As we approach the much anticipated start of the season I feel it is once again time for us all as Fulham fans to set our expectations for the year ahead.
Outside of the fact that the club are yet to release this season’s home kit for fans to buy, in lieu of no confirmed sponsor, things appear to be in much better shape than they were a year ago.
The acquisitions made seem on the face of it well thought out, and despite the signing of Sakari Mattila being the classic token random one, we seem to have a much greater sense of balance this season. Not only are the likes of Bettinelli, LVC, Woodrow etc all a year further down the line in having a season of first-team football under their belts, but the recent additions have nearly all fallen within the age bracket we so desperately have lacked.
Having a supporting cast of 30-somethings patching up the cracks that our youth team have been unable to fill was the legacy that our relegation from the Premier League left us with last season. With the likes of Cairney, O’Hara, Pringle, Jazz Richards and, on a more short-term basis, Garbutt, we have a pocket of players in the previously underrepresented mid-20s bracket who not only are fully ready for first-team football week in, week out, but are equally capable of growing with the club as we embark on what is a two/three-year plan to secure promotion. Admitedly we are still a few pieces of the jigsaw away from having a solid base but I certainly think Kit deserves credit for the good work done over the summer.
It is very easy for those expectations amongst fans to creep back up to dangerous levels though, and there will no doubt be some early calls for our inexperienced manager’s head given a slip up or two in the coming weeks. Whenever you feel the need to call for a new man at the helm, just keep in mind who else is out there and be careful what you wish for. Symons is still learning, he will at times make some basic mistakes but also there is a chance that we could end up developing a better manager than we could attract, as well as having the bonus of being a club legend.
On a personal note I have found Kit’s recent interiews on the website to be extremely encouraging and as a coach he seems to have benefited personally from a pre season under his control.
Don’t go expecting promotion this year. Given the addition of a centre-back or two there is definitely a chance for the play-offs, although a top 10 finish would be more realistic. It sounds silly to say but clubs can get promoted too quickly and we are certainly not ready for the Premier League again yet. This season will definitely be better than the last, but remember to keep those expectations in check and understand that while we have made huge strides over the summer, we still have a long way to go!
Here’s to a good start on Saturday! COYW !