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.
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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