As a decent FA Cup run beckons for someone, we welcome back Russ Goldman*, a USA-based Fulham diehard adjusting to life without Premier League football and therefore without access to live televised games. Like SAFC, Fulham offer radio coverage – Barnes and Benno are a class act for us – but Russ admits it’s not the same (he should try wrestling with stop-start streams, which make Barnes and Benno an emphatically better option). He sees Sunderland advancing to the 5th round but not without a fight ….
Salut! Sunderland: How important was that win at Wolves to make the next round of the FA Cup? You looked delirious on Twitter.
Russ: This victory was very important for morale and could springboard us for the second half of the season. Fulham had not scored in four matches so this match should give them confidence and jumpstart the season again.
The wretched start to the season must seem like a bad dream now that you’re winning a bit and rising. Playoffs?
It was a horrible beginning of the season but this is a new club with so many young players so we are seeing growing pains. However, I think we have finally seen the worst of it and we are now pushing forward. For me playoffs is not the goal right now. It is winning one match at a time and just getting better.
So what went wrong to land Fulham where they are?
What went wrong started a few seasons ago with the lack of replacements for Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey after they left. The club changed ownership just a year later, and the lack of investment leading up to the sale and the club getting older with their talent combined for the demise.
Which of the players you clung onto are vital to making it back to the Premier quickly and where are you desperately in need of improvement?
The club has a strong nucleus of young players with Lasse Vigen Christensen, Emerson Hyndman, George Williams, and many other who give us hope for the future. The players we kept that have been vital are Scott Parker and Hugo Rodallega. We need a right wing and possibly two fullbacks to get us the squad we need.
And is Shahid Khan Kit Symons the dream ticket for a prompt return?
I think the combination is the right ticket as we have a manager who knows what Fulham stand for and an owner who is commited to get Fulham back to the EPL and make them sustainable for many years to come.
How difficult is it for you to follow your club from afar now they are no longer in the Premier?
It is difficult to watch and extremely frustrating. I am lucky that the club does have a radio broadcast of each match but it is not the same. The club also provides a free replay the next day but nothing beats watching it live and infuriates me that I cannot anymore. There are rare occasions that it is on television but those are far and few between.
And was it hard to remain enthusiastic and supportive?
It has not been hard at all to remain supportive and enthusiastic because Fulham are a family. The supporters and the club really are one and the interest in the club has not dropped off. In fact my show Cottage Talk has been more popular since being relegated.
How much does a good cup run mean to you?
It would be nice but for me it is all about the league.
Highs and lows as a Fulham fan?
The high would be the Europa League semi-final win against Hamburg and the low would be getting relegated after losing to Stoke last season.
Best players you’ve seen – or wish you were old enough to have seen (take a bow, Mr Haynes) in Fulham colours?
I wish I could have seen Johnny Haynes in his day but I am more about teams and I wish I was a supporter during the 2000-2001 season which saw Fulham get promoted to the EPL.
Again, I focus on teams and the team last year was the worst I have seen since becoming a supporter in 2007.
Championship top six, in order, and the playoff winner?
I will start at six and go to one so it is Watford, Ipswich, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Bournemouth and Derby County winning the league. The Playoff winner will be Norwich City.
Premier top four and bottom three?
Top Four are Chelsea, Manchester City, Southampton and Manchester United. The bottom three will Leicester City, QPR and Burnley.
Your thoughts on Sunderland’s poor first half of the season?
Sunderland have flirted with relegation for more than a few seasons now, and they need to change what they are doing or eventually they will go down just like Fulham. The Sunderland supporters deserve better than fighting off relegation.
Diving: time to give up and accept everyone does it or time to crack down at last?
It needs to be removed from the game all together. I say the punishment should be tougher with a possible red card and suspension for a blatant dive.
How will you follow our match and what will be the score?
I will probably listen to the match on the Fulham app and I see a Fulham loss but they won’t make it easy for Sunderland.
Russ Goldman in himself: I am the host of Cottage Talk which is an internet based radio show that is all about Fulham Football Club.
Interview: Colin Randall
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