Despite being denied at the last minute for another victory at Leeds, Fulham’s unbeaten streak continues.
Jokanovic’s Fulham oozed class in their performance against Leeds and on another night would have killed the game off. Even though Fulham dominated the game, it was clear that there are still some gaps in the squad that will need to be filled within the remaining days of the transfer window.
Although Big Matt Smith has started the season in fine form, it is clear that Fulham do require a top quality forward who is more mobile than the former Leeds forward. Don’t get me wrong, Matt Smith is great at what he does and he is a tremendous option to have within the squad, but should Fulham sign a more willing runner and mobile forward, the potential attacking threat with Aluko, Ayite & Cairney will be greatly increased. Smith was unlucky to not get on the scoresheet against his former side though, as his towering header rattled the post, and 9 times out of 10 you’d expect Smith to bury those.
There were plenty of positives to take from our draw at Elland Road though. Tom Cairney once again proved that he is blossoming into an outstanding playmaker, and that wand of left peg struck again to open the scoring in the second half. Before the season started, I believed that Cairney was going to be the pivotal number ten in the side, but with Aluko occupying the role, Cairney’s performance on the right hand side has been ever so pleasing to watch. With the likes of Ayite and Aluko roaming, it creates the space Cairney needs to operate and cut inside from the right onto his left foot to create chances. Should we manage to keep all three attacking talents fit for the remainder of the season, Fulham will have no problem on improving on their league finish from last two seasons.
There was also a full debut for young Ryan Sessegnon at left-back. There is no questioning the fact that the teenager deserved the opportunity, with him impressing throughout pre-season and in the EFL Cup victory against Leyton Orient. Once again, Ryan delivered on the pitch and throughout the 90 minutes, had an incredibly solid game, and even more impressive is the fact he has settled in the senior side at just 16. I still can’t believe he was born in 2000 – it makes me feel older than I actually am. I was probably scared of a bit of thunder at 16, so credit to Ryan who has to battle against wingers who are bigger and arguably stronger than him. Some fans have said he was at fault for the goal, and maybe a more senior full-back would have gone for the header rather than standing off Wood to allow the overhead kick, but the boy is only 16 and considering his performance throughout the game, it’s unfair to criticise him.
With transfer deadline day looming ever closer, Fulham continue to be linked with a number of transfers. The club are trying to complete another four signings to strengthen the squad, but I expect most of our business to be done in the last 48 hours of the window, once other squads have done their business and can allow fringe players to be moved on.
Fulham have been heavily linked with a move for Ben Marshall of Blackburn Rovers in the last 48 hours, and the Blackburn winger would be a smart transfer, should a deal be agreed. The Blackburn star will provide healthy competition for the impressing front 3 of Aluko, Ayite and Cairney, while Marshall’s experience as a full-back will also provide sensible cover for the injury prone Ryan Fredericks. Valued at around £2.5m, a deal for Marshall seems likely with the player looking for a new challenge.
Fulham continue to be linked with moves for Sporting youngster, Wallyson Mallmann who would arrive on loan to write off the remaining €1m debt that Sporting owe us for the Bryan Ruiz transfer. Wallyson would be relatively unknown upon joining, but his experience while on loan at OGC Nice should provide him with the experience needed to play in a tough division and at high standard.
There’s no hiding the fact that Fulham are still in the market for a striker and James Wilson continues to be linked with a switch to Craven Cottage. Personally, I think this wouldn’t be much of an improvement on the side, considering we still have Cauley Woodrow within the squad – and with Woodrow continuing to improve, the arrival of Wilson could potentially stall his progress. Then again, Wilson can reportedly operate in a wider role, and would provide another option should Jokanovic need to rotate his side.
In previous interviews, Jokanovic has stated that he is in the market for an ‘experienced’ and ‘senior’ forward, so with James Wilson at just 20 years of age, the rumours could simply just be rumours. But, Fulham have been linked with Oostende forward, Cyriac today with the striker available around £2.5m. A much smaller fee in comparison to the deal proposed for Mounie, but a player that would suit the system Fulham now operate. As for the Mounie deal, the valuations between the two clubs were way too far apart, and it seemed as though Montpeiller wanted to include the forward in their first team for the upcoming season.
To conclude, former Fulham target, Eddy Silvestre has completed his transfer to Spanish Segunda side, Cadiz ending any potential switch to Craven Cottage. There were reports suggesting a deal worth around €400,000 based on add-ons was structured but it seems the player has opted to stay in Spain.
Next for Fulham is a home game against Cardiff City tomorrow. Another challenging game for Jokanovic’s men, but a game that could put Fulham at the top of the league should results go in their favour. With the momentum and confidence growing in the Fulham camp, there could be an attendance of over 20,000 fans at the Cottage this weekend. With a booming atmosphere and fans behind their team, Fulham could record their longest unbeaten streak for a number of years.
Note: There is an update regarding the development on the Riverside Stand in tomorrow’s match-day programme, which should be an interesting read. My next column in the programme will be published for the home fixture against Birmingham City.
Thank you ever so much for reading and supporting the blog. Please feel free to tweet your feedback and thoughts to me @ABronsSmith.