Fulham have been in the news a lot lately surrounding the apparent departures of Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey, and the speculated arrival of Andy Carroll. In recent years, Fulham have been a team who have almost reached big things, but have fallen short on several occasions. Could this season bring some success after an impressive 9th place finish last year?
Earlier I posed several questions to Russ Goldman, an American Fulham fan who runs his own weekly Fulham FC podcast called ‘Cottage Talk’. He spoke about Dembele and Dempsey, his thoughts on how next season would go Fulham and the influence of the younger players coming through the ranks. Here is what he had to say:
Question 1) With a very respectable 9th place finish last season, can you see Fulham improving on that in the 2012/13 season?
I can see Fulham improving on 9th this season, but it won’t be easy because the League continues to get more balanced. Martin Jol stated when he came to Fulham that he wants them eventually to be a top six club someday.
I am not going to shoot that high, but I feel it is realistic to contend for a Europa League spot, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the club end seventh. This will be the second season under Jol, and Fulham have not had a returning manager in a few seasons.
This season they don’t have to deal with an adjustment of a new manager, and also will not be playing in the Europa League. Those two factors I feel will be huge for the club this season.
If they can get off to a faster start than they have the last two seasons, seventh could be a realistic goal. I have high hopes for this season for Fulham.
Question 2) If Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele depart Craven Cottage, can Martin Jol fill these big holes that have been left? Who would you like Jol to bring to Fulham?
Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele are two important players for Fulham. Many fans actually expect Dempsey to leave because of his desire to play Champions League Football. It would be difficult to replace a player like Dempsey, but I will tell you that Fulham have two youngsters at left wing that could make an impact. Kerim Frei and Alex Kacaniklic both were able to show glimpses of their ability during last season. They wouldn’t be Dempsey, but they have huge potential to make a difference this season.
Mousa Dembele I feel is more important to Fulham right now, as he has the ability to see a good amount of the ball from central midfield, and get the ball to the players up front. He is still a developing player that I feel needs one more season under Jol to fully develop his ability to score. He would be more difficult to replace, but I have confidence that Jol will find someone to get the job done.
Fulham I feel need a central midfielder, and I would love to see a player like Mark Davies from Bolton come to the club. They have recently been linked with the player. They also need two strikers up front. Hugo Rodallega is a striker that they have been linked with as well that could be a good fit. This player is not a striker but I would love to see FC Twente winger Nacer Chadli head to Craven Cottage. He has been linked with the club often, but nothing lately.
Question 3) With some of the core players ageing, younger players are starting to come through the ranks. Is it crucial that Fulham highlight this?
They have already started the process of highlighting young players. It is extremely important for the future of Fulham that these young players continue to come through. That is one of the reasons I am so high on Martin Jol, because he is committed to get Fulham younger with players that already shown potential to be dynamic.
Fulham’s Under 18’s were crowned Academy League Champions last season, and that shows the improvement and commitment for Fulham to get younger. There is some serious talent down there, and it is possible that we could see some of these players start to get some work with the First Team.
I have already mentioned Kerim Frei and Alex Kacaniklic as rising stars with Fulham, but they have other players that could get some playing time this season. Marcello Trotta is a young Italian Striker who will only be turning 20 years old in September. He went on loan to Wycombe and went on to score many goals. He might get the opportunity this season with the first team.
Pajtim Kasami is a young player that many feel could take Danny Murphy’s role in central midfield. Marcel Gecov is another player that could contend for that position as well.
Also. Matthew Briggs I feel is ready to be a full time left back, but he has John Arne Riise in front of him. Briggs is ready now, and someday hopefully will feature at Fulham.
Jol is not afraid to play some of these youngsters unlike the two managers before him. The future is bright at Fulham, and the young players are a huge reason I feel so confident about Fulham’s future.
Russ provided some great views ahead of Fulhams 2012/13 campaign, and believes they can do even better than last season. The rumours surrounding Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele are changing everyday, but it will be very interesting to see what shirts these two will be wearing come August.
