Did we need a leader like him? Of course we did. Watch him stalk the touchline. Animated at times and at others he stands with his arms crossed like Napoleon watching his troops fight the battles he himself has dictated for them. Behind them his coaching staff cajole, inspire and whisper in his ear about events that are judged in seconds and minutes, a reply given, the twist of a tactic and the tweak of a position. Fulham have fallen under the strength of ‘idea’ and of ‘love’. And does not love conquer all?
The Heresy of Nunoism: Southbank Resistance November 4th 2017
It was darkness wasn’t it? 1995 and McGinlay. All week I’ve been thinking about that fat bastard and now this. Revenge? Yes, I think it is, I think they have had such a fucking thumping today that ghost of 1995 has been well and truly banished. The only bad thing is that I would have loved nothing more than to have been in the press box where I would have slapped his fucking head back right into the desk in front of him. Jesus Christ. Bully with his head down. Knackered. Desolate.
Enough of that shit. We have done it haven’t we? At last. It’s been a right journey and a tough one. How they denigrated us at the start of the season eh? How they mocked us and cast their slurs at us. Nuno ‘untried’ or ‘one of those European fly by night Coaches’. Man every time you clicked on an article it was full of shit. We don’t wonder why Nuno sits behind the desk at these press conferences and looks at these doughnuts with disdain like he’s just stepped into a hot dog turd in bare feet. He knows them well. He’s read the crap and the lies all season. He’s tired you can tell. Keeping the hyenas away from his Wolves. I say ‘His Wolves’ because they are his. How he has transformed a crazy bunch of second stringers and league one players into this team before us is nothing less than majestic. I am speechless.
I knew something was up. I knew that we had something golden and real in front of us. The games we have seen, the play, the goals all penultimate, all magical, all fantfuckingtastic. There is a time I suppose when I will sit down and write about it and try and make sense of it. The book I’ve been threatening maybe. But this moment, this absolute demolishing of accepted norms by this team is a thing I will remember for the rest of my life.
Of course I had to have a trip up to the top of the garden. It’s where I go to weep. I’ve done it a lot this season. There’s a compost heap up there with a spot that’s moulded to the shape of my arse. It’s where I go to reflect. It’s under an apple tree. It’s peaceful. At full time I went up there and sat down, covered my face with my hands and sobbed. Happy. Yes, I was happy but also sad. Emotional but stoic inside at the same time. Triumphant emotional moments like this always get me right in the heart. Because this is bigger than the team. It’s a whole experience for me and one in which the town too gets enveloped in the glow of this success. But it’s more important than just winning or just being Champions. It’s a victory for all of us that really is a triumph of Good over Evil. It’s that time again when there does seem something right in the universe that confuses us and in the end crushe us. Good does fucking prevail and the Gods have given us this moment and at Notlob too, where we stand and raise our hands and everything is good, in fact it’s brilliant.
The fact that Coady smashed in number four made me shout so much the neighbours over the road stopped jet washing their drives and cutting their lawns. I didn’t care. What do they know? What do they know about the freezing cold away games we have attended? What do they know about Fulham and the desolate capital? What do they know about those years behind us when we stood in the Southbank and urged our players on under the tutelage of buffoons and idiots. It’s an outpouring of emotion now of course. The time when we stand proud at the top of the table and look down at the Villa and laugh loud. Yes, I laugh very loud at them. How dare they question our hearts and our minds, our plans and our tactical supremacy. How dare they cast their lack of idea and bitterness on our club. I laugh loudly at them because they are doomed. This is a present to myself. I know I shouldn’t mock the afflicted but I am.
How many teams below should I mock? All of them. We are sitting on a golden mountain at the feet of a great Master. This Nuno…
I suspect that there are aspects of this Nunoism that we may forever be lost in the fogs of our ignorance. The facets which he displays in his post match celebrations, the measured tones during interviews, his humility, his unforgiving destruction of the opponents ideas. If Nuno has this relationship with our support then it is transcendent of both football and politics. So it becomes a fourth dimension. 4th Dimensional football in other words.
