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2018 Fulham Players Profiles: Tom Cairney

Yep, it’s time to talk about the captain and club legend

Aston Villa v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images

Basic Stats: 37 appearances | 33 starts | 4 substitutions | 3,066 minutes | 6 goals | 5 assists

Economics: £3.78 million Transfer Fee | Signed: 2015 | Contract Ends in Summer 2023 plus a 1-year option

Stats by Seven-Game sequences

All data from whoscored.com

WhoScored Rating Chart

All data from whoscored.com

Radar

All data from whoscored.com

Goals vs. Expected Goals

From experimental361.com

Transfermarket Value Chart

From transfermarket.co.uk

CC Thoughts: Countless stories have already been written about Tom Cairney and his impact to Fulham’s rise back to the Premier League. His lone goal in the playoff final sealed his legendary status with the club. Like the club’s standing in English football during his tenure, Tom Cairney’s 2017/18 got off to a rocky start before finishing strong.

Before the campaign even kicked off, the Fulham captain had to be substituted early due to a knee injury in a preseason friendly against Wolfsburg. What ensued was months of uncertainty with regards to how much his health impacted his form. Either way, Fulham started off poorly as a result of Cairney not being able to provide the same attacking spark like he did when he posted 13 goals and 10 assists in 2016/17.

That particular season cemented himself as the best midfielder in the Championship and people wanted to know what he could do for an encore. Sadly, it was a hint of a step back for Cairney, but by the time March came around, he was back to his very best. During that period, the former Blackburn and Hull man scored five of his six goals and 32 of his 65 shots in just 14 games. Who knows what might have been for 2017/18 if Cairney were to maintain that level of form throughout a much longer period of the season.

Either way, his value in football hasn’t wavered and will now be coming into 2018/19 as THE one man that will carry Fulham towards long-term stability in the Premier League. The club certainly know this by giving him a five-year contract extension that will see him at Craven Cottage until 2023. The question now will be if at 27, and with so many Championship minutes on his odometer, Cairney can be able to do the exact same things he did in the Premier League.

After signing Jean Michael Seri, there is no denying that the midfield will still be Fulham’s strength coming into next season and Cairney is a massive part in it. Have that unit become one of the best in England and a top ten finish is imminent. Anything worse could be nervous times to all the supporters hoping that this won’t be just a one-year cameo appearance in the top flight. But no matter what happens, everyone will be looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

Key Stat: 2.47 successful dribbles per 90 minutes. Despite all the nagging knee injuries this season, 2017/18 surprisingly became Cairney’s best season when showing off his mobility. We all know what he can do with the ball and how well he can spray passes to, but never did we envision him being that much of a marauding midfield while gathering the ball from Fulham’s defense. His 84 total dribbles were tops in the club ahead of Ryan Fredericks’ 73 while Kevin McDonald’s 1.01 successful dribbles per 90 minutes is the next best rate among mainstay Fulham midfielders. Yeah, Cairney still finds a way to be among the most dominant midfielders in England even when he is not at his best.

Your thoughts: So we finally get to see Tom Cairney in his rightful place: attempting to boss a midfield in England’s top flight. Do you see him being able to go toe-to-toe with the best in the world? Or are there holes in Cairney’s game that he has to fix for him to last in the Premier League? Is he even good enough to carry Fulham through in the next handful of seasons or do you think someone else will have to step up or come in and take the mantle from him? Let us know what you think of the midfield maestro in the comment section below.