The Tony Gale Column

Wednesday 14 September 2016 16:48

Having done so well before the international break, one point was a bit of a disappointing return from what were two winnable home games. It’s like the break disrupted out momentum somewhat. We expected Birmingham to be the harder of the two of them, but against Burton we should have got the three points. I expected we’d be looking at four points instead of the one. We’ve bossed possession in both matches – I think we had more than 70 per cent on Tuesday – but it counts for nothing without scoring goals. Although we are keeping the ball well and looking good, sometimes you really you have to mix your game up more.

When Burton scored last night they put everyone behind the ball, and it’s always difficult to play against a side when they set up like that. That’s why it’s always important to start with the intent of pace and purpose in a game, make the tempo quick. That’s how you break teams like Burton down. Nigel Clough probably knows he’s got a team that are punching above their weight. They’ve done a magnificent job so when he goes to a club like ours which is quite an established one, he has to shut up shop, he has to make them difficult to beat, especially when they take the lead.

We might be frustrated with the last couple of matches, but we’re still in the Play-Off positions which is impressive. I was at Derby-Ipswich last night and Derby, for all the money they’ve spent and all the possession they had, lost the game one nil. They’ve only got five points on the table and scored one goal because teams are doing to Derby what Burton did to us. Ipswich just shut up shop last night, hit them on the break, got a goal, and won 1-0. It’s a tight division this season, but around about the 26th game mark, teams will start pulling away and you’ll see who’s in the chase and who’s not. It’s important that we stay there in and amongst the favourites like Newcastle and Norwich. We’ve got to hang in there with them and try not to let them get away.

Wigan are up next up on Saturday, and speaking to my friend Tony Cottee who covered their game last night, it sounds like they played quite well in their defeat by Norwich. They conceded two early goals but then he said they gave a fairly good account of themselves, keeping the ball well but without creating many chances. It’s a team that went down and came back up, then brought in quite a few new players. They’ve got a young, ambitious chairman there – I think he’s the youngest in the Football League – and he’s backed Gary Caldwell who’s a good manager. It won’t be easy but I’ve been impressed by us away from home this season, so I see no reason why we won’t return to winning ways.

We’ve then got Bristol City twice in a week. They’ve had a good start to the season, although they’ll be keen to forget their last game. They were 2-0 up against Sheffield Wednesday, then they were 2-1 up, before winning a penalty. They missed the penalty, for which Wednesday had a guy sent off, then they had someone red carded themselves. Sheffield Wednesday go on and get two late goals and win the game 3-2! But Lee Johnson – who comes from a family of Fulham fans – has done well since he’s gone to Bristol City, really well. They’ve sold their top striker, but I think they’ll be one of the sides to just miss out on Play-Offs, you’ll find them in a comfortable position in the Championship.

I went to the tribute lunch for George Cohen orgnised by Bob Howes and Alan Smiths recently. There were about 80 people there and the players that got up and spoke about George were Fred Callaghan and myself. I was just thinking to myself I'm 50 now and when I go to Sky and mix with all the youngsters, it makes me feel really old!. It was incredible at the RAC club but I was the youngest person in the room. It was like going to lunch with the cast from cuckoo.

In all honesty, it was a great lunch for George and although I didn't play with him and I wasn't managed or coached by him, every time he is mentioned with the likes of Best, Mullery, Moore. All those guys are right up there at the top. The only thing I'd like to say about George is what I said that afternoon. Although I didn't know him personally, what a gentleman he is and what a great ambassador for Fulham Football Club he is.

He deserves the statue that is going up for him and I'm looking forward to seeing mine and also looking forward to seeing the statue of Les Strong....Apparently they've been working on his nose for a month.


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