At the start of last week I was feeling cautiously optimistic about the upcoming season. Tony Kahn and co seemed to have done excellent business in the transfer market without spending a penny and we were safe in the knowledge that two of our key men in Aleksander Mitrovic and Tom Cairney had committed their futures to the club. The additions of Antony Knockaert and Ivan Cavaleiro have transformed our attack from worrisome to devastating for Championship defences. The season just couldn’t start quickly enough.
Fast forward one week and we find that the bubble of optimism is threatening to burst. I, like many Fulham fans, have been crying out for the addition of at least one defensive player. Our defence last season was diabolical and we now look to be entering another season with the same faces. Alfie Mawson should have been our knight in shining armour defensively speaking, but it seems that the mans knees are actually made of popcorn. Not ideal. While Bryan should be one of the best left backs in the Championship, I worry about the lack of cover there and Cyrus Christie, while he has his moments, is a bit of a liability. Odoi and Ream helped to get us promoted, but I fear that another season on while have impacted Ream’s legs. Let’s not forget that he has been on International duty for most of the summer.
Our midfield is also very light now that Seri and Anguissa have gone. Yes, we never for a second thought that Seri would be in a Fulham shirt this year, but I had hoped that Anguissa would stay and fight for the cause. I honestly believe that he could have been incredible in the Championship, but I guess if he didn‘t want to stay then our hands were tied. So we are left with Cairney, Johansen and McDonald. The three men who so brilliantly helped us on our promotion run 2 seasons ago. It’s important that they remain as part of the soul of the squad, but I never anticipated us not bringing in some cover for them, or players to challenge. Let’s not forget how crucial Norwood was that season. I worry about the fitness of all three senior midfielders going forward. We have a number of youth players who are talented enough to hold court when needed, but I’m still not happy that we haven’t brought in another experienced head there. The Championship is a long and gruelling season with a lot of midweek fixtures. Rotation is key for this, so to be looking pretty thin defensively and in midfield, has made me nervous.
Let me make something clear, I still believe that there is a lot of talent in this squad, and am fully expecting us to get off to a strong start next week, but without players to rotate, we could find ourselves in some bother. The Leeds of last year are a prime example of this. Bielsa’s high intensity game plan may be suffocating for other teams to try and play against, but there is only so long a group of payers can keep it up for if the team isn’t being rotated. I’d have hoped that we’d have brought in a few more numbers to help with this.
There is still time left so no one should be anywhere near full scale panic mode yet, but hopefully the powers that be have identified targets and are in a position to bring them to Motspur Park soon.
Just six days to go!