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Mitrovic eyes Fulham exit

Aleskandar Mitrovic is looking to leave Fulham this summer after a frustrating season at Craven Cottage, according to The Sun.

The Serbian striker, who has started just thirteen games as Fulham failed to stay in the Premier League after returning to the top flight last year, missed Tuesday’s draw at Manchester United with a glute injury. He has been ignored in favour of Ivan Cavaleiro by Scott Parker for much of this campaign, which has also seen him contract coronavirus and miss the decisive penalty against Scotland as Serbia failed to qualify for the European Championships.

Mitrovic, who scored 26 goals as Fulham were promoted via the play-offs last season, is ready to seek pastures new in the upcoming transfer window should Parker remain in charge at Craven Cottage. The tabloid reports that new Roma manager Jose Mourinho, a long-time admirer of the 26 year-old, would be keen to take him to Italy, whilst David Moyes may rekindle West Ham’s interest.

Mitrovic has scored 53 goals in 131 Fulham appearances since making the move to west London, initially on loan from Newcastle in January 2018.

Tete encouraged after Fulham ‘outplayed’ West Ham

Kenny Tete took the positives from Fulham’s goalless draw with West Ham last night – focusing on how Scott Parker’s side dominated much of the London derby.

The Dutch defender, restored to right back after Fulham switched to a back four, was delighted with most of his team’s display against David Moyes’ in-form outfit as the hosts enjoyed most of possession and the better chances but couldn’t find a winner. Tete told the club’s official website after the final whistle:

We played a really good game against West Ham. They are fourth or fifth in the league and we showed our qualities and played really well. We created lots of chances and the only disappointing thing is we couldn’t finish the game. Football is all about details and we have to finish our chances. We need to find the net.

The main positive is we outplayed a top six team. We have to think about that and keep going. It’s always doable. We are in every game we play; we create enough chances and we’ll believe until the last. We came out in the second half looking for a win. We were controlling the game and we were waiting for the goal, it’s a shame it didn’t come. Mentality is really important; we keep saying that to each other. We’re all behind each other waiting for the three points. Hopefully we can keep building.

Fulham now have a rare week’s rest before a trip to Goodison Park next weekend – and Tete knows that the Whites need to turn draws into victories if they are to have any hope of beating the drop.

It’s true we have a more favourable next few games. All these games are tough, but we have a lot of quality. We will never give up. It’s been a heavy month. We had a lot of games, it’s time to recharge and get ready for our next test.

Fulham fire blanks again

Yesterday’s goalless draw with West Ham was ultimately another frustrating night for Fulham fans. Scott Parker’s side were the more dominant force over the ninety minutes but once again couldn’t put away their chances. Draws will do little to aid Fulham’s predicament at the wrong end of the table and we must be getting to the point where even the Whites’ manager will concede that upcoming fixtures fall into the must win category.

Parker did at least deviate from his preferred five at the back formation – for the first time in twelve weeks – preferring a back four and largely matching West Ham’s 4-2-3-1. The personnel chosen might not have been adventurous enough for many supporters, however, with Aleksandar Mitrovic benched and Josh Maja only named as a substitute as Ivan Cavaleiro returned as a lone striker. An element of caution might have been understandable, given the way West Ham had swept aside Aston Villa in an impressive away win in midweek, and it was encouraging that despite sacrificing a defender, Fulham restricted West Ham to just eight shots – only one of which forced a save from Alphonse Areola.

Even if the focus was on a higher press and shackling the likes of Jesse Lingard, Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen in the forward areas, Fulham were far more creative than in the recent reverse at the hands of Leicester. Ruben Loftus-Cheek had a much more effective game, operating as a number ten behind Cavaleiro, pulling the strings from a number ten role rather than operating out wide. The Chelsea loanee thrived in the pockets of space he found centrally, as he had against West Brom a couple of weeks ago, and helped the hosts enjoy more of the ball as Fulham had 61% possesion.

