The Independent’s Jack Pitt-Brooke, one of the country’s most perceptive young football writers, has a fascinating piece following an interview with Slavisa Jokanovic, which largely focuses on how the Serbian successfully won the Motspur Park power struggle over Fulham’s transfer policy.
Jokanovic says he’s much ‘more satisfied’ following a January transfer window that saw the club exclusively bring in players with English experience of the Championship and that he feels eradicating the past ‘mistakes’ will help the Whites in trying to win promotion back to the Premier League. Pitt-Brooke notes how Jokanovic’s colleagues see him as much more relaxed now that Craig Kline has left the building and the coach himself is explicit about how changes from the summer have helped.
We bought a few players in August without any preparation, without pre-season, without these players knowing how we want to play, without me knowing what exactly they can offer us. I am working here in England, I want English people, or people who know what the English game is. If the club brings some players that I don’t use, there can be two reasons for that. One is that I don’t believe he’s good enough. The other reason is if I am a completely crazy man, and I want to blame the player. But that would be without any sense.
I am now more satisfied than I was in the past. It is simple: from my point of view, we are working with more sense, and we make better steps. Part of work is making mistakes. But we must be careful to make less mistakes. You need to find people who you can trust, and who can help you immediately.
If I coach in Italy, I will try to have more Italian players. If I coach in Serbia, more Serbian players. Football is different in different parts of the world. English football is English, the Championship is the Championship. All these three players came to the training ground, opened their bags, put on their boots and played football. I don’t have time now, in this level, to bring in people from another part [of the world]. Especially with 12 games in front of us. I need people who know about driving the car in the English style. Who know what life in England is.
Jokanovic also reveals how he has changed his approach at Fulham after losing Moussa Dembele and Ross McCormack – moving away from the two up front formation that had helped him take Watford up to a more possession based game that suits the Whites’ strengths.
I always played with two strikers at Watford. Because my best players were strikers: Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo, Matej Vydra and Fernando Forestieri. The team was really clinical. With these players I have in my hand right now, we take the decision to play in this way. Because I believe we are more safe with the ball than we are without it. We believe we can dominate the opposition with the ball. We are not the strongest, tallest team in the Championship. We miss the set pieces, we need to win some points in this situation, but we don’t do it.
He gives the notion that Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has already hit the ground running since his loan move from Newcastle United on deadline day, has an attitude problem short shrift.
If I knew about this bad reputation, I don’t sign him. First of all, he is Serbian, I am Serbian. He was top scorer in the qualification for the World Cup. He played for the team I did, Partizan Belgrade. I know what this player can do, his characteristics. He has the characteristics my team needs.
Mitrovic is strong. He gives us different options. We are not talking about the fastest player in this position in the world. But he can hold the ball, we can connect with him. He can be our target man. He can improve our set-pieces, and he can improve us in our defensive set-pieces. Football players can link with good players, easily.