One of the most exciting things about Fulham’s pre-season so far for me has been the building up of good team spirit. If you, like me, have been following what the team has gotten up to in Germany you will have seen the pictures of some white water rafting and even some football-tennis tournaments (there is a very amusing video here) – all things that can help improve the relationships within the team. Unrest within the changing room, whether that is among the players or the staff, can cause problems on the pitch. We have our very own example of this with Bobby Zamora. He obviously didn’t get on with Jol and it seems that the whole team reacted badly to this on the pitch, which is somewhere where players are supposed to be able to block everything out! It is also sad that Andy Johnson has come out and said that he didn’t quite see eye to eye with Jol in terms of his best position. I have gotten to the stage now where I trust Jol’s decision in shaking up the team a bit but there were times, particularly around Christmas and the January transfer window were I was feeling uneasy about the Jol-Fulham fit. Although I want to make it clear that I now see that Jol has a plan and I am willing to trust that plan.
The expectation on players to block everything out and focus on one thing, the football, to me is very unrealistic. Players need the support of the fans, and managers certainly don’t need the incredible amount of pressure often placed on them. An example of this can be found with Blackburn. The treatment Steve Kean got was shocking. It had an effect on the players and we saw what result that brought about!
So to bring it back to Fulham you can see why I get excited when I see the team getting along and having fun in Germany. The better the relationships off the pitch, the easier it will be for the team to bond when on it. I have played on teams before were the relationships off the pitch haven’t been great (and trust me, that puts it lightly!) and I can tell you that it makes the game a lot harder to play and therefore a lot harder to win. Getting the team to do a lot of team-building and bonding activities can only be a good thing for Fulham when it comes to the season ahead. I don’t know about you but following the team through pre-season and seeing the team bond well is just getting me very excited about the start of the season.