Fulham season preview: Why Slavisa Jokanovic can aim high
Summer signings boost Slavisa Jokanovic's side
Last Updated: 06/08/18 12:23pm
With Fulham having bought well this summer, expect Slavisa Jokanovic's side to impress...
Last season: 3rd (Championship)
Title odds: 1000/1
Relegation odds: 15/8
Major ins: Aleksandar Mitrovic, Alfie Mawson, Andre Schurrle, Jean Michael Seri, Fabri, Maxime le Marchand
Major outs: Ryan Fredericks, David Button, Joe Felix, Djed Spence, Daniel Martin, George Williams, Isaac Pearce
Key player: Tom Cairney
It is only nine months ago that the police were called to Fulham's training ground at the request of then assistant director of football operations Craig Kline following a dispute. The fraught mood at the club did not appear conducive to success. Fulham were 16th. Now they are basking in the glory of promotion and building on it with a successful transfer window.
Alfie Mawson is the latest arrival, signing a five-year deal despite interest from more established clubs, but getting World Cup winner Andre Schurrle - still only 27 - was even more impressive. Jean-Michael Seri might be the pick of the bunch, the highly-rated midfielder bringing class and vision to the team. He looks some coup for the Cottagers.
Perhaps the best thing about Seri's signing is that he is a perfect fit for the passing game that Slavisa Jokanovic prefers at Fulham. This is a team that picked up more points than Wolves over the second half of last season, keeping possession of the ball better than anyone else in the Championship. Seri will only help with that.
The hope is that he can bring the best out of club captain Tom Cairney, the hero against Aston Villa at Wembley, while Ryan Sessegnon is only going to improve further. Aleksandar Mitrovic will get service and after scoring 12 goals in 17 games to fire Fulham to promotion, expect him to take advantage. He will want to show his best form in the top flight.
Jokanovic too has had to wait to do that. Although he also won promotion with Watford, he was denied his shot at the Premier League the following season and there were times when he must have feared his Fulham opportunity would not work out either. But with Kline gone and key players stepping up, a 19-game unbeaten run turned everything around.
Huddersfield showed that promotion via the play-offs need not prevent a team from making a success of it and Fulham are rather better placed to make a swift impact. There is a good blend of youth and experience, they are well coached, and are now odds on to stay up. The odds of that happening would have been rather longer when the police turned up late last year.
Paul Merson's verdict
They've had a go. They've done what Huddersfield did and want to stay in the Premier League. Bringing in Aleksandar Mitrovic, he suits the way they play and did well last season but I think it's a lot of money for someone who didn't score many at Newcastle.
I think they'll be alright, they play a Premier League way, get the ball down and pass it, and I think they'll be fine, I really do. Mitrovic will get chances, they've brought in Alfie Mawson who's a good player - there was talk of him going to bigger clubs than Fulham, and if things do start to slide he's been there and can be one of those to keep the dressing room's spirits up.
I don't think they'll change the way they play either, they're good passers. If you can get it down and pass it, that's fine. It's when you try to play that way and you can't pass it that you need to worry. It'll be interesting to see how Ryan Sessegnon gets on too after no-one came in for him.
Have your say
Comment below to get involved in the debate, but please adhere to our House Rules. If you wish to report any comment, simply click on the down arrow next to the offending comment and click 'Report'.