It’s fair to say the pressing concern for every Fulham fan at the moment is the need for a new centre-back, maybe even two! Right now, we would all settle for a rumour linking us to a new centre-back. In the grand scheme of things any issues outside of that whether it be the need for a second striker to backup Mitrovic or further additions to the midfield pale into insignificance.
That being said I still think there is a conversation to be had around our midfield and specifically the justification for Tom Cairney to start. I cannot be alone in feeling that our captain has somewhat plateaued in recent seasons, perhaps even gone backwards. For much of last season it felt as though he was always going through the motions, never really match fit and a shadow of his former self. Upon viewing the shortlist of our goal of the season contenders I couldn’t quite believe how many times he featured and do wonder whether the 6-8 albeit beautiful goals each year mask the reality of his real contribution.
Cairney managed just three assists last term in 42 appearances. During our previous Premier League campaign, he managed just a single goal and solitary assist in 32 appearances. In fact, his best season for us was in Slav’s first year when were beaten by Reading in the play-offs, managing thirteen goals and ten assists. The subsequent promotion season in 2018 saw both his goal tally and assist figures drop by half. We all know about his qualities but these days he plays like someone who won’t take a risk for fear of damaging his pass completion percentage. I swear there are times during a game when he shapes to play a pass he would once have taken a chance on only to turn back inside and lay it off to Harrison Reed six feet away.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what he needs to do more in the current team as his very role is so hard to define. He isn’t as combative as Reed and can’t seem to beat a man like Onomah can, so perhaps his link up play just needs to offer more than a huge variety of short square balls. By no means am I underestimating his leadership and influence in the squad but is this a season where Fulham can afford to have players who only bring that to the table? And how much do we really lose on the field when he does come off given the likes of Hector and Mitrovic do offer visible vocal leadership as well.
We are only one game into what will be a tough season and Cairney will get game time to hopefully step up in a way that he certainly didn’t last time round in the top flight. With Harrison Reed and Josh Omomah solidifying their places in the midfield we have the likes of Anguissa, Lemina and at the time of writing Seri still on the books as options. There were times last season where I felt Mcdonald or Johansen could offer something different when TC was off his game but the chances of either of these (or Seri) featuring seems highly unlikely.
While Cairney rightly remains a fans favourite and a loyal servant to the club we can’t afford to be sentimental when assessing what value he brings to the team this season. Perhaps more needs to be done to define the role he plays but with the first day of the season severely lacking in creativity Parker will need his skipper to find a new level. It may be seen as somewhat blasphemous to lay criticism at his feet and so early in the season but this really is more of a comment on the last few years rather than the Arsenal game itself.
Yep, said this all last season. Since his mystery knee injury that took three times longer to heal than expected, he’s been playing even more timidly than before. Hence being replaced in the advanced midfield role by Josh Onomah, and getting shifted further back alongside Harrison Reed, where his sideways/backwards passing isn’t so much of a hindrance. So whereas before we could put up with his inexplicable inability to head the ball despite being over 6 feet tall, and unwillingness to get near enough to any opposition players to be in any danger of winning the ball, because at least he was creative… now he’s not that either. In the Premier League, the game will just pass him by.
Afraid he does look like a luxury now. Three or four times a game he is in position to shoot, 22 yards out, doesn’t. We then lose the ball or end up with a less talented player taking a pot-shot…Odoi frequently! Have a go Tom. Even if it doesn’t fly into the top corner it might get a deflection or come back off the keeper. Maybe we should only count his forward passes in the stats also.
Since played further back he heads and tackles more defendes better. But don’t fill we get best out of him further and it’s not his natural game. Don’t know if he can’t play further forward since injury. But he often used to get kick a lot , not at his best but still does more than people notice .
Totally agree,firstly his captaincy,which I am afraid to say over 2 seasons
he has not fulfilled the responsibilities that goes with that appointment.
coupled with form does not warrant inclusion in the team.
Tom was great, I agree it is at least questionable whether he is? I don’t think he is a premiership player. At the end of last season, his link play with Mitro ( who he has played with for 2 1/2 seasons ) was poor.
If someone made an reasonable offer for him, take it.
We will need soldiers if we are to stay up, I don’t think Tom is, despite some divine goals.
I would like to see Fulham get Shane Duffy
There’s no sentiment in business and football is a business after all.
I’ve said the same thing for the last two seasons. I think his confidence has dipped and he appears to be strolling through games without influencing them. Given he doesn’t play the killer ball or take the shot on anymore, it’s hard to justify his place. On the subject of captaincy, this was first used to keep TC at the club. He isn’t a natural captain, not vocal and doesn’t impose himself at free kick situations.
