Well, we made it this far, anyway.
There’s a lot of comments floating around about plenty of issues, from who starts at the weekend to the Reading ticket allocations, but before all of the madness kicks off, I think it’s important to sit back and reflect on just how good Fulham have had it this season, and dish out some of the credit that hasn’t got its due.
Someone asked me at the weekend whether we were perhaps one of the only clubs to laud our ex-owners quite as much as we do, as the Al Fayed song rung around the Leppings Lane End at Hillsborough for the third or fourth time.
Perhaps it is time, whilst part of my heart will always go out to our enigmatic ex-Chairman, that we focused on the present ownership rather than the past.
Shahid Khan’s introduction heralded a turbulent few years for Fulham FC, but not through any fault of his own. The chairman’s pockets have been deep, not only on the pitch, but off it as well – and his contributions to the club, whilst not always working out, appear to have been well-intentioned.
Yes, he brought in Felix Magath, whose methods were questionable and ultimately opened up a rift in the club, but the German was a proven firefighter in the Bundesliga, and had previous for saving clubs from relegation.
Khan’s five-man committee to appoint his successor had no real option but to opt for Kit Symons, with the calls from the fanbase becoming almost too loud to ignore – and Khan funded the purchase of Ross McCormack, who almost single- handedly saved the club from further relegation twice in a row.
Shahid Khan is not a football man, but he has brought in people around him who are football men, to advise him. One of the shrewdest moves he has made, and one which was highly criticised at the time, was to appoint his son Tony Khan as Director of Football Operations.
Khan Jr. is an analytics head, someone who understands the numbers of sport. This isn’t to everyone’s taste, but ultimately football is becoming more and more data driven.
There was plenty of criticism when Director of Statistical Research Craig Kline, Tony Khan’s right-hand man, clashed with Slavisa Jokanovic at the start of the season, but the “KLINE OUT” shouts have died down once the recruitment processes proved their worth.
Stefan Johansen, Floyd Ayite, Neeskens Kebano and Denis Odoi are not household names in the UK.
These are the kind of players you would only notice if you had a particularly keen interest in European football, and even then, you’d be lucky to know much – but all of them have proved their worth to Jokanovic over the course of the season.
The new system – with Kline in tandem with old Fulham head and Chief Scout Brian Talbot, mingles the efficiency of number-crunching with the old world view of needing to watch a player to make sure he fits the bill.
Football is not just about how good someone is, but also how they fit into a squad and their ability to thrive in a new location.
We are blessed then, with a system that looks to combine these two strands of knowledge – Kline’s numbers base and Talbot’s knowledge of the game.
Tony Khan, sat above them both, is the public face of the Khan family imprint on the club. His passion and desire to be part of the Fulham family is evident to anyone who follows him on social media, and his fan-facing nature in this regard is a welcome sight to anyone who was concerned about the Khans becoming absentee owners – we’ve seen what has happened to Blackburn and Coventry City.
It’s perhaps about time then, that the Khans got their due – if Fulham succeed this season,the Chairman and his son will not get the credit they deserve, but if they keep driving the club on an upward trajectory, their input will eventually be too important to ignore.
Jack is the latest incarnation of GWL's Fulham fan blogger. He's also the Editor of Fulhamish and a regular on the associated weekly podcast. When not talking about Fulham, Jack provides live match commentary and social media for the UEFA Champions League and Europa League websites. You can find him on Twitter right here: @JackJCollins or his website: www.jackjcollins.co.uk.