Fulham suffered their first defeat of the season at home against a resilient Birmingham side last Saturday.
But how is it possible that this result was beneficial for the Whites?
The Cottagers glistening start to the season was extinguished by a Clayton Donaldson second half penalty, after the forward saw his first penalty attempt saved by David Button in the first half.
The Whites were on an incredible unbeaten streak going into the international break, which ultimately proves to have arrived at the wrong time for the club. In the Championship the games come thick and fast, I'm sure Jokanovic will be eager to regain momentum and return to winning ways.
The loss to Birmingham proves that there is more to be learnt by the team and between the squad. The club has assembled a new team over the summer with 14 signings, 13 of which being new additions. Having to integrate them all into a system will undoubtedly require bonding time.
Birmingham City personified the nature of the league, whilst revealing some underlying frailties that had been masked by Fulham’s successful honeymoon period. Birmingham came into the game as a renowned defensive team that are difficult to break down, soaking up pressure and attacking opponents on the counter attack.
Fulham learnt the valuable lesson of the unpredictability of the Championship with Birmingham’s counter tactics. If Fulham’s are to return to form they will need to be prepared to face alternative tactic from future opposition.
Fulham were pushed onto the back foot in the early stages of the match, with Birmingham efficiently diffusing Fulham’s explosive right flank. Michael Madl presented possibly his poorest appearance in a Fulham jersey. The Austrian, who has been a welcome addition since his arrival in January, mistimed his attempt to secure a sloppy pass from Tomas Kalas. The centre back’s extended leg took down City’s forward Donaldson. This caused him to see red card after his second yellow card of the afternoon was doled out.
Open minded fans might suggest the weather played a part in the result, but poor concentration and a lack of discipline was Fulham’s own undoing. To concede two penalties was simply inadmissible.
The atmosphere at Craven Cottage was flat and felt deflated, resembling a library for parts of the game. The majority of the noise coming from the section of away supporters, with their inspiring vocal backing, the match seemingly felt like 10 men against an opposing 12.
Slavisa expressed his dismay throughout, as the Serbian remained animated on the byline all game. The head coach is a proud and passionate man, taking sole responsibility for the defeat. He will be looking to bounce back against Burton Albion.
The tenacity the side displayed in the second half, and the ability to play possession football with 10 men brings optimism for future situations.
Aforementioned the dense fixture list provides the possibility of another successful run. This makes the first game back after the break beneficial for learning from mistakes, instead of stalling during a successful spell and losing momentum once more.
Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City were touted as the club's biggest tests this side of the first international break. Maybe the lessons learned against Birmingham can lead to picking up points later against Forest.
It is imperative that the side can regain focus ahead of a gruelling few weeks ahead. Nobody associated with the club ever wants to witness a loss. However this reality check needs to be put behind the team. The team must from it and regain momentum instead of slumping into a losing streak.
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