Sun shines again

Sunday 21 April 2002

From Fulham Today's Paul Thorpe
Image: Javier Garcia

What a difference a win makes... Or to be more precise what a difference a single goal makes!

It could so easily have been the same story last week - which just goes to show what a funny and hurtful old game this can be.

Who gave us any chance of winning at Elland Road? Not many, that's for sure.

With a disastrous run in the league and a moral sapping defeat against Chelsea behind us, odds of us getting anything other than a good hiding at Leeds were long to say the least.

However, many of us felt that a result like this had been coming for a long time.

I've been saying all season that we had a big win in us. After all every team, even those who are eventually relegated are usually able to look back at their season and pin-point one particular result that stands out as a major victory.

That hadn't happened to us until yesterday afternoon - and that was the reason why I felt so confident before last Sunday's FA Cup Semi Final. As far as I was concerned our 'big win' was still to come...

So has our result of the season come one game too late? I suppose the heart says yes, but in reality Saturday's victory was far more important to the future of our Club.

With Premiership status all but secured we can now safely start to reflect on our first seesaw season in the big league.

Some might say it was a bit of a let down. I believe the whole thing will serve as a massive learning curve similar to the one we experienced after winning promotion to the 1st division.

Then, as at the start of this season, everyone had high expectations of us the media in particular. They just love to build someone up and then knock em' back down as soon as possible. And haven't the vultures been poised, ready to strike all season?

Thankfully we haven't obliged, and it's good for football that Bolton and Blackburn also look like avoiding the drop.

Jean Tigana and Christian Damiano are both highly intelligent men and will have learnt a great deal from their first experience of top-flight English football.

Next season they'll be better prepared for what lies ahead, and more importantly, during the summer, they'll be more aware of the personnel required to take the next step forward.

Overall, despite a recent run that has tested our nerve, the season has been a success.

With confidence now back on a high I believe we'll take another 7 points from our three remaining League fixtures. If we do, then we should finish above Everton and qualify for an Intertoto Cup place.

Fulham - now an established Premiership Club, FA Cup Semi Finalist's, European qualifiers and Who's Ladies team are now among the best in the World.

Let's be honest, who wouldn't have settled for that at the start of the season?