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Talking To The Enemy


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The last League edition of Talking To The Enemy has been brought to you by the wonderful people at www.friendsoffulham.com


1-This weekend marks the end of a very succesful campaign for Fulham. What where your pre-season predictions and how has the year matched your expectations?


finnster01 I predicted 12th, which I thought was well over the top but I like to think positive...


TonyGilroy Quite simply we've never been so well managed and I go back 50 years. The preparation and organisation is exemplary. The players all seem to appreciate playing for him and he behaves like a gentleman. We've certainly surpassed all expectations.


The FulhamScapegoat I predicted a finish of 12th and thought I was being particularly upbeat. The season has far outstripped my best expectations with a much more settled side, less injuries and losses of form than I would have expected and almost every player improving across the season.


TheBadger First and foremost - to stay up, and maybe even push for a mid-table finish, but we've obviously gone way beyond my expectations this season.


2- Roy has clearly done a great job at Fulham. What qualities has he brought to the club that have so quickly turned you from a relegation candidate to chasing Europe?


finnster01 Professionalism, experience, great signings (Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hangeland) and honest down to earth management style. A bit like an older Moyes really.


TonyGilroy Organisation and preparation. Roy says games are about "moments" and these don't always go in our favour but the performances are entirely consistent. The players always know what is expected of them and contribute effectively. I can't think of any truly bad team performances all season.


The FulhamScapegoat Roy has brought several things to the club this season - a much more balanced and connected team of players - even more so when Bullard went. A patient, passing game that is built on the whole team defending but is also very good to watch. This has seen us with 15 clean sheets this season and 8 0-0 draws away from home - unheard of at Fulham! He has brought a calm but authoritative management style that players, fans and media all respect and we play the game clean and fair - even AJ dives less!! Roy's coaching has been widely praised this season and he has amazed pretty much everyone with what he has brought out of players like Pantsil and Etuhu in particular, enabling them to deliver consitently high quality peformances that perhaps even they didn't know they had in them. We have the least changes of any team this season and that has brought a coherence and confidence to our play that was missing for all of last season. The other significant difference to last season has been the quality players Roy bought in the Summer. Schwarzer has been immense - possibly the best keeper in the division on form - and Murphy has looked as good as he has ever looked in his career, controlling things from midfield in positively magisterial fashion.


TheBadger Last season Roy brought stability and organization to the club, which is what we had been lacking under our previous two managers inparticular. However, this season we've really pushed on as a team, and we also play some decent stuff as opposed to the 'hit and hope' tripe we were playing throughout Sanchez's tenure at the club. We are now a balanced and well-organized side, and a very hard team to break down. I guess you could consider Roy a genius for the way he's changed this football club around in such a short period of time.


3-Europa League. A poisoned challice or the promised land? Where do you stand on this debate?


finnster01 This is a bit of a contested subject for us Fulham fans. But I am in the camp of "feck it, we won it one time and Chelsea never (that is the Inter-Toto Cup by the way...)" and God only knows when will be the next time we win something made of silver. I want to drag my daughter on a Fulham trip to Europe and have her watch a meaningful game and some quality father & daughter time. My dad took me to Wembley in 1975 as a llittle lad, and it is one of the best memories I have of my old man. He passed shortly after.


TonyGilroy Great to qualify but we can't be giving our regular first team another dozen or so games. Roy will use it to give opportunities to squad and developing players. I'm looking forward to it. It adds an extra dimension to the season but the League will have to be the priority.


The FulhamScapegoat It is the most poisoned of chalices but then so is playing in The Premier League a lot of the time. All normal logic would suggest adding potentially 19 extra games to your season and travelling to occassionally hostile places with rubbish pitches and facilities is asking for relegation. However, Roy makes the difference. He has done the European thing like few other managers and we have a suprising amount of European experience in our squad. Roy has delivered more than one could ever have imagined possible - the highest finish in the clubs history - so it would be a fool who would bet against him doing something remarkable in Europe.


TheBadger Firstly, I think the whole Europa league concept is ridiculous, and i would have preferred a straight-knockout format to be introduced. However, this said, clubs like us have to take the opportunity when it presents itself. A European cup-run could easily enhance the reputation of the club, and it also gives us an opportunity to attract 'the cream' of European talent. The lingering fear amongst Fulham fans is that the distraction of Europe could affect our league form - we will have to strengthen come the summer.


4- Where do you feel you need to strengthen in the summer and what should your asspirations be for next season?


finnster01 Left mid, and a striker, but most importantly lock up Hangeland and throw away the key. I think trying for a top half and a decent cup run would be wonderful as it would help settle the club as a very decent Prem team


TonyGilroy Same again would be nice. As would a top quality, hard working striker.


The FulhamScapegoat We need some genuine wingers in order to vary our attacking play and provide the forwards with more service than they have had this season. We also need a good attacking midfielder to compete with Murphy for his place, another left back and some backup for H & H in the centre of defence. There is also a big question mark in many fans minds as to whether Bobby Zamora will figure so much next season and so maybe a replacement more in the Brian McBride mould would suit - Nikola Zigic would do nicely. Our aspirations next season should be a reasonable run in Europe, not disgracing ourselves in the Cup competitions and trying to finish top 10 in the Premiership. I can't see us managing higher than that because of Europe and the fact that Spurs and Man City will be stronger next season and will do better points wise than this.


