Fulham love a late transfer window. True to form, this week was no difference. Marco Silva might have persuaded the club to carry out early transfer business soon after his appointment but the Whites were active until the very end as well. More than an hour after the window had slammed shut came the confirmation that Watford duo Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina joined the Whites. You feel that Chalobah, once capped by Gareth Southgate at senior international level, might well be a bargain – especially as the Athletic this morning has reported he was a free transfer – whilst Quina, an exciting attacking option, provides cover for the injured Tom Cairney and the promising Fabio Carvalho.
What is most impressive about the window as a whole is it feels as though the manager not only has a significant say in Fulham’s recruitment, but he is also getting what he wants. Having been used to the likes of Slavisa Jokanovic and Scott Parker disavowing themselves of responsibility for the club’s transfer strategy, this makes for a refreshing change. The precise nature of who ticks what box when it comes to a new signing remains unclear but if the club hierarchy are all pulling in the same direction that can only be a good thing. It certainly gives Silva the resources he requires to continue Fulham’s fantastic start to the Championship season.
It was no secret that Silva sought reinforcements in the middle of the park, even before Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa finalised his loan move to Napoli. Even that deal had a surprise within it – the activation of the option to extend the Cameroonian international’s contract served to give the club more headroom under financial fair play, a key consideration given the tightness of that particular position, as well as preserving the possibility of another Premier League return. More depth at right back was also an objective, although this didn’t come off. The head coach sought a stand-in for Kenny Tete, but Davide Santon rejected a loan move to SW6 and Emile Krafth wasn’t enamoured with the idea of dropping out of the top flight. It has emerged that Fulham were very close to capturing Reggie Cannon right at the end of the window, but that particular deal run out of time.
It is hard to disagree with the prevailing view that this was an excellent window for Fulham. Silva held sway throughout – making clear what targets were towards the top of his list and the Khans and Alistair Mackintosh secured most of them. Perhaps the most striking example of this was Rodrigo Muniz, a young Brazilian forward that Silva has watched for sometime. The deal with Flamengo was drawn out and appeared dead on a number of occasions, but Fulham preserved and got their man. A tantalising if raw prospect now offers something different to Aleksandar Mitrovic up front – and where the Whites were now light on striking alternatives, they now have Jay Stansfield – scoring of a stunning first senior goal earlier this month – and Muniz as options off the bench. If the Brazilian turns out to be half the player that Richarlison became under Silva, it will prove a remarkable deal.
It seems odd now to remember just how dark the shadow was looming over the club earlier this summer. The expectation was that Mitrovic would be one of a number of senior first-team players searching for pastures new had Parker remained in charge. The Fulham hierarchy held firm in their discussions with their now former manager, insisting that a wholesale revamp of the squad was not necessary and that Mitrovic – who clearly had a difference of opinion with Parker last season – could prove vital in the Championship. Parker’s own protracted departure allowed Fulham to start afresh and Shad Khan acted decisively to bring in Silva, whose hunger to prove he can manage in England worked in Fulham’s favour. We’ll never know what assurances the new boss was given prior to taking over at Craven Cottage but the current harmony between all the key players behind the scenes is a refreshing change.
Managers are ultimately judged by results over anything else and Silva has enjoyed a serene start. Only the Middlesbrough draw was a disappointment but since then Fulham have soon a ruthlessness that had been sorely lacking over the past two seasons. The fact that Whites are now playing with serious style and starting matches on the front foot only adds to the impression that there has been a sea change in SW6 over the summer. You get the sense there’s plenty to come as well.