Author Topic: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...  (Read 694 times)

Offline whitejc

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Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« on: June 09, 2021, 08:54:07 AM »

Slavisa Jokanovic backed as Sheffield United plot swift Premier League return

Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis speaks exclusively to Sky Sports about Jokanovic appointment and Blades' burning ambition to bounce back; club plotting Premier League return with promotion specialist through 'evolution not revolution'

It took 75 days in the end; agonising days as Sheffield United reeled from a messy managerial divorce and the reality of relegation, anxious ones as supporters and staff yearned for closure and clarity.

Even on the eve of their Premier League farewell, interim boss Paul Heckingbottom had repeated his call for a "quick decision" after a season that that had sapped minds as well as bodies at Bramall Lane.

But amid the clamour, the man tasked with securing a permanent successor to Chris Wilder was calm. Four days after bowing out with a 1-0 win over Burnley, Slavisa Jokanovic's return to English football was confirmed, sealed over lunch in Dubai with the club's owner Prince Abdullah.

It was a protracted pursuit but a worthwhile one for a promotion specialist, believes the club's chief executive, Stephen Bettis.

"At times, I think the supporters were wondering, 'What are they doing? Why aren't they making an announcement?' but in the background, we were all working hard," Bettis tells Sky Sports over a video call in an exclusive interview following the Serb's appointment.

"The impact that Chris had, they're big shoes to fill, there's no doubt about that. We didn't want to make a rushed decision.

"The key thing for us was to get someone in straight after the season finished so that we could get preparing for next season, so that the new manager had time to work with the players and be involved in recruitment to ensure we're hitting the ground running.

"It took time but I think we've shown our intent, our ambition to come straight back up."

Jokanovic, who will work the final weeks of his contract at Al-Gharafa in Qatar before plotting a repeat of his Championship trick with Watford and Fulham, was "always in the running," according to Bettis, though a five-man shortlist for the job - formulated from "20 to 30 good candidates on paper" - also included Heckingbottom.

The club's U23 boss had stepped into the breach following Wilder's acrimonious exit in March and Bettis admits the club considered an internal solution: "Paul taking charge for the remainder of the season was always our first choice - to give us time to recruit the right man but also to give Paul the opportunity to see how he got on."

Despite a 5-0 pummelling by Leicester in his first game in temporary charge, players punch-drunk shorn of their leader, Heckingbottom would finish a long ill-fated campaign with three wins from the club's final six games.

He would play counsellor as well as caretaker, providing stability and a glimpse of the future, but only an appointment with clout could really stand a chance of replacing the revered former boss whose fingerprints in every corner of the club propelled it to the Premier League.

Only a man with promotion pedigree would act in the eyes of many supporters as a marker of legitimacy and credibility for the Prince Abdullah regime. Only a fresh start was likely to help the healing process and reset the mood.

"You need a strong character after Chris," Bettis, who helped appoint Wilder back in 2016 and was persuaded by him to return in 2018 after a brief hiatus, admits. "Slav's definitely that and I think he'll show it when he gets here and starts working with the players.

"His track record with Fulham and Watford shows he can get clubs out of the Championship, which is absolutely our desire for next season, he's very confident in his own abilities, and when you really start getting into the detail of his philosophy; the way he plays, the way he wants to incorporate young players, that was a big plus for us."

The Jokanovic way certainly left an impression on Bramall Lane on a November night in 2017 when his Fulham side edged a nine-goal epic that left shattered players from both sides prone on the turf.

There will be appetite for more of the same in an attacking sense after an impotent campaign that yielded just 20 goals. Supporters can expect possession-based, counter-pressing football - "Press after loss, press after loss," was how midfielder Kevin McDonald once summed it up at Craven Cottage - and, according to the man himself during a short club interview that drew delight on social media: aggressivity.

But there is unlikely to be a revolution in the red half of the city just yet.

Bettis indicates that Jokanovic will seek to retain, if adapt, the unique 3-5-2 system deployed by his predecessor.

"A lot of how Slav wants to play and work aligns with our current squad. We've tried to incorporate Chris's style of football as a club - it's pointless the academy playing a completely different way - and we've tried to ensure a culture and football philosophy going forward. We think there's a lot of synergy with Slav.

"It's evolution over revolution. I just don't think revolutions work in the short-term in football.

"If you blow it up, clear out all your key players and totally change the team's philosophy and identity, it takes two, three, four years to come to fruition. You don't get that luxury in football, especially in our position where we've been relegated and we have the desire to go straight back.

"We have to put faith in a lot of the players who have served us so well. You look at certain clubs who get relegated from the Premier League and half of the squad immediately wants to leave. Obviously, everyone wants to play top-tier football but a lot of our players have come through the journey and know what it takes to get out of the Championship. I think that will stand us in really good stead."

Jokanovic will start at Sheffield United on July 1 but work is already happening in earnest behind the scenes. Sky Sports understands plans are underway to make two Spanish appointments to his backroom staff, while the Serb is understood to have taken part last week in a three-hour video call to firm up summer recruitment, with the loan market a focus.


    It's evolution over revolution. If you blow it up, clear out all your key players and totally change the team's philosophy and identity, it takes two, three, four years to come to fruition. We have the desire to go straight back.
    Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis

Bettis, through his accountant's eye, admits there will be "a level of balancing the books - there's got to be, we've been relegated from the Premier League." But there is enough optimism amid the numbers for him to insist there remains in the boardroom "100 per cent commitment to keeping the core squad".

Despite the ravages of coronavirus on balance sheets, United posted a profit of £17.5m. Relegation clauses will mean wage cuts, Sky Sports understands, of up to 50 per cent. The significant drop in broadcast income will be cushioned by an initial parachute payment of around £42m. Jokanovic, Bettis confirms, will have resources in the forthcoming window.

"That's what parachute payments are there for, to help with that hangover. All of our players have relegation clauses in their contracts. That puts us in a stronger position financially.

"We don't want any of our players to leave, simple as that. We just want to strengthen. There has to be sustainability, it's not boom or bust. But Slav does have the ability to bring players in this window and he knows that.

"We've successfully used the loan market at times with the likes of Dean Henderson and Ethan Ampadu and we'll look at utilising that as well.

"One of the real positives over the last few years is the relationships we've made with other Premier League clubs. I think we're tried and trusted in terms in terms of duty of care and opportunity to develop; I think clubs will be open to giving some of their players to us next season."

There will be a shift towards a more collaborative approach to recruitment.

Wilder's recruitment chief, Paul Mitchell, has been retained and will work closely with head of football administration, Carl Shieber and Jan Van Winckel, club director and long-term football advisor to Prince Abdullah. Wilder is understood to have increasingly felt his remit squeezed in a more continental model but Bettis insists the new manager will still have "the final say".

"Talking to Slavisa, at other clubs, he's not had much involvement in recruitment and we don't want that. We want him involved but we want our voices to be heard.

"I think Slav will find he'll have a lot more involvement here than he has had at times previously. He's not pushing for that - I think he would have accepted it if we'd have wanted to bring in a director of football and been fine with it but we don't; we want to work with the people we've got. Paul is key and we want Slav's input and knowledge.

"Slav might tell us - as an example - we want a left-back with these attributes. Paul will go away and find maybe five players he thinks meet the criteria. Then we'll all sit and analyse those. We want to work in a way where we highlight two or three options but Slav, ultimately, will have the final say on which one we go for."

The hope is that Jokanovic, who handed first-team debuts at Fulham to Harvey Elliott and Ryan Sessegnon at 15 and 16 respectively, will further help a new crop of promising academy youngsters realise their potential.

Antwoine Hackford, Iliman Ndiaye, Daniel Jebbison and Femi Seriki have all made first-team debuts since the turn of the year for a club that has nurtured a cluster of stars hoping for Euro 2020 success with England this summer. Jebbison, a memorable matchwinner at Everton, and wing-back Seriki were part of the side that finished as Professional Development League North champions and are two of five teenagers to recently sign their first professional contracts.

"It's key for us as well that we incorporate our academy players," Bettis says. "We've not had as many players as we'd like breaking through but I think the latter part of the season has really opened the door.

