Kevin McDonald isn’t bothered by the fact that he doesn’t gain as many plaudits as his midfield partners – and will be happy to eschew the limelight if Fulham can turn their outstanding run of form into a place in the Premier League at the end of May.
The Scottish schemer has been an integral part of Slavisa Jokanovic’s side since moving to London from Wolves in August 2016 and fully appreciates that the finer arts of his holding midfield role don’t write as many newspaper headlines as the goalscoring exploits of Tom Cairney or Stefan Johansen. The former Sheffield United man recognises his role in the Fulham midfielder and told GetWestLondon’s Ryan O’Donovan that mastering that deeper position has been key to his success in the capital.
I don’t mind that. I’ve never been one that is going to bang in ten goals a season, that’s life – it’s never been me and it never will be but I try to set myself targets to get a few goals per season.
Put it this way, if TC [Tom Cairney], Stef[an Johansen] and Ollie [Norwood] get ten goals each, they don’t need me to get ten, they’ve got the strikers as well so I’m happy to chip in whenever, whether it’s an overhead kick on the line or whatever, it’s one of them. I don’t mind being the so-called unsung hero, I’m there to do a job for my team and want to do well for myself and the team.
The centre of the pitch is a massive part of any team and I think if we control the tempo of the games and we win that battle first it gives the others confidence to go and do their thing. We’ve got a really good mixture of players in that midfield three/four just now as it is, you’ve got Ollie whose brought a bit of everything, he’s a mix between me, TC and Stef and he’s got it all between him.
McDonald admitted to being frustrated in the early months of the season as Fulham failed to take their all-conquering form that took them into the top six to the new campaign, but admitted he would prefer to end the season strongly than drop like a stone as the finishing line approached.
I’m sure there’s a reason for it but I’m not too sure, it was exactly the same as last season and I think it takes us time to get going but you can’t really use that as an excuse if you ask me. It’s football, you don’t get time to get going, you have pre-season and then that’s you for 46 games.
I would think that it seems to be one of those things, I’m sure other teams start good and finish bad, I’m sure that happens but it seems to me that I’d rather it worked this way – I’d rather start slow but finish off really good so hopefully it continues.
He also praised Stefan Johansen’s constant quest to make things happen in the Fulham midfield – acknowledging that the Norwegian had struggled during the autumn, but shared the fans’ delight that the former Celtic midfielder has now returned to the form that characterised his first year with the club.
I think the false nine was due to the manager not being too sure what way to set up the team, so I think Stefan was put there just as a temporary thing, I don’t think anyone had a long term plan for him to play there. He’s back in a position where he should be and he’s really starting to find a bit of form, he’s not scored as many goals this season, but there’s still plenty of time left and he’ll be a massive player for us for the last few games.