The Quiet Man

The recent brouhaha surrounding Clint Dempsey and the general bombast of the transfer market has made me reflect on the way the club is run.

Over the last five or so years there seems to have been a real maturation process within the club. Gone are the days of the big name star signings, the adrenaline fuelled rush through the leagues and ambitions of becoming the ‘Manchester United of the south’. Fulham have also weathered the more barren post-Tigana years , characterised by poor fitness, loose lips at the training ground and poor results on the pitch.

In recent years, things can not have been more different. Transfer business is low key and done behind closed doors. Mohammed Al Fayed and Alistair Mackintosh don’t feel the need to take to Twitter to reassure fans or declare statements of intent (although one shudders at the thought of Twitter existing in 1997 and MAF being computer literate). Even the playing staff seem to reflect this change – there seem to be, for want of a better phrase, no ‘billy big bollocks’ players and where they have reared their ugly heads they are swiftly and mercilessly dealt with.

So Fulham have become the quiet man in the premier league. A team that keeps to itself, does not court controversy and gets on with the job at hand. The results have followed and the transition between three managers has been performed superbly. Fulham feel like a club that is very comfortable in its own skin, looking for sustainable growth and one that is realistic in its short term targets. The complete reformation of the youth programme at Fulham has also been a huge success, giving Fulham a base from which to build with young players, some of whom are making their way into the first team already.

Whilst stability has been evident at Fulham in recent times, this summer has seen the biggest change of personnel in its recent history and the fans have been understandably uneasy with the change and the size of the squad. However, Fulham’s business has been suitably low key and – so far – encouraging. The fantastic Diarra has been signed up for the year, two astute free transfers have been made in the form of Mladen Petric and Hugo Rodellega and a dependable workhorse of a right back has been brought in on loan in the form of Sascha Reither.

Perhaps the only downside to being the quiet man of the premier league is the lack of respect it can sometimes engender. Despite being a consistent top 10 team over the last few years, we get little recognition from the media or other teams who still seem to view Fulham as a soft touch and a team that ‘we really should be beating’. However this often works in our favour – when Hodgson was in charge one journalist likened a trip to craven cottage as being prey to gentleman muggers who lure you in with the pleasant surroundings and send you on your way bereft of points.

Overall the current outlook at Fulham seems to be incredibly rosy. The loss of players and managers is adapted to with little fuss, the academy is producing some home grown talent and along with the new Riverside Stand in the works, sustainability is the way forward. As long as the football is good and the commitment from the players and manager evident the quiet man of the premier league will keep on chugging along nicely.

Alex is a Fulham fan based in SW London and has been trying to remain positive over the summer

21 thoughts on “The Quiet Man

  1. I whole heartedly agree with you and, I like it that way. Although sometimes it is frustrating not be able to find much in the press, in other ways it is comforting. This past weekend was a perfect example. We win 5-0 at home to be top of the table (albeit after the first game of the season) and you have to scrabble around to find a decent report. Even then most of it is directed at Chris Hughton’s reaction..sigh. It as if the collective media are saying “it’s only Fulham, they will be down the bottom again next week so let’s not bother.” We may well lose this coming weekend given the fixture, but even if we were to poull of a shock win it would be all about how Man Utd are falling behind the leaders and not about us. One further point germaine to your piece: Can I just say, despite the refusal to play and demandind to get a move, it has also all been behind closed doors. Unlike other wantaway players Clint Dempsey has remained quiet not airing his dirty washing in public, I like that too.

    1. Love the phrase “point germaine” but don’t know what it means. Do tell. I’ll be upset if it’s a spelling error!

      BTW – agree with all comments so far. It always amazes me when the boards are full of people with their collective ‘knickers in a twist’ over press rumour/speculation etc. Alex is right in respect to the managing of the club, lets keep things behind closed doors an do things our way, no matter how annoying it is for fans yearning for any scrap of news.

        1. Cool – I’ll use it in a work email tomorrow! Only on a Fulham site would you learn the finer points of English : )

                1. Potts Point here. Work in the city – Amex. Anyone else local that you know of?
                  Facebook me at kevin Domnic if you’re on it.

              1. Replying further up because it was getting so narrow – I’m a Pom over in NSW for the year. Heading back in Oct, staying in Wollongong at the moment, but would love to get together and watch the Whites if you organise something…

  2. I got a copy of the quote because I loved it!

    Today’s comment by Mirror hack Mick Calvin:

    “Once again, the tranquility of the setting, and the nature of the executioner, belied the nature of the threat.� Losing at Fulham is a little like being mugged at an art gallery. It’s so civilised you don’t notice the blood on the carpet.”

      1. Yes – I don’t remember where the “Today’s comment by Mirror hack Mick Calvin” bit came from (friendsoffulham probably) – but that is pretty good word craft in my books and elevated him above the ‘hack’ status.

        I just think it sums Fulham @ the Cottage perfectly.

  3. Outliers. I’ve been thinking of Fulham over the past few seasons like a sculptor, knocking off the pieces that diverge too far from the desired, central idea.

    It’s been exaggerated this summer with the release of several players that seemed core to the club, but each one was an outlier in their own way. I think we’re much closer now to what Jol (and probably Al Fayed) wants Fulham to be.

  4. I dunno. As someone that loves media transparency, sometimes this club disappoints me. Yet it’s all on a case by case basis.

    I remember listening to a guardian podcast last year, and they mentioned that the only time you ever heard from Fulham, was when Martin Jol was trotted out in front of the media. And then on the ESPN FC podcast (have I been plugging it enough lately?), Rebecca Lowe and co discussed how we’re a strangle club by the river that just does it own thing. In some instances (Zamora) I was okay with that. In others (Dempsey; until recently) I was upset at the radio silence coming out of SW6.

    I don’t want us to become a soap opera, but I just wish there was more of a open window into the players.

  5. I think another look at the finances would be a good thing. Fulham are still pissing as much of it up the wall as every other club in the league. Not to be overly negative – what we’re seeing on the pitch is just great – but this kind of post might look a bit hubristic if the club finds itself without a benefactor within 10 years and the bills still need paying.

    1. I can see what you mean, but this was meant to be more about the club moving in the right direction so that the reliance on our generous benefactor is lessened. In particular the complete revamp of the youth system is a big step in the right direction towards some form of sustainability.

      Football being football, there are not many clubs in the prem who could lose their benefactor and not be put in a perilous position. Particularly clubs of our size. I may be being naive but does it not seem as though Fulham are making the right moves or at least moving in the right direction?

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