I can’t remember a Fulham player dividing opinion among fans quite as much as Aboubakar Kamara has done over the past few months. To an extent we had a debate over Dimitar Berbatov, when some believed that his talent alone should keep him on the team sheet back in 2013, while others pointed to his disruptive behaviour being reason enough to get rid. Then we were consumed by intense discussions about the goalkeeper situation. That one ranges back seasons, with Marcus Bettinelli always the man involved.
But it seems different this time. AK has pushed all boundaries and after his antics over the penalty yesterday the debate rages on over whether or not he should even play for Fulham again. I’ll try my best to address this question here.
Little was known about AK when we signed him for an undisclosed fee back in the summer of 2017, but it became apparent very quickly that this was a player with limited technical ability, but one who would run through a barge door for you if you got him on your side. He has chipped in with a decent amount of goals considering he has only been a bit-part player since his signing, but it’s his overall play that causes so much frustration amongst fans, coaching staff and likely team mates. He earned a red card in just his fifth league start for the club for a daft push on Bailey Wright of Bristol City last season, and has come close to receiving his marching orders on a number of occasions since then. He dives, he barges into people for no apparent reason and yesterday showed that he has a ‘me over the team’ attitude. You could point to his age, claiming that at 23 he still has a lot to learn, but Aleksander Mitrovic is just a year his senior. I simply can’t use his age as an excuse for his immaturity. For me, Kamara has to learn his place in the team, and that needs to come from the players around him and from the coaching staff. He needs to grow up. I looked at his appearances last season, and in his last five games at the end of last season his received a yellow card in each of them (not all back to back games). His discipline should be at the top of the list for things to work on.
However, if we are going to decide whether or not he should play for the team again, we have to look at what he can bring to us. There have been quite a few games recently, and then towards the back end of last season, were AK made a very positive difference to the team. During the play-off games against Derby he stretched their defence causing a lot of problems. Then when I think about the last few games, to me it was evident that we were a more effective, attacking side with him in it. He is a speed merchant, and is built like train, two attributes that defenders absolutely hate in attackers. We don’t have a lot of speed in our squad, so when we have someone like Kamara he can make a huge difference. While his behaviour yesterday for the penalty was unacceptable, I suppose you could say that any hungry striker would do it. As soon as the spot kick was given, he sprinted 30 yards to get the ball that had been cleared as he was adamant that he was taking it. I think disobeying your manager, your captain is disrespectful and it can’t happen again, but for the good of the team maybe all should be forgiven. Booing him if he plays again isn’t going to help anyone.
In summary, I think that whether he plays again will depend on one thing; is he willing to accept that it was the wrong decision and agree that it can’t happen again. If the answer is yes, then I’d have him back because of what he brings to the side. But if he remains ignorant of the fact that he was massively disrespectful to his team, manager and fans yesterday then that points to a player who isn’t interested in the team. If that’s the case, then good riddance. No player is bigger than the club.
It’s up to you, AK. What’s it going to be?