In this Special Fulham FC Podcast, we are once again joined by Owen Smith and Gerry Pimm, as we discuss the 2-1 Playoff Final win over Brentford. The show covers the following topics:
Scott Parker’s Tactics – spot on?
First half breakdown v Brentford
Second half breakdown v Brentford
Extra time breakdown v Brentford
Were Brentford to overconfident?
A look into the Fulham Brentford rivalry
Man of the match v Brentford
Thoughts on Parker after Promotion?
Who will stay and who will go?
Anguissa & Seri, do we bring them back?
What Backing does Parker Need now?
Premier League thoughts and predictions.
A message from Shahid Kahn.
This show is about an hour and 11 mins long, but some really good stuff is covered, and well worth the listen. As well as covering the 2-1 win over Brentford, we go into other important stuff that is required for promotion, and our assault on the Premier League – Happy listening
By Alex Bowmer | Twitter: @AlexJamesBowmer | Web: alexanderjamesbowmer.contently.com
The dust has now settled on another regular season in the Championship. While the football was often underwhelming, Fulham finish the campaign on a seven-match unbeaten run, with four of those performances yielding clean sheets. Here, Friends of Fulham casts an eye over some of the key statistics from Scott Parker’s first full season in charge and compares them to the last two years the Whites enjoyed in the second tier under Slaviša Jokanović.
Over-reliance on Mitro
An obvious point, but the statistics are stark. The prolific Serbian bagged 26 league goals in 2019/20 to claim the Championship Golden Boot. This tally represented a mammoth 41% of Fulham’s goals during the campaign.
To put this in context, Ryan Sessegnon was our top scorer in the league back in 2017/18, netting 15 goals. However, this made up only 19% of Fulham’s total, as the team netted 79 times over the course of the campaign compared to 64 occasions this season.
The previous season saw Tom Cairney, Stefan Johansen and Chris Martin make it to double figures, with Floyd Ayité and Sone Aluko not far behind. Cairney was our top marksman with 12 league goals, just 14% of our 85 goals that campaign.
Cairney was the next-highest goalscorer this term after Mitrović with eight goals, while new signings Ivan Cavaleiro and Bobby Decordova-Reid each scored six times. A new striker or two (if Mitrović leaves) is a must, whether we go up or not.
Poor form against struggling sides
This has been a theme under both Jokanović and Parker. Simply put, our record against teams lower than us in the table at the time we played them has stopped us getting promoted.
Our results in 2016/17 – 14 wins, 11 draws and seven defeats – meant average of just 1.66 points against these opponents. Disappointing single-goal losses against Birmingham and just one point against QPR in two encounters illustrate our struggles.
We actually fared against teams above us in the league that season, with the highlights coming in thumping wins over Huddersfield, as well as a 5-0 thrashing of Reading and a dominant display against Newcastle at St. James’ Park, where Ryan Sessegnon announced himself with a stunning double.
Overall, we finished the campaign with eight wins, three draws and three losses against these better-placed sides, with an average points tally of 1.93.
Our record in matches where we were the favourites certainly improved in 2017/18, as we upped our points average against these sides to 1.93. Nevertheless, disappointing defeats to Burton and Sunderland impeded our progress. Our record against ‘better’ sides produced an average points tally of 1.88.
This season has seen our record in matches we should win drop back slightly, with an average points total of 1.82. Shock three-goal home defeats against Barnsley and Hull spring to mind, along with a disappointing loss against Reading at the Cottage and a humiliation at Stoke in October. Our record against higher-placed teams this season was our worst of the three campaigns, producing an average of 1.50 points.
It should be achievable to break the two points-per-game barrier when playing sides lower down the league. If we had hit that mark in the last two Championship campaigns, we would have avoided the excruciating play-off tension.
Powers of recovery
One of the things you get used to if you’ve watched Fulham long enough is the squandering of leads and conceding late goals.
This season was refreshing in this respect, with just two late goals seeing us drop points – against West Brom and Sheffield Wednesday on successive September weekends. The only other time we ended up dropping points after leading was away at Millwall in February, and that came courtesy of an incorrect offside call.
We have also managed two turnarounds against QPR, as well as gritty draws at Derby and Bristol City.
In total, we lost only six points after taking the lead, but gained 12 points after letting in first. Our football under Jokanović was much more expansive, and this is reflected in the unpredictability of matches.
In 2016/17, we lost 16 points after scoring first, but gained 23 points when the opposition drew first blood. Comeback wins over Barnsley, Rotherham, Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday saw us score 15 goals.
