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Why Slavisa Jokanovic’s time at Fulham must sadly end

Fulham

Why Slavisa Jokanovic’s time at Fulham must sadly end

Dead last in the Premier League after 11 matches. Five straight league losses on the bounce. Dreadful defeats to previously-winless Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town. 29 goals conceded and a goal difference of -18.

Fulham’s pathetic start to the season is clear for all to see and the club needs to make a change.

Unfortunately, in modern football that starts with the manager.

Despite Slavisa Jokanovic’s legendary tenure in SW6, he has proven himself incapable of performing in the top flight, and his time surely must be up at Fulham.

Over the past months, the Serbian has undoubtedly been given an unenviable task, with a multitude of new faces arriving after significant player departures in the summer. Added to the debilitating slate of injuries that struck Fulham, it was a nightmare scenario for a manager.

But despite all this Jokanovic has simply not been up to the job, harming the club with his questionable starting lineups, baffling bench selections, and odd substitutions.

(PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

In Fulham’s abject performance at Huddersfield there was no coherent game plan, no fight from the players, and a complete feeling of helplessness.

Monday’s match was surely the biggest game of Fulham’s season, yet the 4-3-3 system that had treated Jokanovic so well in the past failed him. Fulham rarely had sustained attacking possession, were beaten to every ball by the Terriers, and only managed two shots on target.

The attacking options on the bench were non-existent. With Fulham chasing the match down 1-0, the best Jokanovic could do was throw on Cyrus Christie: there was no Aboubakar Kamara (possibly due to injury), no Floyd Ayite, and no Neeskens Kebano to choose from.

And with the Cottagers desperately searching for a goal, last season’s top scorer Ryan Sessegnon remained stationed at left back.

 

Some Fulham supporters have called for consistency and argued Jokanovic is still the right man for the job. This is a valid claim, and it was true after the Cardiff match.

But one struggles to see how Fulham can pick themselves up and how the Serbian can turn things around after the horror show at Huddersfield.

Defeats such as that can truly drain a team’s morale, and it is telling that Jokanovic could not find a solution after the Cardiff loss. Then, it felt like rock-bottom for Fulham. A new low was reached just a few weeks later.

None of the current concerns should affect supporters’ overall views on Jokanovic.

He joined Fulham Football Club at one of its lowest points in recent memory, arriving at Craven Cottage in December 2015 when the Whites were facing relegation to League One. From that point, he kept Fulham in the Championship, mounted a late charge the next season to reach the play-offs, did the same the following year, and brought Fulham back to the promised land while playing superb football.

Jokanovic should be regarded as a club legend. Yet the unfortunate reality is that he is not a Premier League manager.

The Khans must change things soon and bring in someone with top-flight experience who can right the ship on the banks of the Thames.

Thanks for the memories Slavisa, but your time is up.

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.

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