This might well have been eerily similar to the ‘Parkerball’ of our Championship promotion season, with lots of pretty passing in front of the opposition and, in the end, precious little end project. But Fulham did muster twenty shots in total and the familiar failing of not hitting the target looks like it will come back to haunt them at the end of the season. Only two tested Lukasz Fabianski in the West Ham goal and you wonder how look it will be before Parker operates with one of Maja or Mitrovic up front from the outset – or even pairs them together, given how big a threat Fulham looked once they were both sent on with ten minutes remaining. Mitrovic as a focal point would certainly give opposition defenders more to think about, even if he doesn’t possess the mobility that Parker probably desires in his main front man. It does feel like this system is crying out for a Callum Wilson-esque striker, one who combines pace with natural goalscoring ability and some experience of a top flight relegation battle.

Mitrovic’s major combination was getting Tomas Soucek sent off in the dying seconds. That incident went to VAR deep into stoppage time, with Mike Dean opting to dismiss the Czech midfielder after consulting the pitchside monitor even though the elbow didn’t appear intentional. The general consensus seems to be that the red card was harsh – something that Mitrovic seemed to tell both Dean and Soucek, despite staying on the floor after the incident. The Serbian striker certainly perked up Fulham’s attack, having a couple of shots drift wide within a couple of minutes of coming on, and laying on another glorious chance for Loftus-Cheek.

The law of averages suggests that some of these shots have to go in eventually, surely? Fulham missed out on Josh King, who came on as a late substitute in Everton’s thrilling draw at Old Trafford last night, on deadline day and Parker turned to Josh Maja late on, sending on the on-loan Bordeaux forward as they searched for a winner. The Nigerian international, back at the club where he spent some time as a teenager, still seems a little raw – but he linked the play impressively without really having a significant sight of goal and Maja will gradually get more game time as he steps up to match sharpness. Becoming more clinical up top is the final piece in Parker’s puzzle, as the manager conceded afterwards, and the forthcoming trips to Goodison Park and Turf Moor – two places where Fulham traditionally struggle – would be good places to put things right.

How do you think that Parker can solve this? Would a more adventurous approach pay dividends? And, what did you think of Soucek’s late red?

Lookman frustrated with draw

Ademola Lookman was left frustrated after Fulham had the better of their London derby with West Ham but were forced to settle for a draw.

The on-loan Leipzig winger went close to breaking the deadlock himself on a number of occasions and looked like Fulham’s most likely source of a goal. Lookman, who was named man of the match by summariser Alan Smith, told Sky Sports after the final whistle:

“We dominated but we’ve got to take our chances. We know what we need to do. All I can say is that we have to keep working hard. As a team we need to use this frustration as a fuel to keep performing. We need to win games and we need to score goals.”

Parker rues Fulham’s poor finishing

Scott Parker bemoaned Fulham’s powerpuff finishing as the Whites dominated in-form West Ham tonight at Craven Cottage but failed to find a winner.

The Fulham boss was pleased with his team’s desire and organisation but familiar failings in the forward areas left his side having to console themselves with a point as they equalled a club record run of eight consecutive home top flight games without a win. Parker told his post-match press conference:

“We were superb from start to finish. Build-up, the way we played, I thought the players executed very well how we wanted to cause them problems today. We probably just came up a little bit short in the final area, in the box, when you need to put the ball in the back of the net.

“I think it was 20 shots overall, two on target. I don’t think you can dominate a game as much as we dominated a Premier League game today and not win it. Obviously we do sit here with a draw, but I’m very proud of my team, proud of the way they played.

If you were a neutral watching this game, and this isn’t me being disrespectful to West Ham or David in any way because they’ve been absolutely fantastic this year, but if you were a neutral watching that game I don’t think you’d come away after 90 minutes thinking that we were a team that’s fighting for our lives, or that we’re a downbeat team. I think totally the opposite.”

Parker admitted that another failure to find the net – the Whites have scored just seventeen Premier League goals all season – was a concern, but insisted his players would be working hard to solve the problem at Motspur Park tomorrow.

“Of course it’s a concern, it’s been a concern for a little while now, and we understand that. It’s a team and a group that have evolved massively, and we’ve taken some huge steps. The next challenge and the next step in this division, for a young team, a team that are developing, is the most important bit.

“We all understand the most important bit, that’s why forwards get the most money. It’s the difference in games, and we just fall a bit short. I’d be much more concerned if we weren’t creating the chances. We’re creating ample chances, we’re getting to the edge of the box very, very well, we’re just not managing to convert them at the moment. And it’s hard work again tomorrow morning, let’s keep working on it, let’s keep working on our technique of finishing, let’s keep working on our decision making.”