Welcome to Craven Cottage and to what’s likely to be the most challenging test we’ll experience at home this year, a date with league-leading Derby County. The Rams have held or been near the top spot in the Sky Bet Championship table all season thanks in large part to their ability to win, often impressively, away from home. We saw that here at the Cottage in October when Derby fought back from being down 2-0 to win 5-2 in the Capital One Cup. I commend Derby on a spectacular season thus far, but certainly hope to slow them this afternoon with a much-needed winning effort from Fulham.
The loss to Derby in October is memorable inthat we were playing our best football of the season at the time. We’d won five of seven matches prior to the defeat against the Rams, and then posted four wins, two losses and two draws leading up to Christmas. We were performing so well late in 2014, it seemed as though the Capital One Cup result was an anomaly.
We slowed a bit thereafter but, even in January, we dropped only two of seven matches and were squarely in position to compete for a Play-Off place. Also during that time, we stayed alive in the FA Cup thanks to scrappy performances on the road at Wolverhampton Wanderers, where we advanced to the next round on penalties, and later at Premier League side Sunderland. We also competed hard in a pair of one-goal defeats and found a way to prevail in two narrow victories. You learn a lot about what you have when matches are in the balance approaching full-time, and we were encouraged by what we saw from our young and developing squad.
We were certainly mindful of the January transfer window and the opportunities - or temptations - it offers. For every successful move in the transfer season there may be half a dozen that fail to produce results, as supporters of Fulham and likely every club in England understand all too well. Nevertheless, while caution is advised when browsing the transfer market, clubs should be prepared to pounce if the right player is available at the right time. At Fulham, we were prepared with the appropriate resources and full authority if it made perfect sense.
Manager Kit Symons sees our players daily. As a top-flight player not that long ago, Kit knows and feels the game. He understands and appreciates the Fulham way. And Kit knows what we all want, and that’s a side that will make us proud and compete for a return to the Premier League. It’s good to have someone as our manager who wants to achieve success in a proper manner.
So, I have to applaud Kit for his discipline and restraint during this particular January transfer window when the easy and likely popular move would have been to spend for the sake of appearing to be active. The truth is, Kit was active. Kit didn’t feel the right options were there. As you all know, Fulham endured some drama over the past 18 months with our managers. We’ve become a more cohesive club, on and off the pitch, since Kit was promoted to manager in September. There’s a lot of football left this season. I’m confident we’ll finish the season safe, sound and strong.
But in any event, I pay great respect to Kit for having faith in and standing by the players we’ve had all season to send us upward. What can be better than having a manager who has unconditional faith in you? The hope here is that our squad honours Kit’s faith and responds appropriately and immediately with today’s encounter against Derby. A positive result against the league leaders in front of the home supporters would do nicely.
In the meantime, I want to assure all Fulham fans that Kit and the Club will always have my full commitment and attention. If Kit feels there’s an option to consider during the emergency transfer period, he'll have my total support to act. There will be no uncertainty or lack of communication, as I speak at great length with Kit, Mike Rigg and Alistair Mackintosh every Monday, at a minimum. They’re all aware of my trust and support in each of them. And the same applies for everyone at Motspur Park and Craven Cottage. We have a great Club at Fulham, and we will fight through this difficult stretch successfully, united as one. Of course, no one is more important in this equation than you and all of our Fulham supporters. In the best and worst of times, it’s comforting to know that the Fulham community is unwavering. We’re deeply appreciative of your love and support for Fulham, and we’ll need it this afternoon against Derby and through the balance of this season. In return, we’ll give you everything and the best that we have.
Come On You Whites!
Shahid Khan, Chairman