Author Topic: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 22/05/21...  (Read 1041 times)

Offline whitejc

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 22/05/21...
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2021, 08:53:38 AM »
Neeskens Kebano on his time at Middlesbrough, his one regret, his future and scooter-gate

Neeskens Kebano chats to Teesside Live having made a positive impression during his loan spell at Middlesbrough

There's a hearty laugh down the other end of the phone.

I had to ask, and no doubt the DR Congo international was expecting the question.

"Scooter-gate, Neeskens, what happened on Djed Spence's scooter?"

Kebano has spent the last four months on loan at Middlesbrough from Fulham but had missed the final-day defeat to Wycombe Wanderers. To our surprise, Neil Warnock declared after that they'd caught him mucking around on Spence's scooter around the training ground and believed he'd suffered a hamstring injury in doing so.

“Nothing happened!” he laughed.

“I was on Djed’s scooter around the training ground. But nothing happened.

“We then had training on the Friday and in the training I injured my hamstring.

“That’s when it happened, not on Djed’s scooter, honest.”

That chuckle wouldn't be the last of our half-hour conversation as the Fulham man spoke over the phone - taking time from his break in France where he's visiting family - to reflect on his loan spell at the club. The laughs were indicative of the warmth for which he held the club and his experiences playing for it.

It's a four-month period that in the main he remembers very fondly.

He laughs as he's reminded of the social media videos that saw him nutmegged by Spence, while close friend Yannick Bolasie was always on hand to film him losing those tense games of Uno. Overall, when reflecting on his time at the club, it's that dressing room camaraderie that he'll remember the most.

“The mood of every player in the changing room was excellent," he said.

“I’ve been in many changing rooms and that one was one of the best I have been in.

“We were together. We’d be in early to train until about one, but most of us would not go home until about four because we would just hang around, chatting, laughing, playing cards. It was very good.

“Sometimes when you join a new team you might need a little time to settle yourself and integrate yourself into the group.

“But with this group, after two days I was already feeling like this was home.”

There was a point in the season where that slightly turned.

Following a defeat to QPR Warnock blasted certain members of his squad and talked about cliques behind the scenes. Ashley Fletcher and Kebano's international teammate Britt Assombalonga were ostracised from the squad soon after.

But Kebano insists there were no issues for him as the rest of the group had to just get on with their jobs and respect the manager's decision.

He said: “Football is football. Sometimes decisions are made and you just have to respect them and get on with your job because that’s the way it is.

“Everyone reacted to that in the right way because we stayed focused on the task at hand and on the football.

“We had to respect the decision that the gaffer took and deal with it.”

In Boro's defence, the big decision from Warnock was met with a turnaround in fortunes as his side won the next two and drew with Luton having previously gone five without a win.

Kebano was a key member of Warnock's side in the second half of the season - making 18 appearances, netting once and assisting four.

“I was desperate to get out and play for someone who would trust me," he said.

“I had a chat with Neil Warnock and he told me that he would play me and that he believed in me. It was everything I needed to hear.

“And because some of my friends were there as well, my choice was obvious.

“I really enjoyed my time there.

“It was such a good move for me where I was able to get some game time and just enjoy myself.

“As a footballer, I just always want to play. I know part of being a footballer is that you could be on the bench and not play sometimes, but I just really want to always play, and play a part in doing a job for the team.

“I felt love from the supporters too, even though they couldn’t be at the games, and that was a very big thing for me.”

He felt the love of Warnock too - the Boro boss keeping his promise and giving Kebano the game time he craved so much after a frustrating first half of the campaign at Craven Cottage.

“Neil was excellent," he continued.

“He has eight promotions on his CV and when you reach that amount it’s not luck anymore. You know what you’re doing.

“Playing under such a great manager is always great for your development and under someone like Neil Warnock you’re always learning.

“I really like his character. He doesn’t go all the way around when he has something to tell you, he just tells you straight. I like people like that.

“He is funny as well - really funny. But you have to know when it’s the right time to joke and when is the time to work.

“I was really pleased to play under him.”

Kebano's four months saw him put in some dazzling displays with his trickery and positivity a joy to watch. He quickly became an important member of the team.

One particular moment stands out, though.

Sheffield Wednesday, 1-1, Kebano cross, Josh Coburn with a wonderful headed finish. The 18-year-old striker celebrating a dream home debut with Kebano the provider for what was the second of Boro's three goals that afternoon.

Should Coburn go on to enjoy a sterling Boro career then the Fulham loanee may have written his way into club folklore. Whenever we look back at that first Coburn goal, Kebano will always be there swinging in the cross.

The wideman wanted all praise to be directed towards the young player, however, who he believes has a very bright future.

“That was a special moment," Kebano says.

“Josh is a young player and he was with us training for weeks before that moment.

“I was always talking to him and telling him that football careers go quick so make the most of it.

“I provided the cross for his goal, but all credit to him. He was the one who, first of all, fought off the defender, and then he finished the cross for a very, very good goal.

“So all credit to him for that. Great goal.

“I was there like the big brother to offer him support.

