What a night. These are the nights in football that you cannot help to cherish, to just take a step back and take it all in, to bathe in the glory of victory. On these nights the Cottage sounds like it seats 100,000 and the players seem like they are world beaters. On these nights you remember why you fell in love with football, with Fulham, and why you have stuck with them through all the ups and downs. Just reading these words will bring a sweet smile to any Cottager: Fulham 4-0 QPR.
It was truly an outstanding performance, complete with resolute defending, dynamic attacking, and predatory finishing. Moussa Dembele harried the Rangers defence with his clever runs and relentless pace, and bagged the first goal with a strong header. A new contract for the Frenchman surely must become a priority for the club. Partnered with the embodiment of pure class that is Ross McCormack, Championship backlines should beware. On Friday McCormack showed how brilliant he can be, scoring two goals and constantly creating opportunities for others. His awareness and composure put him a cut above anyone else on the pitch.
But to forget the defence in any recap of this match would be a mistake. Stearman and Ream were commandeering at the back, making Charlie Austin seem a shadow of his former self. The wingbacks, however, were the brightest spot at the back. James Husband and Ryan Fredericks terrorized QPR with their powerful runs down the wing, surging forward at every opportunity. Their width and pace led to Dembele's goal, when Husband whipped in a delightful ball to the young striker; and Fredericks created the opportunity that led to the fourth goal with a purposeful run to the byline.
The victory brought the Whites to within one point of the playoff places, an encouraging sign that shows we have turned it around after a slow start to the season. It is important to note that this time last season, we had one point from our opening eight and sat adrift at the bottom of the league. Incidentally, it has been a year since Kit Symons was appointed caretaker manager. Much has changed since those dark days of fall 2014.
The result on Friday was meaningful for so many reasons. It was the Whites first clean sheet of the season. It was a crucial derby win over our hated rivals. We scored four superb goals and moved up the table. But when reflecting on the match, one might have looked back at the last 3 seasons. When was the last time we played this well? When was the last time we felt this jubilant about Fulham?
It is not easy to pick out many such games. In the 2014/15 season, few bright spots appeared. The 4-3 win over Middlesbrough is a contender, yet it was a meaningless late season game and we threw away a lead with a man advantage. Our 2013/14 relegation campaign also offers up few contenders, save for the 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace towards the end of Jol's reign. It is a sign of how far we have fallen that the last genuine, superb result, one that lifted you for weeks to come and made you proud to be a Fulham supporter, was in March 2013. That was when we beat the Champions League chasing Tottenham Hotspur courtesy of a Dimitar Berbatov strike at White Hart Lane, an unbelievable away performance.
Fulham used to be the side that ruffled the feathers of the big boys in the Premier League. This was a side that did the double over Liverpool, beat Arsenal and Manchester City, and drew Chelsea in the early 2010s. This was a side that spent a decade in the Premier League and became world reknowned. Where have those performances gone? In Fulham's dramatic decline they have fallen by the wayside, long forgotten. We now occupy a world filled with defeats to the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton, Millwall, and Brentford.
The once great Fulham Football Club deserves to be back with the best of the best in the Premier League. That scintilliating victory over QPR gave us a look at what we can become under Kit Symons. A side with a dynamic attack; led by a veteran striker with predatory instincts and a pacey forward with bags of potential. A side with battling centre midfielders who wear the badge with pride and never give up. A side with a solid defence coupled with ambitious attacking fullbacks.
With the momentum of this win, Fulham can push on up the table. If we play like this every week, nothing is impossible and the hallowed ground of the Premier League may not be as far away as it seems. This may just be our year! COYW!