I wrote much in praise of this Nuno and I never regretted any of it. Even if the spark wouldn’t have struck and we would have struggled this season I would have sat at his feet and listened. Simply because his idea is new and dynamic, it is different and it is new. He blasts the cobwebs of this footballing nation away with aplomb, humility and with intent so strong and forceful that the Warnocks and the Holloways found ways to galvanise their teams against him initially anyway. This was the last gasp saloon for this grotball. Now the ideas of Nuno will spread around this league system like wildfire. It’s an overlap or a bleed through of Nunoism. Now he has set the template for how to run a football team, how to galvanise and how to inspire. We knew he would do this. There was something different about him, something strange and attractive. Something that made us love him as soon as he spoke. We saw in him a method and a litany of beauty that we could relate to. He has done us proud and I sing for him and I am inspired myself to create similar art and songs.
Even if the football and ethos we have is built from the familiar and traditional aspects of the game every single match is used as a building block for the next part of the story, the next match always. We are in a dream world of Nunos making and it will only be when we are awake and the season is finished we will be able to look back and see that Nuno had indeed hypnotised us with his magical skills. We will see that most of the matches were dreams, mixed in with a few nightmares just to balance it out. The stadium is the stage where this whole drama is played out and we watch it with eyes wide until we shuffle out when promotion is gained, we will rub our eyes and wonder what happened, why we are happy and some have tears in their eyes.
He looks ahead to the next match and I also look ahead too. Champions we are. But this has gone now for me. I let my joy out in the garden sitting among the dog eggs and the hot compost. Now is the next stage. Domination of the Premier league. The Mastering of those teams we see adorning the back pages of our newspapers or the glossy magazines. The funky web pages and the adverts on TV. Who there will have ideas bigger than our Nuno? Who will step up to debate the art of football with him? Who will stand in front of our players with more belief than them. I don’t see anybody. All I see are mercenaries who lack these ideas, who lack Kwan.
We will travel to the Premiership on a tide of glorious victories but we will enter that place changed. It will not be as it was before. The Premiership will be alien to us and strange because we have suffered for so long being away from it. The cold of Barnsley away and the desolate identikit stadiums around the country will still ache at us and remind us of where we have been but the directions that Nuno has given us ‘forward’ should annihilate the memories of them in the end for sure. But those memories will be relentless. The 1-5 Albion game, the times when we were destroyed by teams evidently more attuned to the ideas of football than Mick Mcarthy ever was. Those pains of the past we drag with us as we travel towards the new dawn of Nunoism. The speed in which he drives us towards success will pull those memories with us in our slipstream.
We will go to these palaces of football next year a lot better armed than we were in previous years. We have owners with an incisive learning mind. They absorb knowledge like a sponge. They learn and they act fast. Just like the team and just like Nuno. They learn and they act and they destroy the vapid ghost like ideas of others. They will be unstoppable and we will be unstoppable too. These heights will be lofty and tall, sometimes we will find ourselves trying to find meaning in it all and we will stand firm with the idea that everything is learning, everything is training. What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger. But while we are there at the top of the mountain we must never forget what went on before. Fingles at the forefront of a mass of gold and black that never ran. The bloke who cut a Wolves head into his lawn in Low Hill. Everybody getting the Bully cut. The four thousand of us that never stopped supporting our club when the wind ripped around that half empty Southbank. The way we always said we were proud to wear our shirt on holiday. They mocked us then, but now? The ghosts are triumphant and I know that they watch us and love every minute of what is happening. I know it man. This is for them not me. This is for those we have lost on these mad travels.
Gaz Mastic was at the bottom of my path today after the match and I went out slowly on my crutches to see him. He was beside himself and Gaz isn’t a bloke who’s emotions run free.
‘Wim Champions Mikey’ he said, and I swear his lip quivered a little bit and I dropped my crutches and gave him a big love over the gate. I crushed him a bit I was so happy. He was smiling and showing me the gaps in his teeth. This is why I’m happy. I’m happy for him and for us. This is the time we grab each other and love each other because that is the only way we will navigate the madness of next season. And it’s ok to cry a little bit through the laughter too. Thank you Wolves. Thank you Nuno. Thank you Jeff. Thank you Laurie. Thank you Horace for protecting me in more ways than one. Thank you Greeny and Bigmon. Thank you Rikky and Kate, Sophie, Andy Powell, Kate and Neil. Thank you to Southy and Ian Powell who gave me the courage to write about this season and teaching me about how football really works. You have given me my heart back.
Now we grow as we show that the morals we must know
Will be shapen and mistaken by the falls along the way.
But forget, don’t regret, to find love and happiness
Unless you’re willing to be strong when they are gone along the way.
Bad Religion ‘Along the Way’