Last week was a very enjoyable one for Fulham with a couple of wins under our belt. I was very pleased on Tuesday because my two teams both went through in the FA Cup; West Ham beat Everton on penalties and Fulham beat Wolves on penalties. I was delighted by that, it was a great result. The cup is so important because it’s something else to compete in and fight for. And what better way to improve confidence than a cup run? No doubt we’ll go up to Sunderland on Saturday and make a good fist of it. I’d be very surprised if they put their first team out, bearing in mind they’re in trouble in the Premier League, so it could be a good opportunity for us to cause an upset.
We’ll give it a good go because a cup run does everyone the world of good. People still talk about the Europa League run, and they’ll continue to talk about it for the rest of their lives. That will live with Fulham fans forever. When people demean the Europa League, I say, ‘well look at my club – it was the best thing that ever happened to us.’ And with the FA Cup people still talk about 1975 when Les Strong played in every game but not the Final, and how it would have been different if he’d featured. (I don’t think it would’ve been, mind!)
We followed the Wolves win up with a cracking victory at the Cottage on the weekend. Some might say that our stoppage-time winner was a bit harsh on Reading, but I always think things like late goals even themselves out. When you get a late victory it just gives you a little fillip going into the next game. But those three points are so, so important. It was also good to see Alex Kačaniklić get on the scoresheet. He’s just come back so that goal will have done his confidence no harm whatsoever. Ryan Tunnicliffe featured too, so it’s good for these boys that they’ve contributed to a win so soon after returning from their loans.
We’ll be looking to make it three wins on the spin on Wednesday when Nottingham Forest visit, but we probably couldn’t have played them at a worse time because they won their local derby at the weekend with a late goal themselves. They were kind of drifting in the league and Stuart Pearce came under a lot of pressure, but I think we might now find that Forest kick on again because you need something to spark your season and that late goal did. I thought they were going to be promotion favourites, and even title winners, with the way they started the season – they flew out of the traps but now they’d no doubt settle for a Play-Off spot. They’ve got an outside chance of that, I think.
When we played Forest earlier in the season, they were top and we were bottom, but now we can go level on points with them if we win. So it’s funny how fortunes change, although I knew there’d be a levelling out for us because Kit got off to a blistering start. To say we’re three points behind them, you’d have settled for that, but you wouldn’t have thought they’d have dropped that low.
There’s been plenty of good news coming out of Motspur Park recently, with the Club announcing that George Williams, Cameron Burgess and, most recently, Sean Kavanagh have signed long-term deals. It’s good that those boys see their long-term futures at Fulham, but it’s important that they don’t think they’ve got their feet under the table. It’s crucial now that the people around them – their agents and their families – tell them this should be the springboard. You haven’t made it now but this could be the springboard to kick on and have a good career. Twenty or 30 games in a first team doesn’t make you a player. A couple of hundred, then you’ve made it.
That’s one of the advantages of appointing a manager like Kit in the first place, because he not only knows the players, but he also knows what surrounds them when you’re involved in their development at a younger age. He understands it a lot more than most people.