So, after just over 53 weeks in charge, the football club made the announcement that Kit Symons had been dismissed as the First Team Manager at Fulham and that the search for a new man in charge was underway. Football can be a ruthless game, and rather than looking over the tenure of Kit Symons, I will move forward in a similar fashion and look towards the next person to take the seat in the Craven Cottage dugout. This post will glance more at the criteria required (for me) to take the reigns at the football club, all to achieve the goal of promotion to the Premier League.
Style is less important to some, but I can’t help but think that Fulham should crave good football on the banks of the Thames. What constitutes good football? For me, it’s fluidity and flow on the ball, keeping the ball ticking whilst still having a plan of attack. We have a group of players fully capable of making the ball move with ease, we just need to work on how we attack, how we probe opposition defences, how we move the ball and why in different scenarios and general patterns of play. A club like Fulham is not going to consistently compete for the top honours without investment matching those currently challenging at the top, so what do we play for? We should play to entertain, play to progress and play for the enjoyment of playing. The ambition is Premier League football, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore creating a philosophy throughout the football club for us to stick to for years to come, Swansea are reaping the benefits from sticking to their beliefs, but each manager gives the core idea their own little twist, why don’t we do the same?
The demise of Fulham has largely been down to the inability to defend, since Shahid Khan bought the football club, Fulham’s defensive ability has dropped fourfold being the cause of our relegation and subsequent failure to return to the Premier League as of yet. A clearly unorganised team resulted in the leakiness of the football club continuing despite mass squad transformation and improvement as the goals against sees Fulham sandwiched by Rotherham and Charlton in the bottom three, twenty more goals conceded than league leaders Hull City. Defending or attacking is not a question for me, football teams can be resolute at the back and rousing going forward, it’s a case of dealing with shape and transitions from defence to attack and vice versa. Whoever takes charge next, the first aim has to be sorting out the backline, which contains fully capable players because the goals are still falling at an alarming rate.
Just as importantly however, our academy was set up to not only make the football club have a younger feel on the pitch, but also to make the football club money in the manufacturing of its own produce, which then can be sold to consumers bigger than us. It’s basic business; however, the time and money spent by the football club in having the best possible facilities, coaching, scouting and recruitment and youth level will all be for nothing should the man who holds the cards at senior level have little to no interest in using them, developing them or putting his trust in them. Mauricio Pochettino is a man seeing vast success with a youthful squad of which he’s put his trust in, structured around good quality coaching and strong experience around them. The Tottenham Hotspur has a strong defensive core in Hugo Lloris with Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld the centre back partnership ahead of him, from that base, out wide in the full back and wide midfield positions they have young players with game time under their belts; Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen; these players are the experienced kids, which move around the youthful pivot of Dele Alli and Eric Dier, and possibly Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb also. Mauricio Pochettino’s style and grace embracing the younger talent at both Southampton and Tottenham is something for all clubs in this country to admire and want to replicate. Back to the point, Fulham still have one of the top academies in the country despite the results dip of the U21s and U18s, the talent is still there in the moulds of Luca De La Torre, Aron Davies and Dennis Adeniran to name but three. The philosophy of the football club should be looking towards the academy first, if a player is injured or sold, can one of our kids take the opportunity and run with it? Ben Davies was given an opportunity at Swansea following Neil Taylor’s broken ankle and he blossomed, earning a big money move to Tottenham in the process in which Swansea not only cashed in, but received Gylfi Sigurdsson as part of the deal also.
Our final checkpoint, if you will, sees us discuss results. The old cliché is discussing football as a results business, and it’s not a cliché for no reason, the statement is true; but I think you’ll struggle to find anybody in this game that doesn’t want to win. It’s one thing planning to play football that can emulate the great Barcelona side or the currently dominant Bayern Munich team, but the pressure will be on if you can’t consistently get a W in the results column and 3 points on the table. We all know the aim for the football club is to get back into the Premier League where the money is big, the ground will be full and the attention is on you; so the next man has to get points on the table. As much as I want us to play gorgeous football with rigorous defending, I think Shahid Khan will want the opportunity to make his investment what he wanted it to be, and that’s a self sustainable Premier League team in which would justify his seemingly committed standpoint towards the expansion of Craven Cottage. The club will not be fussy as to how we are promoted, the important thing being that we are a Premier League football club again, sooner rather than later.
So in summary, Fulham should be a football club that can hold their own at the back, play with a plan and flow going forward that can secure promotion with the conveyor belt of youngsters continuing; no big ask, eh? You may feel differently to me, you may care more about promotion at any means, whether the ball is in the air or grounded, it doesn’t matter. I go to and watch football games to be entertained, to watch two teams try to beat each other in a number of different ways. We wait to see what move Fulham make in order to revive a hope for the play offs, so I suppose you’ll hear from me then as I shall analyse the new coach, his past, what to expect and how we could shape up.