It was with some sadness that I learned last night that Ryan Fredericks’ three-year stay at Craven Cottage had come to an end as the Fulham full-back had agreed a deal to sign for West Ham when his contract expires at the end of this month. The pacey full-back had proven instrumental in the back four as well as providing an extra outlet for the likes of Tom Cairney and Kevin McDonald to be as effective as possible. His speed and sense of adventure made him a horn for many Championship defences and it will be interesting to see how he fares in the Premier League next season.
Even though he had only spent three years at Craven Cottage, Fredericks saw seen plenty of changes on and off the pitch and quickly became a popular figure with the supporters. He soon established himself as the first choice right back and was a natural fit for Slavisa Jokanovic’s style that asked an awful lot of the full-backs. His defensive contributions shouldn’t be overlooked either, especially during the 2017/2018 campaign when the Whites became a particularly miserly side. It seems slightly odd to me that Fredericks would want to be the club’s highest-paid player, as some reports on his departure have claimed, especially as he seemed fully committed to the cause of winning promotion in the closing weeks of the season.
Fredericks’ time at Fulham has ultimately been a huge success for the player and the club. With Jokanovic insisting on playing fast and fluent football, pace on the wings became essential to unlocking some tightly-packed defences. There are very few full-backs – even in the modern game – who can get a fan out of their seat but Fredericks’ lung-bursting runs down the right offered a sense of exhilaration and added an extra dimension to Fulham’s attacks. His partnership with Sone Aluko during the 2016-2017 season was almost flawless as the pair dovetailed brilliantly, almost from day one.
Upon losing a player, your thoughts always turn to how they might be replaced. There has been a bit of speculation that Fulham might enter the transfer market to supplement their squad, but I feel like we have a like for like replacement in Cyrus Christie. The Irish international was obviously bought in with an eye to succeeding Fredericks when he had refused to agree a new deal around Christmas time and I’m sure he’ll relish the prospect of playing Premier League football next season. Christie can provide more security against the aerial threat of attacking teams and he is versatile enough to play in a number of other positions if necessary. Fulham also have two very promising right backs in the shape of Marlon Fossey and Steven Sessegnon and Jokanovic has been more than willing to blood academy prospects during his time at the club.
As we reflect on Fredericks’ time with Fulham, the abiding memory will be that magical day at Wembley last month when the Whites regained their Premier League status. He was a pivotal part of a side that went 23 games undefeated – something which Fulham will probably never repeat – and gave 38,144 fans a day that they’ll never forget at Wembley. I wish him well for the future and send my sincerest thanks for helping get Fulham back to where we belong.