Scott Parker must feel some solidarity with Yossarian, the protagonist of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. You might know the bind of the novel: Any WW2 pilot who wanted to fly a mission must be insane, and was therefore prohibited from flying. Paradoxically, any man who recognised the danger and tried to opt out, must be of sound mind and was required to fly. “That’s some catch, that Catch 22…”
This weekend, whistles will sound in football stadiums for the first time in months. But for the first time in footballing history, they will echo through empty stadiums, punctuated only by the occasional yell from the players, and barked orders from managers who cast a stark figure against a backdrop of plastic chairs.
It is human nature to romanticise the past. And the romantic feelings I have towards May 26th 2018 and Slavisa Jokanovic are bordering on inappropriate. But I've glossed over that cold December night when that Fulham team gave Sunderland their first home win in 364 days. I've repressed the memories of losing 8-2 to Chelsea pre-season. 'It means nothing,' I told myself, very unconvincingly. No, that season is all Mitro on fire and Denis sitting on the crossbar at Wembley.
This image from the first home game is truly poetic. Mitro and TC, goalscorers and spine of this Fulham team, framed perfectly in the centre. Behind them, Blackburn goalkeeper and defender are slumped in resignation. Beyond, Fulham FC are building something...