After the dismal performance against Sunderland at the weekend, Hammyend.com put out a poll on Twitter asking for fans opinion on the manager situation at Fulham. With so many people calling for Slavisa Jokanovic’s head on social media, I was surprised to see that the results were drastically in his favour. Of the 688 people who took part, 81% want the club to keep Slav for now and give him another transfer window. While 688 people obviously doesn’t represent the whole of the Fulham fanbase, it does give us an indication of fan opinion. There were also a number of other polls asking the same question, and the results of each show overwhelming support for Slav, so it is fair to say that the ‘Slav out’ campaign isn’t quite as big as you would believe.
Now, I am not saying that everyone who would rather he stayed is happy with how things are at Fulham at the minute. In fact, I’d say that no one is content with the performances and results so far this season and, frankly, why should we be? However, the majority of people seem to agree that sacking Slav isn’t the answer. My recent article on this outlines my opinion on this so I am not going to repeat myself, but I will add a reason to why I am firmly in the ‘Slav in’ camp while explaining what I think needs to change for Fulham to start picking up points.
My additional reason comes off the back of last night as I watched an impressive Bristol City side knock holders Manchester United out of the Carabao Cup in dramatic fashion thanks to an injury time goal from Korey Smith. It was in no way a smash and grab from the Championship side, and they had taken the lead earlier on in the match through Joe Bryan before Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalised. It was a remarkable performance, and just another impressive display from the Bristol side. The win last night was City’s fifth in a row, in a run that has seen them rise to 3rd in the table with just one defeat in eleven outings. The job that Lee Johnson has done is brilliant, especially considering he was very close to getting sacked last season after a 5-0 drubbing against Preston North End that left them just one point above the relegation zone in April. Instead, the Bristol City bosses decided that Johnson was their man, and they stuck with him even when times were very tough. City are just another example of a club who are reaping the rewards for having faith in their man. Yes, I would agree that Slav needs to go if there is no improvement come the end of the season, but sacking him now would be counter-productive, and would only pave the way for another manager who is likely to have another bad stint resulting in another sacking. We saw this in motion in our final year in the Premier League, so sticking to Slav for now is the best answer.
Having said that, it is clear that something has to change at the club. The performance against Sunderland was probably the worst I have ever witnessed as a Fulham fan and the time and money that went into the trip just added salt into the wounds. Plain and simple, it was dismal. The main thing that I would change, and it seems to be on everyone’s lips, would be to have players play in their best positions. It’s not rocket science, is it? Play your best players in their favoured positions and you give yourself the best chance of winning matches.
Ryan Sessegnon should be playing as a left winger (or at left wing back if needs be) and not a flat left back as we have seen recently. When was the last time that he played as a winger? When we beat Sheffield United 5-4 in that crazy game away from home with Sessegnon scoring his first senior hat-trick.
Stefan Johansen, a central midfielder, should not be playing in a false nine position. I felt incredibly sorry for Stef on Saturday as he just looked injured and had been asked to play in a position that he is in no way made for. If put in an awful performance and I think he needs a break over Christmas to allow him to get over his current injury.
Rui Fonte and AK47, either or, should be playing as strikers, not wingers. Fonte is another player who I feel sorry for. I think he has had a very tough time adapting to life in England and hasn’t been helped by playing out of position. I still reckon he will come good if he is given a chance to play up front properly, but for now, he just runs about and doesn’t make an impact on games.
Each of these changes have been talked about on a number of Fulham outlets and it is clear that as a fan base we want these changes made. It is hard to watch a team that was so clinical last year become a side who can’t penetrate even the weakest of defences.
Next up we face Barnsley at home in another game that is now a must win. Barnsley sit 20th in the table and are in a horrible run of form with 4 defeats and 1 draw from the last 5 games. Like Sunderland, this is a game that we really should be winning so hopefully we can show much more of what we can do on Saturday.