Good afternoon and welcome to Craven Cottage. While I wish I were speaking from the top of the table, I do appreciate the opportunity to express some thoughts with you today, if only briefly.
I don’t doubt our effort on the pitch this season in the least. We’ve been working many young homegrown players into the First Team and it’s clear why our Academy Director Huw Jennings and his entire Academy staff are considered the best in the business. But, they’re learning and, as we’re reminded with each match, the Championship is a rugged league. And there have been strong opinions recently as to whether our strategy heading into the campaign was the right one. That’s to be expected given our position in the table. It’s not where we want to be, nor ever dreamt of being.
Again, it’s worth repeating that I believe our squad has competed fiercely. We saw that on Wednesday night at Nottingham Forest, and I anticipate we’ll see it this afternoon against Blackburn Rovers. I hope you concur. But, I’m also reminded of a quote from Bill Parcells, the legendary Hall of Fame head coach in American football, who once said: “You are what your record says you are.” That’s an unfortunate and unacceptable reality of our season to this point, which is why I made the decision on Thursday to make a managerial change and part ways with Felix Magath.
As Kit Symons takes the reins as our Caretaker Manager, I will personally lead the search for our next First Team Manager. To address the obvious question as to whether Kit will be in consideration, the answer is yes. But this will be an exhaustive, thorough and deliberate process. No decisions will be made for the sake of deadlines or convenience. I plan to summon a number of qualified advisors for input, some within or close to the Fulham family and others who will bring a perspective from outside the Club. In the end the decision will be mine, but the choice will be made with the benefit of excellent and highly respected counsel. This process is already under way and I look forward to tackling the challenge and opportunity ahead.
Finally, I’ve heard from many of you in the wake of the difficult outcome last weekend at Reading, and I want to close with a few observations from the emails that I received over the past week. First, thank you for writing. The fact you felt comfortable in connecting with me and the Club is something I welcome, no matter the circumstances. There will never be a scenario where your thoughts will be unimportant to us.
And second, the experience of the past week did serve to underline why Fulham is unlike any Club in England and maybe in the world. The vast majority of supporters who wrote did not dwell on statistics or results. Of course, understandably, some did. But for the most part, what I heard from you were your personal stories and accounts as to why the Club matters to you, and why Fulham matters to your family, friends and even the game of football itself. I always knew Fulham was a special club, but this week I felt it. There’s a difference between knowing something and feeling something, and that feeling was a major takeaway for me this past week. You deserve better and my job - and our job - is to deliver. I promise you that we will.
Thanks for hanging in there with us and, above all, standing behind our men this afternoon and every time we play. In particular, I offer my most sincere respect and appreciation to the Fulham supporters who have travelled this season to cheer us on during what have clearly been trying circumstances. There are no better fans in football. And as I was reminded this week, there is no better Football Club than Fulham.
Come On You Whites.
Shahid Khan, Chairman