Roy Hodgson has asked Fulham’s fans to be patient with Stefano Okaka as the on-loan striker adjusts to English football.
The Fulham manager hadn’t intended to give the on-loan Roma striker his first taste of Premier League action just two days after he concluded a protracted transfer but an injury to Erik Nevland forced his hand. The Italian under-21 international looked strong, but raw, and was disappointed to miss a glorious chance to mark his debut with a goal.
I told him not to worry about it. He’s devastated by it because in Italy mistakes are magnified 100 times and I think it would take him years to live it down over there, but it will probably only take a few weeks here. If I was him I would put it into perspective by looking at the wonderful backheeled goal for Roma the other day.
I think Okaka’s going to take a lot of time. He’s a young raw player and had Erik Nevland not had that toe problem he would not have started.
He doesn’t speak a word of English at the moment and my Italian’s nowhere near as good as it used to be. I’m sure he will get better and I’m sure he will turn out to be a useful signing for us.
But he’s not a saviour by any stretch of the imagination. He’s a player we were able to get in on loan for this period of time and a player who has some interesting characteristics that we might be able to use, but he’s not the man who will carry us.
We’re not saying don’t worry if Andy Johnson’s not around because we have Stefano Okaka, that would be placing far too much responsibility on his shoulders.