As a fan base we have been badly let down by our club this
season. The turmoil on the pitch has been matched off it when it comes to
ticket prices and policies. True fans have been exploited with massive price
increases, a lack of concession and youth tickets and the strange policy of
selling tickets to members (open to everyone) before STHs. We don’t have to
look further than the Liverpool game last week as an example of how badly the
club are failing when it comes to tickets, with the first few rows directly
behind the goal in the Hammersmith End filled with fans not celebrating Ryan
Babel’s goal against his former club. Unashamed Liverpool fans were so
obviously in every stand that it was embarrassing.
Seemingly the club doesn’t care about who buys the tickets. If
people buy them, Fulham fans or not, they will continue to charge the
extortionate prices. The decision to not have reduced prices for concessions
and young people is leading to true fans not being able to afford to go. Parents
are having to spend a ridiculous amount of money if they want to involve their
children in supporting the club, so it’s becoming a massive put off. For me
Fulham has always been about family values and inclusion, but with the current
ticketing policy, these values seem to be a thing of the past. What an absolute
Our good friends at the Fulhamish Podcast have been
particularly vocal over the ticket policy at the club. The #StoptheGreed
campaign was supposed to be properly launched this Saturday in the early
kick-off against the Champions, with fan funded banners displayed in the Hammersmith
End with the aim of making a point to the Fulham authorities that as a fanbase
we are not happy with the approach the club is taking. Unfortunately the club
has decided to not let the banners into the ground because they don’t want
anything, …”not supportive of the team.” Then
why flood the home sections of the grounds with Liverpool fans? Why charge so
much money that real fans are shunted out in favour of tourists and touts?
When we got promoted last season,
Fulham were faced with an opportunity to further increase a swelling fanbase.
We may have lost a number of fans following our relegation back in 2014, but
over our four years away from the top flight, we gained a heck of a lot of new
followers. The brand of football that got us promoted was so attractive and our
identity as a family club meant that many people without a club found a home on
the banks of the Thames. All that good work has possibly been undone this
season, and it’s not because of the shambles on the pitch, it’s what is
unfolding off it. I’d advise the club to think carefully about what is next. Stop
ignoring the voice of your loyal supporters or else I’d imagine that people
will start voting with their feet. We are facing another relegation and club’s
in our position need their fans more than ever. Don’t push us away.
As much as I enjoy international football, I have never
really been absolutely buzzing for international breaks to come around. They always
seem to disrupt the domestic football and there aren’t as many matches. At the
minute, however, any distraction form the Premier League is a welcome one.
Things haven’t been pretty on the banks of the Thames, to put it mildly. So
instead of talking about Fulham’s disaster of a season, I thought I’d talk
about another favourite topic of mine, Northern Irish and Irish players who
have played throughout the years in our famous white shirt. I’ll limit to just
my top 5, as I have a game to get to tonight at Windsor Park at 1945!
The Hangeland-Hughes partnership will go down as one of the
greatest centre back pairing in Fulham’s Premier League history. Under the
guidance of Roy Hodgson Fulham became defensively sound, something that we
badly crave this season, and Hughes was vital in this. He racked up 250
appearances for Fulham across all competitions and scored a handful of goals
along the way. He was a crucial part of both the Greatest Escape year in 2008
and then the Europa League run of 2010. He is my all time favourite Northern
Irish player and captain .
2. Ollie Norwood
It might have only been a loan deal, but the decision to
bring Norwood to Fulham turn out to be a stroke of genius. Norwood has always
had a touch of quality about him, we have known that for years in Northern
Ireland. He might try a Hollywood pass too often for some, but it’s that vision
that has been so important for Northern Ireland. Last season at Fulham we badly
needed someone to step in for Cairney when he was injured, and Norwood was the
one to do that. He might not quite be the level of Cairney but he is what we
needed at the time. And who could forgot THAT tackle in the dying seconds of
the play-off final that prevented Aston Villa’s final chance? What a guy.
3. Damien Duff
Damien Duff was one of those players who when they are signed,
you get very excited about. He may have been slightly past his prime but we all
knew what he was capable of from his time at Chelsea and Newcastle. He was one
of those players who had a sweet left foot, but played on the right for the
majority of his time at Fulham. The Craven Cottage crowd used to get such a
buzz when he would cut in from the right and have a pop at goal. He always had
a bit of magic about him and I loved seeing him play at Fulham.
4. Chris Baird
Bairdinho. When he announced his retirement this year I was genuinely
gutted. He has been such an important figure for club and country for years and
there aren’t many out there quite like him. Baird was one of the most versatile
players at Fulham, and he was happy to play wherever was required. He was a
typical ‘leave everything on the pitch’ kind of guy, and those goals at Stoke City
will stay in Fulham folklore forever.
