Fulham have been on an incredible journey. 15 years ago they were struggling at the bottom tier of English football. Even go back to just two years ago and they were battling relegation from the Premier League, now they are potential Europa League contenders this season mingling with some of Europe’s finest.
A little over three weeks ago the Cottagers pull off their biggest and most famous win of their 131 year history when they beat Juventus 4-1 at Craven Cottage. It was an amazing comeback from Fulham, who had many people in awe considering they went into the game trailing 3-1 from the first leg in Turin.
Many may have thought it was all over after the first minute after David Trezeguet scored for the away side, but it went downhill for the Italian side from there. Fulham made the impossible possible, scoring four goals and pulling off a famous European victory. One being a stunner from Clint Dempsey.
Their reward is a quarter-final tie with reigning German champions Wolfsburg who they take on tonight in London, the winner of the tie over the two legs will play the winner of Hamburg and Standard Liege in the semi-final. So, it is not beyond the realms of possibility for Fulham to reach the final.
A much underrated manager on these shores – Roy Hodgson is the man who has been pulling the strings at Fulham since taking over from Lawrie Sanchez a little over two years ago. He has travelled the world managing teams such as Inter Milan, Udinese, Switzerland, Finland and United Arab Emirates he has picked up many tricks of the trade along the way.
The 62 year old has even been linked as a possible successor to national team coach Fabio Capello, certainly not something people would have said two years ago, because they either would not have heard of him let alone rated him.
Personally, because of what he has achieved this season with Fulham in Europe and in the Premier League that Hodgson warrants manager of the year. Getting results against sides such as Juventus (4-1), Manchester United (3-0) and Liverpool (3-1) is no mean feat while also reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Every successful manager gets the best he can out of his players and that is exactly what Hodgson has been doing – Mark Schwarzer, Brede Hangerland, Bobby Zamora, Chris Smalling(who Hodgson will take credit for finding), Damien Duff et al. All have prospered at Fulham since joining.
It looks likely Fulham won’t qualify for Europe next season, which is another reason for them to put on a fine showing tonight and in the away leg.
Can they win the Europa League? Under Roy Hodgson anything is possible.