Fulham failed to put up a fight against relegation
Just four years ago I was cradling my ticket to the final of the Europa League. Fulham would take on Atletico Madrid after beating some of the biggest club sides in Europe: Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus and Hamburg. This season the team haven't looked capable of beating an egg. The title for my preview piece ("Cruel Britannia?") before the game was all too prescient. Fulham exit the Premier League after putting up a pitifully weak showing at Stoke City. Our car pool has just returned to London from a fruitless 260-mile round trip in sombre mood. Capitulation was not wholly unexpected, only the manner of Fulham’s spineless surrender was hard to take as we reflected on the last demotion suffered back in 1994. Then the Whites were dropping into the bottom tier of English football, the old fourth division. Our decision prematch had been to enjoy a decent meal before taking the drive back, regardless of the day’s outcome. Felix Magath yet again caused much head-shaking with his team tinkering, but the cause looked lost from the off with a lone striker up front, Dan Burn finding himself back in the side in an unfamiliar role, and Lewis Holtby withdrawn from the action before he’d barely raised a sweat. The Whites were simply not at the races. Stoke have an excellent home record, their set up showed the value of speedy thrusts up the wings, and the game was over early into the second half. Fulham have been easy meat all season, with glaring deficiencies at full-back and in central defence. This was nothing we fans haven’t seen all season -- there is little point in naming and shaming now. This blogger has been vocal over the team’s rapid decline in the past 18 months, views now shared along with the majority of supporters. Our party lingered over dinner, while the passengers opted to drown their sorrows. All in our party just felt numb. Numbness mixed with relief. Fulham have served up some truly dreadful fare this season. It is hard to recall any real highlights besides the 4-1 win at Crystal Palace. From a catalogue of shocking performances Sunderland at home and Hull City away take the biscuit. Relegation is not so hard to take in the greater scheme of things because the standard has simply been dreadful. The die was cast after those two late goals last week at home to Hull. As the season has unfolded the side developed a losing mentality it has been impossible to turn around. One saw it in the players’ body language. Management decisions at the top have been catastrophic. Despite his bravado and all the mind games Magath too has failed to deliver. His tactics have been muddled, the selection policy betrayed a sense of panic, rather than planning. What will it take to come through 46 hard games in the Championship? This writer doubts Magath’s ability to steer that course, while the current side needs dismantling en masse. Fulham are down. It was expected. It is deserved. And most of us had come to terms with it a month ago. Bring on Brentford!