5. Rodney McAree
Not many players can say that they have a chant that is
still sang around a club 20years or so after they have left, but Rodney McAree
can. I was too young to remember said goal, but I doubt there are many Fulham
fans out there who don’t know about McAree’s goal up at Carlisle. Rodney also
happens to be one of the nicest guys in football. He gave me one of my first
exclusive interviews a couple of years back, something that I really
appreciated. He owns a little part of Fulham history so he is rightfully
remembered by the Fulham faithful.
Premier League safety is vastly unlikely for Fulham after a horrific year back at the top sparked by dreadful recruitment, management and coaching all intertwining to create a relegation displaying everything not to do once you reach the ‘big time.’
Scott Parker mentioned in the lead up to the SW6 Derby that he wanted to see Fulham play with a bit more pace in attack, that came with the return of Ryan Sessegnon to the starting line up and quicker attempt to the final third, whether that came with longer balls or general speed of play from back to front – we saw longer balls utilised more frequently than usual but Tom Cairney was excellent in finding space and collecting the ball between Jorginho and the Chelsea back line before sliding some lovely passes in behind for the aforementioned Sessegnon typically.
Though individual mistakes were still visible, Fulham’s general performance was full of fight and had a period where they absolutely had Chelsea on the ropes. Scott Parker has already gained the support of Tom Cairney who has called for the permanent appointment of the former Fulham captain, and whilst we must be wary to avoid the Kit Symons experiment, this feels different. I think Scott showed some tactical intelligence on his first game as Cairney exploited the space behind the Chelsea midfield and he flipped Ryan Sessegnon to the right who saw some joy against Italy international Emerson. If not for some Man of the Match winning calibre saves from Kepa Arrizabalaga then Scotty Parker could well have salvaged at least a point from his managerial debut.
Back to something different about this ‘players coach’ appointment surrounding a ‘we’ve got our Fulham back narrative.’ Scott Parker throughout his playing career always seemed to command a certain level of respect and that saw him named captain, a leader who lead by example, Parker has always had the potential to have an authority over a team. Having set about his coaching ‘badges’ (my least favourite term in football, badges don’t exist) whilst at Tottenham Hotspur, this moment is years in the making. The return of Stuart Gray brings an aura of legitimacy also as an experienced and excellent coach in his own right which will help Scott through the early days of his management career whether it lasts 9 more games at Fulham or not.
Scott Parker’s Fulham made a nice start on Sunday and according to the former England international, have set a standard for the remainder of the season “I shouldn’t expect anything less, the challenge for me now is that needs to stay and how is this going to happen, making sure that it’s a given every single week.” He understands the core principles that this football club should never reject ‘passing football and a family football club.’
Every coach has to start somewhere and for Scott Parker (and Fulham), familiarity and a mutual understanding philosophically is a solid ground to build upon.
Claudio Ranieri has been relieved of his duties at Fulham Football Club (or vice-verse works too). In preparation for the event, I asked Fulham Twitter to send me their picks to replace the Italian at the helm of the football club and these are the five most popular choices analysed and evaluated with honourable mentions at the bottom.
Wilder’s Sheffield United squad have a completely British squad utilising a 352 where Oliver Norwood acts as the midfield anchor and is having an excellent season, creating seven goals and only Leeds’ Pablo Hernandez has created more chances than the Northern Irishman that spent 2017/18 on loan at Craven Cottage prior to his permanent move to Sheffield.
Whilst Sheffield United don’t play with the pizazz and polish of a Leeds or Norwich, also contending for automatic promotion from the Championship, Sheffield United have the second best defence in the division and are only outscored by Norwich and West Bromwich Albion thanks mostly to veterans Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick.
I admire what Chris Wilder has been able to do at Sheffield United, but also at Northampton Town before then as he won League Two in impressive style. It’d be fascinating to see what he could do with a larger budget but as a Sheffield born professional with seven years of his playing career spent at Sheffield United, I’m not sure he’d leave the club where he has more ‘old-school’ managerial responsibilities for us in the same division with someone with zero footballing experience giving him the tools to work with and happy to sack him if it doesn’t work.
The man replaced by Slavisa Jokanovic at Watford, it was at Brighton where Garcia caught the eye for me at least. His possession based footballing style starved the opposition of the ball to the extent where they had the second tightest defence in the division. In his sole season at the Seagulls, he replicated Gus Poyet’s unsuccessful play off campaign from the previous year despite a lack of goals beyond top scorer Leonardo Ulloa.
