So, Europe, eh?
It hit me last night while watching Britain’s Got Talent. The judges came on to the same music we used to play in our Europa games, and I realised what last season had lacked: frightening games.
Sure there were tense matches, games that meant things, but never games that made you feel sick, games that had you wide eyed and awe-struck. Last season’s successful league matches were fun; the unsuccessful matches were not.
Which is not to say that league games are not interesting. They are. Every week we turn up to watch history, for every game is important and part of the game’s and the club’s long-running journey. We’re there for that, watching things develop, watching Fulham edge on and on. This is partly why pre-season friendlies are such a turn-off; they disappear into thin air when they’re over. It’s also partly why I love the players’ “Career Stats” at the back of the matchday programme: our current squad are racking up some numbers now. Not by historical standards, but several of the team are in three figures, which after a period of extraordinarily high player turnover is very much a good thing.
Anyway, Europe is different. The last journey went from happy curiosity (prelims) to outright excitement (Roma! In a competitive game!) to joy (we’re playing Juventus! We’ve beaten Juventus! Juventus!) to awe (Shakhtar) to raw fright (the German phase – QF/SF/F).
That’s what I’m looking forward to. The worst case scenario is that we lose to a team of part-timers from Iceland or Ireland, and even that would be better than not taking part.