Fulham opened the season last year playing Norwich at home and destroyed the visitors with a convincing 5-0 victory. We also might have seen the most dominating performance Fulham had played in awhile. At that point Fulham were really being built around the play of Mousa Dembele who dazzled all of us with his dribbling and passing ability.
The very next week, Fulham lost 3-2 at Old Trafford, and even though Fulham lost, much of the talk centered around the play of Dembele, and how dominant he was in this match. The very next week he was sold to Spurs and Fulham have not been the same since.
It is not easy to replace a player that has the ability of Dembele, but we are one year removed from his time at Fulham, and it is obvious to many fans that the club still needs a creative central midfielder who can get the ball up front to create scoring opportunities. Who are Fulham built around now?
This takes us to the end of the Transfer Window now, and while Fulham have brought in some nice additions, I still don't see that player to take over that role that Dembele did so well. Scott Parker is going to be an asset for Fulham in central midfield as a defensive midfielder, but he is not the player to create scoring chances that I think Fulham need to partner with him.
Now, Dembele came to Fulham as a striker, but was converted to a central midfielder by Fulham manager Martin Jol, and it obviously worked well. Could there be a player on the current roster that could make that same transition?
Bryan Ruiz I thought last season could be that player to fulfill that role, but Jol has used him mostly as the #10 and out on the wing. Pajtim Kasami is another player that I thought could be a candidate to fulfill that role, but he has played similar roles like Ruiz this season.
Could there be a player in the Academy that they are grooming to play the role in the future? Now, this is possible but again I don't see an Academy player helping with this hole right now.
The last game for Fulham showed some of the issues that Fulham are having without Dembele . The players seem to be playing as individuals rather than as a unit. There has not been that one player really influencing the others, and helping to create scoring opportunities.
Now, to be fair over time I think the roles of the players will be more defined, and we will see more fluid play, but it just seems there is a player missing to really make everything run correctly. A team can be like an engine, and if there is a part not functioning correctly, it can really affect the performance of the car. I think we are seeing that with Fulham with this hole in central midfield.
Fulham can still have a successful season, but I am just curious why a year later there is not that player to replace Dembele?