It scares me slightly when I look at the players who we currently have in our squad and I realise just how few faces there are. We didn’t use a wide range of names last year and that worked for us, but we won’t get through a season in Premier League without more players, especially considering that our loanees are now back with their parent clubs.
However, as I have said before, the point of these articles is not to talk about how many players we need or to speculate on the names mentioned in the media, it is purely to assess how many of the players we have can have an impact in the top English league at Fulham.
What we’ve got-
Fresh from signing a brand new five year deal at Fulham, I’ll start with Tom Cairney. Our captain has been so important to any success that Fulham have had over the past few seasons. He seems to be the man who makes Fulham tick, and while he sometimes gets stick, Cairney will surely be vital to our game in the Premier League. At times his defensive commitment has come under criticism, but he has far more good days than bad. His range of passing, abiltiy to own the midfield and his knack of scoring goals as a midfield player are all reasons why Cairney could make the difference for us next season.
Behind every good captain there is a very good….Kevin McDonald. I’ve mentioned it throughout my articles this season, but I’ll say it again; our upturn in fortune two seasons ago was when we added Kev Mac to our squad in 2016 and finally had a holding midfielder protected our defence. Dickson Etuhu played in this role for us when he was with the club, but after him I can’t think of anyone who did it well consistently before McDonald. It will be interesting to see whether he can be as effective against Premier League opposition, but I certainly think that we should be starting with him there come August. He already has one season of Premier League football under his belt with Burnley back in 2009-10, but he returns to the top league a much more mature and competent player than back then.
Other than a blip in his Fulham career when he was carrying an injury and when Jokanovic seemed to forget that he was actually a midfielder, Johansen’s Fulham career has be fairly impressive. He has a real tenaciousness about him that makes supporters love him, but opposition players hate him. He was the wind-up merchant this season, and while I think that players like that have to be careful, there is no doubt that every team needs one. Is he Premier League quality? I hope so. He has won three Scottish Premiership titles with Celtic and also played in Europe during his time up North. This, alongside being name the captain of the Norwegian national team suggests that he should be able to cope with Premier League football.
This is where things get slightly more difficult. Cisse has shown glimpses of promise in the handful of times where he has made an appearance for Fulham, but I highly doubt that he would be ale to make it in the Premier League. I’d imagine that Jokanovic would have used him far more last season if he thought that he had a future at the club, but it looks as though he was a ‘stats buy’ and that he doesn’t quite have the talent to cope in the Championship, never mind the Premier League. This is perhaps harsh on the player who we have only seen eight times this season, but I’d imagine there was a reason for this.
PL2 Squad- Tayo Edun, Matt O’Riley and Luca de la Torre
I’ve only selected these three as they are the ones from last season who appeared at different times through out the season. All three were involved during pre-season, something that is likely to happen again this year. O’Riley played twice last season, playing the majority of the two League Cup games. American de la Torre has been in and around the squad for a few seasons now, and I remember the home game against Derby back in November were he came on and made a big difference to a rather flat Fulham side. He is quite attacking, playing in a play maker role and has lived up to expectations by breaking into the USA National team earlier this year. Tayo Edun is one who has brought a lot of excitement to those in the England ranks. He was part of the same U19 squad that Ryan Sessegnon was when the Young Lions brought home the U19 European Championships trophy last season. He is yet to have his true breakthrough season in Fulham colours, but he is certainly one to watch this year. These are three very talented kids, but I wouldn’t want to be resting all our hopes on them this season. Slav has shown that he knows how to deal with youth players through his use of Ryan Sessegnon and with Scott Parker returning to Fulham to take up the First Team Coach role, the right people are in place to ease some of these players in.
All in all, I think it is very certain that we will see incomings at the Cottage, but we have three fairly definite Premier League standard players in Cairney, McDonald and Johansen so far. I’m confident that this will be built on before giving some cameo roles to the youngsters as long as things are going well.