TheBadger I trust Roy to do as he pleases in the transfer market - he will do what's needed.


5- In recent years Fulham seem to taken a liking to picking up ex-Evertonians. AJ, Simon Davies, McBride, Radzinski, Dacourt just to name a few. Which of these stands out the most, and any abiding memories of some of these old boys?


finnster01 McGod. Enough said. Super Simon also a wonderful and hardworking, yet very underrated player. Jury still out on AJ.


TonyGilroy McBride stands out of course as the supreme professional. 100% sportsmanship and effort with goals when needed. Simon Davies was our stand out player last season and is always reliable. Radzinsky took plenty of stick but I always felt that he was a trier. Shame he had a Zamoraesque phobia about goal scoring.


The FulhamScapegoat McGod is still much missed as a person and a player. Roy tried to sign him back from the US in January but his club wouldn't let him go. He embodies everything that is good about football and was the most tireless, committed professional you could ever want in your team. His time at Fulham was a turbulent one at the club with legions of players coming and going but he was the one constant and the one enduring element of quality through it all. Simon Davies is a joy to watch when he is at his best and has an enviable level of talent. He was our player of the season last time out but has been more subdued this season while playing through the pain of a foot injury. An abiding memory of Brian from last season was when he was stretchered off with a terrible knee injury at home to Boro. In the act of scoring he ruined his knee and was on the ground for 5 minutes before they stretchered him off. As they took him off he was obviously in immense pain but he sat up as best he could and applauded the fans.


TheBadger Brian McBride = legend. Brian was a model PL footballer, and a true professional in every sense. An absolute a battering ram for us.


6- What are your views on Evertons season?


finnster01 Very good. Started slow, ended up coming on good. Typical Moyes fashion, quietly snuck up on everybody and despite the injuries and lack of depth in the striker departement Everton found a way. Very impressive given the circumstances I think.


TonyGilroy Considering injuries, superb. I've got a lot of time for David Moyes who, like Roy Hodgson, has surpassed all expectations and he's kept it going for, what, 5 years now.


The FulhamScapegoat Have really enjoyed what I have seen of Everton this season. Moyes has carefully evolved the engine of the team from the days of those two hardworking baldies Gravesen and Carsley. You have barely a weak link in the side - except maybe Yakubu - and you have stepped up another level defensively this season. We envy your effectivesness away from home and you now have a great balance of grit, graft, skill, pace and staying power. Fellaini is an inspired buy and worth every penny to watch him play. Gosling and Pienaar have been great to watch as well and your mix of youth an experience bodes well for the future. I think 5th is a fair reflection of your consistency and quality this season and the Cup run deserves to finish on a high note - please!


TheBadger I have a real soft-spot for Everton. One of the last remaining traditional football clubs in the PL (along with us ofcourse), as opposed to marketing brands such Chelsea, Man United etc. As for Moyes, I think he is undoubtedly one of the best managers in the PL, and he's done a sound job with you lot, with limited funds/resources. Him and our Roy are certainly strong contenders for manager of the year.

As regards to your season, If you hadn't been so unlucky with injuries - particularly at the beginning of the season, you would be challenging for a champions league place for sure, 5th place would a fair reflection of your season overall.

Finally, I'll be rooting for Everton in the cup final. Can't stand Chelsea - they are a plastic football club.



7- Everton never win at the Cottage, Fulham never win at Goodison. On that note, what are your predictions ?


finnster01 Fulham win, 2-1.


TonyGilroy Home win again of course.


The FulhamScapegoat Having read some of the Everton websites in recent days the consensus seems to be that you won't be putting out a very experienced side. That is almost never the case in these instances though and we are expecting a good game. We play very well at home and the players will be keen to finish on a high note in front of their own fans. You are very difficult to break down though and our pre-season training will probably start Monday week if we get this Europa lark (!!), so our players will want to stay out of physical trouble. A skillful, well contested 1-0 to Fulham, played in brilliant sunshsine by the river when you guys will have a great day out.


Saha to score the winning goal in The Cup.


TheBadger It will be tight, but ill go with a one-nil home win.

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Smashing job again Jamie. I have a soft spot for Fulham ever since we whipped their arses to win the league in 63, it remains London's only family club.


On a side note it is fantastic how much respect other supporters are showing for us and our club, we will have the nations hopes behind us on the 30th, less Chelsea and the Shite of course

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Guest efctaxi

What polite and informative responses .


I've been very impressed with Fulham this season , and would be delighted if they made Europe .

Their manager is a footballing gent , and deserves to offer their fans a new challenge for his efforts .


Lets let them win :D

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Always enjoy reading these, this one has to be one of the best though, good work jamie! Suprised they regard Mcbride such a legend there! I always liked him as a player, very hard working and one of the best headers of the ball in the premiership when he was here! Very good read!

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