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The growing problems at Fulham

ANALYST
Feature
343   //    10 Oct 2018, 18:36 IST

Pressure is increasing on the manager
Pressure is increasing on the manager

After what was a very promising summer for Fulham in terms of recruitment for life back at the top level of English football, the opening eight games of the season has been tough for the London club.

Manager Slaviša Jokanović has seen his team pick up only five points, losing five games and conceding twenty-one goals in these games thus far.

Defensively is where the team has really endured major troubles, Jokanovic has experimented with a different back four in each game and has even tried changing the shape resulting in the latest setback, which was the 5-1 defeat at the hands of in-form Arsenal.

On personnel available, the defensive problems that Jokanovic's team faces, getting the right balance within his back-line and what protection he has available to help them keep the opposition from hurting them. Moving away from the 4-3-3 shape that brought the results it did last season is certainly not the answer, but applying the right players in these areas is key to Fulham moving forward.

Denis Odoi and Cyrus Christie are two players who defensively have struggled to make any impact at Craven Cottage this season, and when looking at the options available to Jokanovic, it might be his best option to play with restricted fullbacks who can and have played inside.

Callum Chambers joined for a season-long loan and with only a handful of great displays at central defence, it could be the best option to put the English defender back to right back, where the former England under 21 defender made his breakthrough while playing at Southampton.

Summer signing Maxime Le Marchand is another who does not look as influential playing at the heart of the defence, but has played left back on a number of occasions and could more beneficial playing in what is quite a troublesome position for Fulham, despite adding Joe Bryan from Bristol City to take this position.

Odoi has struggled to get to grips with the Premier League
Odoi has struggled to get to grips with the Premier League

This Fulham team needs consistency, and the defence needs to build partnerships and an understanding; moving forward, Alfie Mawson, who when he signed for the club, looked a bargain for 15 million in the summer from Swansea, needs a run of games and needs a partner who will compliment him well, especially if he had two defensive minded full backs. American defender Tim Ream would be the answer to partnering Mawson - good on the ball and not slow he would be the partner that Mawson would need at the heart of the Fulham defence.

The concern looking in at the club is that pressure does not intensify too much on manager Slaviša Jokanović. How often do we see newly promoted clubs feel a need to sack the manager in a desperate attempt to change their fortunes. Jokanović deserves time to mould so many new players into the system and philosophies in which he is wanting to play at the club.

Getting new signings Anguissa and Seri into the 3-man central midfield alongside a more creative Tom Cairney could be the real strength to this Fulham side. The two players brought in from Marseille and Nice respectively are both powerful athletic midfielders who can cover a lot of ground on the pitch. Anguissa was an important member of the Marseille team that got to the final of last season's Europa League and has a great awareness on the pitch.

His contribution thus far has not been of sufficient quality to merit him a place in the side, but the manager needs to stick with the powerful holding midfielder to allow him to build an understanding of the team and the league, and a partnership alongside Seri in the long term would flourish.

Fulham capitulated in the heavy defeat to Arsenal
Fulham capitulated in the heavy defeat to Arsenal

One of the rising stars in the English game, Ryan Sessegnon, is beginning to find his find after a slow start to life in the Premier League, but he has played left back and left wing back on occasion and we have not yet seen the best out of the future England international in an attacking sense.

Getting Serbia international Aleksandar Mitrović on a permanent deal was important to the club and he has shown to be an influential figure both on and off the pitch for this Fulham team. A return of five goals already in the Premier League shows just how important to this Fulham team if they are to fight off the threat of relegation.

Going forward is not a problem for Fulham especially when they have brought in Andre Schurrle and Luciano Vietto who can also contribute with goals.

Schurrle, Mitrovic and Vietto have all shown promise in the attacking third for Fulham
Schurrle, Mitrovic and Vietto have all shown promise in the attacking third for Fulham

One of the biggest decisions and perhaps controversial moves that Jokanović has made since the start of the season was the omission of England goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli. Summer signing Fabri was favoured ahead of Bettinelli at the start of the campaign, but has since has lost his place.

One of the biggest surprises was that Fulham landed Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico in the summer on a loan deal, but the one time Spain goalkeeper has made just 2 appearances in a Fulham shirt, both coming in the EFL cup.

This is a goalkeeper who made 40 appearances in a Sevilla team that was competing in Europe last season. The 25-year-old needs to start in this team, he would add not only experience in the heart of this Fulham team, but his presence and stature. This is a goalkeeper who could play for the elite clubs in Europe, Fulham need to make use of such quality.

Despite a dreadful start to season, there are so many promising signs for Fulham moving forward, but the concerns are there, especially when you look at the amount of goals conceded. Keeping the manager at the club is essential for this group of players and for playing with such class in an attacking sense.

The team is not short on experience so would expect to see a change of fortunes moving forward for the rest of the season.

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ANALYST
I am based in Northern Ireland, and have a strong passion for football, predominantly European football. I work full time, but my interest always brings me back to football, and aspire to work full time in the industry.
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