Ince joins Fulham on loan

by Dan on February 1, 2016

Fulham have agreed a deal with Brighton and Hove Albion to take defensive midfielder Rohan Ince on a season-long loan.

The 23 year-old, who was born in Whitechapel, spent ten years with Chelsea before leaving our London neighbours permanently in February 2013 following a successful trial with the Seagulls. Ince, who had previously enjoyed a loan spell at Yeovil, quickly became a firm favourite at the AmEX Stadium, with his pace and tough-tackling ability. He helped Albion reach the play-offs, making 33 appearances and winning the club’s Young Player of the Year award. He made 38 appearances for the club last season and his stunning strike in a League Cup victory over Swindon Town was named Brighton’s goal of the year.

A combination of injuries and Brighton’s excellent form limited Ince, who is the third cousin of former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul, to just ten league appearances during this campaign and he has opted to return to the capital in search of first team football. Fulham’s holding options in midfield have been restricted by injuries to Ryan Tunnicliffe and Sakari Matilla and head coach Slavisa Jokanovic is expected to put his new signing straight into the first-team squad for Saturday’s game against Derby County.

Brighton manager Chris Hughton has been speaking about the deal:

After two seasons in which he has been a regular in the side, Rohan has found first-team opportunities limited this season, with Dale Stephens and Beram Kayal in such fine form, and also now following the arrival of Steve Sidwell. 

At his age and the stage he is at in his career, we want to see him playing regular football, and this loan move gives him the chance to do that in the Championship. It’s a good move for Rohan and both clubs, as it is one which will allow him to continue the progress he has made in recent seasons.

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Seven reasons to be cheerful

by Dan on January 26, 2016

At first glance, there appear to be very few grounds for optimism at Fulham. Slavisa Jokanovic’s arrival hasn’t sparked a misfiring side into life and a run of one win in fifteen games suggests that the first few months of 2016 will be spent waging an almighty battle against the drop. Factor that that the team’s mostly likely source of goals is apparently desperate to leave Craven Cottage, whilst the promising French striker the club have spent four years nurturing is poised to sign a pre-contract agreement with Monaco and most Fulham fans would be seeking salvation at the bottom of a pint glass. There is, however, a bright spot even on this particularly bleak horizon.

It comes in the shape of a youth team that is beginning to make a few people around football talk. Exhibit A is the Under 18s victory this afternoon at Arsenal. A friend of mine, recently retired from coaching young players for the Gunners, watched the Whites beat Arsenal 3-1 at their London Colney training ground this afternoon and was effusive in his praise. The comprehensive victory was Fulham’s seventh successive league win and hints at the kind of bright future that many supporters might have envisaged following the run to the FA Youth Cup final in 2014.

We are, of course, already seeing the fruits of Fulham’s serious investment in their youth set-up. Marcus Bettinelli will challenge Andy Lonergan for the first team goalkeeper’s jersey when he completes a spirited comeback from that horrible injury he suffered in September at Hull, whilst Moussa Dembele and Emerson Hyndman have already featured in the first team, despite the fact that it looks likely they will be plying their trades elsewhere in the summer. Saturday saw the welcome return of George Williams, who showed glimpses of real promise in his cameo roles for Fulham and Wales last year, whilst nobody needs reminding of the potential of Lasse Vigen Christensen.

The plaudits for Fulham’s 2014 under-18 side were plentiful – with the departed Patrick Roberts (whose move to Manchester City has been questioned in developmental terms of late) to the fore, of course – but the whispers around Motspur Park are that the current crop of youngsters are just as exciting. Much of the credit for that has to go the trio who have been responsible for the transformation of Fulham’s academy in recent years: Malcolm Elias, Huw Jennings and Steve Wigley. Alistair Mackintosh might be getting plenty of the Financial Fair Play flak floating around at the moment, but it should be remembered that it was the chief executive who took personal charge of the restructuring of the club’s youth set-up shortly after his arrival.

Elias and Jennings are old hands in the development world, having nurtured talent down at Southampton, but Wigley’s return to Motspur Park after an ill-fated spell as Stuart Pearce’s second-in-command at Nottingham Forest was a real coup for the club. The three men have clearly defined roles but work alongside each other to ensure that the production line revs along nicely, which is so pivotal when the opportunity to merely buy the country’s brightest talent courtesy of a billionaire benefactor has largely been removed by those FFP regulations. Jennings has spoken at length previously – to me and others – about the importance of getting the pathway towards senior football right and that is what Fulham’s development structure is aimed towards, giving prodigious talent the right balance between age-appropriate development and a chance in the lower leagues.

