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Why it is déjà vu for Slavisa Jokanovic at Craven Cottage

Max Cohen

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Slavisa Jokanovic
Photo: Reuters

For most clubs, the opening of the transfer window brings newfound optimism and excitement, filled with intrigue and hopes for an impact addition to the squad. Yet for Fulham in the Slavisa Jokanovic era, there is a far different flavour to the window: one of public spats and constant displeasures voiced to the media.

In the run-up to last weekend’s FA Cup Third Round loss against Southampton, the Serb unleashed another of his patented transfer tirades. Jokanovic expressed his disappointment with the club’s supposed lack of ambition in the market, and offered a provocative solution to the problem: he should be sacked.

To many Fulham fans, these sentiments are far from a revelatory bombshell. One only has to look back to late July for a similar outburst. Then, Slavisa claimed his transfer list was being completely ignored”, in addition to stating his support for Sone Aluko, who he said he was fighting to keep at the club. In the end, Aluko was sold to Reading, seemingly against Jokanovic’s best wishes.

The fractious history doesn’t end there. Back in August 2016, after Fulham’s impressive unbeaten start to the Championship season, Jokanovic was frustrated with Fulham’s lack of transfers.

Add in the Craig Kline disaster, in which the controversial American data analyst had an outsize say over transfers and clashed with Jokanovic, one gets a recipe for managerial discontent.

It is certainly clear that there are still problems behind the scenes at Fulham, illustrating that the departure of Kline has done little to cool the tensions between Slavisa and the club’s ownership. Yet the public voicing of disapproval from Jokanovic has to stop.

The state of affairs regarding the club’s transfer policy indicates serious issues behind the scenes. At any organisation, issues such as Jokanovic’s should be dealt with behind closed doors, rather than publicly aired in the media. If the manager truly felt aggrieved, he should take these matters up privately with the ownership.

No matter how annoyed Slavisa may be, taking internal disputes public is counterproductive and can only make matters worse. The fact that he has complained publicly for the past three windows shows the collapse of normal communication measures at the club.

But this does not indicate a club in crisis; Fulham is by no means in disaster mode. The new plans to redevelop the Riverside Stand, the retained Category One status of the academy, and the gleaming new Motspur Park training ground are all prominent examples of the healthy state of Fulham Football Club.

Much of the public posturing can be attributed to Slavisa’s sometimes abrasive demeanor. These threats have persisted throughout his tenure at SW6, and the Serb has stayed with the club and expressed his desire to take the Whites to the Premier League. Surely if Slavisa truly intended on leaving, he would have deserted Fulham long ago?

Jokanovic’s public outbursts appear to be nothing more than the manager throwing his toys out of the pram. The threats and ‘back me or sack me’ proclamations carry little weight and only serve to disrupt the club. The media focus should have been on Fulham’s superb dismantling of Ipswich in midweek, yet instead Slavisa’s petulance dominates the headlines.

Fulham supporters hope they have heard the end of their manager’s complaints, and will be hopeful of bringing in Matt Targett, who has been linked by Sky Sports, on loan in the coming days. Slavisa hopefully has learned his lesson, and given his comments following the Southampton match, he intends to change his ways.

“If somebody is hurt, sorry, I’m not going to [talk] anymore”, Jokanovic told BBC Radio London“I’m going to be quiet and [continue] coaching my team.”

For the sake of Fulham and its stability, let us hope Slavisa Jokanovic honours his word.

Max is a journalist studying at the University of Pennsylvania. Max specialises in English football and co-hosts a weekly podcast. He is also a politics reporter and deputy news editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Brighton and Hove Albion

Fulham’s sale of David Button to Brighton is a brilliant deal

The back-up goalkeeper was recently offloaded to Brighton.

Max Cohen

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David Button
Photo: Getty Images

On Monday, Fulham announced goalkeeper David Button was leaving Craven Cottage for an undisclosed fee to move to Brighton and Hove Albion.

The offloading of the club’s backup goalkeeper for any fee represents good business, as Button was very clearly second choice and, ultimately, supporters will be surprised that a Premier League club were willing to spend any money on the player.

Button joined the Whites in July 2016 and slotted in as first choice goalkeeper ahead of Marcus Bettinelli. Yet the Englishman lost his starting spot in embarrassing fashion after a horror show performance against Derby County the following April.

Button’s distribution, passing ability, and shot-stopping were abject that midweek night, allowing David Nugent to score some laughably easy goals en route to a harmful 4-2 loss.

After that match, Bettinelli took over and never looked back, leading Fulham on a sparkling end-of-season run to the play-offs that narrowly ended in heartbreak.

However, the following season Button again reclaimed the first choice role after Bettinelli was injured in pre-season. The ex-Brentford man started the season brightly, earning numerous plaudits and man-of-the-match votes during the early stages of the season.

But, his high-profile mistakes came back to haunt him, and after a poor showing against Brentford in December he was again benched for Bettinelli.

Fulham truly never looked back this time. Bettinelli’s arrival coincided with another sparkling run of form, this time one that took the Whites to third position and promotion through the play-offs.

It was clear Bettinelli was preferred to Button, and it made sense to see the elder goalkeeper depart this summer.

The sale of David Button to Premier League rivals Brighton is another intelligent piece of business by Tony Khan and Fulham, getting rid of benchwarmers and raising funds for further transfer targets.

