Seven weeks after Kit Symons was predictably dismissed for not meeting the targets set Fulham finally appointed a head coach. In that period not one win was recorded and a transfer embargo imposed for falling foul of the Financial Fair Play rules. There was was a notable absence of club communication so a feeling of disquiet was turning to unrest.
The new Head Coach Salisia Jokanotic comes with good credentials. He guided Watford to automatic promotion. I asked a Watford supporter friend who is highly knowledgeable on football for his assessment. He said he was an astute coach, able to change tactics during a match who works well with existing coaches. He needed to be at Watford as they had 3 before him in a month so he seems ideally suited as Fulham who only appointed a temporary Head Coach, Stuart Gray, a few weeks ago.
Although the Chairman in his message to supporters believed the job would attract the best applicants it would appear that the latter expected more autonomy and not “have to work with Mike Rigg” the Chief Soccer Officer. Jokanotic seems more flexible as under the Pozzo family that own Udinese and Granada as well as Watford the Head Coach model is applied. Besides transfer dealings are not an issue given the embargo.
It would also seem that the owner believes that after a substantial investment in players he should have a team capable of challenging for promotion not, as is now the case, fighting off relegation fears. The point was made on one Fulham message board that most of these players were acquired from clubs lower than Fulham in the Championship and not ones who challenged for honours, so the squad might not be as accomplished as they imagine: we have yet to beat a top six side and the loss to Derby is typical of defeats to Brighton, Hull, Ipswich and Burnley. Our defence is the second worst in the division and it’s only the goals of Ross McCormack that have staved off a position in the bottom three. Many are cynical that the analytics beloved by Americans in sport actually work in English soccer.
It’s all a depressing picture. Another post pulled apart the club explanation of the FPP breach whilst another questioned why, when there have been recent planning consents and constraints, there has been no official explanation regarding the new devoted to the Riverside stand. Mohammed Al Fayed had a great empathy and understanding of fans and warned the new owner to keep the fans onside. There is a high level of dissatisfaction from supporters who are generally mild. Speaking to Stefano he said that if the same happened at Fiorentina there would be banners and demonstrations firmly reminding the owner that the club has descended from European finalist to the depths of the Championship. I can only hope that tonight against Rothernham a new page is turned. Relegation must be banished and the foundations laid for more stability and a better season next term.