Dejagah came to Fulham at the end of August from Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, and he is a 26 year old right winger. He did not play right away, as he was dealing with an injury when he joined the club. By the new year, Dejagah was starting to make an impact, and he was improving almost every match.
You could see the chemistry really building down the right side with him and right back Sascha Riether, who he played with a few years back at Wolfsburg. You saw the partnership totally on display in the upset of Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on March 17th, as the two were instrumental in setting up Dimitar Berbatov with the goal that gave Fulham the victory.
The Spurs victory looked like the positive turning point for the Fulham season, and it looked possible they would end the season very strong. However, in the very next match, Fulham took an early lead against QPR and it looked like they would be continuing their fine form. However, in the middle of the first half, Dejagah got injured, and was replaced for the rest of the match.
When Dejagah went off, you could see a change with the team, and honestly they barely held on for a crucial 3-2 victory. At the time, I was thinking Fulham could overcome this injury to Dejagah. Well, unfortunately Dejagah's injury was season ending, and did have a huge impact on the rest of the season.
Fulham have only gained four points since Dejagah went down, and that also includes the match where he played and got injured in. The end of the season has gone downhill seriously without Dejagah.
Now, my point is not that Dejagah is a great player, because he is not at an elite level. However, he has become a key player that really started to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. Fulham have struggled to score goals this season, and I think it got even harder to score without Dejagah, and his partnership on the right side with Riether.
My point is that Fulham this season have shown very little ability to overcome adversity. Whenever there has been an issue with a player, there hasn't been someone else their to pick up the slack.
One of the wonderful qualities of the 2009-2010 Fulham team that got to the Europa League Final was their ability to fight through adversity, and overcome problems. How many times did that club come from behind?
A huge problem for the 2012-2013 team has been the lack of depth. When they have had an injury or a suspension, they have really struggled to find the right person to step up when needed.
I don't think it is a coincidence either that every down-turn this season has involved a key player not being available. It started with the suspension to Brede Hangeland for three matches which seriously caused so many problems in future matches. Steve Sidwell has gotten two red cards back to back, and not having his toughness in central midfield has been a serious issue at the end of the season along with the injury to Dejagah.
The loss of Dejagah to injury exposed the fragile state of Fulham this season, and really started the last downturn in these final matches. However, the positive that could come out of this poor ending could be the needs for Fulham for next season.
Fulham really need to strengthen in all levels of the pitch, and maybe this last downturn will force serious moves to be made to finally push Fulham forward. Fulham are in survival mode, and it does not have to be that way. They need to take a strong look at this club for next season so they don't end up in the same or worse situation.
It has been a painful end to the Fulham season. My hope is that the curse of Ashkan Dejagah becomes a blessing in disguise, and forces real change for Fulham Football Club in the future.