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Jan 31, 2007

Not the end of the world

Tuesday night at Bramall Lane marked the end of Fulham's nine match unbeaten run in all competitions when the Cottagers were taken out back behind the woodshed and beaten 2-0 by Sheffield United.

While the loss was disappointing it is not the end of the world for Fulham. The Cottagers remain in 15th place after the loss and are still just as close to 18th place as they are to 6th place in the fact that they are nine points clear of the drop zone and nine points behind Portsmouth for 6th place.

Having read comments on various message boards and reading match reports from the match on Tuesday night in Yorkshire, one would think the loss was one of the worst the team has had in a number of years. The reality of it is that it was disappointing to lose, but it is not a season changing loss.

Yes, it would have been nice to see the team play together and grind out a win against the Blades, but it was not to be. Fulham find themselves in the exact same spot in the table after the match as they did before the match.

Tuesday's loss once again brought to light the fact that Fulham has a difficult time winning on the road. Despite the nine match unbeaten run, the Cottagers have only won a single road match this season. The three-pointer on the road came way back on September 9th at St James Park against Newcastle United.

Since that victory over the Magpies, the Cottagers have played eight league matches on the road. Five of those have been draws and three of them have been losses. Thus, Fulham has picked up eight points on their travels this season.

If this team is to compete and push for a top-ten finish as many of us supporters hope, they will need to get some better results on the road.

The Whites have six remaining away games at Bolton, Wigan, Everton, Reading, Arsenal and Middlesbrough. Each and every one of those matches will test Fulham's character and ability to win away from Craven Cottage.

Regardless of the road woes Fulham has been going through the last season and a half, Cottager supporters must keep things in perspective. Tuesday's loss was only ONE loss. It was not a good performance, but it is not the end of the world either. From time to time, clubs have off nights. Unfortunately, Fulham had an off night on Tuesday at Bramall Lane and lost 2-0.

The key for manager Chris Coleman and his club will be how they bounce back on Saturday at home against Newcastle United. Presently, Newcastle sits in 12th place in the table on 30 points, one point ahead of Fulham.

If the Cottagers can shake off Tuesday's disappointing loss and get back to their winning ways against the Magpies, the performance at Bramall Lane will be a distant memory.

It will not be easy on Saturday against Glen Roeder's club, but Fulham has fared very well at Craven Cottage over the past few seasons in front of their loyal home supporters.

There's still thirteen league matches to play before the season ends in the middle of May. This leaves Fulham plenty of time to make their move and jump into the top ten. Tuesday's loss did not help the cause, but it did not kill the cause either.

Chris Coleman must get his team to look past Tuesday night's loss and get focused on the remaining fixtures, including a fith round FA Cup tie with Tottenham on February 17th.

There is still plenty on the line for Fulham to play for. A top ten finish and a strong FA Cup run are two things that Fulham supporters would love to see in the next three plus months. If these two goals are to become reality, performances like Tuesday night against Sheffield United must be done away with.

Saturday starts the beginning of Fulham's new season. If Chris Coleman can get his team on the same page and performing at a winning level it will be a fun few months for Fulham supporters all over the world.

Whether or not Fulham can turn Tuesday night's negative into a positive on Saturday against Newcastle and beyond remains to be seen. Time will tell. Stay tuned to the rollercoaster of emotions that is Fulham Football Club!


• If you have comments on this article then email the author tom@fulhamusa.com

• Read more from all Soccernet Correspondents here.