashwater Press who have a number of goodies available this year that would be just perfect for your fellow Fulham supporters.
Over to Ashwater …
THE ASHWATER 2013 DESK DIARY
After last year’s sell out in five weeks, and by popular demand, it’s the Ashwater desk diary for 2013 with pictures from Ken Coton ’s archive. Again it’s 128 pages with around 70 black and white and colour pictures and Fulham images, a number never seen before. It’s naturally a functional diary and a quality hardback production (9½ x 6½ inches). The pictures are from across five decades of Ken Coton ’s archive. This year it has even more detailed captions and extra snippets/trivia. It contains a weekly ‘anecdote’ relating to Fulham’s colourful history over the last fifty years and also a foreword from David Hamilton. It costs not much more than an ordinary diary, and remember that it’s not just a diary – it’s a Fulham book as well! Like last year, buy 2 diaries and save 10%. We have held the price at last year’s value (£9.95+postage).
Please note: We are once again printing only a limited number, so please order as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. (15% of the dairies have already been pre-ordered before delivery to us.)
And also for the first time:
THE ASHWATER 2013 WALL CALENDAR
After many requests, we’re delighted to offer our first ever colour Ashwater wall calendar for 2013. It features Fulham pictures from Ken Coton ‘s archive (some of them never seen before), superbly printed to A4 size. When opened up for hanging, the calendar measures 16½ x 11½ inches (420 x 297mm). Each month has a captioned full-page picture above it, and the calendar runs from January 2013 to January 2014. It is priced at just (£5.95+postage).
As this is a new venture for us, we are printing only a limited number, so please order as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. We like our calendar! We hope you will too …
We are also offering multi-buys this Christmas to help out your spending. The multi-buy options will be for the 2 items above plus this year’s Tales from the Riverbank (Part 3) a brand new book with 224 pages and 125 photographs (many never seen before) relating to two full Fulham seasons under Bill Dodgin in the Seventies ending up in promotion! There is also David Hamilton’s popular book A Fulhamish Tale. Buy the 3 or 4 products together posted to the UK and save 20%. (Saving around £10 and £13 respectively) See website for details.
Also, to ‘clear the decks’ for the new books arriving in 2013 and for a great Christmas deal, we will be offering a clearance of the few remaining copies of all other Fulham books; The Johnny Haynes – The Maestro book at over 60% off, and a number of books at just £3.95 (plus postage). There is also a very attractive multi-buy offer on eight other books, buy any three of the eight together posted to the UK for just £18.85 INCLUDING postage. See website for details.
We will have copies of the Ashwater desk diary and the Ashwater wall calendar at the home games with Sunderland (18th Nov) and Tottenham (1st December), but please be aware that we can only transport a limited number of ‘collections’ to the Cottage, and we always sell out at the home games – so apologies, but it will be first come, first served. If in doubt, and to be guaranteed whilst the stocks last – please order through the website.
To order any of our books (or calendar):
Where you can order using a PAYPAL account
Or using your debit / credit card as a PAYPAL guest
Ashwater can also accept a credit or debit card order by phone.
Telephone us on: 01344 – 624231 (Mon – Fri 9am – 7pm, Sat 9.00am – 1pm)
On the Ashwater website you can also download an order form and pay by cheque, using the post at:
Ashwater Press, 68 Tranmere Road , Whitton, Twickenham, Middlesex. TW2 7JB
For any other information, please e-mail us on email@example.com
Ashwater Press – Fulham books written by Fulham Supporters for Fulham Supporters – Thank you for continuing to support us in 2012.
There are days when I feel a bit of a fraud writing about football. I don’t spend a lot of time watching games that don’t involved FFC. My awareness of the rest of Premier League only extends as far as what I can glean from Match of the Day highlights and my knowledge of players outside of the UK is appalling. So bad I think even Alan Shearer could give me a run for my money. I’ve been reading “Inverting The Pyramid” and Jonathon Wilson’s excellent prose about tactics and the development of the modern game has drawn my focus to how limited my view of football really is.
To compound this as far as Fulham is concerned, I rarely go to away games and this season, because I’m only sharing a season ticket, I won’t even make all the home games. Then I have the audacity to come on here and write something about a game I’ve only followed via online commentary and the subsequent two minutes and forty seconds of televised highlights.
