The Whites travelled to Villa Park on Saturday afternoon off the back of a bland four game unbeaten run, but the lacklustre performances continued with Slavisa Jokanovic’s stalling side yet to get going. Once lauded for his ability to switch things tactically at Watford, Jokanovic’s side have become predictable and teams turn up with a game plan to limit the passing game; whether it’s Preston’s high pressing style or more of deep defensive block just begging for a team who has been without its premium creative talent to break them down.

The predictability has simply been highlighted through Tom Cairney’s injury, Slavisa Jokanovic has remained stubborn with his shape to the extent of forcing our multi-million pound number nine out wide to retain the three in midfield despite lacklustre performances from both Stefan Johansen and Oliver Norwood in the absence of the club captain. A lack of creativity both on and off the pitch has stifled Fulham’s progress regardless of the talent that the recruitment team has assembled; even with Tom Cairney’s injury, this team is good enough to be picking up wins both at Craven Cottage and on the road.

It’s the surprising perseverance with averagely performing players in a system that Jokanovic slavishly adheres to which doesn’t help frustrations – nothing is being changed to make things better and Slavisa has the personnel to make drastic changes to the shape and player positions whilst retaining the possession style of football.

Considering Cairney is currently unable to start games, Fulham could switch to a 4-2-3-1, with the goalkeeper and back four remaining the same, unless you wanted to start Rafa Soares at left back or Denis Odoi at right back. To provide the defence a little more solidity – perhaps necessary when the Whites have managed just two clean sheets in thirteen league matches – you can add Ibrahima Cisse alongside Kevin McDonald to provide a defensive shield allowing the three in front to support and create for the striker. With no Tom Cairney, you’ve got a couple of options for the number 10 role – Rui Fonte can feature there if you want to start Aboubakar Kamara or alternatively the Portuguese can take up the lone striking role. Johansen could take up a more traditional attacking midfielder role but it wouldn’t be my preferred option. Out of our attacking/wide midfield players, Neeskens Kebano is arguably most suited to the free role behind the striker, which allows you to slot Ryan Sessegnon on the wing (introducing Soares at left back) and Yohan Mollo on the right (or whatever combination of wide players either side of Kebano you would prefer).

The three-man defence has become more fashionable recently with Chelsea’s success under Antonio Conte (although here the Premier League shows itself up as a copycat league following that formation’s ascendancy in Italy over the past five year). Fulham’s game is already built around full backs surging forward – and one of these systems would allow them to take full grasp of these positives in their game. Odoi can come in as one of the three in defence alongside Tomas Kalas and Tim Ream, having filled in remarkably for Kalas at Reading and Leeds and is one of our more athletic footballers. The midfield upwards are where the questions come in, do you go two forwards and three in midfield or two in midfield and three attacking players? Either could work at Fulham, the extra man in defence could give you a McDonald and Johansen central midfield partnership with two wingers supporting your striker (again, who you’d prefer – some would say Soares at wing back and Sessegnon further forward, some like Floyd Ayite: others don’t). The other option is your midfield three where you can keep McDonald, Johansen and Norwood in the middle but have Rui Fonte up front alongside Aboubakar Kamara.

Jokanovic remains the right man for Fulham but he needs to show more when his plan A is not coming to fruition – you can point to the possession numbers but for his philosophy to secure promotion, this side has to to be harder to score against and less predictable. I also think the players need to do more – how many of this squad can you say justify their spot in the starting eleven? Kevin McDonald and maybe two or three more? I don’t think good footballers playing average football should get away with no criticism either.

We go on to face Bolton Wanderers next week, but if nothing is to change, then prayers to whatever deity are necessary to facilitate Cairney’s return to full fitness as soon as possible.

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David Button has called on his Fulham team-mates to become stronger after a disheartening away defeat at Aston Villa yesterday afternoon.

