Top Stories

No UEFA Cup dream for Fulham as Man City gets the nod

Manchester City has been awarded a UEFA Cup berth after finishing ahead of Fulham in the EPL Fair Play standings. Man City finished ahead of all of the EPL teams that had yet to qualify for Europe.

Will the European place be enough to save manager Sven Goran Erikkson? Probably not. Could it help lure some bigger fish to Manchester City? Potentially.

It is a sad day for Fulham fans, but let’s face it, it still doesn’t put a damper on the miracle escape from relegation.


  1. It’s clear from the Chelsea example that a major factor is money. I say that the folks who support the second tier teams, e.g. Blackburn, Tottenham, and similar, need to find a local who’s made it good, convince them to put their bucks (or pounds in this case) on the line and put it into their beloved team.

    which brings up the topic, why doesn’t al fayed put some real dough into fulham?

  2. Tony – over the last 27 completed seasons, 6 teams have won 25 of that time frames NBA Finals (and with the Spurs,Pistons, Lakers, and Celtics still in it…possibly 26 out of 28.)

    Despite this illusion of competitive balance that we call a playoff, a select group of franchises has dominated that American sports league.

    Things can and will change…we’re complaining about Chelsea when, before Mourinho and Abramovich, they were an afterthought. Not a real threat.

    More money, managerial talent, and player talent is coming into the league, and big clubs like Spurs, Villa, Newcastle, etc. are going to exploit it and break through.

    I don’t think Man U. is going away, but I also don’t think they’ll have a stranglehold on the league…especially when Sir Alex retires.

    In addition to that…Arsenal is falling apart, Chelsea’s managerial situation will likely be in flux, and Liverpool hasn’t put it all together yet. A team like Everton, Villa, or Spurs will break through, and soon.

  3. Understood,

    you’re in a dream world. Soccer fans throughout the world are no different than your average American sports fan. They want to see their club win it all and despite their club’s size, they’re still hoping for the big win. I consider myself an American Sports fan and that includes Soccer.

    I will say you’re right about #2 but the key word is some. I’m a Nottingham Forest supporter (since the late 80’s) and I won’t support a club in the Premiership til Forest return. I enjoy watching a few teams in the Premiership but I could care less in regards to the overall results of the league. Doesn’t concern my team, so no stress for me. Now the flip side is that I know a few Yeovil fans whom are Man Utd supporters hence why I place an emphasis on some and in that respect no different than American sports fans from markets that don’t have those teams.

  4. i dont disagree with you tony, but i think two things that separate the worldwide soccer fan vs the american sports fan is:

    1) winning it all isnt the end all be all like it is here in the states; a lot of soccer fans just enjoy following the sport for the pure spectacle and excitement of it all; brillance of the players, etc.

    2) a lot of fans of smaller teams also root for one of the bigger teams, so theyll be a diehard fan of their hometown team, but theyll pick a lesser of all evils and root for one of the big teams

  5. inkedAG:

    As I made clear, I followed and celebrated the Fulham win. But we are still celebrating the fact that they finished 16th. It’s a peculiar set up when your team’s only realistic chance of having something to celebrate year after year is avoiding a death sentence.

    But understand – I am NOT arguing against the concept of relegation. I am merely pointing out that there are problems with a league in which 80% of the teams have no realistic change of winning. The same 80%. Year after year. It’s a potentially huge problem that could disenfranchise many English fans even as their league becomes the worlds most popular.

    By the way, i love the irony of you suggesting I missed the point by using the metaphor of an American plucky underdog almost immediately after Eric suggested my American perspective got in the way of my appreciating the same story.

  6. Eric:

    Your comment that I am looking at this with an American Sports fan perspective would be amusing to those who know me…

    That said, a retort could be that you are looking at the Premier League through anglophile glasses. All those things you mentioned are secondary – do you really think Spurs fans are happy year after year feeling they have no chance winning the league so long as they beat their “hated rival” Arsenal once in a while?

    But don’t take my word for it: the concerns I expressed are frequently heard in a land less colored by Anglophile leanings. I am speaking, of course, about England. For just one recent example, consider these comments by someone certainly lacking in the American Sports perspective – a guy named Kevin Keegan who warns, “”This league is in danger of becoming one of the most boring but great leagues in the world.”


  7. Tony, I think it’s a perspective thing, i.e. Glass half full/empty.

    I understand your points, but I think it’s fine to call what Fulham did was a “miracle.” For a team that hardly won on the road (I forget the actual statistic, but I think it was 30-something or more games before they won their first one.), it is pretty impressive that they won three.

    Pretty much everyone had written Fulham off and they were relegation bound. In the final games of the season, they were able to claw their way back and stay in the Prem.

