Fulham need a hero right now.
Seventeen games into the Premier League season, Fulham have conceded 42 goals and only tasted victory twice leaving us stuck at the foot of the table and in desperate need of some Christmas cheer. We are currently just three points adrift, so the situation isn’t quite at critical yet, but if we don’t pick up at least 6 points from the next three games then I’m not sure if we can come back from this. The opportunities are right there in front of us with a trip to Newcastle tomorrow before hosting Huddersfield and Wolves. While there are no easy games in this league, the run ahead of us is probably the most gentle run that we have considering positions in the table.
In games like these we need our players to stand up and be counted, and tomorrow’s trip to Newcastle could provide extra motivation for one Fulham man in particular. Aleksander Mitrovic first tasted English football with Newcastle, but the Serbian picked up an unfair reputation as a hot head and a liability. There have been several reasons put forward as to why it just didn’t work for Mitrovic in the North East including that he didn’t get on with Rafa Benitez and that the style of football didn’t suit him. It was a match made in Heaven when Mitrovic was brought to the Cottage under Slavisa Jokanovic last January, with the striker firing us to the Premier League with his goals in the back half of last season.
He also has an impressive seven goals for us this season, not bad for a player whose club currently sits at the very bottom of the league. Without his goals we would be too far adrift already. As we approach a really busy Christmas period of festive football, Fulham need Mitrovic to reignite into a goal machine again. Recently he has found himself isolated and has then cut a frustrated figure, so the team need to increase the intensity and the speed of passes up to the Serbian upfront. We have been far too pedestrian most of the season, and this has resulted in our forward line seeing less and less of the ball. This naturally results in less chances and therefore less goals. It’s not rocket science really.
Considering Mitrovic’s rather unhappy time at Newcastle under Benitez, I’d back him to be even more motivated than normal to get one over on his former boss. If we get off to a good start, then we could have a solid platform upon which Mitrovic could tear apart his former side. On the other hand, the team will need to be wary of the Newcastle crowd who will do all they can to put them off. Mitrovic is a confidence player, so it’s crucial that he doesn’t let his head drop.
Our last trip to Newcastle was the best away trip I’ve experienced, with Ryan Sessegnon silencing a hostile Geordie crowd. We can only dream of something like that this time around. Maybe it’s time for another hero?