Aston Villa fans love to hate...Fulham Football Club

Stu Forster

Here at 7500 Holte we bring you tactical previews, we bring you audio previews, we bring you in-depth general previews. And now, we bring you...previews that provide you even more reason to despise the team Aston Villa are about to face.

This week, Fulham.

No one hates Fulham. Fulham are the nice kids of the Premier League, the ones that are just kind of...there. The same way they've been for thirteen years. A brief spell of excitement surrounded the Cottagers when they made it to the Europa League final four years ago, but even that wasn't enough to make them enemies. Even London clubs often don't consider matches with Fulham as real derbies.

But Aston Villa are set to host them on Saturday and for that reason, they must be hated. At least temporarily. Let's see if we can find some reasons.

First, when Shahid Khan bought Fulham last summer, one of his first moves was to have the Michael Jackson statue removed from Craven Cottage. That, alone, is reason to despise Fulham. The MJ statue was the best thing about the Cottage, which just might have been the inspiration for "My Garden Shed."

Perhaps Fulham have their uses

My personal distaste for the Whites stems from one summer's day back in 2011, shortly after Aston Villa hired Alex McLeish to...do whatever he did. I made my way to the Cottage for the first game of the season, and wound up grateful for the multiple coffees I'd consumed that morning. Of course, the goalless draw was more likely the result of having that man in the dugout, but Fulham did barely anything except stand around and look nervous for the first 45 minutes.

Which, comes to think of it, sums up much of Fulham's 2013-2014 season. Just how have they been so horrible? Remember back in 2010, when they were in the Europa League finals? Now Fulham are dead last - mostly thanks to the new man in charge, who seems to have no trouble giving coaches the boot. And despite bringing in six players (seven if you count Clint Dempsey's brief, anonymous stint) during the winter window, the Cottagers have won just twice since the start of January.

Some people might feel sorry for such a side. Nah. It's ineptitude, pure and simple. Sympathy, in this case, is undeserved. This is a side, remember, that ponied up £11m for Kostas Mitroglou without even checking to make sure he was fit to start.

That may, of course, have something to do with Fulham's controversial new manager, their third this season. Felix Magath took over in mid-February, and the Whites have won just one since his appointment. But Magath, known for his dogged approach to physical fitness and his willingness to inspire terror in his players, keeps striding along, using 19-year-old Cauley Woodrow and 17-year-old Moussa Dembélé rather than the expensive Mitroglou and/or loanee Darren Bent. In fact, he's accused both players of a lack of fitness, something Bent took exception to.

On one hand, why not take chances, when relegation is almost certain? On the other, Magath's tendency to throw lineups at the wall and see which players stick must be exceedingly frustrating to Fulham fans. With six games left to go, they're five points from safety, and perhaps it might be reasonable to play an international striker who broke the club's record transfer fee. That is, if his season isn't over thanks to knee injury, one that's possibly been plaguinghim since before he joined the side.

Finally, Fulham also annoy because they have a slight advantage in head-to-head over the Villa. Overall, Villa have won 19 games, Fulham 20 and there've been 21 draws. All of the excitement seemed to occur in the mid-sixties, when Aston Villa won 6-3 at Fulham, with Fulham beating Villa 5-1 the next season.

Yeah. it's reaching. If that's not enough, just remember Fulham employ Steve Sidwell, and any time you watch the side, you're forced to look at his ugly mug. Isn't that reason enough?

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