Journey back to a fortnight ago, and the vast majority of Fulham fans would have been gearing up for a nervous and ultimately nail biting end to a season that had seen us fall perilously close to the drop zone, with seemingly every side around us upping their game as we continued to struggle.
Three games on and with a maximum of nine points gained; including a vital ‘six-pointer’ at home to fellow strugglers Milton Keynes Dons, Fulham now find themselves 10 points clear of relegation with just five games remaining.
Prior to the MK Dons game, I had emphasised the point that it would not be our lack of goals that would be our potential downfall in the upcoming fixtures, but rather our inability to make it through 90 minutes without a host of glaring errors at the back.
While we have failed to keep a clean sheet in the last three outings, we have come out winning 2-1 on each occasion and in turn seem to have finally achieved some consistency in defence. While our run of form has coincided with the return of the promising Marcus Bettinelli in goal, it would be harsh to lay the majority of the blame at Andy Lonergan’s feet who has on a number of occasions kept us in games when the defence in front has provided little in the way of protection.
Centre-back Michael Madl has been impressive since joining at the end of January, although has yet to settle in to a partnership given the ever changing line up around him. Fernando Amorebieta has debatably underachieved in fans’ eyes since joining the club back in 2013 with the only guarantee being that he will get booked, or worse, within any given 90 minutes.
It has to be said though that the pairing have been decent in recent weeks and the opportunity for more consistency across the back four will only be beneficial in building again for next season.
Undoubtedly the back four have also been helped by a midfield offering a lot more in the way of support and cover. Scott Parker, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Rohan Ince and Emerson Hyndman have all put in shifts of late and the change from 3-5-2 to a 4-1-3-2 formation seems to have improved the overall stability of the side.
Of course this is Fulham we are speaking about, and while I would like to think that the gap is such that we can now start to focus on next season, another three points would go a long way to making sure that we don’t go into the last game at home to already relegated Bolton needing to take something out of the game.
Call me pessimistic, but given what we have been through the past few years, I am not taking anything for granted until we officially get over the line. Here’s hoping for more in the way of consistency over the remaining fixtures and a few more points to go along with it.