Tosin Adarabioyo believes Fulham have the quality to see off relegation from the Premier League – and the defender is confident that the Whites will ‘go on a mad run and stay safe’.
The calm and collected centre back has been an instant hit at Craven Cottage since moving to Fulham from Manchester City for just £2m in October – which already looks like one of the bargains of the season. Adarabioyo has helped shore up a Fulham defence that was leaking goals left, right and centre – forging impressive relationships with Ola Aina and Joachim Andersen in Scott Parker’s reshaped backline as the Whites managed to stop the rot. In a wide-ranging interview with the Telegraph earlier today, the likeable defender discussed his England ambitions – as he targets a possible call-up in time for the European Championships – but insisted that his main focus was ensuring Fulham stay up.
“I am just focusing on survival, on avoiding relegation and we have full confidence that we will remain in this league. We have so much quality and so much fight to push on and get the results that we need. I think we are going to go on a mad run and stay safe.”
The Whites had let in ten goals in their first three games, prompting plenty of pundits to suggest they were top flight cannon fodder, but the introduction of Adarabioyo and Andersen to their defence heralded a tightening up. Parker’s side have conceded just eleven goals in their last fourteen games – only league leaders Manchester City can boast a better record – and picking up seven points last week has put a spring in their step. Adarabioyo reckons that a steady improvement in their performances is now being reflected in Fulham’s results:
“It’s an amazing achievement. The start of the season was not great so it is catch-up, a lot of catch-up. But now we have reached a point where we know what we are about and what we can do. We are getting some good results and some more respect in the league. Teams are starting to be wary of us and know what we are capable of. I definitely don’t think we are a team that deserves to go down. We are a top team and we will keep fighting. There are a lot of games still to play.”
He explained that there was little personal angst about leaving Manchester City, where he been since the age of five, in search of first-team football.
“I was fine with it, to be honest. It wasn’t the same club that I grew up in. A lot of things changed, obviously, so it was an easy decision for me especially knowing that I needed to get out there and play football. It wasn’t the right club for me anymore and it was time for me to get a move to a Premier League team, to Fulham, and get some experience in this league. Knowing that I needed to go out and play Premier League football consistently was the only thought in my head. That’s what I needed.
“Being a Premier League defender is what I aspired to be and being a top one at that. I just need to continue to show my qualities. I felt like Fulham was the right opportunity for me to go out and play and show everyone.”
“Knowing Matt Wells and Scott Parker from playing against Spurs sides’ when I was younger helped. We spoke quite often after the games and they would say ‘well done, you’re a good player’ and stuff like that. That’s how I got to know them and especially Wellsy. We kept in contact over the years. He has watched my games, he has given me some good advice even when he has not been on the coaching staff at the clubs I have been at. So having that support there was a big factor.”
Adarabioyo reveals that his induction at Craven Cottage has been helped by a number of ‘friendly guys,’ who he had played against in youth team football, naming Josh Onomah, Ademola Lookman, Ola Aina, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Antonee Robinson. He is a thoughtful football and a voracious reader, who has a particularly routine ahead of a fixture aided by Fulham’s first-team match analyst, Jonathan Hill.
“Pre-match I look at the strikers to see who I am up against. But, to be honest, I look at pretty much every player who might be in the starting XI, see the way they play, see the passes they might make, the errors they could make. The analyst knows what I want.”
The defender praises Parker – ‘it helps that he was a top Premier League player. He knows exactly what is required’ – and you can tell his confidence is infectious. It’s no surprise that Fulham’s fortunes have headed upwards since Adarabioyo made the move to London.