The Rating Game
Andrew Johnson hit form this season – but is linked with QPR after his contract with the Whites ran out
fter another enjoyable flirtation with European football, and some glimmers (finally) of half-decent away form, Fulham fans can take heart from their top 10 finish. The 2011/12 season began in June, while most other Premier League players were still on their sun loungers, with a rash of Europa League qualifiers including a 3-0 August victory against Dnipro of the Ukraine at the Cottage. Manager Martin Jol insisted he would rather have European football than not, despite question marks about its knock-on effect on league form, as it raised Fulham’s profile internationally, and gave players important experience. However, the club’s first Premier League matches were a fairly miserable four draws and two defeats… interrupted by an unwelcome early exit to Chelsea on penalties in the League Cup. What got the Whites’ season on track was October’s extraordinarily one-sided 6-0 thrashing of QPR, featuring an Andrew Johnson hat-trick, inset right. October also featured an important away win at Wigan, but lack of consistency saw the Whites draw at Arsenal, beat Liverpool, defeat Bolton then succumb to an unhappy 5-0 home defeat to Manchester United. Clinging perilously to the places just above the drop zone at Christmas, Fulham achieved important home wins against Arsenal, Newcastle and Stoke, then
PICTURE BY ACTION IMAGES
dented neighbours Chelsea’s outside title hopes with a late equaliser in April before what was arguably the result of the season – victory over Liverpool at Anfield for the first time in the club’s history. Indeed, it was the first time in 41 top-flight league visits to Merseyside that the Whites had returned home with a win. Just one more point over the course of the season would have seen Fulham finish above Liverpool, in eighth place. But Martin Jol will settle for ninth. A popular manager, he expressed his contentment with a top 10 place, and now looks forward to a decent break before 2012/13 without the distraction of early Europa League games.
Your Hammersmith & Fulham Magazine
YOUR MAGS Pages 78-79 SPORT team ratings 1-2.indd 1
Your magazine (summer 2012).