By Dan Clough
Updated Friday, 23rd November 2007
Fulham fan Phil Eshelby gives us his view ahead of Sunday's trip to Craven CottageYou've been touted as strong relegation candidates this season, where do you think you will finish?
I think Fulham are believed to be going down every year, but every year we do enough. Last Season was a close call, but with Lawrie Sanchez bringing in the players that he has i think we should be ok. They are all getting used to playing with each other and we are understanding how to play together. I think by getting players back from injury, and maybe a decent centre back we will have no problems with achieving mid-table status.
Do you want Lawrie Sanchez out?
I think we have to give him at least a season to prove what he's capable of. Anything short of that is not fair. When he came in and brought those Northern Ireland Players with him i was very sceptical of his capabilities, but he has shown that he can get the players to perform. It was never going to be easy on us when you change the squad so much, players don't often gel with each other straight away, but i think that Sanchez is able to get that to happen, and the last few performances have shown that, although we don't always win i.e. Liverpool, we have played alot better which is encouraging when it comes to the teams you expect to pick up points from.
Since your promotion you've never made a real impact on the Premier League, do you think Fulham will ever be able to challenge for top six status?
I think there are two things in this. THe first is that is our performances away from home are dreadful. I think if you look at the past two seasons we have only one i think 3 maybe 4 games. Which for a club striving to make an impact is simply not good enough, Hopefully we will not let this happen come the end of this season. The second has occurred this season where we score early and let in late goals to in most cases draw but sometimes lose. If you stop the problems away from home, and get some confidence that we can hold on to a lead, then i don't think there should be a problem with us moving up in to the top ten at least.
The top six there are 4 clubs who i don't believe will ever not be there (Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea). For the other two clubs who are there, i think its the ones that spend the most amount of money. So look at Spurs and Man City who both spent in the region of £40-50 Million, which means that are able to attract a better calibre of player. Another problem with Fulham reaching that height in the table is that Fulham is essentially a small club. We have a capacity of 24000 compared to 50000+ for Man City and Tottenham who have about 36000 and are planning to increase theirs to around 55000. So that means that with an increased transfer budget and more fans then they will have the ability to consolidate themselves around the top six. I think perhaps we could achieve a top six position, but not at the moment as it takes time. You cant go from the lower part of the table to the top six and stay there in a couple of seasons. Maybe 10/15 seasons. But first we need to get out of the relegation battles.
Who is your best player?
At the moment, i think it has to be either Anti Niemi or Simon Davies. Niemi has had some awesome performances in goal and is one of the reasons we are not further down. Davies never gives up and tries 100% all the time. He's got pace, strength, skill and has scored some cracking goals so far this season. But we are awaiting Jimmy Bullard's return in a couple of weeks. Hes been so unlucky to be out for this long and hopefully he will be every bit of the player that he was before the injury, If so he will be one of those players who can change games. I like to think hes our Steven Gerrard.
Who do you most fear from the Rovers line up?
Benny McCarthy will be a threat on saturday, just as Derbyshire will. Hes a very good talent and has a lot of potential in him. The thing with Blackburn is that they play well as a unit and anyone of their players can cause problems all round the pitch e.g. Samba or Pederson. So we will have to be on our guard for complacency as we could be undone at any point in the match.
Blackburn will be up for this game, but so will we. Given that we are home will give us that advantage. David Healy was on form again for N.I. at the weekend so i should expect him to start and get a couple of goals. I think 2-0 to Fulham.