The Craven Corner: We Can’t Get Carried Away

While it has been easy to get carried away this season, even I must remember not to  get ahead of myself after every victory. At the start of the season, I stated that Fulham are still a club in transition and after changing personnel every summer, the club is crying out for stability and over time our situation will be much more impressive. Under Slavisa Jokanovic the club has dramatically improved, we have found an identity and style that suits our squad and the summer’s recruitment has been a success.

Debatably, we are in still in the race for a promotion place, if we don’t achieve a top six finish then the club must keep the core of the squad for the long-term future, that does include a new deal for the management staff. Even though, style doesn’t guarantee points, as a squad everyone has improved and realistically we’ve built a strong foundation to build upon. If we can keep the current crop together for another 18 months, there’s no reason why the club shouldn’t be able to return to the highest tier in English football.

If points were awarded for the possession percentages and style of play then we would have already been promoted, but sadly that’s not the case and in certain fixtures we need to be able to revert to a plan B. I know the fans wouldn’t want the football to become ‘boring’ but at the same time, we need to win ‘ugly’. It’s all good dominating the ball, but when clubs sit deep and soak up the pressure we shouldn’t be afraid to play more direct. With Martin leading the line, we have one of the most prolific forwards in this division, and with the arrival of Cyriac in the January transfer window, we could change shape or style if things aren’t going our way in games. If this means changing the way the full-backs attack, and making them more defensively disciplined or going two up-front, then it must be explored. Teams are well aware of our capabilities and if they are setting up for the point, then we need to be able to revert to a different system.

The next six months are probably the most important at our club in a very long time. The reason behind that statement is quite simple. We finally have the players and staff that could re-build this club, but investment from the top to secure those assets for next 18-24 months is now pivotal. Without a doubt there will be interest in our key players in the summer, but  we cannot afford to lose anyone from our starting eleven.

Give the current setup another 18 months, and we should finally get the consistency that we have long needed since the departure of Roy Hodgson & Mark Hughes. Ever since we’ve blown hot and cold and our time in the Championship has been far below expectations of anyone involved with the football club. But, we are a club in transition and should we keep the personnel  for the long-term, with a few clever additions in the summer we could have a promotion winning campaign next season, if it is not achieved in during 2017.

After allowing a few players to leave the club in the January transfer window, Slavisa has managed to wittle the squad down to a select few players that he is keen to work with. Jokanovic should be given a tonne of praise for the way he has developed young Ryan Sessegnon. The left-back has been managed expertly and been allow to develop and not been thrown in the deep end. Managing expectations and development is vital for the youngster, and so far, that has been a success. A key figure for the future of Fulham, and another success of our Youth Academy.

Today’s game will be a tough despite the difference in league position. Wigan had a very eventful transfer window and with an influx of new faces, manager Warren Joyce is slowly moulding a very capable squad for this division. There will be a few names in their squad that some Fulham fans will notice, particularly Dan Burn. The gigantic defender, returns to Craven Cottage as an opponent and I’m sure many fans will still remember Dan clearing crosses in our 2-2 draw against Manchester United years ago. Despite the high-profile departure of Yanic Wildschut on deadline day, Wigan possess enough firepower in the likes of Will Grigg and Omar Bogle, so Fulham must make sure that they are raring to go from the first whistle, as any little mistake will be punished with those two across the frontline.

Thank you for reading, and if you have any feedback – Please feel free to tweet me @ABronsSmith


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