To all friends of Fulham, old and new, welcome back to Craven Cottage for our second home match of the Sky Bet Championship season. I’d also like to offer a special welcome to our visitors from Cardiff City. You must have had a lot of fun this summer with the success of Wales at the European Championship in France, where your team proved that all things are possible in football.
Congratulations and best of luck this season - following today’s match, of course.
Here at Fulham, so far this season, we’re also enjoying a fair amount of fun and success. This was our goal, naturally, to get off to a great start and build momentum and optimism in the process. But, that’s also the aim of every club, and it’s certainly been our objective as well over the past several seasons. The early favourable results and rewards haven’t materialised in recent years, as you know, despite our best intentions and efforts on and off the pitch.
Nonetheless, under the direction of our new Head Coach Slaviša Jokanović, we entered this season with renewed faith and trust in our potential. I personally believed that an entire summertime with Slaviša in charge would be a difference-maker for us at the start of the campaign, through the early transfer period and then into the season. There’s a long, long way to go, but it does feel nice to have the occasion to speak of our fantastic start in the league as well as our 3-2 win at Leyton Orient in the First Round of the EFL Cup.
If you were here a couple of weeks ago when we opened against Newcastle United, let me tell you, from the bottom of my heart: Thank you! The anticipation for that match was remarkable and your support was a big factor in seeing us through to a 1-0 victory. I’ve enjoyed some great moments at Craven Cottage, but that was easily the best atmosphere I’ve experienced at home in my four seasons as your Chairman. I should also add that based on what I heard from family and friends who weren’t there, but were able to watch the Sky Sports broadcast throughout Europe and the US, the energy of all Fulham fans in attendance that Friday evening - especially in the Hammersmith End - came through clearly and proudly. Again, my thanks!
I know we can expect more of that in the months ahead if we provide you a brand of football that will gain your support and trust, just as we did that evening against Newcastle. In every area of the pitch, we fully earned and deserved the three points that night. And I hope it was as evident to you, as it was to me, that we played with a sense of teamwork and purpose that we’ve been wanting at Motspur Park and Craven Cottage for some time.
The good news is we saw it again a few nights later, with an entirely different and very young starting XI at Orient. Then a week ago today, we returned from Preston North End with a 2-1 victory that kept us joint-top of the table. Both wins were merited but definitely required us to band together to defend successfully against late threats from our hosts, and we did just that, very impressively.
We weren’t as fortunate to hang on for the win on Tuesday night at Leeds United, but we were excellent and it took a goal in stoppage time to prevent us from starting the season with a perfect nine points. As it is, following two league matches on the road at distant locales and three straight away games overall, we’re back home as an undefeated side in the top six of the Championship. To our supporters, I hope you’ll salute the team accordingly as we face off today against a very capable Cardiff team. And, to our players, I hope you’ll seize the moment to show that Fulham Football Club is indeed back.
We do have many new faces to welcome to the Fulham family, and I hope you’ll agree that our work in the summer transfer window thus far has been solid. Our signings include Michael Madl, Floyd Ayité, Sone Aluko, Tomas Kalas, Denis Odoi, Scott Malone, David Button and Kevin McDonald, all of whom have seen significant playing time already. Also, we were proud to announce just over a week ago the signing of midfielder Jozabed, who scored 10 times last season in La Liga for Rayo Vallecano, including goals against Barcelona and Real Madrid. The transfer window is open until 31st August and I assure you that Slaviša has my support to explore all possibilities as we collectively pursue First Team excellence that will serve us this year and in seasons ahead.
Off the pitch, we continue to consider options for the Riverside Stand that will meet our high and essential standards. It bears repeating that we’re not merely looking into a renovation or remodelling of the Riverside Stand. That wouldn’t come close to achieving the ultimate outcome, which would be a beautiful structure on the banks of the River Thames that would serve the needs of Fulham Football Club and our neighbourhood for generations to come. We’ll certainly be in touch with you when the time is right to share any news on this front.
There is one change coming at Craven Cottage that is official, and that’s the unveiling of the statue of George Cohen on Saturday 1st October, just hours prior to our 12:45pm home match against Queens Park Rangers. Like the man himself, you’ll find the sculpture impressive and amazing. I must also commend, again, our supporters who played a role in making the statue a reality while helping to raise funds for the excellent charitable causes that George himself nominated. The ceremony on 1st October will represent all of the qualities that make Fulham so wonderful and unique, and I look forward to seeing George that day as we celebrate an occasion that the entire football world can appreciate and applaud.
Until then, enjoy today’s match and thank you for your loyalty to Fulham Football Club. It is never taken for granted.
Come On You Whites!
Shahid Khan, Chairman