Head coach Slavisa Jokanovic was heavily critical of Fulham’s lack of bravery and quality in possession as failed to stand up to the physical challenge posed by Steve Bruce’s side and goalkeeper Button admits that the Whites will need to become more streetwise if they are to mount a serious push for promotion from the Championship this term. The goalkeeper told Get West London’s Ryan O’Donovan:

It comes down to being strong in both boxes. I think we had a couple of good chances which we didn’t take and they got a set piece and a goal that was avoidable. Based on chances we probably should have drawn, but we need to understand when we come away from home teams team will be strong and physical and we need to stand up to it.

We know we’ll be fine on the ball because we have the quality but we need to make sure we’re harder to beat. It was a little bit more difficult but the conditions were hard with the wind but I felt we got it out okay and our better chances came when we did it well but looking back we could’ve done better in the first half but it was certainly tricky with their press.

Button took little comfort from his individual performance – the former Brentford stopper made excellent saves to thwart Jonathan Kodija twice, Josh Onomah and substitute Ritchie de Laet – after Fulham failed to pick up a point from a game during which they controlled possession for long periods.

It’s frustrating. It’s a good feeling when you make the saves but we need to get something from the game. When you lose it makes everything not as important but we’re still close to the top six and the top two and we’ll keep going.

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Sessegnon helps England U17s to World Cup semi-final

October 22, 2017

Tweet Steven Sessegnon will feature in the World Cup semi-final next week after he helped the England U17s beat the United States 4-1 in their quarter final yesterday afternoon. The Fulham full-back, twin brother of left-sided young susperstar Ryan, has retained his place in Steve Cooper’s side after coming into the starting line-up for the […]

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Jokanovic feels Fulham ‘weren’t brave enough’

October 22, 2017

Tweet Slavisa Jokanovic felt Fulham weren’t brave enough to match the physical challenge posed by Aston Villa and lacked the necessary quality in either box after the Whites went down to defeat at Villa Park yesterday. The Fulham head coach was very critical of his side’s reversion to route one when they found the path […]

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Adomah ends Fulham’s unbeaten run

October 21, 2017

Tweet A combination of John Terry – for it had to be him – and Albert Adomah ended Fulham’s four-game unbeaten run and lifted Aston Villa in the Championship play-off places as Slavisa Jokanovic’s side ultimately flattered to deceive at Villa Park this afternoon. The visitors had recovered well from the shock of conceding Terry’s […]

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Up next: Aston Villa (a)

October 21, 2017

Tweet Fulham head to Villa Park this afternoon targeting a third successive away win that could propel them into the Championship play-off positions for the first time this season. Slavisa Jokanovic’s side will take confidence from the two victories at Nottingham Forest and QPR before the international break as well as the fighting spirit shown […]

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Kalas eyes elusive clean sheet

October 20, 2017

Tweet Tomas Kalas has admitted Fulham are desperate to keep a Championship clean sheet – but the Czech centre back knows that ending a run of seven games without one won’t be easy at Villa Park. The Whites travel to Aston Villa, the division’s in-form side with an abundance of attacking riches tomorrow, aiming to […]

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Fulham must make a good start, says Mollo

October 20, 2017

Tweet Yohan Mollo has urged his Fulham team-mates to use the momentum generated by last weekend’s late comeback against Preston North End and make a swift start at Aston Villa tomorrow. The French winger, who made a real impact when introduced as a second half substitute against North End last Saturday, believes Fulham can’t afford […]

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Fonte fancies third straight away success

October 20, 2017

Tweet Rui Fonte has targeted a third straight away win as Fulham prepare to face the Championship’s in-form side, Aston Villa, at Villa Park tomorrow afternoon. The Portuguese striker feels Fulham can take confidence from the quality of their last two away showings before the international break that saw Slavisa Jokanovic’s side beat Nottingham Forest […]

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Modern football and how money dilutes the passion

October 20, 2017

Tweet It wasn’t that long ago that our opponents tomorrow, Aston Villa, were one of the big hitters in the Premier League. I can remember when they were consistently finishing in the top six with the target every year of breaking into the ‘big four’. Back then, of course, the ‘big four’ consisted of Arsenal, […]

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