Bleak end to a gratifying campaign - Tottenham 2-0 Fulham

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Fulham manager Martin Jol and Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp greet each other ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham at White Hart Lane on May 13, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

A certain Rudyard Kipling once said that "if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you" then you'd be, by way of honour, a man. If there was ever any doubt, over the course of this campaign, then, about the gender and about the personal traits and about the background of Martin Jol then it has finally, most assuredly, been answered. There was a sense, at many stages over this season, that heads would roll and the biggest would that of our manager's, but in his most calm and convincing manner, Chairman Mohammed Al Fayed stood by Jol and the Dutchman now, by all accounts, can be considered the manliest of men.

He stuck by his own grounded principles and let nothing slip - in a way that Mark Hughes, quite simply, couldn't. He followed through on quite risky promises - he lowered the average age of the squad and has allowed some of our most glittering young talents to shine, dazzle and glisten on one of the world's greatest footballing stages. He has continued to grace the fine Craven Cottage turf with a style of football that is brisk and pleasant and has, also, taken the good along with the bad and never appeared to be overly bothered. All the while, Fulham have finished ninth, level on points with Liverpool, a team of such damning pedigree, and finished the year with a certain sense of well-being and a prevalent thought that, come August, things could be even greater in SW6 and that Fulham are a club, for all intents and purposes, most definitely on the up.

The season, then, was a good one but the game at White Hart Lane never quite lived up to the billing on show at the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City dramatically clinched the title. In truth, though, that was never expected. Here, one side sought Champions League football while the other fought for a less prosaic ending to a sporadically successful campaign. In that sense, it was no surprise that Emmanuel Adebayor only took 96 seconds to put Tottenham Hotspur into an eventually unassailable lead after being released by Luka Modric.

Fulham did find their way into the game but never intruded into the score sheet with Moussa Dembele in particular proving influential in midfield. As the away side grew in stature, though, their impotence up front only seemed to grow with Clint Dempsey clearly being a sorely missed casualty. He was left out through injury but the conspiracies around his imminent Fulham departure flew around the away end sharply as, really, there was little to look at on the pitch.

Jermain Defoe went on to double the Spurs lead after the break after replacing Rafael van der Vaart and there was a bleak acceptance that the game was now beyond Fulham. They did press, and could have taken something back to South West London, but two strikes of the post, unfortunately, don't make a goal, and this proved to be a negative ending to an ultimately positive season.

The bigger test will, of course, come over the summer as other clubs pursue our best talents. Let's hope we're better at keeping them away than we were Tottenham here.

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