That said, it seems if I had to miss a game Saturday’s toil against Aston Villa was not a bad one to pick. I could sense the frustration building in Gentlemen Jim’s voice as the game seemed to be destined to end goalless but then up popped Bairdinho with a smart finish to what at first glance appeared to be a well rehearsed set piece. Jim was ecstatic, the crowd sounded loud and I … well I was trying to put a straight face on whilst Mrs Chop explained something important to me about something one of my sons will be doing next weekend. Jol later showed endearing honesty by admitting it was probably one of the worst corners he’d seen and he was relieved Chris Baird had reacted smartly and turned into something useful. Of course, knowing Jol, it might be he just didn’t want to give away one of our secret game plays – though based on our historical poor corner taking ability it was most likely the former.
Collecting three points from this type of game is fantastic. This is a team that’s still getting to grips with each other and inevitably we’re seeing some inconsistent performances, so to take 4 wins out of out first 8 matches is an excellent return. There are also some signs that a team togetherness is starting to form. It seemed everyone on the pitch went over to congratulate Baird and Diarra jumped so high to join the group huddle he landed on Karagounis’ shoulders. The joy on the bench was equally unconstrained and there was a nice moment between Jol & Petric that suggested all is well between them.
Following Alex L’s excellent article on Friday Match of the Day 2 provided us with further proof that our squad is getting on a bit. Based on the weekend’s starting elevens we had the oldest team in the Premier League averaging a little over 31 years (and that didn’t include the 35 year old Karagounis). Despite this I’m not hugely concerned, Jol is well aware he needs to bring in younger players but he has a nice spine of experienced players that will surely make that job easier and has already demonstrated he is not shy in giving youngsters a chance. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy watching Hangeland, Diarra, Berbatov and co. whenever I get the chance.
I initially began writing this before Ray left the club to assist Roy Hodgson with the England squad. It’s taken a while, maybe I missed the boat a little in marking his departure but an International break seems like the right time to finally publish it. It started off as a kind of top five (people who know me will understand my preference for that format) and I retained the basic structure but sometime in the writing it morphed into something huge. I hope it’s not telling you too much you already know it’s intended as a tribute to a man who has been a huge part of the club and who I think deserves a bit of credit. Hats off to Ray!
Ray Lewington was, in one form or another, involved with Fulham almost the entire time I’ve supported the club. Joining as a player in the early eighties he moved into coaching before becoming manager during some of our most difficult years. After a break in which he enhanced his coaching and managerial credentials at Crystal Palace, Brentford and Watford he returned to the backroom staff under Chris Coleman and during that post-Sanchez and post-Hodgson periods Ray again stepped in to keep the club stable. Having been offered a “job for life” by Al Fayed in recognition of his efforts he was shifted around various backroom posts. In the end his recent elevation to the England staff is perhaps the best reward for his many years loyal service.
1. Player (1980-1985) – Despite having played 85 times for our less erudite neighbours Ray did not take long to win the Fulham faithful over. Arriving at the end of the 1979-81 season, after a short spell at Wimbledon, he proved himself a willing worker who enabled other players to shine. He was a fiercely competitive midfielder, a consistent performer who rarely took the limelight but always gave his best.
He was too late to prevent Fulham’s slide into relegation but was a mainstay in the young side that Malcolm MacDonald put together and his experience helped us win promotion back to the Second Division in 1982. The ’82-’83 season saw us close to achieving back to back promotions and reaching the top flight for the first time since the late sixties. Lewington was an ever present in the league that season and remained a first team regular as that side was sold off player by player. Ray stayed longer than most but was eventually sold to Sheffield United in July of 1985.
2. Player/Manager (1986-1990) – Less than a year later Ray was back at Fulham. Following relegation to the Third Division, Ray Harford was sacked and the club came under new ownership with dubious intentions. Lewington stepped into the breach and received something of a baptism of fire into the world of management. Early results were mixed and included that famous 10-0 thrashing at Anfield in the League Cup. Eventually it would emerge that the owners Marler Estates intended to capitalise on the value of the land at Craven Cottage by merging the club with QPR and developing flats on the ground. It was a dark period in our history and throughout it Lewington was a stabilising influence. Having flirted with relegation in his first season we steadily improved.
