On the 30th June, many Fulham fans were wondering and panicking about the ‘lack’ of transfer business, but just a fortnight later – many cannot wait for the season to start after the club announced the signing of Tomas Kalas on a season-long loan deal.
There was plenty of interest in the Chelsea defender, with Middlesbrough fighting for his signature once again as they prepare for life in the Premier League, but Fulham’s interest and Jokanovic’s admiration of the player was enough to persuade the Czech defender to sign a year long deal.
Over the last 18 months, Kalas has played his football at Middlesbrough securing promotion with at the Riverside Stadium last season. During his time at Middlesbrough, the young defender has been reviewed numerous times and is tipped to have an incredibly bright future. Being more than capable of playing as a center back as well as a right back, Kalas brings a commanding aura to a shaky backline at Fulham. Should Kalas partner Michael Madl next season in the heart of the defence, clean sheets shouldn’t be so difficult to secure with both players able to cover ground incredibly quickly as well as being natural ball playing defenders.
What is clear from the recruitment plans this summer is that Jokanovic wants every player to be more than comfortable with the ball at their feet, to maximise the intensity of his high-press, possession style football. Since Jokanovic started rebuilding the squad this has been at the heart of every transfer, adding pace and much needed technical ability in a variety of positions.
With Ale Faurlin tipped for a move, this philosophy only continues to be highlighted. Despite the Argentine midfielder struggling with match fitness, his distribution and ability to remain calm under pressure is priceless in the center of the pitch, and the thought of him teaming up with the likes of Thomas Cairney, Sone Aluko & Floyd Ayite should get any Fulham fan excited.
But, while there is the good news of Tomas Kalas signing at the club, more reports continue to surface regarding the long-term future of Ross McCormack. The Scot turns 30 in just over a month, and while he has single- handedly kept Fulham in the Championship for the past two years, the forward could be set for a transfer to Norwich if you believe the latest set of reports. Should Ross depart, I feel there is no reason for the fans to be angry, as a £13m transfer for a 30 year old would prove strong business and while his goals and assists would be tough to replace, Ross’s reliance on having a strike partner does limit Slavisa Jokanovic options in terms of formation and shape. Then again, I can’t see Ross McCormack leaving this summer, especially after the Scot signed a new deal just a few months ago, and while he hasn’t featured in Pre-Season heavily, it must be remembered that our Vice-Captain has just got married, so probably isn’t in the best of shape to begin with.
On the other hand, should Super Ross leave Craven Cottage for £13m this summer, a change in system could get the best from the likes of Sone Aluko, Floyd Ayite, Thomas Cairney, Matt Smith & Cauley Woodrow and therefore Ross McCormack’s contribution would be shared amongst a few faces. Not only that, but if Jokanovic can continue the defensive improvements, then our reliance on Ross’s goals would not be so important. With Slavisa Jokanovic favouring 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 in Pre-Season maybe the Serbian is experimenting should our talismanic forward decide to move on.
Finally, reports continue to surface surrounding the future of Jazz Richards with a swap deal expected to go through for Cardiff City left-back, Scott Malone. As mentioned in the previous post, Malone isn’t a world beater, but it’s only fair to rate the defender on his appearances in a Fulham shirt and while Richards has had a tough time at Fulham, a fresh start for both defenders could be what is needed. With Denis Odoi expected to be announced sooner rather than later, Fulham could line up with a nearly unrecognisable starting eleven for their Pre-Season fixture against Crystal Palace on the 30th July.
Crystal Palace will no doubt be a tough test for Jokanovic’s men, but with improvements being made in all parts of the field, anything is possible this season. While, I urge fans not to get too optimistic and remind themselves that promotion is a long-term goal and not an immediate one – we must support the club as it begins to make baby-steps to reaching its goal of one day returning to the Premier League.
Thank you for reading – Please feel free to tweet your thoughts to me @ABronsSmith