It seems remarkable that after yesterday’s performance against Liverpool that we still find ourselves in the bottom three of the Premier League. It’s also remarkable that given our dreadful start to the campaign that we were disappointed with just a point against the reigning Champions! Scott Parker has so far done an exceptional job of turning things around at Fulham and he deserves a heck of a lot of credit for it. Four points from Leicester away, Manchester City away and Liverpool at home is more than we could have hoped for, and the performances before that (terrible first half against Everton aside) have been much improved. Parker has done it all while making some very bold decisions on the team that many of us disagreed with. Yet we now seem to have a squad very capable of staying in this league, but we need to keep up the momentum going into two very winnable games against Brighton and Newcastle.
The performance against Liverpool was brilliant from the first whistle. Our achilles’ heel so often this season has been conceding early but yesterday we started very much on the front foot, closing Liverpool down and forcing them into mistakes. Perhaps it was the 2000 fans back at the Cottage that ensured that we began with such intensity but whatever it was, long may it continue! It looks as though London will be back in tier 3 shortly but hopefully we are allowed fans at least on Wednesday night in our must win game at home to Brighton. However, we have to be able to start like that with or without fans.
No matter what Jurgen Klopp says, there was nothing lucky about our performance yesterday. We played at a high tempo with lots of passing and every player 100% committed. Mario Lemina was sensational in that disruptive midfield role while Ademola Lookman was in the centre of everything good going forward from Fulham. And shout out to BDR who has been a standout performer this season from the old guard. Who’d have thought that it would be him shining bright ahead of the likes of Mitrovic and Cairney? Defensively we look secure and I can’t imagine anything bar an injury would stop our CB pairing of Joachim Andersen and Tosin Adarabioyo from being our first choice duo. There is a lot to like about Fulham right now.
However, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Mitrovic. What is going on? It’s clear that Scott has a particular game plan for the games against better opposition in this league that Mitro seems to slow down, but I’m not sure that anyone buys the ‘minor knock’ excuse put forward by the club for his disappearance from the squad yesterday. If it’s just a playing style thing for against the better clubs then maybe we will see him on Wednesday against Brighton with a change of system. Remember that he was pivotal in our game v West Brom earlier in the season, bagging two assists. Maybe it’s just that Scott has different game plans for different games. However, if the rumours of a very unhappy Mitro after being left out of the starting line up yesterday are true, then maybe he has to look at the performances and ask himself why. I love Mitrovic, let me make that very clear, but there is no doubt that against certain teams we are more effective without him. I’d like to see him play against Brighton as I think it’s a game that would suit him but we maybe have to accept that he won’t play as much as we would have thought this season.
Tom Cairney is another question mark for me. I don’t think that Ruben Loftus Cheek has done enough at all to warrant playing ahead of him. Although I think that the position that Scott wants from them both is maybe not a strength of either player. Their favoured position is surely a traditional number 10, but we haven’t really played with that position in the last 3 matches against top opposition. It might be a similar story with Mitrovic in that we resort back to the formation we played v West Brom for the next couple of matches meaning that Cairney will be in that number 10 role, but we’ll have to see.
All in all I think Parker has made some brave decisions that have so far paid off. I’m feeling really good about Fulham despite our current position in the table. If only we had of gotten our team together before the start of the season, eh? Roll on Wednesday night for one last game in front of fans for now.