When United play Fulham it is often an annoying fixture. When we go to London, to the Cottage we have struggled. Of course this weekend we are at home, not the home of cottaging so we should be OK, but as this feature promises we will highlight the oppositions dangerman.
Fulham have slightly more.
Their very close neighbours and co-creators of “fan sharing for glory” Chelsea but one famous event that is rarely reported is their most famous ever players exertions.
Were you surprised by the erection of the Michael Jackson statue outside Craven Cottage? I wasn’t.
In the period 1994-96 also known as “Fulham’s lowest ebb” they were struggling and dining at the bottom of the footballing food chain. A very poor manager, Ian Branfoot, was in charge and times were far from great. The only tangible success of that era was selling the managers name to endorse a cereal, Kellogg’s bran flakes which resulted in Ian receiving the princely sum of £100 for the honour.
In 1991 a young chap by the name of Michael Jackson arrived at the clubs training ground and asked to see the manager. He told the boss that he was Alexander the Great of Macedonia of the music world. He had cried years of salt as there was nowhere left to conquer and wanted a new challenge. He seemed a good enough prospect and his monkey companion kept the whole squad amused, like the West Ham lads they were often seen blowing Bubbles.
Michael toiled in the reserves and finally made his debut against York City in August 1994, playing as a left wing back. He made 14 consecutive appearances in that role before Ian “cereal guru” Branfoot made a tactical change and MJ was out on his ear. Unperturbed by his ousting the resourceful singer and songwriter deconstructed his whole approach to the game and returned to training as a goal poaching left winger.
It didn’t take long to win his teammates over, a quick trip to Neverland was sufficient, and he was back in the frame.
That season MJ finished with 15 goals and 26 assists, only bettered by Jean Michelle Jarre of York City.
Michael’s second season was even better. He often played as a supporting striker and as Ian Branflake developed as a manager he realised the potential of the American goal machine. Michael hit 47 goals and 58 assists as Fulham went on a rampage. Sadly for the Tea Baggers his career was over before it began.
By July 1996 he owed the American taxman more than $17 trillion as a combination of tax dodges and infant fingering scams backfired. He never donned the white shirt again, instead using arena sized musical tours to pay back America and angry parents. The only surprise to me was that it took Fulham FC so long to honour his impact during their years of woe. To summarise, this weekends dangermen is Clint Dempsey. Damn those goalscoring yanks.