Chris Coleman Gets No Respect
Fulham's coach, Chris Coleman, is unlikely to be mentioned in connection with the Premier League's Manager of the Year award in May.
The manager of the unfashionable West London team - always in the shadows of neighbours Chelsea -- is among the betting favourites of managers to be sacked each year, and his club are perennial candidates for relegation.
But it never happens. It rarely even comes close to happening.
So why does Coleman continue to get no respect?
Since taking over the team in April 2003, every year Coleman has seen his best players leave the club -- first Louis Saha, then Edwin van der Sar, followed by Steed Malbranque.
The cash he is given to buy new ones never comes close to matching the sums received, and when he finally did get some money to spend -- 2.5 million pounds for Wigan's Jimmy Bullard -- the player made just four appearances before going out for the season with a serious knee injury.
Coleman's success at keeping his club in the Premiership each season has nothing to do with luck. He saved Fulham from relegation when he first replaced Jean Tigana, and since then the Cottagers have finished in 13th and 12th spot.
You would think Fulham supporters would love this young coach -- he turned 36 years old last month -- given the job he's done.
But that isn't universally the case.
Coleman himself has admitted being confused by the grudge held by a small group of boo-boys in the Craven Cottage stands.
"There are a few of our fans in the corner by the tunnel -- and it is always the same ones -- who, if we are not 2-0 up at halftime, will generally boo us off," Coleman said. "I've been here a long time, and I cannot remember, when I joined, us playing in the UEFA Champions League. But I can remember where we were compared to where we are now, and I've got a long memory.
"We aren't going to come here every week and play beautiful soccer to win games -- we aren't good enough to do that. We have to win scrappy games.
"I told the players not to worry that they'd been booed off. The players know me, I tell them what I see and I do not kid them on."
This might be Coleman's best season yet. Last weekend's 1-0 victory over Everton was enough to move Fulham up to ninth spot -- only three points off fourth in a tight top-half of the English Premier League table.
Fulham have lost only three matches all season, playing daring football at Craven Cottage and frustrating opposingteams away from home.
This weekend the Cottagers face one of their most difficult challenges of the season as they visit Fratton Park to face Portsmouth, who are in fourth spot. Harry Redknapp's side have slowed down after an amazing start to the season, but bookies have them as 1.80 favourites for good reason (odds from Coral Bookmakers)
Portsmouth have won four of their five matchs on the south coast, and Fulham defender Franck Queudrue knows he faces a tough game.
"Portsmouth is always a tricky place to go with the crowd behind them all the time, but we must forget about that and play our game and defend with strength.
"They have quality attacking players like Benjani and Kanu and people in midfield who can deliver like Pedro Mendes and Sean Davis – they have got some skilled players, so it is going to be a tough match."
But while there are many reasons to bet on Portsmouth, a draw at 3.25 odds (at Paddy Power bookmaker) shouldn't be sniffed at. Fulham's intractable play has given them one win and three draws in five road games this season, and Portsmouth's form is best described as inconsistent at the moment.
Plus, considering Coleman's knack for defying the odds, even a Fulham win at 3.75 odds seems rather generous.