Fulham and the Premier League: back once again
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It would be lazy and unoriginal to state that Fulham’s win over Preston on Tuesday guaranteed their relegation from next season’s Premier League, so needless to say that is exactly what The Fiver will do. When push comes to shove, if they can’t be bothered doing anything more interesting than yo-yoing down from the top flight to the Championship and back up again season after season after season after season after season after season, we’re darned if we can be bothered to come up with any new, increasingly condescending gags about the almost psychotic lengths they and Norwich City will go to in order to avoid ever having to play each other again.
“WE ARE PREMIER LEAGUE!” chanted Fulham’s ecstatic players and fans at Craven Cottage, a refrain they previously sung in 2018 and 2020, only to sink like Boris Johnson’s approval rating upon reaching the promised land. This time around, however, things could be different because – Fiver pulls sarcasm lever – it’s not as if their current crop of players such as Tom Cairney, Tim Ream, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Tosin Aderabioyo – not to mention manager Marco Silva – have been tainted by relegation from the Premier League.
“It feels fantastic to get this club back where it belongs,” cheered Silva, presumably referring to that strange Nowheresville Limbo where they have secured promotion but not yet officially swapped their licence with a certain outfit from Carrow Road. “It will be a huge challenge for us but we have to do the right things to prepare. When you achieve something so important early in the season, that gives you time to prepare in the right way and we have to do that.”
In Mitrovic, Fulham have a striker who has scored 40 Championship goals this season, a fine achievement that has prompted some armchair critics to flag up the derisory three the Serbian international scored in the top flight last season and label him a flat-track-bully. While Mitrovic could rightly point out that he was knacked for large periods, there are valid concerns that his glacier-like turn of foot might once again prove a hindrance next season. So while recent history suggests Fulham will be odds-on for the drop, they can at least console themselves with the fact that there are 20 teams in the top division and they only have to be better than three of them. And if the risible rabble representing Manchester United are currently sixth in the self-appointed Best League In The World™, Silva could be forgiven for wondering exactly how difficult that can be.LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!
Join Rob Smyth from 7.45pm BST for hot MBM coverage of Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal in the Premier League, while John Brewin will be on hand for clockwatch coverage.QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We can’t be getting beat 4-0. It’s embarrassing, really. It’s horrible. It’s horrible for the fans. You can feel the pain when we’re on the pitch and you see the scoreline. It’s really disappointing. We can only say sorry” – perhaps after consulting off-the-scale fan sentiment graphs, Jesse Lingard appears in front of MUTV cameras to offer another grovelling apology for their 4-0 shoeing at Anfield.RECOMMENDED BOOKING
A New Formation: how Black British footballers shaped the modern game. Tickets are now available for the live event, featuring Jonathan Liew, Andrew Cole and Hope Powell.RECOMMENDED LISTENING
Get your ears around the latest Football Weekly. And while we’re at it, Max, Barry and the pod squad are going back out on tour. Tickets to live shows in June and July are available here, so get buying.MOVING THE GOALPOSTS
The Fiver has a new sister email, folks! You don’t need to be told that it’s smarter and wittier than us – so sign up. The latest edition has been sent whistling into inboxes but you can get a taste here.FIVER LETTERS
“At Anfield we were treated to a display of sheer professionalism at the highest level. I mean, let’s hear it for that steward. This guy was focused on the job” – Mark McFadden.
“You rotters, Manchester United. You finally did it. You finally broke Roy Keane. He’s not even angry anymore, he’s just sad and bewildered” – Noble Francis.
“Now that the SPL is bringing in VAR (late) next season to our beloved fitba (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs), I was wondering if readers south of the border could give us the benefit of their experiences over the last couple of seasons and furnish us with witty chants we can now hurl in the direction of the VAR officials while we wait their reviews?” – Paul Dixon.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Mark McFadden.NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Iceland’s Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir is feeling suitably aggravated about the prospect of Euro 2022 matches at the Manchester City Academy Stadium. “It’s shocking,” she sighed. “I don’t know what’s going on in their heads or if they’re even following women’s football.”
Pep Guardiola has revealed that Manchester City might need an army of medics to keep their Premier League and Big Cup tilt on track. “Our physios made 71 treatments between Atlético Madrid and the semi-final against Liverpool,” he tooted. “At Millwall [City’s training base for the Cup semi] we had six massage tables by the side of the pitch for players.”
Tommy T reckons Manchester United, Arsenal and Spurs should have done better in the race for Big Cup qualification given they have all experienced early cup exits. “They have been given a huge advantage,” he blabbed. “It depends what you make [of] your situation.”
Burnley’s search for a successor to Sean Dyche is clearly going well, given U-23s boss Mike Jackson will take charge for another vital match, this time against Southampton. “I spoke to the [chief suit] the other day [and] that’s where we’re at,” he blathered.
And Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales has hit out at accusations of wrongdoing in the media over its deal to relocate the Super Cup to Saudi Arabia. “I am outraged by all the falsehoods that were published and extremely angry for having information illegally stolen from my mobile,” he fumed. “There are hundreds of business projects with Spanish companies in Saudi Arabia. Why only the football can’t?”STILL WANT MORE?
This week’s Knowledge goes deep on teams playing every game in every competition, the origins of sh!thousery and when players use corner flags as weapons.
Andy Hunter on how Thiago caused mass drooling at Anfield with his midfield masterclass.
Sure, Fulham are back in the Premier League, but the battle to stay there starts now, writes Ben Fisher.
Chris Evans (nope, not that one) whisks us back 25 years to a time when Chesterfield went this close to making it to the FA Cup final.
And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!SOUND OF THE SUMMER
- The Fiver