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What’s Under The Fulham Christmas Tree? A Transfer Embargo

Today it was finally announced that Fulham have been handed a transfer embargo by the Football League as a result of breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.

It is a mark of how jaded by failure we’ve become over Fulham’s short but extraordinary fall from grace that this news does not come as a surprise. That does not make it any less infuriating, but is a sad indictment of the ever-growing list of mismanaged situations that have come to be synonymous with our club in recent times.

We are a laughing stock. Not to the outside world – they stopped caring a while ago, but to ourselves.

The club’s statement is little more than a fourteen line excuse.

“Football League has since recognised this limit is low, especially for clubs recently relegated with Premier League overheads in place, and the limit has now increased to £13m per annum”.

Why then are Fulham the only relegated side to be included in those receiving sanctions?

In years gone by, we would have sat atop our high horse and sneered at clubs like Leeds, Blackburn and Nottingham Forest. These were all club’s with bigger pasts that Fulham but who had spectacularly let their fans down during their decent into the obscurity of ordinary club status. Yet here we are, just 5 years on from a Europa League Final staring at the bleak reality that we have become one of them. Indeed we now sit alongside Nottingham Forest on the naughty step.

Financial Fair Play is incredibly complex and as fans we are not experts. We simply want and assume our club is going to do everything it can to succeed. We just aren’t doing that. Yet the simple question that you can’t help but ask in this situation is how did Fulham let themselves fall foul of a system they know is in place? Was there oversight or did we simply think we were too big to get caught?

The club’s statement states they knew an embargo was coming hence the investment in the squad. However, it is not like our investment was particularly seismic. The club spent in the region of £7.5m on transfer fees last summer but at the end of the day the squad is still imbalanced and two of our most important players actually arrived on free transfers.

To an outsider looking in, it appears FFP does not look too kindly on owners supporting their clubs with parachuted capital. It may be that our breach was something of a necessary evil given what came before. Any breach or irregularity likely to relate to the financial investment that was committed in an effort to keep Fulham in the Premier League combined with the staggering loss of income as a result of us failing to do so. The Club’s statement alludes to this but it is hard to know to what extent this breach is Mitroglan.

As the club want us to believe, this may be an indictment of the system itself. The Premier League exists as a champagne bubble so highly removed from the financial reality of the Football League that this FFP breach may be more a result of the system than anything else. However, if that was really the case, why don’t all relegated clubs fall foul of the financial regulations and also get hit with sanctions?

No, this is our bad. Like the bungled search for a new manager, this is just another notch on an increasingly sad bedpost.

Merry Christmas Fulham style

Ross McCormack and the Ghost of Christmas Future

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When the Ghost of Christmas Present makes its way to Mike Rigg’s house tomorrow night, a picture showing the importance of Ross McCormack will be painted.

Given the other headlines at Fulham at the moment it is easy to ignore the importance of someone we already have. Ross McCormack has been indispensable for Fulham this season and it is important that this fact is not lost in our current managerless mire..

His 12 league goals lead the team. Strike partner Moussa Dembele is in 2nd place with 9 goals but is potentially leaving the club in January having yet failed to sign a new contract. With this in mind, Ross’ goals will likely become even more critical as the season wears on.

It is not just goals though, McCormack leads the team with 6 assists and 34 chances created. With our defence more porous than an industrial sized colander, McCormack has been the main reason our offence has stayed alive, and thus kept Fulham afloat in the process.

Put another way, McCormack has scored in all of our five league victories and in three draws. His 6 assists have also all come in games we scored points (spread across 1 win and 4 draws). His free kick at Bolton last Saturday was just the latest in a long list of examples of Ross carrying us on his own back since his arrival at the club 18 months ago.

We live and die by the performance of our talismanic Scot. When he has off days, and he does have them, the team as a whole suffers. Within our five victories, only one of his goals was actually the Game Winner. When he plays well so does the rest of the team.

When he doesn’t play well the team struggles. In the games without a McCormack goal or assist, Fulham have only amassed 6 out of a possible 33 points available.

So whilst our new manager must sort out our defensive struggles, keeping and getting the best out of Ross McCormack must also be a priority.

With our on-going underperformance and being still without a manager, the upcoming transfer window looms ominously just around the corner. Should McCormack decide he has had enough, the grim reaper would have Fulham in his sights. For all of our sakes, let’s hope that when the Ghost of Christmas Future reaches Mr Rigg, the vision includes Ross McCormack.