I would like to thank Russ for giving up his time to answer the questions
Follow him on twitter – @Russ_Goldman
Listen to ‘Cottage Talk’ – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cottagetalk
Ryan Sessegnon should resist Tottenham interest and remain at boyhood club Fulham
The 19-year-old has been linked with Spurs for some time.
The more Ryan Sessegnon excels, the more the tabloids run wild.
It seems that every coming week brings a new, outlandish rumour for the 17-year-old’s future destination. The most consistent linked with Sessegnon has been Tottenham Hotspur, but the Fulham youngster has also attracted attention from the likes of Liverpool, both Manchester clubs, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich.
Yet, despite all of the interest from mega-clubs, Ryan Sessegnon should remain at Fulham.
The precocious talent has taken the Championship by storm ever since he made his debut as a 16-year-old in August 2016.
Sessegnon began his career as a left-back but was used to great effect in a more advanced position during the end of the 2016/17 season. Midway through this campaign, he has established himself as a left-winger in Slavisa Jokanovic’s 4-3-3 system.
The teenager has blossomed at Craven Cottage, leading Fulham in scoring with a remarkable 14 goals to date. Even more impressive, he has risen to the occasion in the high-profile matches, notching goals against Wolves, Aston Villa, Derby, and his first professional hat-trick against Sheffield United.
The reason Sessegnon has excelled at Fulham? The immense faith and trust the coaching staff have placed in his abilities. A stunning statistic is that at just 17 years of age, Ryan Sessegnon is the only player in the Fulham squad to start every single match this season.
If he were to leave Fulham, he would lose the crucial aspect that has let him flourish: constant game time. At his age, the most valuable thing a player can have is regular first-team experience.
A move to a so-called bigger club would undoubtedly result in reduced first-team appearances for Sessegnon, which would hamper his progression at a crucial moment in the Englishman’s development.
If Fulham can achieve promotion to the Premier League this season, an event that is looking increasingly likely due to a 15-match unbeaten run, then there is no doubt Sessegnon should remain in SW6.
A guaranteed starting role in the world’s top league will provide the youngster with the perfect chance to fulfill his sky-high potential, an opportunity he would be remiss to pass up.
Since Aleksandar Mitrovic left, he and Newcastle United have scored the same amount of goals
The Serbian striker is leading Fulham to potential promotion.
Fulham continued their march in the Championship this week with an impressive 3-0 win against Sheffield United at Craven Cottage. The result moves the Cottagers up to fourth in the Championship and into serious contention for promotion to the Premier League. If they do make it back to the top-flight then the signing of Aleksandar Mitrovic will prove to have been crucial.
The Serbian striker scored twice for Fulham against the Blades, continuing his excellent form. Since joining Fulham at the end of January Mitrovic has managed to score an impressive five goals in seven games.
It is run of form which will be hard to take for Newcastle United fans. Mitrovic is of course on loan at Fulham from the struggling Premier League side.
Newcastle are currently just two points off the relegation zone in the Premier League. Despite their struggles this season, Rafa Benitez continued to ignore Mitrovic’s claims for a first-team position.
Now that is looking like a poor decision from the Newcastle manager.
Mitrovic’s tally of five goals since he joined Fulham is impressive in itself. Newcastle fans will not like to hear the following statistic though. The Magpies have only managed to score five goals as a team since Mitrovic was allowed to join Fulham in January.
It is hard to see how the Fulham loanee would not have been a helpful member of the Newcastle team if he was given a chance by Benitez before the end of the season.
Mitrovic’s form at Fulham is even more depressing when considering who Newcastle brought in to replace him. Algerian striker Islam Slimani arrived on loan from Leicester City to take his place. However, injury means Newcastle fans are yet to see him play for the club over a month later.
