Slavisa Jokanovic inherited a side during December of last year in which the future still remained within the balance. With the club placed under a transfer embargo, the Serbian had no way to stamp his mark on the club.
Fast forward to this summer, Fulham had survived by the skins of their teeth and lived to see the light of Championship football for yet another season. The transfer embargo was lifted and fans began to dream of a light at the end of the tunnel. Jokanovic made his alterations to the club, seeing a huge overhaul to the teams roster. The Head Coach started his pre-season preparations with a depleted squad, making ‘his’ acquisitions through out the duration of the transfer window. However controversy surrounding the style of scouting tactics that had been implemented may have left the Serbian feeling discontent.
Pre-season seemingly continued to proceed according to plan, results began to favour the Whites and the fans had found their faith in the new look Fulham.
The season commenced with an encouraging 1-0 home victory against odds-on favorites Newcastle United, a result that seemed to have galvanized the side and in which promoted the style of play that Jokanovic had introduced.
The Cottagers turned their season opening victory into a successive five game unbeaten run, which in turn found The Cottagers reach as high as second in the table.
Did the 2018 World Cup qualifiers disrupt Fulham's form?
Yes, we can argue the fact that the qualifiers condense an already tight Football League fixture list. Yes, there is also the argument that English football as an organisation should enforce a winter break like their continental counterparts across Europe but this is not my argument.
Are we in fact just out of our depth and in over our heads?
Returning to my previous statement of international football, could Fulham be in the same class as the England national side?
With the England national side I personally feel that us as fans and as a nation maybe have lofty ambitions made from once blissful memories. England as an international force still rates itself among the likes of Germany, Spain, Italy and France. Where as in reality we haven't been at that level for a decade or more.
Fulham also share similarities regarding that aspect, a top flight team for 13 consecutive years with numerous top half finishes and a Europa League final run in 2010.
Many fans will argue that Fulham is still deserved of that Premier League caliber but signs have shown that the club has been in a decline over the past three seasons.
Last season’s near scrape with relegation could have seen London’s oldest professional team crash down to England’s third tier.
Club declines and mirrored management
With League One in mind, Fulham's similarities may not stop just at the England national side.
‘‘Doing a Leeds’’ has in itself become a term used in present day football after their club’s rapid demise throughout the 2000’s.
Leeds United reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in the 2000-01 season. However the club invested heavily in an attempt to regain qualification in the tournament, summing up a large amount of debt in the process and subsequently getting relegated at the end of the 2003-04 season.
Similar to Leeds, Fulham’s own extraordinary run in a European tournament was met with relegation a few seasons later as they were relegated to the second tier at the end of the 2013-14 season. Throughout Fulham's last season in the Premier League, expensive marquee signings were made that ultimately failed to keep the club in the division.
As Leeds reached their final game of the 2006-07 season, the club entered into administration triggering a 10 point penalty. The point deduction ultimately saw the once mighty Leeds United relegated once more into League One.
In similar circumstances last season Fulham were serving a transfer embargo after falling short of FFP ruling, the side narrowly avoided the drop.
Nevertheless that is not where the comparison between the two clubs concludes. Leeds United have had an astounding turn over at the managerial position of the club.
Since 1st February 2012, the Yorkshire based club has seen an astonishing 11 managers in just over four years, an average of three a year. Fulham on the other hand have seen five attain the hot seat since 2013, however not to the severity of Leeds.
Could this subsequently damage the unison of the squad and the club as an organisation in its entirety? Could this effect future acquisitions, management staff and investors? Do they a poorly maintained club with an underlining mismanagement of ownership regimes?
Closed minds and impatient fans
Although the evidence suggests that Fulham's fall from grace may be associated with behind closed doors management issues.
We as fans have to remain open minded and support Slavisa Jokanovic and his team. On the back of a torrid season last term, the team has had a total of 36 departures and arrivals this summer. What we are currently witnessing is a team in repair.
The positives to take from this is that Jokanovic is aware of the task at hand and is making alterations he sees fit to fortune Fulham's future.
We as fans are quick to jump at the first sight of negativity creeping in, I too am disappointed with the teams reversal in fortunes come the international break.
Fulham's attempt to become a big fish in a small pond has teams adapting their playing styles to nullify Slavisa’s.
We have to allow time to the players to adapt to the playing style, whilst Jokanovic learns how utilize the players to the best of there ability too.
For the players moving to London from abroad, not only do they have the task of adjusting to a new team but English football as a whole and adapting to a foreign culture.
It is easy to say that professionals get paid a small fortune a week to play the game but adjusting to new surroundings and/or languages off field can impact a players form on pitch.
As a club, Fulham are amidst a learning curb and patience may be in order for us as fans. Considering we were among a relegation battle last season and lost our main strike force this summer, this season could of started very dismal.
If at the start of the season somebody offered you a five game unbeaten streak, any Fulham would of bitten their hand of at the chance.
Lets not get caught up with emotion and do what we do best, rally our troops and become the 12th man on the pitch and a reason for the players to fight for our beloved club.
I am always interested to hear your opinions.
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