Despite 2017/18 seeing us achieve our highest points total of the three seasons (88), we were very susceptible to dropping leads, especially during a patchy first half of the season. In total, we lost 19 points after scoring the first goal. Brentford were our nemesis, as we dropped five points against the Bees, while also conceding late against Norwich, Middlesbrough and Cardiff and throwing away a two-goal lead against QPR.
By contrast, we gained 16 points after going 1-0 down, most notably during wins over Ipswich (4-1), Sheffield United (4-5) and Barnsley (1-3).
While we did not gain as many points from losing positions compared to the season before, this can be explained by the fact that during our 23-game unbeaten run, we took the lead in 20 of those matches, going on to win 16 of those games and draw four.
Parker’s Fulham have certainly not thrilled the fans in the same way Jokanović’s teams did and the current crop don’t play with the sort of dominance exhibited a few years ago.
Clearly, at least one new goalscorer needs to be found and the defence needs to tighten up, as we have conceded 48 goals this league campaign, marginally higher than 2017/18 (46).
However, we are in a good run of form and the class of 2019/20 have taken all three points in 22 of the 25 games in which they’ve broken the deadlock.
This Fulham side has gone under the radar, but they can replicate the heroics of two years ago and emerge victorious at Wembley.
Big thank you to Alex Bowmer for taking the time to write this article for Friends of Fulham, and make sure you give him a follow on Twitter @AlexJamesBowmer
Please also visit the Friends of Fulham Forum, where you can read more interesting topics on Fulham
In this episode of FOF’cast, we are joined by Fulham fan Gerry Pimm, who is also secretary for the Fulham Supporters Trust, and Fulham fan Own Smith, who is also Treasurer for the Fulham Supporters Trust, and Friends of Fulham member.
In this show, we discuss the 2-0 win over Cardiff City. The return of Aleksandar Mitrović. Harrison Reed’s Man of Match. What’s happened to Tim Ream this season? Does Tom Cairney’s absence improve the team? The permanent signing of Anthony Knockhaert. Tuesdays important game v WBA, plus score prediction.
Make sure you also check out the Friends of Fulham Forum for all the latest Fulham gossip
With enough time on my hands lately, I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and watch both the Sunderland ‘Til I Die episodes, and, must admit, that even if you aren’t a Sunderland fan, it’s a very good watch!
Not only does the series give a good insight into how poor ownership can kill a football club, it also gives a good insight as to how it affects a whole community, who rely heavily on their football.
One thing that did spring to mind, is that Sunderland fans are one of the most passionate in the country, and it was sad to watch their demise from the Premier League, to the Championship, and then to League One in consecutive seasons.
Don’t get me wrong, Sunderland as a Club are as much to blame for this, simply because of the business model they put in place, it wasn’t sustainable, and, when the owner lost interest, they were only heading one way.
The new ownership now see the value in Sunderland, they recognise the core values of the club, they understand they need to be self-sufficient, but, for me, I feel the long term damage will make this task a lot harder for them.
Being a Fulham fan, I’ve experienced the high’s and lows of the Club, from the dark days of nearly becoming Fulham Park Rangers, to a wonderful Europa League Final in Hamburg, to the most recent Playoff Final at Wembley.
One thing that does always stick in my mind though, is that Fulham could quite easily end up like Sunderland, not saying that we would, but the potential is there if our current owners lose interest.
Shad Khan is a very wealthy man, he’s worth in region of 9.6B USD, but, he never seems to be at the fore-front of Fulham, with other ventures being more important to him, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Granted, his son Tony Khan has been more hands-on with Fulham over the seasons, has made the odd mistake here and there, but even he has taken a step back lately, to concentrate on his All Elite Wrestling franchise.
The good news thought, is that Riverside Development has now pushed ahead, showing a level of long-term commitment from the Khans, at the cost of 100M+, which has been a relief to a lot of FFC fans.
Not only does this increase the capacity at Craven Cottage, it also increases the in / out of matchday revenues, and certainly adds to the future price of Fulham Football Club.
Having run at a significant loss since our recent relegation from the Premier League, my main concern, is how long Fulham can be sustain this, and how long will Kahn’s continue to invest?
Granted, they are doing a wonderful job right now, but, if circumstances change, then what? What is the long-term strategy of the Kahn’s, and what do they put in place to ensure we don’t end up like Sunderland.
I’d like to think these current owners are here for the life-time of the Club, but, with the likes of Chelsea just down the road, and other big London Clubs like Arsenal, Spurs just around the corner, at what levels are the Kahn’s willing to go with Fulham?
Make sure you check some other interesting articles over at the Friends of Fulham Forum: