It’s difficult to swallow that Fulham won’t be in the Play-off final at Wembley next year, although my heart goes out a little to Sheffield Wednesday fans who’ve now had to suffer this pain twice in two years.
From the searing pain of Tuesday night, it’s been mostly quiet moments of melancholy that have defined the few days afterwards.
I’ve found most of my solace in the rousing melodies of Hibernian’s Proclaimers-written anthem, ‘Sunshine on Leith’ which seems to strike the right balance between unbearable sadness and uplifting promise. I’d highly recommend a listen or ten to anyone still looking for a tonic to the heartache.
It feels like it’s been a very long season, one which has taken us on a rollercoaster of emotions, but has been defined by the scintillating football that Fulham have played throughout most of the year. A friend of mine watched the game at the Madejski and told me the next day – “I was devastated for you. Fulham were awesome.” If that’s the reaction we’re getting to a game where I thought we were nowhere near our best, then it’s a good start.
But it’s a point worth making. It doesn’t, in any way, make up for the loss, but in some ways there are real silver linings.
Slavisa Jokanović , who seems to want to stay and build a project, can strengthen this team and has a period now where he can utilise his back room network to find ways to plug the gaps and change this team into one which can challenge for the automatic spots next year.
There will no doubt be opinions left, right and centre over what positions need filling and what needs to change before the season starts again in 12 weeks time, but that’s going to take deep research and analysis into what kind of players will fit the system. The released list will also come out shortly, one would imagine, and we’ll see what the state of play is then – as well as getting a deeper understanding of what Jokanović’s mindset is, looking forward.
It seems so difficult to think positively right now, but on reflection this season has been such a joy, and it’s something we shouldn’t take for granted.
If Leeds hadn’t capitulated and we’d finished 7th we probably would have all thought it was a season where we'd played brilliant football and just fallen short due to poor patches in September and March. As they say, it’s the hope that kills you.
That said, it’s perfectly reasonable to allow ourselves some time and space to grieve for the dream lost for a little while.
I know there’s many of us who, truthfully, promotion wasn’t the goal so much as a day out at Wembley, which an entire generation of Fulham fans have never got to experience in black and white. I can’t shake the feeling that we’ve missed a golden opportunity, but if Slavisa can keep hold of his key men and add a few key additions, there’s no chance that next year can’t be our year – either through the playoffs or even a little cup run.
I imagine that the summer used to be a time where people could forget the football season for a little while at least, allowing themselves to refresh and recuperate from the highs and lows of the season before.
That no longer exists, and many of us will spend the next three months trawling the internet, desperate for news of Ryan Sessegnon’s contract signing or praying that we hear nothing more than mild rumours about interest in Tom Cairney.
As we sang not so long ago – ‘Que sera, sera: whatever will be, will be.” We have no say in these decisions that shape the season ahead, but we will be back in August, no matter what happens over the course of the summer. For the time being, we must just attempt to let our hearts heal.
P.S. TC, if you’re reading this, please don’t go breaking those hearts any more by leaving.
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.