The Guardian have a nice write up which hints as his tactical philosophy (https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/aug/21/saint-etienne-unshackled-from-lifeless-approach-by-oscar-garcia). Groomed in Spain, notably ex-Barcelona, the comparisons can be drawn between Oscar Garcia and former Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic – the inability to really hold down a position prior to ‘arriving’ at Fulham, the aesthetics of their footballing philosophy and even the clubs (both coached Watford, Maccabi Tel Aviv and both have success in the outer reaches of global football – Jokanovic in Thailand and Garcia in Austria).
Oscar Garcia would be fascinating appointment, and arguably a correct one for the footballing parallels this squad was built for and accustomed to. Though question marks will no doubt hover over the futures of the likes of Tom Cairney and Aleksander Mitrovic with relegation, there’s enough there to replicate that style by looking back to those that were part of the promotion squad.
Under the radar, Graham Potter is having a really excellent first season at Swansea where he has harnessed an excellent crop of young players to play some eye catching, tidy football in a mid-table season. Though finishing mid-table isn’t quite the most appealing characteristic, it’s about where their playing squad belongs at this point in their rebuild following relegation whilst 9 of their 13 most used footballers this season are aged 24 or younger.
The Swans didn’t even reach £10m spent in their first summer back in the Championship yet with Potter’s coaching and some smart recruitment, Swansea are set up for the future with their cavalcade of prospects (including Dan James who was subject of £12m interest of Leeds in January). Potter has taken a tough situation and Swansea are 100% in a better place now than where they were when he took over and that is always a good sign of excellent coaching, this amongst some chaos and confusion in the upper management.
Graham Potter is a modern footballing man and a ‘proper’ football coach. He wants his teams to play good football, is happy to work with young players but brings all the values you want in the current footballing climate. Whilst he may not be ‘keen’ on leaving a club that offered him such a great opportunity, a bigger budget and life in London could tempt him. I think Potter has shown he’s no fluke or novelty, he’s a bright, young coach who will be in the Premier League soon enough, it’d be nice if Fulham were that club.
I won’t go on too long, but Slavisa Jokanovic was in the top 5 of Fulham Twitter’s picks to be the next permanent Fulham manager. After the Ranieri experiment, it seems supporters may be showing their fickle side and saying “oh, it wasn’t quite you.” I hated the sacking at the time but to go into that side is another post for another day.
?We know what we get from Slavisa Jokanovic teams, it’s passing, attacking football that saw us become one of the more entertaining, appealing and eye catching teams in recent Championship history. We saw improvement with each year despite the club forcing a rebuild level of player movement with each window and that’s promising.
I don’t see this happening, but I wouldn’t hate it.
?Perhaps aided by the ‘Fulham’ connection, his father Gary (current manager of Torquay United), grew up in Fulham and is allegedly a Fulham supporter. This has probably led to Fulham eyes more so than usual but his success already in his career before the age of 40 is commendable.
Lee Johnson got his first managerial job at Oldham at the age of 31, his first season was amidst a successful relegation battle. In his first full season, he rebuilt the squad and took the club to their highest ever finish in League One. He left Oldham for Barnsley in February 2016 where he stayed for a year before moving to Bristol City. Like at Oldham, Johnson has taken Bristol City from relegation contenders to play off pushers and this is despite a fairly frequent turnaround of players (since taking charge, he’s had to deal with the losses of: Jonathan Kodjia, Tammy Abraham, Luke Freeman, Aden Flint, Bobby Reid and Joe Bryan).
Johnson’s team impressed at Craven Cottage in our promotion campaign, displaying high pressing and quick interplay were rewarded making a squad that would ultimately go down as one of the most entertaining in the division as very ordinary. We were naturally quite disappointed when later that season we went to Ashton Gate and Bristol City played long ball, long throw and ‘kick-em’ football but I believe that to be a tactical decision against us (which was odd given performance earlier in the season). Johnson has dealt with adversity, receiving death threats and calls for his resignation but has won the Bristol City supporters around after the board kept faith (importantly). Lee Johnson also has an EFL Cup run to his name, a semi final no less that was ended by Manchester City and were a 92nd minute Sergio Aguero goal from a draw at the Etihad and a 96th minute Kevin De Bruyne winner from a draw at Ashton Gate – along this run, Johnson’s side knocked out Watford, Crystal Palace and Manchester United.
In terms of availability, it’s easy to sit here and say “why wouldn’t he join Fulham?” But Johnson has been shown faith, they’ve let him work through hard periods and he knows he’s backed by wealthy investors in the football club (not near Shahid Khan’s billions but billions nonetheless). We chewed up and spat out the saviour to our time in the Championship because the players purchased for him were poor and didn’t fit – so why would Johnson leave his situation for this?