All that said he is a class act and rarely makes a bad pass, though most are sideways nowadays!
I agree I think we play too many backwards and sideways passes which gives the opposition so much time to get back in place to defend,we need forward penetrating passes to catch them off guard and I blame Parker for that as that was the way he played the game sideways and backwards.
Firstly how long have we got he’s not captaincy material Big Mac always done the team talk on the pitch like at Wembley in. 2018 v Villa,what does he bring to the team at the moment ,a captain leads by example where was he against Arsenal on Saturday? No we have got Reed,Lemina Anguissa,Onamah where is he in the pecking order always felt he needed to do more on the pitch look what happens when Mitro has the armband there’s fight there maybe take the armband off him but there is no room for sentiment in this league
Quality player, had injuries, and was playing in a different system last year. Still quality. We have options in midfield so if he isn’t performing im sure the manager who sees him training every day will make changes.
I genuinely believe he is a top quality Championship midfielder. He is by no means, up to the PL.
I hate to see a player that is so deeply important in the recent history of the team, look so outmatched every game.
Cairney is a luxury player and is only Championship quality. He has/will continue to be exposed in the prem due to his lack of pace. Need another destructive partner for Reed in Midfield. Zambo gets my vote!
His one footedness has been found out,I like him as a Fulham stalwart but he goes round in circles to get the ball on his left foot.
We cannot have our so called Captain and Leader passing sideways all the time when if he used his skills, the team could go forward. He doesn’t make the Scottish squad on a regular basis which to me sums up his ability as being fit for Championship only.
Judging by the comments, I might be a lone voice here but I feel like we’re discounting what Cairney has done for this club. Captained us to two promotions at Wembley – and scoring the winner in one – and that should be enough for immortality at Fulham.
He’s come back from a couple of serious knee injuries. I’m still not certain he’s fully fit from the last one; there’s no doubt he’s a little more ponderous on the ball and going into tackles on it. We all know that he’s one-footed and without pace, but there isn’t another Fulham player with his ability to unlock a defence or anyone else who can replicate his vision.
I feel like Cairney’s gradually become more of a victim of his manager’s system and his role has morphed into something similar to the one Parker fitted into as a player at Fulham. Dropping deeper doesn’t showcase the best of him – however well we did against Brentford at Wembley – and people forget he was our second top scorer last year. He needs to play closer to Mitrovic and make those late runs into the box that he used to under Jokanovic.
He might not be an automatic pick for much longer but I would start him at Leeds on Saturday. He loves scoring against them. He’ll want to prove himself in the Premier League this around. Let’s not write him off too quickly.
SO glad I’m not the only one yelling at the TV for Tom not to pass backwards again.
There’s no doubting his past contributions, but a squad living in the past is doomed.
Reid and Zambo deserve to be there, not Tom anymore, unfortunately. Truth does hurt sometimes…
I agree, I think he has been declining and whats worse is we are leaving out players who are playing better simply so he can wear the armband!!
He seems to get more cautious depending what is happening in his life away from the pitch, I saw a massive change in him when his little one was born.
As much as I like him and thank him for the service he’s done…. we need to look forward. Saying that Ream should say bye to.
Being forced into playing a deeper role hasn’t suited him but now with the midfield reinforcements I can’t see him being asked to play that role anymore.
I remember when we got relegated few years back . We had so many luxury players; Berbatov , Brian Ruiz in any line up, it was proven two too many. And we had talent in Berbatov so is Ruiz but they have not helped the team defending. Those days every single season we had one big result against one of the top four especially at home . Until we had Berbatov and Ruiz also the loss of Dempsey and Dembele who were very industrious, talented and had physical presence. I strongly believe neither TC nor TR are a PL players with TC needs some improvement. I have watched Fulham for many years and so are the opposing teams . There were so many occasions when we were beaten on efforts and application rather than talent even from the top four . Top teams do put some serious shifts in and plus their talent which we could match to some some point. You can’t win a football game purely on talent but you can win by serious efforts and application. Ranieri won PL with Leicester by beating top four teams or at least getting something from them . Also they have won all the games against the lesser teams . Look at Wolves who went up in the same year as us and we beat them two to nothing at home ! Where are they now . And look at their work rate . Defence is important but in saying that the whole team have to defend from further out in the field . The match against Leeds needs AK47 . Trust me as they will have majority of the possession and we should not press high either . Just from the centre . To allow us spread on the counterattack where AK 47 is deadly . He would miss a few but surely he will score and Metro have to start as well . I do fancy good work ethics and the real start for. FFC in the 20-21 season with 3-1 away win