Jimmy Hill led a takeover in 1987 and though we still did not own the ground we had received a stay of execution as a club. Results for Lewington began to improve and in 1989 we achieved our first appearance in an end of season playoff. After a narrow defeat in the first leg at Bristol Rovers we were thumped 4-0 at the cottage. The following season Rovers would win the league whilst Fulham struggled and avoided relegation by a single point.
3. Caretaker Manager (1991,1994) – Alan Dicks took over in the summer of 1990 and Lewington was effectively demoted to first team coach. Dicks benefited from an influx of money from the ongoing ground ownership situation and, according to Dennis Turner in 1995’s “Fulham – The Team” managed the worst playing record in our history with “the most expensively assembled Fulham side ever”. Dicks had made a complete hash of the job and we missed relegation that year by two points and a huge slice of luck (league restructuring meant only three sides went down). Dicks survived through to the following November (despite the regular, and unintentionally hilarious, chants of “Dicks Out!”) but finally lost his job following a 2-0 home defeat to non-league Hayes in the FA Cup.
Ray stepped in as caretaker for the remainder of the year until Don Mackay’s arrival in the New Year. MacKay initially appeared to have turned things around but with nine games to go in the ‘93-94 season Fulham were 17th and in trouble again. A particularly chaotic performance at Leyton Orient saw Jimmy Hill storm into the dressing room at half time and relieve MacKay of his duties. Lewington was given his second opportunity as caretaker manager but could not ignite the required change in form and, despite an enjoyable 2-1 win at Brentford along the way, a 2-1 loss at Swansea saw us relegated to the lowest tier for the first time in our history.
4. Reserve/Assistant Manager (2005-2010) – It was the right thing for Ray to leave the club when he did, a fresh start was needed not just for the club but also for Ray. He had spells at Crystal Palace, Brentford and Watford, all clubs where he began as a coach and ended up in either a caretaker or permanent role as manager. At Watford it seemed he’d done little wrong, achieving consistent mid-table finishes amidst familiar financial difficulties. He returned to the Cottage with Watford for a pre-season friendly in 2004 and received a very warm welcome. The same season, following a run of poor results, he was sacked. At the start of the next season Chris Coleman, perhaps beginning to feel a bit of pressure himself, brought Lew back to the club as Reserve Team Manager.
Following Coleman’s dismissal towards the end of the 2006-07 season Ray stepped into a first team coaching role alongside caretaker manager Lawrie Sanchez. When things imploded for Sanchez it was Ray the club turned to for his third spell as caretaker manager. He kept the ship steady over the Christmas period and, despite a drubbing at Spurs, picked up important points at home to Wigan and away at Birmingham.
When Roy Hodgson arrived he was happy to work with the existing coaching team and Lewington became assistant manager. Ray would make a big contribution to the success we achieved in this period and it must have been incredible for him to be involved with a Fulham side that reached the Europa League final a mere 16 years after he’d seen us drop into the basement division. Once again he was called into action as caretaker manager following Hodgson’s departure to Liverpool. He faced no competitive games during that period but undoubtedly played an important role in maintaining morale and ensuring the team was ready for the start of the season.
5. Various coaching roles (2010 – 2012) – Mark Hughes appointment saw him turn up with a veritable menagerie of assistants and coaches. Despite this, and thanks to Al Fayed’s recognition, Lew remained as a first team coach. However as the season progressed it was clear that Ray wasn’t going to have much of a role on match days and he was eventually dropped from the main coaching team and given the job of leading the club’s Youth Development Program.
One of Maarten Jol’s first acts after replacing Hughes in June 2011 was to reinstate Lewington as First Team Coach in June 2011. Jol said at the time “We started off with him because he’s a main figure here, at this club, he knows everything”. More recently it seems they may have fallen out, yet again Ray was dropped to Reserve Team manager and Billy McKinlay replaced him on the bench.
When Roy requested Lewington to help him with the England job there was a mini tug-of-love. Perhaps that had more to do with Al Fayed feeling slighted by Hodgson than any desire to really hold back Ray but compensation was agreed and Lew now finds himself at the very top of the pile again.
As a player between 1979 and 1990 he made over 270 appearances and scored 24 goals. As a manager he was in charge for over 200 matches in five separate spells during which he achieved 70 wins, 59 draws and 81 loses. He won’t be remembered as one of our most successful but he certainly deserves to be considered one of our most dedicated.
A Fulham legend in any sense of the word.