Five years ago produced one of the greatest moments in Fulham’s history as they destroyed Juventus in the Europa League by 4 goals to 1 at Craven Cottage, and today they are just six points above the Championship relegation zone. I discuss THAT amazing night in west London and whether they’re destined for a spell in England’s lower leagues.
*The video above is the entire Europa League montage for their journey to the final – an excellent compilation to watch for a few months.
Fulham 4-1 Juventus
It was a truly spectacular night for the Cottagers after goals from Bobby Zamora, Zoltan Gera and Clint Dempsey ensured Fulham came back from 4-1 down on aggregate to reach the last eight of the Europa League. After losing 3-1 in Turin a week prior, the London side still had a glimmer of hope thanks to Dickson Etuhu’s solitary away goal but they had a mountain to climb after World Cup winner David Trezeguet gave the Italian side a 4-1 aggregate lead. But, Bobby Zamora fired Fulham level seven minutes later, Zoltan Gera then made it 2-1 with six first-half minutes remaining and then the Hungarian scored from the spot on 49 minutes to level the aggregate score at 4-4. Clint Dempsey’s delightful chip from outside the box eight minutes from time ensured a stunning fightback from the Cottagers. Fulham reached the final in Hamburg after knocking out the German club in the semi-finals but were upended by Atletico Madrid in the final after a 2-1 defeat. It was a surprise to see Fulham pull off such result, the Italian club had World Cup winners in their side and should’ve wrapped up the win after scoring early to make it 4-1 on aggregate, but the inspiration that Roy Hodgson possessed allowed the players to play expressively and it was one of the greatest comebacks from an English side in Europe. 23, 458 people watched Fulham eclipse one of Italy’s greatest clubs on a memorable night in west London. It still lives on as one of the greatest results by an English club in Europe and today we see the contrast between the two clubs who encountered that night, Fulham have gone downhill ever since, Juventus have won three league titles, Fulham have been relegated once and it could well happen again if they are not careful.
It has been a very tough last five years for Fulham, Roy Hodgson departed west London for Liverpool shortly after, and they have failed to nail down a manager who has been able to take the club back to the heights of that European run. Kit Symons, who has been involved with backroom duties at Fulham hasn’t been the catalyst to a Fulham revival and only has a win percentage of 33.33% whilst losing 15 of his 36 games in charge, as well as only 12 wins. Some of the failings must come down to owner Shahid Khan, he hasn’t been able to find an experienced manager who can lead the team forward since the days of Roy Hodgson, Felix Magath was appointed but the rumours of disgruntlement between him and the players which ultimately cost them. It has been sad to see Fulham is such turmoil, a club who weren’t threatening at the top end of the table but they were a stable Premier League club and after last year’s relegation to the second division of English football man would’ve expected them to be challenging to come straight back up, but they haven’t and they’ve been dreadful. They’ve failed to find themselves a manager who has had a platform and philosophy to build from since Hodgson which has been the main catalyst to their capitulation, appointing managers willy nilly isn’t going to spark their revival, Magath was poisoning Fulham Football Club so his sacking was the best decision Khan has made this season.
What Do They Need To Do Next?
Staying in the league is the best thing for Fulham now, they play Leeds United tonight at Craven Cottage in a must-win game if they are to stave clear of the relegation pack. If they can manage to remain in the Championship for another season, there needs to be an overhaul in the summer, a new manager who has experience and the ability to make Fulham a better club, 6/7 quality players to challenge for promotion. If they appoint a new manager, they should hopefully be able to implement a system and style of play which can take Fulham forward in terms of scoring more goals and being better defensively, if they can become a tough nut to crack at the back, we know that they should have the quality to unlock defences.