Johnson is an intriguing option, and according to my Twitter feedback, is the popular option. I wouldn’t be unhappy for sure, but whether he’s the best option? I would have some doubts. Though to be fair, there’s doubts for every manager – no one is truly ‘risk free’ – which is why you shouldn’t throw away a good one for a poor run of form…
Daniel Stendel (Barnsley), Steve Clarke (Kilmarnock), Dean Smith (Aston Villa), Aitor Karanka (unattached), Carlos Carvalhal (unattached), Nathan Jones (Stoke City), David Wagner (unattached).
And a couple from me not mentioned by others: Alex Neil (Preston North End) and Michael Appleton (unattached).
Fulham have sacked Claudio Ranieri after just sixteen Premier League games in charge and replaced the Italian with former captain Scott Parker as a caretaker manager.
Ranieri, who was only appointed in November as the successor to Slavisa Jokanovic, had run out of road at Craven Cottage after a dismal defeat at the hands of Southampton last night. The 67 year-old’s final game in charge saw Fulham start with three defensive midfielders and never look like seriously challenging one of their relegation rivals after conceding two first half goals.
Ranieri, who only won three of his games in charge and saw his side dumped out of the FA Cup at the third round stage by League Two Oldham, leaves Fulham ten points from safety with ten games left. Parker, who returned to the club this summer after a spell coaching Tottenham’s under 18 side, will take charge for the first time against Chelsea, one of his former clubs, in a west London derby on Sunday afternoon.
The 38 year-old, who made 128 appearances in a four-year playing career at Craven Cottage, completed his coaching badges prior to hanging up his boots and the former England captain has spent this season as Fulham’s first team coach.
It’s around 7pm on 25th May, 2018. Ten of thousands of Fulham fans are in complete delirium at Wembley, completely overwhelmed at what we have witnessed. Our Fulham sealed promotion to the Premier League playing a wonderful, fun-filled style of football. We have done it with a group of players who clearly love playing with each other, and with an 18 year-old kid who has been a revelation in the side. We have owners willing to spend both on and off the pitch with a new stadium development incoming. The future is very bright for Fulham.
Fast forward to 10pm, 27th February 2019. We have
just witnessed an extremely deflated Fulham side limp to a 2-0 defeat to
relegation rivals Southampton. Our Italian manager, the man who led Leicester
to the most unlikely of Premier League titles a few years ago, set his side up
in a negative way, playing players out of position and leaving our best midfielder
in Seri out of the side altogether despite saying that we had no injury
To say I’m angry at the state of affairs at Fulham right now
would be an understatement. I’m furious. What a complete and utter shambles
this season has been. What a wasted opportunity. While I think that Slav was
out of his depth, I would honestly rather have stuck with him than have sacked
him when we did for Claudio Ranieri. While there were some slight improvements at
the start under him, the negatives since then have just piled up.
Alongside his frustratingly negative tactics and his insistence
on playing Cairney out wide whenever everything good comes through him in the
middle, it’s his treatment of Ryan Sessegnon that upsets me the most. He has
turned Sessegnon into someone afraid of the football. Benching him, publically
saying that he is out of form, not strong enough etc and then the few times
that he does play, hauling him off at half time because of a couple of mistakes
have all contributed to deflating the player of confidence . Sessegnon was our
brightest spark last season and that was because he was given the opportunity to
flourish. I’m from a teaching background, and I remember my tutor at university
saying that our job as teachers was to create an environment in which pupils
could, and wanted, to flourish. I believe that coaching football, or any sport
for that matter, has the same principles. Ranieri should be laying the
foundations for our players to become great, but instead it’s like the life has
been sucked out of them, and it’s just heartbreaking.
We are so far away from that showing of unity last year. Our
next three games at home are Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City- all games
that 7 months ago we were relishing. Getting to see your club compete with some
of the biggest clubs in the world is something that every fan should relish,
but now I just wish that we could fast forward a month. We have a talented squad,
but under our current boss I don’t see those players being able to play with
any sort of freedom. At the minute we aren’t just going down, we are plummeting
so fast that it’s a blink and you’ll miss it sort of scenario.
If we are going down,
I want us to go down fighting but to do that we need to remove Ranieri now. I
don’t want us to rush into another managerial change, so my choice would be
Parker until the end of the season to buy time to consider properly who we want
in charge of the team. Another rushed decision isn’t going to do us any
favours, but keeping Ranieri for me will do more harm than good.