The Opposition View: Derby Vs Fulham

Tomorrow the Rams take on newly-relegated Fulham, who have suffered a poor start to the new campaign.

I have questioned Andrew Beck of Cottagers Confidential to get the lowdown on his side.

Last season’s woes and managerial changes have obviously been well documented, what is your assessment of the events of the last 12 months?

The problem goes back much further.On April 1st 2013, there were still nine fixtures to be played in the season. Fulham were basically already safe with 36 points. Since January 1st, Fulham had only lost two games: away to Manchester City and home against Manchester United. Just keeping up their current PPG would have seen them competing for a finish in the top seven and possibly their best season ever. During that fixture they took a 3-0 lead on QPR. Then Ashkan Dejagah went down with a season ending injury. QPR scored two quick goals and Fulham almost dropped the points. In their next seven games they lost six and drew only once. It was an epic collapse that saw them drop right back into a relegation battle. Only a win against a Swansea side that had already gone on vacation made the season look respectable.

With all the momentum going into 2013-2014 squandered, things only got worse. Unknown to us, Mohamed Al-Fayed was looking to sell the team. He found a rich owner, which was good. However it happened so late in the transfer window that there wasn’t really time to improve the squad and it showed. And when things went bad, the new owner was too slow to act for fear of looking like the guy who comes in and blows up everything. This just made things worse, which is now all well documented history.

Things did look up for the club though. They had an impressive academy team that could strengthen the team (Emerson Hyndman, Cauley Woodrow, Moussa Dembele, Patrick Roberts). They had a few veterans who were young enough to stick around and provide leadership (Scott Parker, Fernando Amorebieta, Hugo Rodallega, Ashkan Dejagah, Bryan Ruiz, David Stockdale). They had enough money from parachute payments and a wealthy owner to spend to improve the squad. Unfortunately Felix Magath and or Alistar Mackintosh decided to part ways with almost all the veterans and go youth heavy. As many as six academy graduates have been in the starting lineup with eleven of the eighteen being made up of youngsters fresh from the academy. While they are very talented and have actually played well, the results haven’t come and the fans are predictably on edge. Fulham now haven’t won a competitive game in 130+ days.

Ross McCormack has arrived, will he be worth the huge amount of money?

If Shane Long was worth £12M, what’s Ross McCormack worth? To be fair the rumors off Ross’ fee are slightly exaggerated. The fee is much smaller than reported in the press and only balloons to the full amount if he leads the team back to the Premier League. If he were to do that, he’d be worth almost any amount of money.

What do you make of the Championship so far and are you expecting promotion?

If I lived in London, I think I’d actually enjoy the Championship quite a bit. Following a lower midtable team in the Premier League can be hard. More than half the time you expect to lose. You’d be ecstatic with a draw and are happy just not to get embarrassed. In the Championship though, Fulham go into every match with a realistic chance to win. They’re never going to be heavy underdogs. That would be a refreshing change of pace. Unfortunately I don’t live in London. I’m 5,000 miles away. Because of that, it’s almost impossible for me to see the Fulham games. I’m forced to listen to streaming audio of the matches and watch replays later. That downside ruins any positive the Championship has for me.

Before the season started I was expecting to be promoted. Usually at least one of the relegated teams comes right back up and with Fulham’s money and impressive youth, I thought they had the best shot. With the start to the season, I’m not so sure. I’d be happy right now just to finish in a playoff spot where anything can happen.

Lastly, what is your predictuon for Saturday’s match?

I’ve kept predicting a win for Fulham all year, so why stop now? They’ve only played bad in one game so far and even in it the advanced statistics (duels, chances created, shots, crosses, tackles, interceptions, etc) they were either about even or ahead of their opponent. It’s hard to go without a result, but football is a game that has an immense amount of luck and Fulham just haven’t been lucky. The gambler’s fallacy tells us we shouldn’t expect to get lucky just to for things to even out; however, we also shouldn’t expect the bad luck to continue indefinitely. That’s why I’m going to predict a 2-1 Fulham win.

Thank you to Andrew for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can read my answers in a preview for Cottagers Confidential by clicking here.<a href=

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