Slavisa Jokanovic appeared to suggest last night that Fulham’s failure to make more summer signings has severely hampered his preparation for the start of the Championship season.
The Serbian head coach, speaking to Fulham’s own website following the conclusion of the club’s mini summer tour to Austria and Germany, admitted that his squad had found things ‘complicated’ after he had to ‘improvise’ given that they were light on numbers. Jokanovic went on to say that he expects the Fulham board ‘bring in some people who are going to support us’ in the coming days – subtly alluding to his frustration that deals have not already been concluded.
The Whites draw 2-2 with German side Darmstadt yesterday afternoon and now face one final friendly, against Wolfsburg, at Craven Cottage next weekend before they start their domestic campaign by hosting Norwich on August 5. Jokanovic was sanguine about the club’s pre-season experience, given the fact that the group he has taken away on both summer trips has been considerably smaller than normal.
We tried to find our style. In this moment it’s a little bit complicated for us. Against West Ham I could use only 14 players, today only 15 players. It’s not time for some players to play 90 minutes or for some of them to play 90 minutes in both games. We did what we could in this moment.
A typical pre-season is planned for 20-22 players, but I didn’t find this situation. In the end, we had to improvise a little bit. We care about fitness, especially our more important players. We had to organise ourselves a little bit differently and try and be careful about training, give the players a chance to survive the pre-season games. In the end, I cared more about our fitness.
Jokanovic’s comments about the club’s recruitment are more guarded that the infamous remarks that directly criticised statistical analyst Craig Kline last August but will still put pressure on the Fulham hierarchy to deliver key reinforcements in good time ahead of the big kick off.
I expect the board of the Club are going to bring in some people who are going to support us. In this moment I try and save my more important players to be available for the start of the Championship.
Tom Cairney returned to action against Darmstadt having missed the midweek game against West Ham having picked up a knock during training and Jokanovic was unrepentant about acting cautiously when it came to his captain’s fitness.
We assessed him for a few days and I didn’t use him against West Ham. He felt better this morning and we tried to play a few minutes with him. If I have the possibility to use different names, different players, I can use them, but right now I took some kind of risk. I understand it’s not time for risks, but this is our situation.
The Fulham head coach is looking forward to the final friendly of pre-season which presents an intriguing match-up against Wolfsburg, evoking memories of the club’s famous Europa League run some seven years ago.
It’s a nice game in front of us, our last test. “I expect this week we are going to find some support for these players. I expect we will play the best game in this pre-season, and show we can be competitive in the season that’s in front of us.