Under-21 Manager Kit Symons is hoping Fulham can record a third Club victory in just over a week against Manchester City on Saturday.
Symons believes Fulham are more than capable of upsetting the odds at Craven Cottage against the Barclays Premier League Champions and continue the outstanding recent set of results achieved against his former club City by our Under-21 and Under-18 teams.
“It would be nice to win on Saturday because the Under-18s beat Man City 3-2 last Saturday and we beat their Under-21 team on Monday afternoon,” explained Symons to fulhamfc.com. “If the First Team can make it a hat-trick on Saturday it would be fantastic!
“They [Manchester City] know they’ll be in for a tough test this weekend. We’re a very well organised side; we’re strong, and tough to beat.
“If we go in 0-0 at half-time, or certainly not behind, then we’ve got a great chance. The longer the game goes on and we stay in it, our belief will grow.
“Craven Cottage is also a really difficult place to come and play. As much as it’s a lovely part of London and a lovely old ground with tremendous character, I don’t think teams generally enjoy coming to play us at our home ground.”
Symons made more than 100 appearances for both City and the Whites during a highly successful playing career, and Fulham’s Under-21 Manager was evidently delighted to see his former club lift the Premier League trophy last season.
“When I first signed for Manchester City people like Niall Quinn were there and then players like Georgi Kinkladze came in – real top footballers. However, there were a lot of players coming and going during my three years and also managers too.
“It was a really difficult time for the football club, but maybe that’s what has shaped them and helped them become what they are today. Sometimes you have to go through the bad times to appreciate the good.
“When I was at City the club really struggled, but the fans were always fantastic and turned up in their numbers. It was going so badly that it almost became a cult thing to go and watch the team because some of the football dished out at the time wasn’t too attractive! They’ve got brilliant supporters.
“I was delighted they won the league last year, but only because we weren’t in the running! I was jumping up and down on the last day of the season when they scored that goal, more for the fans than anything else. There are still a lot of people working for the club that were there when I was there - so I was delighted for them too.”
Symons’ fortunes soon changed after his move to SW6 in 1998, as promotion successes with Fulham replaced relegation battles at City.
“Both clubs have progressed but the changes at City since I was there have been wholesale,” added Symons. “I think they’ve still kept the closeness with the support base which is massive.
“I went from two relegations in three years with City to come to Fulham and enjoy two promotions in three years. As much as it was a tough time playing up there, I’m delighted to see them doing so well but there are certainly no split allegiances. I want City to do well for the people who work there that are friends of mine and the fans, but it’s always Fulham all the way for me.”
Fulham can record a third successive Premier League victory this weekend and Symons praised the newly-formed partnership of Steve Sidwell and Chris Baird in central midfield as a key ingredient to the Team’s recent winning form.
“Steve and Chris are both top, top professionals and good solid citizens as players," he said. "They’re both very reliable and it’s not a surprise to me that they’ve looked so strong together in central midfield.
“Chris Baird’s performance against West Bromwich Albion was fantastic. He was pinging the ball around and it was great to watch.That was a really good performance and even before the sending off I thought we were by far and away the better team and worthy of our win.”
Symons was also delighted to see Alex Smith, one of his former Academy scholars, introduced in the final stages of the game against West Brom. Despite only being on the pitch for a matter of minutes, Smith certainly made an impact on those present at Craven Cottage.
“Alex did really well when he came on and was really positive in his play,” said Symons. “You could hear the crowd urging him on. I spoke to him after the match and he really enjoyed it.
“He didn’t look out of place at all. Fair enough, the game was dead and it was right at the end, but it was a great experience for him. He also played very well for the Under-21 team on Monday when we beat Manchester City. He’s coming on nicely.”