On the Fulhamish podcast this week, Tony Khan delivered a bombshell of sorts when he definitively stated he wanted to bring back Aboubakar Kamara next season.
The French livewire splits opinion like none other among Fulham fans. That statement alone is perhaps the only thing we can agree on. But despite his polarising presence, Kamara must be brought back to the squad and will play a crucial role in Fulham’s promotion hopes.
I was as appalled as anyone else when Kamara snatched the ball out of Aleksandar Mitrovic’s hands against Huddersfield, and then went on to miss the penalty. I was shocked to read reports he was arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm in a January training ground bust-up. And yes, I laughed along with everyone else when that viral video of Kamara missing an open goal in Turkey materialised.
But in the face of his obvious flaws, Kamara offers so much to Fulham. While it is often lazy and ignorant to dispel a player’s talents to just ‘pace and power,’ that is a massive reason why Kamara is such an asset. One of our biggest issues last season in the Premier League was a lack of cutting edge and physicality that could cut it in the top flight. Kamara possessed those attributes, terrorising defences in matches against Wolves, Arsenal, and Leicester City.
And for all the ridicule that is directed toward his technical ability, Kamara’s skill is actually far better than many give him credit for. The goal against the Foxes is a case in point. Kamara uses his speed to latch on to an adventurous Mitro flick-on, and makes his way to the byline. But he shows superb close control to turn on a sixpence, cutting back with a measured approach to leave the Leicester defender hurtling toward the advertising hoardings. Then, Kamara sizes up a shot between the legs of Kasper Schmeichel for an excellent goal.
Yes, his detractors will dispute all that. The shot was all luck, they’ll say. He should have passed the ball across the face of goal. His cutback was fortunate.
But at the very least, the example shows that Kamara is far from a one-dimensional player with no technique or skill. Look back to his time in the Championship. An exquisite chipped finish, nay, a scoop, against Burton. A lovely feint followed by an exquisitely slotted goal against Hull City. Another shot-fake and confident strike away at Nottingham Forest.
And I’m sure you will find countless instances where the final product didn’t come off for the Frenchman. He is liable to errant, long range strikes, speculative decision-making, and wastefulness. But what attacker isn’t? My view is if you are willing to take risks and if you add energy and verve to an attack, you are a useful option who can make things happen. I’d certainly have an erratic yet energetic Kamara in my team every day over an entitled and disinterested Andre Schurrle.
Let’s also resist the urge to write Kamara out of the history books of Fulham’s promotion. Although for most of the unbeaten run, the winger was out of the team, he returned to the home stretch to fire Fulham up. While Tony Khan focused on the decision to start Kamara in the second leg against Derby, he actually came back at an earlier point.
With Fulham in trouble at home against relegated Sunderland, Kamara came off the bench in a bold move for the injured Matt Targett. It was Kamara’s surging run that led to Lucas Piazon’s equaliser in a huge game for the side’s momentum. It was Kamara’s shot that led to a corner and Denis Odoi’s headed winner against Derby. And it was Kamara’s energy that gave Villa’s backline headaches in the final and led to the celebratory scenes at full-time.
Perhaps the best case for Kamara’s return is not even his own qualities, but rather Fulham’s priorities. The club is desperately short of attacking options, with only Mitrovic, Kamara, and Rui Fonte able to play at centre-forward. If Kamara is loaned out yet again, the club will have to spend major money to fill a need that could easily be met by the Frenchman.
Kamara’s disciplinary issues do raise a concern, but I truly believe most of his actions can be explained by a love for Fulham and a desire for his team to succeed. The penalty incident was an example of a supremely passionate player who deeply believed he would be the best player to score a goal so Fulham could win. It just turned out he wasn’t.
And when Claudio Ranieri was left with a young player in the aftermath of a controversial flashpoint, he bungled the response. At a time like that, Kamara needed an arm around his shoulder and a stern talking to. Both to ensure that it wouldn’t happen again, but also to reassure Kamara that his team was counting on him to behave.
Instead, after an overblown yoga incident that even disciplinarian Kevin McDonald agreed was a non-story, Ranieri banned Kamara to the youth team. What followed was the disgraceful arrest. But the banishment was completely the wrong approach for a tempermental player who needed guidance, not ostracisation.
In all, if Tony Khan, Scott Parker, and the Fulham players are ready to welcome Aboubakar Kamara back to Motspur Park this summer, then his return is fine by me. In the Championship, a focused and motivated Kamara can tear up the league and complement Mitrovic’s attacking qualities up front.
Some supporters may hate him, but what they can’t do is claim he doesn’t have an impact on the pitch. And that impact is what makes Aboubakar Kamara so valuable to Fulham.
‘a love for Fulham’?? You really are bending over backwards for Kamara. He took the ball because of his ego. He acts like a selfish, belligerent child because his attitude stinks. He was banished because it was the best option for the team, not because it helped Kamara. He’s too disruptive
The famous problem of the camera is his head. He sees himself as a center and not a side player.
I would certainly give him another chance.
Firstly, would I like kamara in the team if all was ok, yes. BUT, all is NOT ok, even prior to the penalty incident he was considered (within) a grade A1 a-hole and though I cannot disclose my sources the arrest was anything but disgraceful, indeed if you knew the real facts, I am amazed that Tony Khan is even considering allowing him back, the fact is players have a huge value and for that reason they don’t get the p45 that you or I would receive.
He would need to reinvent himself in biblical proportions, I have followed the whites for over 55 years now and there have been some notable bad un’s but he is right at the top of the pile, my head and heart belong to Fulham and we do not need nasty arrogant people who think they are above us.
Sorry if this p’s on a few peoples chips but there you are.
Did I just read someone say Kamara has a “cutting edge”? He can certainly get into positions where that would be what’s required, but he’ll then horribly mis-control it. Yes, he can do some great things on occasion, but those are rare occasions. We simply don’t have the time in the Championship to wait for those to come along, and carry him in the mean time. We need to be winning week in, week out if we’re to win this division. There can be no passengers.
And I echo what Pirwa said, he absolutely did not, in anyone’s wildest dreams, pull that penalty stunt because he believed he was the best chance the team had of scoring. He did it because he’s selfish and wanted to be the hero. His own mother wouldn’t argue otherwise.
Max, your love-in for Kamara just won’t stop will it? I mean to try and explain away the United incident over his “love for Fulham” is both naive and short-sided. I don’t think anyone really bought into the yoga incident as any more than his inability to behave like a professional, it’s the arrest and his antics that brought upheaval to an already not-together locker room that takes the cake. You want to make a case for him being able to make contributions for us in the coming season, ok. But please spare us excuses for his complete and utter lack of character which we have all seen on display numerous times.
Max, your love-in for Kamara just won’t stop will it? I mean for you to explain away his antics against United as a “love for Fulham” is not only short-sided but extremely naive. It’s impossible for you to convince anyone otherwise in order to make a “case” for how he conducted himself at a club as iconic as ours in the best league on the planet. The yoga incident wasn’t even given much credence, other than another example of his behavior that brought more upheaval to an already not together locker room. It’s the arrest that is key, the club’s decision to get him out as fast as possible as a result, that takes the cake. If you think the higher ups in the club weren’t in on the decision to ship him out you’re deluded. You want to make a point that he could contribute to us in the coming season, fine, most of us agree. Go with that, because it at least has a hint of credence. But please spare us how wonderful of a character he is when his behavior and conduct has repeatedly proven otherwise. If ANYONE isn’t fit to wear the shirt, it’s this clown.