It seems quite some time since we opened the season against newly promoted Fulham, so TEB had a chat with popular Fulham fan group Fulhamish Pod to find out their views on the season so far and the fixture at Selhurst.
Q. How has the season been for Fulham so far?
Disappointing, to say the least. Coming into the season with so much optimism, with so many new signings who we thought would fit; everything seemed like it was all set for a season kicking on into the promised land. Safe to say it hasn’t gone to plan. Whilst Tuesday’s win gave a glimmer of hope that salvation might be achieved, it’s going to take an almighty effort to keep Fulham in the Premier League. That’s not something we envisaged on that first day of the season at the Cottage.
Q. What did you make of the game at Craven Cottage on the opening day of the season?
It seems a long time ago now, but I remember leaving that game somewhat optimistic. We’d lost, yes, but because of naivety rather than poor play, and we were denied a stonewall penalty at 1-0 down. I thought it was a fairly even game and remember thinking that as long as we played like that, we’d be alright. It soon went downhill.
Q. What are your hopes for the rest of the season?
The second half against Brighton was almost vintage Fulham. Dominant on the ball, creative, looking to get the full-backs in. If we can play like that until the end of the season, including the fight and passion shown by the players, it would go a long way to restoring some pride and would give us the best possible shot of staying up.
Q. Did the fans fully support the managerial change and how has Claudio Ranieri done since coming in?
It was a hard decision to make, and a lot of people miss Slavisa. Stylistically, I do as well, although I appreciate that given the results at that point and the fact that the manager hadn’t signed a new contract, that it was probably the right decision to let Jokanovic go, but replacing him with a manager with a polar opposite style still jars. Ranieri has done okay, getting more points on the board, but his marginalisation of Ryan Sessegnon and Tom Cairney hasn’t endeared him to the Fulham faithful.
Q. Who has been the stand out Fulham player?
Aleksandar Mitrovic. In a season of almost constant lows, the big Serb has been a leader on and off the field and is fast on his way to becoming a Fulham legend. If Fulham survive, Mitrovic will have had about 90% to do with it.
Q. Do Fulham have any needs ahead of the transfer window and how active do you think they will be?
We desperately need a centre-half and some cover at right back. Given the ongoing talks with Scott Dann, I think he could be a player that we bring in to shore up a back line which is still leaky. I think two or three will come through the door before the window slams shut.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player for Fulham to sign in January, who would it be and why?
Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Whilst the obvious options obviously appeal, Fulham are so reliant on their full-backs to do the damage and AWB looks a world class prospect. Think he would suit how important the role is in Fulham’s system. Wonderful footballer.
Q. Name one Fulham player and one Palace player that you believe will be a threat in this game?
The aforementioned Mitrovic aside, Ryan Babel has had a really positive impact since signing from Besiktas in January. His direct nature and physical presence compliments Mitrovic and it’s no surprise that since his introduction, performances have improved. At the other end, it’s hard to look past Wilf. Whilst he hasn’t been quite at his frightening best of late, the ability and talent he has is scary and if he turns up on Saturday, the Fulham defence are in for a long afternoon.
Q. Perhaps you could share your opinions on Palace so far this season?
It’s been a strange season for a Hodgson side – weak at home and strong away seems like a weird thing to happen but it seems to be just about working. The big scorelines against City, Liverpool and Tottenham look great on paper, but realistically Palace need to be winning games like Saturday if they’re truly to move clear of the relegation scrap.
Q. Your prediction?
I’m going to be bold and say that Fulham will thrive off the back of the Brighton result. 2-1 Fulham.