Fulham have found success that same way as Robson in 1981

Talking Point

Seeking an equivalent to Fulham's remarkable Europa League campaign the mind turned to Ipswich Town's 1981 Uefa Cup triumph. Then, as now, astute management was the key. Like Bobby Robson, Roy Hodgson has brought the best from a squad of players that has talent, but few stars.

Robson's genius was to integrate the Dutch passing of Frans Thijssen and Arnold Muhren into a solid Anglo-Scottish team. He also had a strong central defensive pairing in Terry Butcher and Russell Osman, a goalscoring midfielder in John Wark, and a well-balanced attack of Paul Mariner, Eric Gates and Alan Brazil.

It was an attractive side whose players knew each others' games inside out. The same applies to Fulham. Hodgson has drilled his men until their team shape is automatic, and imbued them with the confidence to play a passing game.

Robson's team was stronger – it almost won the title in 1981 – but talent was spread more widely then. With income and wages more equitable it was easier for smaller clubs to retain players. A modern Butcher would never stay 10 years at a club of Ipswich's size.

Brede Hangeland has been coveted but there has been surprisingly little interest in his colleagues. With Mark Schwarzer and Danny Murphy this reflects their age (37 and 33), but with others it may be because the team share another similarity with Ipswich, it is greater than the sum of its parts. Aside from Wark, Butcher and Muhren, who had successful spells at Liverpool, Rangers and Ajax respectively, Robson's players peaked with him.

So it appears with Fulham. Murphy and Damien Duff have shone elsewhere but most have never played better. If any are lured away it will be interesting to see whether they maintain that standard.

David Moyes, manager of Fulham's opponents tomorrow, was thinking along the same lines this week when he cautioned Steven Pienaar against leaving. There is a difference. The South African's career has been rejuvenated at Goodison but his performances at Ajax showed he has the talent to play at a very high level.

Nevertheless Moyes, like Hodgson, has created an environment which enables players to realise their potential (others include Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka).

One factor must be stability. Both managers are reluctant to rotate, which makes Fulham's handling of their arduous Europa League commitments all the more impressive.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk