Although Fulham continued their unbeaten streak with a 2-2 draw against Cardiff at the weekend, a black cloud has decided to drift over Craven Cottage.
In Jokanovic's post-match interview, the Serbian Head Coach seemed to air his frustration at the delay & collapse of the club's transfer dealings this summer.
It would seem that the following comments have sent Fulham fans into chaos:
“It generally depends on this guy [Kline] who is going to sign for us or not,”
“The last decision is in the hands of this man. It is not my business.”
“I’m a little bit disappointed because no one knows who this guy [Kline] is,” “Instead he’s sitting in the directors box.
“I want to take responsibility for how I work with my team and how they perform, but I am not part of the recruitment business. It is in the hands of people who believe they’re more prepared.”
“I’ve lost many players in this process in nine months. In the last two days I lost a few players who he (Kline) believes are not good enough.
“I had an opinion from one of the best managers in the world on one of the players and he believes it is a good signing for us, and I believe that too.
“Craig doesn’t believe it is a good signing for us and this guy is not with us.”
Understandably, the reaction from the Fulham faithful has been quite negative, with some believing that Slavisa will leave the club before the end of the transfer window due to a couple of signings being vetoed.
Don't get me wrong, Craig Kline's mystery presence has baffled me, considering he's only really been mentioned in a few tweets by Tony Khan (Son of Fulham Owner, Shahid Khan).
Fulham & Stats:
So judging by these tweets, Kline's system is something that was implemented in early January to help improve the recruitment process at the club. Now, I can understand the reasons behind looking to improve the process considering some of the questionable signings that were made by Felix Magath & Kit Symons - Mark Fotheringham, Adil Chihi, Dino Fazlic & Jazz Richards to name a few.
Then again, It must be frustrating for Slavisa Jokanovic should an option of his potentially not pass the stats test and then the investment is spent elsewhere. But, I'm confident that all the players we have signed this summer, have been agreed by Jokanovic - at the end of the day, he will be the one managing them on a day to day basis.
The rumoured cancelled deals were for Manchester United duo, Andreas Pereira & James Wilson, which isn't too sad considering their experience. Yes, Pereira looks to be quite the talent, but missing out on James Wilson isn't that saddening in my opinion. Wilson seems to be very 'hit and miss' and although he had some impressive moments on loan at Brighton, questions around his level of fitness and puking on the pitch, definitely tarred his reputation and raised a few question marks around his levels of performance and condition.
Not only that, but I'm pretty certain that this 'stats based recruitment process' isn't new to Slavisa Jokanovic. Remember, this was the same system that signed Michael Madl back in January, and therefore he would have been aware that the summer window would have the same plan in place. I also think, that in the last 48 hours, quite a few people have suddenly forgot how successful our transfer window has been so far. I am very impressed with the level of quality that Fulham have recruited this summer, and these are obviously approved in the stats department too, so let's not jump to the 'doom and gloom' conclusions just yet. I understand that the media and press can quickly influence people, but take a step back and try to see the bigger picture. I, for one am confident that Slavisa will stay at the club, and Fulham will add 3-4 new faces before the end of the window too. Shahid Khan has stated on a number of occasions, that the plan is and always was to back Slavisa this summer, as he is a manager they truly believe in and took a lot of time to bring in - and so far that belief and plan has been kept.
As I have said stated on Twitter - if Slav leaves before the end of the transfer window, I'll do laps of Craven Cottage dressed as the Michael Jackson statue (Hopefully, I don't have to do that, as I'm not too sure how I'd look wearing one glove and a glittery jacket).
Despite, 'Stats Gate' taking up much of the discussion surrounding the club recently, Fulham do have plenty of other deals ongoing, with the club hoping to add up to 4 new players to the squad before the end of the summer. It seems that a €4.5m fee has been agreed with Genk for attacking midfielder, Neeskens Kebano. The former Charleroi midfielder, appeared 48 times last season notching up 12 goals and 7 assists in those games. With Floyd Ayite picking up an injury at the weekend, the arrival of Kebano could happen at just the right time. Considering Denis Odoi's impressive start to the season, another recruit from the Belgian top tier could have the same affect on the side - Well, everyone loves an optimist, right?
In other news, it seems that the reports on our move for Blackburn winger, Ben Marshall have cooled. But, I wouldn't be too surprised if this was a deal that went through at last minute, once Blackburn have finished their squad overhaul. They are expected to sign another 4 players before the end of the window, so I can imagine they'll only allow departures once they have finished their summer spending.
As Jokanovic has stated in his recent interviews, he is hoping to sign another central defender, and with rumours of interest in Sebastian Bassong, we could potentially see a defensive departure before 31st August. Whether or not the incoming defender will be Bassong is another story, but if Jokanovic can secure another top-quality central defender this summer, Fulham would simply improve the strength of the squad.
There are still a few departures that are expected at Craven Cottage though. I suspect the likes of Bodurov, Kavanagh and Grimmer will be looking for new clubs as their game-time this season will be incredibly limited. More than likely, Bodurov will leave on a permanent basis if a potential buyer will agree to match his wage demands, while another League 1 spell probably awaits Jack Grimmer & Sean Kavanagh to gain match experience.
To conclude, I think the stories surrounding Kline's involvement have been blown up by Social Media as this is something the club has implemented back in January, so its not that new for Fulham. If anything, it's just another scouting and recruitment tool that will only help the manager to secure the right quality of players to try and push for promotion within the next 2 years. In terms of reflection, I think as fans we should remain patient and wait for the 1st September before casting any judgement on the squad. It is clear that there is a lot of work to be done between now and the end of the window, but there are deals in the pipeline. I'm confident that as the end of the window approaches more and more clubs will see their offers being accepted as next season's squads start to take shape.
Thank you ever so much for reading, and for your continued support of the blog. Please feel free to tweet your thoughts and feedback to me - @ABronsSmith.