Mitrovic can be a controversial and often inconsistent operator up front. But he is proving what he can do at Craven Cottage and leaving Newcastle slightly red in the face.
There is a chance Newcastle could go down and Fulham win promotion on the back of Mitrovic’s goals. If that proves the case, Mitrovic’s exit will go down as one of the worst transfer decisions in Newcastle’s recent history.
Has Slaviša Jokanovic assembled the Fulham team of the century at just the right moment?
The Serbian’s side are flying in the Championship and look on course for promotion.
Times like this rarely come around for clubs like Fulham. Not since 2010’s spellbinding Europa League final run have the Whites conjured up such optimism, goodwill, and footballing joy.
The current 13-match (and counting) unbeaten run is truly historic and has provided the long-suffering Fulham faithful with moments to savor for years to come. And there is a feeling around the club of unfinished business- that this year the team Slaviša Jokanovic has assembled can go one step further than last year and achieve promotion to the Premier League.
Fulham’s weekend win over Derby County marked their tenth win in their last 13 games. 33 points from a possible 39. 32 goals scored and just ten conceded. Five clean sheets in the process. It is no understatement to say that this is the best form Fulham have seen in decades; not since the jubilant campaign of 2000/01 have the Cottagers hit such heights.
The last four matches have been ever the more impressive considering the high-quality opposition Fulham have faced. Following a draw with Bolton in mid-February, the Whites embarked on a run of fixtures against six out of top nine, including all other teams in the top six.
On paper, it appeared a brutal stretch that would test the club to their limits. Common knowledge was that the Whites would be clinging on to their spot in the play-offs by March.
Yet this Fulham side pays little attention to common knowledge. The supposed heavyweight clubs in the Championship, Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, both left Craven Cottage empty-handed after being swatted away and held goalless.
Fulham beat Derby County away for the first time in 16 years, while they held Bristol City to an entertaining 1-1 draw. Four matches against four of the best in the division have resulted in three wins and a draw.
What’s perhaps most remarkable about the magnificent run is that it has not been propelled by a single standout player, but rather by the entire squad.
The return of Marcus Bettinelli has been a revelation, and just like last season, he has brought newfound form to side. Tomas Kalas, and Tim Ream in particular, have been stalwarts at the back. Ryan Fredericks, who recently marked a century of appearances for Fulham, has terrorised opposition defenses all season with his searing pace. Matt Targett has added class and composure, despite his tender age, proving to be an astute loan signing.
And that’s just the back five. The midfield three has truly reestablished itself after early season struggles. Tom Cairney is back to his rampaging best after an injury-hit first half of the year, Stefan Johansen has recaptured his 2016/17 form, and Kevin McDonald is imperious as always in the centre of the park.
Aleksandr Mitrovic truly seems to be the final piece in Slavisa Jokanovic’s jigsaw. The Serbian striker has fired home three goals in his last three matches, providing strong hold-up play, powerful driving runs, and lethal finishing. Finally Fulham have the striker they deserve.
Then there is Ryan Sessegnon. At this point, superlatives can no longer do him justice. There are simply no words for the season he is having. At the age of 17, having played the majority of his matches as a full-back, the Englishman has bagged an outstanding 14 goals.
Sessegnon’s passion and love for the club makes each goal ever the more enjoyable; he is a dream come true for Fulham fans. Suddenly, talk of a spot on the plane to Russia no longer seems so outlandish.
After the next two matches against Sheffield United and Preston, 8th and 9th in the table respectively, the Whites have a run-in of dreams. In their remaining nine fixtures, they play just one team in the top ten. It is not totally radical to dream of an unbeaten finish to the campaign.
But times weren’t always this good on the bank of the Thames. Remarkably, some supporters were calling for Slavisa’s sacking after a rough October that left the Whites languishing in 17th.
Such rash judgements seem foolish now, and credit is due for the level-headed management that trusted in the Serb’s judgement. Come May, that patience could very well be richly rewarded.
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