Mission Impossible?

Posted by Phil Mison

Since this blog fell into my hands in 2010, we have trotted out the same story of perennial Fulham failure at Goodison. Never mind a win since our return to the top flight -- the Whites have not even managed a point off Everton on their home patch. But it’s just a bit of grass like the Cottage is, with a goal at either end.

What kind of supernatural aura envelopes the place whenever Fulham roll up? Supporters have long since given up making the fruitless trip north to one of the more unlovely, and unforgiving, venues we play. So new manager Rene Meulensteen has a real job on his hands on Saturday if he wants to remain true to his maxim that he always sends his side out to win.

Far be it from me to bleat over the burden he so gladly carries of taking the Fulham flame into every corner of the world. Believe me, though, when I say the past few months have been ultra-depressing as we were so palpably going under. We must not speak ill of the dead, but the “chaos theory” of four floating interchangeable midfielders behind one lazy frontman barely touches on the appalling drop in standards from the management team over the past year.

Now I feel like a kid let loose in Santa’s grotto early before every other grasping nipper in town. At every turn since the Villa win, Rene has not put a foot wrong with his public statements -- on his blueprint for the team, his message to individual players and the work going in on the training ground.

Today we wake up to some pretty solid paper talk that Clint Dempsey will be back in the white shirt next month, and that Dimitar Berbatov feels rejuvenated with Rene in charge. There are good news stories coming out of the Cottage wherever you look.

Darren Bent has trained this week and must surely make the squad. Remember it was he who turned the League Cup tie around against the Toffees when he came off the bench in September. I was in the Hammy End that night for Fulham’s 2-1 win. We bottled up Romelu Lukaku and his mates then, and who’s to say we can’t do it again?

Two enterprising young managers come head to head, and although I’ve seen some Everton forums fearing Fulham will come to “park the bus,” I don’t see the game being played that way at all. I think Fulham will carry the fight as the boss looks to keep the momentum. While the average age of the side last Sunday set a new Premier League high, wisdom says you don’t change a winning team.

Everton are hit by the absence of the suspended James McCarthy and have drawn four of their last six. However, Roberto Martinez has really won over the fans post-Moyes with outstanding business in the market over the summer -- loanees Gerard Deulofeu, Gareth Barry and hitman Lukaku (who really should have been at Fulham had Martin Jol not messed up) have all made an impact.

Everton are a fortnight away from going one whole year unbeaten at home, with just the one defeat all season. Fulham have not won on their last 20 visits to Goodison. So to leave you having pleasant dreams over those stats, I’m going to go way out on a limb and say the Whites to give Everton an almighty scare and claim a point.

In Rene we trust! COYW! twitter@fulhamphil

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