Jimmy Dunne

Wednesday 20 February 2002

'Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away...' whined those trumped up Liverpudlians many years ago. I was never a fan of the so-called mop-tops and actually had the chance to vent my spleen at them in person. I happened to be passing the building where they performed their famous final live gig up on the roof. If you look carefully at the footage filmed at the time you can just make out a fresh faced Terry Spratt standing on the pavement with his hands cupped round his mouth booing his heart out. Magic.

However even the overrated scousers got it right sometimes because yesterday indeed all my troubles did seem so far away. I was a Fulham supporter and I knew where I stood. We were friendly Fulham, the club who smiled and waved as the ship was going down and I could whinge and whine to my heart's content.

When we made new signings they were invariably players who were dropping down the divisions at the end of their careers but the fans would greet each one as a potential saviour. Did anyone really think Brian Talbot would turn the club around? Was Steve Archibald going to be our 20 goal a season man? Was Graham Baker the missing link in midfield? Of course not. But the fans could dream and I could carry on moaning in harmony.

The recent years of unremitting success have hit me hard. I could take it for the first few seasons but now I find it increasingly difficult to raise any sort of gripe. My treacherous 10-year-old son has already gone over to the other side and is a fervent fan of all things Fulham and will hear no wrong. Earlier this season we would have ripped apart the performance against Boro on Tuesday night but now the lad is absolutely distraught. I find myself actually having to console the little traitor.

The worst part of all this is that I'm beginning to think he is right. It seems churlish and spiteful to whinge at obvious talents like Malbranque, Finnan and Marlet. It was so much easier to moan at Reg Matthewson, Jim Hicks or Steve Milton. However unjust the criticism it didn't matter because we were never going to win anything. I have to accept that with the set up we have now it is only a matter of time before we win major honours.

Nevertheless, old habits die hard and I'm not ready to throw the towel in just yet. I'll try a few more needless and cutting whinges right here and now and see how I feel. Here goes.

On Saturday we may have sneaked passed a below par Walsall but we will have to start incorporating that aspect of the game known as 'shooting' if we are to progress further. Do the players think that all shots have to be struck from behind them a la Hayles? It might explain the woefully small number of attempts on goal.

Losing at Boro would have been no disgrace years ago but we all saw them at the Cottage recently and you have to say they were very, very poor indeed. Yet we still let them mug us at their place. Shocking. We must improve our success ratio from set pieces. Scoring 1 from every 237 attempts simply isn't good enough. Also do we have to make an average of 829 passes in defence before we cross the half way line for an attack? Why do we try a shot from outside the box only once every eight months?

See? I'm just getting silly now. I'm talking rubbish and I know it. But what chance do I possibly have? I'm reduced to making up stupid statistics that I don't even believe myself. Is it really time for me to hang up my moaning boots? Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away...


TERRY SPRATT