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Fulham

Malcom should consider Fulham move despite Champions League interest

Jake Jackman

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Fulham are set to enter the race to sign Bordeaux winger Malcom and offer competition to Inter Milan according to The Sun. The Serie A team had been leading the race after submitting an initial loan bid with an option to buy next year with the total package totalling £35.3 million.

However, the Cottagers have shown impressive ambition already this summer and could be prepared to buy the Brazilian permanently this summer.

The report goes on to say that Slavisa Jokanovic wants to add another pacy forward to his squad before the start of the season and Malcom is one of the players being looked at.

Bordeaux know that they are in a strong selling position and want at least £45 million for the talented Brazilian forward. He has previously been linked with Tottenham, Arsenal and Bayern Munich, but Fulham have previously shown they can pull off a deal such as this one.

(Photo credit should read MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/Getty Images)

The highly-rated Jean Michael Seri joined the newly-promoted club earlier this week and if they managed to sign Malcom, it would represent another coup. Fulham have been out of the Premier League for four seasons, but they don’t plan to make up the numbers now they have returned.

That is why Malcom should consider the club if the reported interest is genuine. Fulham are located in London and will be playing in one of the best leagues in the world. Although he will be looking for a Champions League move, the Cottagers would still represent a step up.

The Brazilian would have the opportunity to play regularly in the Premier League and that would make him a more rounded player, especially in terms of physicality. At the age of 21, he has plenty of years ahead of him. Fulham would provide a good environment in which to develop further before making the jump to the Champions League.

In addition to their location and division, Fulham play an exciting style of football under Jokanovic. They are encouraged to pass the ball and take risks in the final third. Malcom would thrive under such instruction and have a platform to attract concrete interest from bigger clubs.

(Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Last season, the 21-year-old caught the eye in Ligue 1 and emerged as one of the best players outside of PSG. He scored 12 goals and contributed seven assists, while his ball retention in the final third was impressive. Malcom ended the season with a pass success rate of 82.1%, while he averaged 2.5 key passes and 2.7 dribbles per game.

Fulham will know that there is no harm in selling themselves as a stepping-stone club in the interim period. It is an effective business model if done correctly and allows them to grow organically into a team that can challenge the top six. Given the resources of the Khan family, that seems to be the objective.

After the arrival of Jean Michael Seri, Fulham have sent a message to the rest of Europe that they have ambition and they want to continue progressing as a football club. Agents and players across the continent will have taken note.

Craven Cottage will now be a more attractive destination and reports linking them with players like Malcom shouldn’t be written off. This would be a good move for the Brazilian and if they can agree on a fee, they should be confident of pulling it off.

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Fulham

Fulham’s signing of Jean Michael Seri will be coup of the summer

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

Fulham have pulled off one of the shock signings of the summer, as Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri has joined the club for a record fee. The Guardian report that the fee is in the region of £25 million and that he has signed a four-year contract at Craven Cottage.

Over the past 12 months, the 26-year-old has been linked with Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal to name but three other interested clubs. Meanwhile, he came close to signing for Barcelona last summer.

It is a major coup for Fulham to sign the Ivorian, as they are a recently promoted club who haven’t been in the Premier League since 2014.

However, there is clear ambition among the ownership and this could be the first of several ambitious arrivals, as they attempt to establish themselves as a top division force once more.

Their location and style of play make them an appealing option for players, as shown by Seri’s decision to move to Craven Cottage.

(Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat/Getty Images)

Nice have been one of the most exciting teams in watch in Ligue 1 during recent seasons and they have managed to develop a host of exciting players.

Seri is regarded as one of the best to play in red and blue, as he has been at the heart of a team that has played attacking football and qualified for the Champions League. Although they didn’t reach the group stages, it was a huge achievement to get to the play-off round.

The 26-year-old is very much a modern-day central midfielder capable of excelling at a number of roles. He covers a lot of ground for his team and is always looking to improve himself as a player.

 “Jean Michael arrives with Premier League qualities as well as great promise for the future, which is why he has been at the very top of our target list for a long time.”

Tony Khan, on Jean Michael Seri.

Although he is primarily used as a box-to-box midfielder, he can be used in both deeper and more advanced positions. His pass accuracy rarely dips beneath 90% as he is comfortable on the ball in tight spaces. That said, he isn’t conservative in possession as he looks to break down opposition defences.

Last season, he averaged 2.1 key passes and 1.2 dribbles per game, which underline the quality he has in the transition phase. During the last three seasons, he has contributed 12 goals and 20 assists in Ligue 1.

(Photo by Yann Coatsaliou/Getty Images)

There have been few better midfielders during that period and he is now ready to test himself in a better division. He was perhaps less impressive during the 2017/18 campaign, but he may have remained with Nice for one year too many.

This is a marquee signing that sends a signal of intent to the rest of the division. Fulham are not in the Premier League to make up the numbers and they are prepared to spend big to establish themselves as a force. Seri is a player that is good enough to play in the Champions League and he will be the star attraction at Craven Cottage next season.

Slavisa Jokanovic and Tony Khan must now make further additions to provide the team with more quality players. It is worth noting that Fulham came up through the play-offs and one player, regardless of his quality, isn’t enough to transform them into a Premier League team.

The club will realise that and Seri could be the first of many eye-catching signings made this summer.

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