Newest Review: ... after him and there is also a statue of him outside Fulham's ground, Craven Cottage. Other notable names who have played for the club inclu... more
Is it Mohammed's millions?
Member Name: Carrow Road Canary
Date: 14/12/00, updated on 14/12/00 (106 review reads)
Advantages: Money, good manager, good players
Disadvantages: Not a great ground
Third Division strugglers to almost certain promotion into the Premiership this season - and in just a few years too.
So why are Fulham so good now when they could easily have been relegated out of the Football League in the not too distant past? Is it just Mohammed's millions or were Fulham’s Third Division players too good for the level they were playing at?
To get a clearer picture of the changes that have taken place in recent times just take a look at the teams of 1996 and 2000.
1996 Mark Watson – now at Third Division Cardiff.
2000 Maik Taylor – widely recognized as one of the best Goalkeepers outside the top flight.
1996 Simon Morgan – one of few players who has remained at the star-studded club
Paul Watson – currently playing for Brighton in Division Three.
2000 Alan Neilson – one of several Fulham internationals, with around 5 caps for Wales.
Terry Phelan – an Irish international with over 40 caps for Ireland.
1996 Terry Angus – playing for Nuneaton Borough in the Nationwide Conference.
Simon Stewart – also at a Conference side, Kingstonian.
2000 Andy Melville – around 40 caps for Wales.
Kit Symons – another Welsh defender, with over 30 caps.
Chris Coleman – also has many caps for the Welsh national side.
In this position Fulham have a choice of three class players.
1996 Lea Barkus – I have failed to find any evidence that Barkus still plays.
Robbie Herrera – at Torquay, another Third Division team.
Martin Thomas – one of few 1996 Fulham players playing above the Third Division, but only for newly promoted Division Two Swansea City.
Glenn Cockerill – experienced midfield man who I believe has retired.
2000 Bjarni Goldbaek – Ex Chelsea Danishman with 20 international
Lee Clark – Ex Newcastle and Sunderland star.
John Collins – Scottish international with about 60 caps. Has played for Celtic, Monaco and Everton.
Steve Hayward – solid midfielder, capable at the First Division level.
1996 Nicky Cusack – Swansea player.
Mike Conroy – the only other player I failed to trace – may have retired.
2000 Barry Hayles – prolific goalscorer who could probably perform in the Premiership.
Louis Saha – Young French superstar has scored hatfulls of goals so far.
It seems quite clear that none of the players who were at Fulham in the 1996-97 season were stars and would not have been able to get Fulham so far on their own – and they haven’t. Only Simon Morgan remains at Craven Cottage.
So surely it is the money which owner Mohammed Al Fayed has put into the club which has elevated Fulham to their current healthy position at the top of Division One. He has attracted top class managers in Kevin Keegan and Jean Tigana, who in turn have brought superb players to the club. Fulham have come a long way thanks to al Fayed’s money and it remains to be seen how far they can go. If the Harrods owner continues to finance Fulham they could become one of Europe’s top clubs.