    Pardon the pun, but it’s a classic American story where against all odds, someone finds success just by perseverance and belief/faith in themselves. What’s not to like there?

  8. Tony et al,

    remember the “Premiership” was started in 1992 and the name wasn’t put into full use ’til like a few years later. I think you’re right aside from that awful team BlackBurn put together that somehow managed to win the league back in 1994-1995, the only other teams to win it have been Money Utd, Chelski and France 2, er I mean Arsenal. I feel that it is killing the interest of English fans for that very reason and eventually those fans outside its borders. The Premiership markets their league better than any other on the planet. Then again this is another thread. Eric, I remember a time when the English could care less about how well they performed in Europe and it wasn’t exactly too long ago, so your comments of beating a heated rival et al is partially right. It’s recent. When you’ve got English clubs putting winning the EPL ahead of Champion’s League, that’s a problem, although I suspect it was their way of drawing attention from the fact that they couldn’t win Champion’s League in those years.

  9. Try thinking of the Premier League as F1 on grass.

    I use the F1 analogy because it is a big deal everywhere else in the rest of the worl and is very similar to the Premier League in the number of have’s and have not’s.

    F1 presently has 10 teams running. There are only 2 or 3 teams who really have a shot to win week in and week out. Yet this fact does no seem to both or discourage fans of the teams at the bottom of the table from watching and following their teams.

    What I’m getting at it that the people of Europe (and everywhere else to a certain degree I guess) are able to enjoy/watch/cheer/follow their teams in camparison to like teams and find positives in that respect.

    The are several ways to gauge the +/- of a seaon that are not limited to only being successful by winning their league/sports trophy.

  10. It’s a sad day when you’re relying on Fair Play points to get into UEFA Cup. I’m sure they’re still enjoying the lifeline of another season more than undeservedly getting into the UEFA Cup based on Fair Play Points.

  11. I think you’re wrong, Tony. The Premiere League is more popular than ever.

    Your comparison is to the wrong sports too. Soccer in England is like College Football here (polls and bowls aside).

    For example…Michigan is considered an “elite program”, even though they’ve only won 1 National Title in the last 60 years (and it was shared).

    The reason it is popular, though, is much the same reason soccer is popular in England, and elsewhere. That is that there are many things to play for…beating your hated rivals, going to a good bowl game, conference titles, etc.

    In soccer, its getting into Europe, beating your hated rival, escaping relegation, etc.

    You’re looking at it from an American Pro Sports fans perspective…where the regular season holds only a fraction of the weight it does in soccer of College Football.

  12. Okay, here’s an unpopular opinion:

    I dearly wanted to see Fulham escape relegation. I excitedly watched McBride return and add to his legend over the final weeks and I celebrated the final win. But…

    Can we stop calling finishing 16th out of 20 a “miracle”? Can we stop acting like it is some great accomplishment and not a disgrace avoided? To me, it’s more like a trial where they drop the charges rather than find you not guilty.

    And here’s the unpopular part: As much as I enjoy the Premier League, only four teams have ever won the title (Blackburn, not Liverpool, being the fourth) and only four have a realistic shot at it every year (if you call Liverpool’s shot realistic). If you are a fan of any of the other teams, your moments of glory are restricted to things like:

    – Finishing 16th and avoiding the crushing punishment of relegation

    – Sneaking into Europe’s second most prestigious club competition

    – Doing well in one of the Cup competitions that the big four don’t take seriously (until the end when they play their starters and win).

    – Giving up a late equalizer to Man U and getting to think about how close you came to an upset.

    (Just for comparison, take a look at Major League Baseball where 13 different teams have won the last 20 World Series. They include small market teams like Florida, Oakland, Arizona. For all basbeall’s faults, the playoff system is a great equalizer that helps small clubs overcome the superior depth of rich clubs.)

    Americans typically pick one of the big clubs to follow (and as a Gunner fan, I’m guilty too) and therefore enjoy an exciting season. But pity the poor schmuck born in Newcastle, for example, who last enjoyed a significant victory while watching the DVD of Goal! The Dream Begins.

    The Premier League is great. But it has some problems that I can imagine are killing interest for English fans.

  13. “UEFA’s Fair Play competition is based on assessments made by its delegates at domestic and international matches.

    The coefficient is based on several criteria such as positive play, respect of opponents and officials plus crowd behaviour as well as cautions and dismissals.”

  14. Actually a blessing in disguise for Fulham. They’ve narrowly escaped relegation for 2 years “on the spin” (as they say in England).

    Any more fixture congestion next season could doom them to the same fight again! They need to get to Europe by earning it.

  15. I don’t think anyone understands it, really. Even the British press views the standings as a pseudo-mystical process that UEFA announces. Roughly, it is based on cards and fouls throughout the season.


Leave a Comment