“The goal put him under the spotlight and that was great for him. But it was important to use my experience and remind him that he still has to continue working hard because the hard work he’s been doing is what got him where he is now.

“It was a very special moment for him.”

It wasn't all positive for the 29-year-old on Teesside, however.

The last signing of what, on paper at least, looked a strong January transfer window, Boro appeared well-positioned to continue their excellent work of the first half of the season and challenge for the top six.

That was the clear message to Kebano when he arrived, and it irks him they weren't able to achieve it.

He said: “My only regret in my time at the club is that we weren’t able to make the play-offs.

“I really wanted to help the club achieve that and I really thought we could do it.

“I looked at every player there at the club and all of the talent that the team had and it was more than makeable. We could have definitely done it.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t do it. We lost some key games and threw away some points we shouldn’t have. It’s my only regret of my time there.

“It’s hard to pinpoint why. I know sometimes there’s a desire to find the reasons why, but I honestly couldn’t explain why that happened as it did.

“Maybe we just weren’t ready. I don’t put things on bad luck. When you don’t achieve something it is because you don’t deserve it, and maybe someone else deserved it more than you.

“The goal for the club will be to push again for success next season and to work harder for that.”

Speaking of next season, Kebano's own future remains uncertain for now.

He returns to Fulham this summer with 12 months still to run on his Craven Cottage deal. Their season is not yet over, though their fate is sealed - they will be competing with Boro in the Championship next season.

As things stand a Boro return appears unlikely.

A lot could depend on Fulham's stance on his future. Entering his final year, if they choose to sell then they'd likely look for a price above what Boro could afford to pay.

Kebano knows not what the future holds, but loved his time at Boro and would never say never with regards to one day returning.

He concluded: “It’s strange playing without the fans, but from day one I felt them behind me, supporting me and sending me messages on social media.

“There was always nice words and encouragement from supporters.

“And I see it as well when they write things like, ‘please stay next season’.

“Honestly, it’s just really pleasing for me to know that they really like me, and I always say, you never know what could happen in the future. We will just have to wait and see what happens.

“I would consider every option, especially Middlesbrough if it ever was an option.

“I’m yet to speak to Fulham because their season is not yet over. So I don’t yet know what the plan is going to be for me.”

Whatever the plan, wherever the club, Kebano will be a credit to whoever he plays for next season and beyond.

He thanks me as our interview comes to an end. In reality, for providing such entertainment at a difficult time for many, I should be thanking him.

Offline whitejc

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 22/05/21...
« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2021, 08:54:46 AM »
Fulham to hold talks with last season’s Nottingham Forest loanee Anthony Knockaert

Fulham will hold talks with Anthony Knockaert about his future at the club, as per a report by West London Sport.

Fulham still have the winger under contract for another two years.

Knockaert, who is 29 years old, spent the past season on loan at Nottingham Forest in the Championship.

He moved to the City Ground in October last year and made 34 appearances for the Reds in the league, chipping in with two goals.

Fulham boss, Scott Parker, has said: “They’re conversations that we’ll have with them players who are out on loan (including Knockaert). They’re our players and they are under contract. We need to work out what exactly is the best way to go. That’s a process that will take place in due course.”

The London club are back in the Championship next term and have a big decision to make on the futures of some of their players.

Knockaert moved to England in 2012 and had three years at Leicester City, helping the Foxes gain promotion to the Premier League in his second season.

The Frenchman went to Standard Liege for a brief stint before Brighton and Hove Albion snapped him up in 2015.

He became a key player for the Seagulls and scored 27 goals in 139 games for them.

Fulham came calling in the summer of 2019 and he was part of their side promoted under Parker last year.

However, he was given the green light to leave on loan for Nottingham Forest with his opportunities for game time limited.

Fulham now plan to hold talks over his situation at Craven Cottage.

Offline whitejc

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff - 22/05/21...
« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2021, 08:55:57 AM »
Fulham to have talks with Stefan Johansen with QPR lurking

Fulham will hold talks with Stefan Johansen about his future at the club, as per a report by West London Sport.

Fulham have the midfielder under contract for another season.

Johansen, who is 30 years old, joined QPR on loan in the January transfer window and was a hit with Mark Warburton’s side.

They are keen to sign him on a permanent basis this summer to boost their midfield department for the next campaign.

Fulham plan to have discussions with him as to whether he wants to stay at Craven Cottage until the end of his contract or head out the exit door.

Their boss, Scott Parker, has said: “First and foremost, you want players here who are hungry and want to face the battle that will be next year.
They’re conversations that we’ll have with them players who are out on loan. They’re our players and they are under contract.

“We need to work out what exactly is the best way to go. That’s a process that will take place in due course.”

Johansen joined Fulham in 2016 from Celtic and has since made 136 appearances for the Cottagers in all competitions, chipping in with 21 goals.

He has also had a loan spell away from the London club at West Bromwich Albion.

The Norway international has helped Fulham gain promotion to the Premier League twice before in the past so that experience would come in handy as they eye an immediate return to the Premier League next term.

However, he may fancy sticking around at QPR.