As Fulham slumped to a demoralising 3-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth at the weekend, the introduction of Tom Cairney provided a momentary shift in fortune during the match.
The return of the central midfielder is vital to Fulham’s survival hopes, as Cairney facilitates Fulham’s possession-based style and allows Jean-Michael Seri to flourish.
The Whites captain entered the fray on the hour mark, replacing Maxime Le Marchand and slotting into midfield along with Seri.
His substitution immediately shifted the dynamic of the match, with the Cottagers stroking the ball around with more confidence and purpose due to Cairney’s influence. In addition, Fulham finally started to pen Bournemouth inside their own half, threatening the Cherries with sustained, attacking possession.
Cairney was at the heart of everything Fulham did, spreading the ball wide to find the fullbacks in attack, setting a positive tempo, and easing the pressure on the Fulham backline.
Yet despite the improvement in play, Bournemouth became more compact and emphasised their counterattack, eventually hitting Fulham on the break to kill off the match and double their advantage.
In all, despite the 3-0 loss, Fulham showed glimpses of their familiar, passing style with Cairney returning to the pitch for the first time since the Everton match.
With their club captain back in the starting lineup, Fulham will receive a massive boost in their bid to retain their Premier League status this season.