Khan’t Buy Me Love | Thirty-Three Degrees South

Tim Clarke 21st April 2019

Twitter paints a fairly colourful picture of the Khans, Tony in particular. Deep shades of blame, with light brushstrokes of naivety, and a few holes where someone has stabbed the canvas with the paintbrush…

Whatever the picture looks like, it’s not flattering. But is it an accurate depiction of the family behind our football club? Blaming someone else is wildly enjoyable, but allow me to play devil’s advocate for just a moment.

Disclaimer: I’m aware that we could have Shahid as owner without Tony as director of football. However, I’m working off the premise that he’s probably not going to fire his own son, and for all intents and purposes, the Khans are a package deal.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing…

When the transfer window closed in the summer, Twitter was practically unanimous: ‘This is the best transfer window in history’ and countless Chris Pratt gifs with ‘We Just signed Seri?’ underneath. Commentators were predicting we would finish in the top half of the table, a la Wolves, and we were all relishing a Cardiff relegation (I still am, please God). Admittedly, some of the moves were met with scepticism, like Schurrle, or Anguissa. However the former was a World Cup winner and probably worth the gamble, and the latter has begun to show his worth in the back quarter of the season. By and large, it was hailed as a great window.

But, hindsight is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? Suddenly, we all had Nostradamus-like insight, as though we had always known we were getting relegated. Insight into summer transfers is a wonderful thing, it’s just that (for most of us) it emerged in mid-October.

Sometimes, some of the blame must lie with the players under-performing. Is this Fulham squad good enough on paper to stay up? Yes, most likely. 17th was not unrealistic, especially not for the pundits who had us potentially challenging for Europa League. Unless TK was scoring own goals or coughing up possession in the midfield, we might need to re-think casting him as the blithering idiot in this story.

On a side note: If the relegation clause rumour is as good as it sounds, and Cairney, Mitrovic and Anguissa are demolishing Luton next season, maybe he wasn’t so naive after all…

Even a picture has been known to send some Fulham fans into genuine meltdown.

Sit down, be humble

The fact that Tony owns his failures is unusual. Rich and successful people generally stay rich and successful by refusing to admit they have any shortcomings. Hell, you can even become the President of a world superpower by refusing to acknowledge your shortcomings. Tony, however, has not shown himself to be this kind of leader. “I am sorry that we let you down,” he said on Instagram. “We hold ourselves accountable. We will reflect, plan thoroughly and respond accordingly.”

People with fixed mindsets about how things should work cannot grow and improve like someone who can acknowledge their failures. He didn’t force Mitro to handle the ball down at the Amex. Not even the Brighton defenders did that. And we lost plenty of games from ridiculous individual errors like that. But rather than blame everyone from the players, down to the cooks at Motspur Park, Tony owned the mistakes. And as every tacky poster in Australian high school rooms remind us: FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning. Cringey, maybe, but the psychology behind it is sound. I don’t think he will be making the same mistakes again.

In it for the long haul

Tony seems to cop a bit of flak in this area. He goes missing off his socials when we are haemorrhaging goals, and emerges from his bear-like hibernation when we win (Thanks for coming, Everton). Let’s forget for a moment that most of the players do this as well; there is only so many times you can post ‘gutted about the result, but we train hard and believe!’ before it loses all meaning. I would love to see a more public front from TK after a loss, but I can also understand why he might not. Some of the abuse hurled his way because our defence doesn’t know how to compact, or our midfield goes missing is hair raising. I went looking for some examples, but none of them could be printed by your ol’ pals at Fulhamish. Not without a language warning, and a caution that this article may contain bestiality rumours. Moving on…

John-Paul Sartre once said that ‘commitment is an act, not a word.’ What this had to do with existentialism, I’m not sure, consider this in relation to the Khans.

  • They have invested £80 million for the new Riverside Stand
  • They have vastly improved the facilities at Motspur Park
  • They made Fulham the first promoted club to spend a hundred million. In hindsight, yes, we can agree that it might have been poorly allocated, but there is no room to doubt their commitment.

Consider now Stan Kroenke, who despite being worth £7bn, hasn’t invested any of his own money into the club. He has said he didn’t buy Arsenal to win trophies, and set season tickets at the highest cost across Europe. Or perhaps you may want to consider Mike Ashley, who insisted on the lowest spend/biggest profit this summer, and is pretty much the worst guy out there. I may be a cheap date, but when Tony Khan says ‘I’ll die here,’ I’m all about it. He’s a far cry from the horror owners in this league alone, who are only there to make money. He’s here for the long haul, and he’s shown he has the ambition you want for your club.

My Kingdom for Perspective!

Hear me loud and clear: No one is saying Tony Khan has nailed it this year. I’m not going to launch into “Tony Khan! He wants to be a Brit, and QPR are shit” at the weekend, but is the sky really falling down? Probably not. Last October, the Khans were ranked 8th best owners in the Premier League. That means there are twelve worse options. Perspective! My kingdom for perspective! Much like I have grace on an underperforming Ryan Sessegnon because I believe that he could benefit the club massively in the future, I have grace on underperforming Khans. They could be instrumental in re-building the club into something respectable. And what’s the alternative? Abuse them on all your socials? That isn’t exactly conducive to them opening their wallets and building something back up. It probably breeds our own Kroenke or Ashley, who don’t care for a fanbase who doesn’t care for them.

You Khan’t buy me love. But your investment might rebuild Fulham into a proper Premier League team, and that’s the next best thing.

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