The Fulham of season 2001-02 had all the pieces to go to Europe and qualified for the InterToto Cup. The Fulham of 2002-03 had the same pieces but were either uninspirable or lost faith in manager Tigana’s approach. Tigana quit and Chris Coleman, a former Fulham player, became manager. Coleman is the youngest manager in the Premiership and had no managerial experience. So would the Fulham of 2003-04 respond to an unproven manager? So far the answer is a resounding, Yes!
Coleman was a Fulham player as recent as 3 years back and was instrumental in the meteoric rise through the 2nd and 1st divisions. A car accident ruined a promising career but he has made up for it with this managerial post. He didnt receive much help prior to this season, though, as ownership refused to spend a pound on transfers. (Two loans were brought in namely Moritz Volz of the Gunners). The pieces were already there, its up to pure management to get these pieces working together.
Fulham have had one of the leagues best defenses but were completely inept in scoring goals. Rarely scoring two or more, the offense has stepped up tremendously moving the Cottagers into 5th place. The midfield is moving much faster and more precise. Passing is quick and on target, enhancing the forwards ability to score.
The offensive improvement is most evident in the play of Lois Saha. Last years most disappointing player, he only scored 5 goals in the whole of last season. 8 goals already this year, he just banked 2 against Portsmouth on Monday. His tenacity is improved and he has become truly a difference maker.
Young Gun, Moritz Volz, has made the most of his loan time at Fulham. Greatest part is that this experience will help the Gunners later, as I would expect Wenger to move him into a starters role in the near future. He says he is enjoying his time at Fulham and he has been instrumental in the sides good play.
The Cottagers shocked the world only a few weeks back when they went into Old Trafford and beat ManUtd, 3-1. Problem was the team suffered a hangover and lost their next two, though, they were tough matches against Liverpool and Charlton. Monday saw an excellent display against Portsmouth and they are back on track to give a tough fight to the Gunners. So, after all this it comes to one fact; since arriving in the Premiership Fulham has not taken a point from the Gunners. With a display like the one in Italy I dont expect things to change.