To the fans of Fulham, it’s a pleasure to offer my greetings and thoughts on the occasion of a very important match versus Cardiff City. Whether this is your first visit to Craven Cottage or one of many, I extend to you the warmest of welcomes on behalf of everyone at Fulham, where we have the best people in the business to make your experience enjoyable and memorable. And that’s not an exaggeration, as Fulham is up for league-wide honours for our hospitality, friendliness and service. I’ll speak on that in greater detail in a moment.
In the meantime, I trust that you’ve enjoyed the past two results, not only for the critical six points that we collected but also for the resolve we showed in the second half of both outings. Whether home or away, getting the first goal in this league is extremely difficult. Defending that one-goal lead is every bit as tough, as we found. But, as you know, we regained the advantage here at Craven Cottage last Saturday against Milton Keynes Dons and repeated the feat on Tuesday at Preston North End - and held on both times. Our back-to-back 2-1 victories couldn’t have come at a better time, but again, I love the way we arrived at the results.
And, I also loved - again, not an exaggeration - how our supporters arrived at Craven Cottage last Saturday. With our side in 21st place and winless in six matches, it would have been understandable, at least at other clubs, if the environment in the stands was indifferent or on edge. Instead, the mood was uplifting. And I know it made a difference, especially when the Dons got the equaliser in the second half. While it’s not my manner to speak for our Head Coach Slaviša Jokanović and our players, I
think it’s safe for me to say that all of us are extremely grateful. The experience last Saturday gave us the emotional boost we needed on Tuesday night at Preston, and you saw how that turned out. Thank you!
With that, let me again emphasise the dramatic change in the spirit and confidence throughout all levels of our club since Slaviša’s arrival. I’ve been at Motspur Park for the past several days and to say there’s great optimism for our future - near and long-term - doesn’t adequately describe what I’m sensing, from players to our backroom staff, and from our management throughout every level of your club. True, we’re coming off a pair of wins, but here’s the distinction - I got the same feeling when I was here two weeks ago when things didn’t seem as promising. I believe we have a lot to look forward to under Slaviša and am very excited at seeing his influence on the squad with the benefit of a full pre-season in the summer.
But first, we have the matter of today’s visit from Cardiff, a side that’s within striking range of a Play-Off position. It will be our toughest test yet over our past three matches, but I have faith that Slaviša has our team ready. To all supporters of Fulham, I ask you to join me in welcoming our visitors from Wales with the class and friendship that is a hallmark of our club, and I hope to join you in the celebration of victory here at the Cottage late this afternoon.
A few parting thoughts… The recent energy and productivity from Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembélé has been sensational. Not that this is rare, and you don’t need me to recount what they’ve provided over the past run of matches. Instead, what I would like to do is salute them both for their call-ups to their national sides.
Ross has been nothing short of spectacular from the day he put on a Fulham shirt and his performances this season surely should earn him consideration for Player of the Year in the
Sky Bet Championship. All of us at Fulham were happy to see Scotland recognise his play and reward this with his first international cap in more than two years. Ross got a start and the assistin a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic. Overdue, but well deserved… congratulations, Ross!
And, at Under-20 level, Moussa played a pivotal role for his homeland of France in a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic. Moussa and Ross were just two of many Fulham players who saw extensive playing time during the international break, and for that I want to congratulate and thank them for representing Fulham with class and excellent effort in many different corners of the football world.
In the United States, Fulham made more than a noticeable impact with our runner-up finish in the prestigious Dallas Cup tournament that attracts the best Under-19 talent anywhere. Fulham has always enjoyed an enviable profile in the States thanks to the many U.S. national team players who have featured for the Whites. It was good to see the Fulham flag replanted in the U.S. but, above all, see the bright future for the players we’re developing under the direction of Huw Jennings and his staff. Well done Fulham!
Finally, I’m extremely proud, though not surprised, that Fulham are among the finalists to win the coveted Family Club of the Year, which will be presented by The Football League at its annual awards event on Sunday 17th April. The criteria to be considered for the honour is vast and deep, and it includes initiatives to attract and welcome families, interaction with fans on matchdays, fun content in the programme, retail offerings and more. As important, finalists are judged on how well clubs engage families on non-matchdays, and I find success in that realm to be the mark of an excellent operation. There are maybe as many as 30 home matches in a calendar year. How do you serve families and fans for the other 11 months or so?
The good news is our Club is clearly performing extremely well in that regard, taking very seriously the obligation to serve families and all fans and visitors who visit Craven Cottage on match days or follow Fulham around the clock. I commend Sarah Brookes, our Communications and Marketing Director, her loyal and talented team, and all those who assist in delivering these events for their commitment to Fulham and making our club the very best for families and all fans. Good luck next weekend!
With that, let’s have a great afternoon today at Craven Cottage. At the time of writing, I think we all feel good about our recent performances and what the future holds for Fulham Football Club. But today, there is much work to be done and we need you to help us get the job done!
Come On You Whites!
Shahid Khan, Chairman