A very Happy New Year to the Fulham Faithful! I hope you all had an enjoyable and restful couple of weeks with your loved ones.
I wanted us to win our last four matches to get back in the Play-Off mix, but 10 points from a possible 12 is still a brilliant return. To be two goals down at Hull and get a point was fantastic, to score four away from home at a team that was flying high in Cardiff showed what we’re capable of, Barnsley was good to grind out the victory, and we showed a lot of character to come back against Ipswich.
Tuesday was a bit of a mad one as we came from behind to score four in eight minutes. I can’t remember the last time I saw a blitz like that. We started the game really well, we seemed really up for it and moved the ball quickly, although it wasn’t until the red card that we really made it count. It was definitely a sending off, I don’t know what the kid was thinking, he just lost it and lashed out, which let his side down. Once we got the first goal you knew the win was going to come. It was a very exciting game and the perfect way to finish off the Christmas and New Year period.
The only time we dropped points was against Hull, a fixture I thought we should win, but in the circumstances it was a great result, especially away from home. You’ve got to give Slaviša Jokanović credit, he made two changes before half-time as he knew we needed to freshen things up, and the team went on and showed a lot of character to salvage a point when it had looked as though we were going to leave empty handed. It seems like we’re following a similar pattern to last season, picking up from Christmas onwards, so let’s hope it continues.
Aboubakar Kamara has scored four goals in a game and a half now, and that’s fantastic form in anyone’s book. It’s all about confidence with strikers, and those two matches will have done him the world of good. It was always going to be hard coming here from where he was, as the English second tier is a lot more difficult than the French equivalent. It’s a very fast-paced environment in the Championship which takes some getting used to, but the more goals he scores, the more beneficial that is to his development, and of course it helps the team as well. Long may his form continue, but now he needs to keep his head down, keep working on his game during training, and I’m sure he’ll continue to improve as a player.
We welcome Southampton to the Cottage in the FA Cup on Saturday, and we’ve more than got a chance in that one. Both managers have said they’ll name a strong side, so it should be an exciting encounter. Saints are struggling at the moment, but they’re still a Premier League outfit with Premier League players so it will be a difficult game, although one that I think we can win with the momentum we’re currently enjoying.
I’m a big fan of the FA Cup as a competition. I’ve had the privilege of winning it with Portsmouth, while I got to the Semi-Finals with Fulham where we were so close, only to lose to a horrible John Terry header at a corner. I still have no idea why it was played at Villa Park, I know fans were scratching their heads about that one. But I’ve got great memories of the FA Cup, although I was very disappointed not to go all the way with Fulham. We would have faced that great Arsenal team in the Final, but we still would have given them a game with the players we had. That would have been a career highlight for me, playing in a Final with Fulham.
Fans of a certain age will recall us knocking out Southampton from both cup competitions back in the 1998/99 season, which was some achievement as we were two divisions below them at the time. I came on as a sub in one of the League Cup matches and I was terrible! I gave the ball away about three or four times, I was awful, and Kevin Keegan had a go at me the next day. Luke Cornwall played as well, who I was in the youth team with, and he had quite a good game. So I was happy for him but disappointed that I didn’t give a better account of myself.