I was wrong about Aboubakar Kamara. Let’s bring ourselves back to January 2019 when the news was breaking out of Motspur Park that Kamara and Mitrovic got into a fight during a team yoga session. To this day we don’t have the full details of the bust up, but rumours of an arrest for actual bodily harm and criminal damage for the young French striker were rife at the time. And this had all come just two weeks after Kamara had refused to give the ball to Mitrovic to take a penalty in a crucial game against Huddersfield. Kamara went on to miss the spot, nearly throwing away a valuable win, only for Mitrovic to pop up in injury time with the eventual winner. It was another sign that things weren’t good behind the scenes at Fulham. Jokanovic was long gone and Claudio Ranieri wasn’t having the effect that Shad Khan had hoped.
When the news broke about the Motspur Park fight, my mind was made up. I wrote an article about how we needed to rid ourselves of the maverick striker. For me he was immature and having a huge detrimental effect on a team that was already badly struggling. We needed togetherness, not selfish individuals. I wanted him gone. The club sent him out on loan but I had my doubts about whether or not we would see the striker play for Fulham again. I pointed out that apart from a few impactful games in the Championship in the season before, we hadn’t really seen a striker who could really make a difference in the team. Even when he was causing problems for defences in the Championship, he would ruin a good performance with a blatant dive, or too many off-the-ball incidences. I had lost all patience.
I am so glad that the club saw something that I didn’t. Kamara came back from his loan stint at Yeni Malatyaspor in Turkey and we were told that the squad were happy to have him back. The club decided to nurture him rather than offload him. The combined effort of Mark Maunders, the player care manager, and the coaching staff have helped mould AK into the sort of player who we can trust. He has had an injury hit year, but has looked like a different player, and man, than he was the season before. His talent was so raw when he first came to us and his first touch left a lot to be desired, but that had massively improved. He has always had pace and strength, but now he has the game management and intelligent play that really makes a player a threat. Let’s not forget that he was trusted enough for the Wembley final in 2018, but back then I guess we were still worried that he would do something daft and get himself in trouble in the most important match for the club in years. This time around I wasn’t worried. Well, I was concerned about his fitness, but that was it. We had this crazy record last season were we did very well without Mitrovic in the side and AK was a big part of that early on. Despite not being used a lot, he stepped up and scored 2 against QPR, and has probably made more of an impact than Bobby Decordova Reid when asked to do the same thing.
He scored 4 and made 4 this season. Not outstanding, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story really. He offers us something completely different to our other attacking players, and now that he has improved his game management I think that a solid run in the side will see him provide more goals. He is proof that if you take the time to really nurture a player who is a bit rough around the edges, you can really make a difference. Some of the videos after the final last week show a squad that is united, and AK seemed to be in the middle of everything. One video of him with his arm around Stuart Gray told me everything that I needed to know. The coaching staff have him on side, and he has returned their faith.
I think AK could have a lot of fun in the Premier League next season. He looked so sharp when he came off the bench against Cardiff at the Cottage and then at Wembley, and if we can keep him fit, he could surprise a few opponents next season. I was wrong about him, and I’m so glad about it.