 

Dear Jose

Dear Jose

Sorry to hear about you getting the sack from Chelsea. They always were a bunch of ingrates. Anyway if you’re looking to get straight back on the horse, Fulham have been keeping the Head Coach role vacant for just such an occasion. Here’s a list of reasons why you should think about taking over at Fulham:

• You wouldn’t need to move house.
• You don’t need the money by the sounds of things so you could focus on taking a job for the love of the game.
• You could immediately promote your son to the first team.
• You’d be away from the spotlight, Sky Sports don’t even have directions to Motspur Park.
• Ross McCormack > Radamel Falcao
• Weekly Geordie Shore viewing parties at Dan Burn and Shaun Hutchinson’s houses.
• No John Terry
• Instead of a Russian owner who thinks he knows everything, we have an American owner who doesn’t claim to know anything.
• You get an Owners Box ticket to the Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts next October.
• Unlimited cups of Bovril for only £2.20 a cup.
• We never win anything so you wouldn’t need to worry about John Terry stealing everybody else’s thunder at the trophy presentation.
• Sightseeing trips to Bolton, Rotherham and Preston.
• We classify a 1 goal home defeat to Bournemouth as a good result.
• You can select your own pre-season tour venue, as long as you don’t mind 3* hotels and dressing rooms where only the cold water tap works.
• You don’t have to play Cesc Fabregas, but we’ll look the other way if you bring him with you and stick him in the reserves.
• Instead of an underground music venue that sometimes hosts jazz concerts, we have a defender called Jazz, therefore cutting out the middle man. You can have all Jazz all the time.
• The referees are all too rubbish in the Championship to be biased against you.
• Lilly Allen used to support Fulham and then switched to Chelsea. Need we say more.
• Fulham can beat Juventus in Europe.
• You’ll get two opportunities to beat Chelsea next season.
• Cauley Woodrow’s banter.

Well, I think that’s fairly conclusive.

See you soon

Yours, Fulham x

The Tale of Brentford Eve

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Earlier in the week I drafted an article liking the appointment of Stuart Gray to the underwhelming experience I had watching the Astronomical Clock in Prague’s Old Town Square.

I wrote the allegorical tale on Monday, when rumours of Gray’s appointment were swirling and there was talk of him taking training. I wrote it on spec with the rumours getting stronger, but Monday came and went in a lapping wave of disappointment. Disappointment that Gray was seemingly our choice and disappointment that we still hadn’t actually announced anything formally even if he was. We were still dealing with what ifs.

By the time the announcement was actually made on Tuesday lunchtime, I think most people like me had actually gotten over the fact that someone as run of the mill as Gray was going to be appointed. When it was then revealed that he wasn’t actually our new Head Coach, if you stopped to think about it, the appointment wasn’t a actually a bad one. It was just a month late. So unfortunately my Prague story.

By this stage though, my Prague story seemed a bit moot and had to go back into the store cupboard. Apart from a few tweets existentially asking how we got to this point and asking if Fulham got here by luck or design, there seemed little else to say. It also seemed that I wasn’t alone. Fulham fans seem stuck in an endless purgatorial loop somewhere between utter despair and self-loathing but with a small glimmer of hope.

Well, it’s now rolled around to Brentford Eve and I can hardly remember a derby game with a more muted build up. West London derbies hardly rival those in Istanbul, Rome or Glasgow for intensity at the best of times, but tomorrow is still one of our two most emotionally charged home games of the year. Or at least it should be if we weren’t all so apparently browbeaten. When you consider that Brentford will bring almost half their home attendance to Craven Cottage tomorrow you begin to realise this game counts just a little bit more than the others.

We may not have a manager, we might not be playing that well at the moment, but we bloody well need to get our mojo back and that isn’t just down to those players on the pitch come 3pm tomorrow afternoon. Mismanagement and miscommunication should not enough to dampen the love we all have for our club. For a little while longer yet, it might be up to us to pick ourselves off the canvas. The last month has shown nobody else is going to do it.

For two hours tomorrow afternoon let’s forget Stuart Gray was announced with a big picture of Mike Rigg glaring down on us. Let’s forget the Football League have yet to announce the results of their Financial Fair Play investigation. Let’s not worry that Sheffield Wednesday only scored 17 goals last season. Let’s beat Brentford, or at least let’s believe we can.

COYW

The Terminal

The-TerminalHave you ever seen the film The Terminal?

If you have, do you think Mike Rigg really likes it?

26 days we’ve been sat in this managerless purgatory, let’s hope when we finally get to the other side it isn’t an anti-climax.

For those of you that haven’t seen it, seeing as there’s no meaningful Fulham news to talk about why don’t you have a movie night.