Championship: Why Tim Ream wouldn’t be disappointed if Fulham miss out on automatic promotion

Matt Murphy
The Independent
Why Tim Ream wouldn’t be disappointed if Fulham miss out on automatic promotion
Why Tim Ream wouldn’t be disappointed if Fulham miss out on automatic promotion

Fulham defender Tim Ream says he wouldn’t be disappointed if his club failed to gain automatic promotion from the Championship, despite their progress in the latter half of the season.

A draw at home to Brentford on Saturday, ending with a 94th-minute equaliser from the visitors, left the West London side reeling, as they missed a vital chance to overtake Cardiff again into second place.

Their dropped points subsequently granted Wolves a place in the Premier League, as the league leaders now can’t be caught. But Fulham’s form is still the best in the division, and in drawing extended their unbeaten run to 21 games.

Speaking after the match, the American said his frustrations wouldn’t amount to being disheartened if they had to settle for the play-offs, given how far they’ve come. The club were in 12th when they suffered their last defeat in mid December.

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“I wouldn’t call it a disappointment,” he said. “We dug ourselves a hole in the first part of the season and, listen, 21 games is nothing to scoff at. If we make automatic, great, but we know we have the playoffs to prepare for if we, for whatever reason, miss out. I think we’ll look back on certain results and be disappointed, but you can’t really be disappointed until all the games are finished.”

The 30-year-old admitted it may have been pressure and fatigue getting the better of the Cottagers against Brentford. Before Aleksandar Mitrovic’s opener 20 minutes from time, Fulham seemed on the back foot, only managing a single attempt on target. Neal Maupay’s equalising header in stoppage time then shifted the Craven Cottage mood from confident to crestfallen. When asked if the draw felt like a loss he nodded in agreement.

“We’re in there trying to figure out how we drew the game and gave up a goal late,” he said, gesturing towards the dressing room, “but it’s one of those, it’s football. We’ve done it to teams this year and they’re not the first to do it to us. So again It’s one of those things you deal with, you live with. It’s an unfortunate goal but we have to move on from it.”

In the “most pressure-packed” time of his career, Ream thinks the club still have to win all their games to stand a chance of finishing in that remaining automatic promotion spot, but “crazier things have happened”.

“I think we’ve shown a mental toughness in the entire run,” he said. “Just because we concede in the 94th minute doesn’t mean we’re not mentally tough. It’s just a matter of dusting ourselves down and going again.”

“We’ve proven in the last couple of games we don’t have to play the best, or turn on the style as much as we would like to, but we’ve still grinded out a win. Today just wasn’t one of those days.”

Last season also saw Fulham settle for a spot in the play-offs, going out to Reading over both legs. Ream addressed claims they might be classed again as the best football-playing side unlucky enough to miss out on promotion.

“People can say what they want to say at the end of the day,” he said. “People are saying things about Cardiff, and does it matter? It’s about results, it’s a results-driven business and we’re in it to win it.”

Fulham next face a difficult trip to south London to play Millwall on Friday evening. The Lions are themselves are also unbeaten at home in five months.

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