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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 10:42 GMT
Fulham fail to reach promised land
Horsfield
Geoff Horsfield battles his way through
Big-spending Fulham went into the season with high hopes of achieving a Premiership place, but flattered to deceive after a promising start and ended ninth.

Paul Bracewell had not spent big in the summer, with the promotion-winning squad already looking more than capable of impressing in Division One.

He did make the shrewd signing of midfielder Lee Clark, who left Sunderland for 3m after making himself unwelcome with the Mackems by revealing his Newcastle United leanings at the FA Cup Final.

Fulham started like a train, as they were unbeaten for the first 15 games of the season, winning 11, including eight in a row.

The strike force of Barry Hayles, highly-rated Geoff Horsfield and Paul Peschisolido seemed to have no trouble making the step up and scored freely,

They were joined by Karl-Heinz Riedle, who moved from Liverpool at the end of September, while Stan Collymore and Stephen Hughes came in on loan.

Collymore was not hugely impressive and Bracewell decided not to pursue his interest, while Hughes went straight back to Arsenal of his own accord.


Karl Heinz Riedle
Karl Heinz Riedle took temporary charge

Suddenly, results started to dip at the end of October, and Fulham managed only three league wins between the middle of October and start of February.

This poor run was punctuated by thrilling Cup wins against Spurs and Wimbledon, but the end in both competitions was hugely disappointing as the Cottagers lost at home to Tranmere in the FA Cup and let a very late two-goal lead slip at Leicester in the Worthington Cup quarter-finals.

Fulham suffered from injuries to the strikers, especially Horsfield, but the whole team seemed to lose form after that great start, and Bracewell eventually paid the price as hopes of winning a play-off spot diminished by the week.

Riedle was temporarily in charge, but Mohammed Al-Fayed quickly moved to bring in former Monaco boss Jean Tigana, who had a watching brief only for the final few games of the season before taking over in June.

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