On Saturday afternoon, Fulham fell to a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United at Craven Cottage. Despite a bright opening five minutes from the Whites, Fulham’s performance was categorised by a lack of fight and desire.
The manager’s questionable tactics, poor substitutions, and alienisation of last year’s promotion heroes all mean Claudio Ranieri must be sacked by Fulham before it is too late.
In the build-up to the match, Ranieri had called on teenage sensation Ryan Sessegnon to be nastier and show more strength, which in his mind justified the decision to drop Sessegnon to the bench for the fourth consecutive Premier League match.
However, Ranieri started the lethargic Andre Schurrle, who failed to properly track back in defence while leaving right back Denis Odoi exposed all match.
This hypocrisy was baffling: why start a luxury player while dropping a fan favourite who always shows passion for the club?
In addition, Ranieri showed questionable judgment yet again when bringing on Cyrus Christie early in the second half with Fulham trailing 2-0. Instead of opting for Sessegnon, Ranieri brought on a hopelessly inept attacking right back. Fulham switched to a back five formation that failed to change the match, with the Whites needing an attacking impetus to stand any chance of getting a result.
In all, it was a sad sight to see Sessegnon and Tom Cairney brought on with just minutes to spare in a heavy losing effort.
Ranieri has tried to implement a more direct and compact style of play at Fulham, but in all fairness, this current squad reeks of a team devoid of confidence and lacking a consistent game plan.
And by far the worst decision in the eyes of many supporters is the exile of Sessegnon and Cairney, two players who have much to offer the team yet apparently do not fit into Ranieri’s plans.
With the Whites seemingly sleepwalking towards relegation and with Ranieri unlikely to manage the club in the Championship, Fulham must act swiftly to bring in a replacement who can build the club back up and instill the beliefs that brought Fulham into the Premier League.
By no means is this a plea to bring back Slavisa Jokanovic. The Serbian manager worked wonders in SW6 in bringing Fulham up to the top flight, but it was clear he was not cut out to manage in the Premier league.
Although Ranieri has proved a marginal improvement, the current team lacks defensive solidity and attacking fluidity. And for all the talk of being soldiers, there’s evidently little fight among the squad.
Fulham need a managerial switch, and although it will bring more turmoil, change now will prove beneficial to the long-term future of Fulham Football Club.