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 signing of Slavisa Jokanovic, who got Watford promoted last year, shows real intent from Shahid Khan. So far the record doesn’t look great with 4 defeats and one draw under Jokanovic but it is fair to say that the performances at least have improved. Today’s defeat at home to automatic promotion contenders Hull City showed me both positives and negatives about the current Fulham team.
I’ll start with the negatives purely because I like the end of my posts to potentially put people in a good mood so we will get the bad stuff out of the way early.
- Lapse of concentration- As is so often the case with Fulham, it was a mistake that cost us today. This time the unfortunate offender was Lasse Vigen Christensen whose slip in the area resulted in him bringing down Moses Odubajo gifting Hull a penalty. Too many defensive mistakes, over the past two seasons particularly, have resulted in silly goals being conceded and on today’s viewing, it seems like this is still a thorn in our side.
- Free headers from crosses- Although the general defensive play was much better, there were still moments of glaring mistakes that gave Hull City’s players free headers in the box. I can think of one in particular that nearly led to a goal only for Andy Lonergan to do a superb job of putting off the onrushing Diame who had been set up by a free header in the box during a corner. It is a weakness that has reared its ugly head time and time again.
- We look less of a threat without McCormack- We have a cracker talent in Moussa Dembele but I still thought we looked less of threat without the league’s top goal scorer today. The reason put forward by Jokanovic for the absence of McCormack was sickness despite the rumours flying around about this being proof of an impending transfer to Middlesbrough. I’m going to trust Jokanovic on this one as I think there would be a lot more than just a couple of rumours if the striker really was in talks with another club. Still, we had better hope that our new boss has enough pulling power to keep the likes of McCormack now and in the summer because we just didn’t look as clinical up front without him.
- Heads didn’t drop after the goal– Another common theme in Fulham’s performances over the past two seasons has been that when we concede one goal, often we concede another within ten minutes. Too often the heads just drop and we become a very easy target. Under certain managers Fulham seemed to have a learned helplessness when it came to conceding, as if the game was over when a goal went in no matter what stage in the match we were at. However, after conceding today with only ten minutes to go, Fulham made a real go of finding an equaliser. At one stage when Hull had a corner and took the opportunity to time waste, Cairney made a sprint to the ball and set it up for Hull, clearly wanting them to just get on with it. The drive was there and shows that Jokanovic has instilled a good bit more confidence in the players despite the results.
- Much better in defence- Finally we look like a solid enough team for the majority of the match. True, it was a defensive mistake that cost us, but for the majority of the game Fulham looked much tighter and stronger. I believe that, given time, Jokanovic could have us conceding far less frequently than we have been.
- A true captain- I like Ross McCormack but I have always had something against having a striker as your captain. Maybe this is just a personal thing but I think a captain should either be a defender who can see the whole pitch in front of them, or a central midfielder who should be having an impact at both parts of the pitch. I thought Scott Parker was brilliant today both in attack and in defence. He threw himself in front of pretty much everything he could, blocking shots on the edge of the area and making big tackles in the middle of the pitch. That is the sort of player we need as a captain, someone who is going to show that commitment from start to finish. Not that I don’t think Ross is committed, he certainly is, but as a forward he isn’t going to be able to help out as much at the back. Scott Parker today showed that he can set the right example to the rest of the squad.
- Return of George Williams- Another of our very highly rated youngsters made his comeback from injury today. Williams looked good in the last ten minutes or so when he came on which is a positive for the future. It might take him a little bit of time to get back to full fitness but it is a positive sign seeing him getting a run about again and an even more positive sign to see that Jokanovic is happy to use the players bred at the club.
Overall, I think we can be optimistic about the future. Yes, the recent results don’t look good on paper but if you look beyond the numbers and at the performances you will see a team slowly getting back on their feet. There will be good days ahead.
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