Wigley has both a keen eye for talent and a tactical brain honed over years of winning football matches. It is no coincidence that the Under 18′s fine run has come after he returned to Fulham as Kevin Keen’s permanent replacement and challenged the club’s youngsters to deliver on their potential. The goals flowed almost immediately – with a Josh Walker hat-trick seeing off Leicester and three from Dennis Adeniran helping the Whites power past Tottenham. The predatory instincts of Mancunian forward Stephen Humphrys, long talked off as one of the brightest young prospects in the north-west, have also come to the fore, whilst Foday Nabay, brought in from Birmingham City amid a fair bit of fanfare has really flourished in midfield. The performances of England youth international brothers Ryan and Stephen Sessegnon helped the national under-16 side win the Nike International Tournament before Christmas – and Ryan laid on a goal against the Gunners today.

When you consider that the likes of Luca de la Torre have been fast-tracked into the under-21 set up at the age of 17 and Jack Grimmer’s development continues on loan at Shrewsbury once again, there are real signs that these young boys could be knocking on the first team door in the seasons to come. The way in which Arron Davies and Marlon Fossey have trained on in the past few months shows that the desire at Motspur Park is contagious and the Elias-Jennings-Wigley axis combined with Jokanovic’s own impressive track record of helping young talent flourish could bode very well for the years to come.

If you get the chance to watch Fulham’s youth team between now and the end of the season, I’d thoroughly recommend you take it. It won’t be a decision you regret. You might just see one of the stars of the future.

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Fulham Academy Where Are They Now?

January 24, 2016

Tweet Whilst the first part of this where are they now special looked at those more successful graduates of the Fulham Academy, in this article we explore those players whose careers didn’t quite reach where they were hoped. In both the pre and post Huw Jennings arrival eras Fulham’s Academy looked both locally and further […]

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Positives and Negatives

January 23, 2016

Tweet For the past couple of seasons Fulham have certainly had more negatives than positives. From relegation, losing one of our biggest prospects in Patrick Roberts, having our very own manager merry-go-round and showing pretty much no promotion push there hasn’t been much to cheer about. However recently things have shown glimpses of positivity. The […]

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Fulham Academy Where Are They Now Part One: The Ones Who Got Away

January 22, 2016

Tweet Former Fulham Academy striker Marcello Trotta this week signed for Italian Serie A side Sassuolo. Whilst being pleased for Marcello and in some ways feeling vindicated having always been in the pro-Trotta camp, it’s hard not to look on with a touch of remorse at what might have been had he stayed at Fulham. […]

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Ross McCormack: Replaceable?

January 19, 2016

Tweet With news yesterday afternoon that Fulham have allegedly rejected an offer of £8m from promotion chasing Middlesbrough for striker and top scorer Ross McCormack, I pondered life without the Scot for a moment and felt that his impact and contribution could be replaced which was argued against fairly strongly (though respectfully I may add) […]

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Evaluating Shahid Khan’s visit to Motspur Park this week

January 8, 2016

Tweet Fulham Chairman and Owner Shahid Khan paid a visit to the club’s Motspur Park training ground earlier in the week. The visit coincided with new Head Coach Slavisa Jokanovic’s first full week in charge and gave our owner the opportunity for some face time to the new boss. Khan’s welcome visit to London comes […]

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Derby and Middlesbrough fight it out for McCormack

January 4, 2016

Tweet Tomorrow’s Daily Mail claims that Derby County and Middlesbrough are locked in a fierce battle to try and prize Ross McCormack away from Fulham. The Scottish international has scored 15 goals in the Championship this season and the two promotion contenders are prepared to test Fulham’s desire to retain the services of their key […]

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Jokanovic aims to retain Dembele

January 4, 2016

Tweet Slavisa Jokanovic says he wants to keep hold of his key players - including French striker Moussa Dembele – as he looks to guide Fulham away from the lower reaches of the Championship. The Serbian head coach has explicitly stated that he is not considering selling either of the forwards whose goals have helped Fulham […]

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Mattila: Jokanovic wants Fulham to be nastier

January 4, 2016

Tweet Sakari Matilla says Slavisa Jokanovic wants to shed Fulham’s nice image and make his new side meaner and tougher to beat. The new Fulham head coach has told his players he wants them to more combative and aggressive in the tackle to try and rid his team of their woeful defensive record that is […]

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