"Everyone knows the history of our academy and it's reignited our love for it; we've seen the potential there. It's made everyone excited again about it.

"I think we've got four or five at least who we really think can break through and make an impact. If they're good enough, let's play them. If they don't break through, they don't, but it's about a pathway and that's totally a part of Slav's thinking for the future."


    Everyone knows the history of our academy, We've seen the potential there. It's made everyone excited again. I think we've got four or five at least who we really think can break through and make an impact.
    Stephen Bettis on the Blades' academy youngsters

An academy restructure instigated by Wilder in 2019 with Jack Lester's arrival and Heckingbottom's the following summer is bearing fruit but Bettis concedes that the club is still playing catch-up, their Cat 2 academy status leaving them vulnerable to predators in far flashier habitats than the working men's club repurposed as a training ground. Wilder had detailed his drive to improve infrastructure in a Sky Sports interview back in 2019 but lamented a lack of progress.

"The issue with Cat 2 is that we can get players taken from us by Cat 1 and it's really frustrating at times," Bettis says. "We know we need to be Cat 1 to compete. But you need a certain level of facilities - we need more pitches - and we're struggling to incorporate that into the land we have at Shirecliffe.

"[Cat 1] is in the plans but I think it's going to be a couple of years at least before we get to the point where we have it. But the feeling we have got over the last few months has encouraged our owner even more."

Sky Sports understands the club has agreed a deal to buy two plots of green belt land at a former RAF base, Norton Aerodrome, but is still waiting on the green light to acquire an adjoining area owned by Sheffield City Council, with demolition work on that site having been delayed by the pandemic.

Strategic investment to develop players and a long-term mindset has never felt more vital in the hapless fight for so many clubs without benevolent billionaires, swimming against the financial tide.

"I think Prince Abdullah has always been clear in terms of the way he wants to try and do this," Bettis responds when asked whether direct investment is likely to be sought in the future.

"It's always to try and be sustainable and do it from internal resources. I don't think there should be responsibility just on an owner to throw hundreds of millions at it. It doesn't always work. Our model is to run the club as a sustainable business and I don't think at times that's hurt us."

He points to a net spend over more than £50m in last summer's transfer window, the club's coffers boosted by their striking ninth-placed finish in 2019/20, and believes there has been a cultural change at the club since his permanent appointment in 2016 following an advisory spell.

A relatively modest wage-turnover ratio at around 54 per cent prompted respected football finance blogger Swiss Ramble to suggest "arguably the club played it too safe" in a verdict on their most recent accounts, while Wilder is understood to have wanted to push the wage structure for proven performers over potential.

But Bettis believes the club is acting shrewdly in an uncertain climate.

"When I came in, the club was being run more like a charity than a business. I think we've changed the outside view of us in the last five years. Chris was a big part of that too; he never wanted to overpay players and agents. Am I ashamed that we get good deals done and we don't throw money away? No, I'm proud of it actually.

"There are horror stories of teams paying £70k, 80k a week in the Championship. I'm a boring accountant! That's a recipe for disaster! We're trying to put the club in a good financial position and because we've done that we're in a place now where we're not saying it's a firesale.

"We're saying we want to keep our players, we want to keep our core squad, bring in a manager with pedigree - and that doesn't come cheap. I'm happy with what we've done."

The Premier League, he admits, "is almost a closed shop now. The 'Big Six' are in another stratosphere... then you've got the next bunch - Everton, Leicester, probably West Ham at times - and then you've got the rest, who would settle for 17th every season."

Brutal reality has prompted creative thinking, notably through the United World umbrella company of clubs owned by Prince Abdullah. The pyramid set-up, with Sheffield United at its apex, includes Belgian top-flight side Beerschot, Dubai's Al Hilal United, Kerala United from India and, most recently, French Ligue 2 side Chateauroux. Bettis says the project takes inspiration from Manchester City's City Football Group "but obviously on a smaller level and on a smaller budget".

Sheffield United supporters, some of whom will recall previous owner Kevin McCabe's unsuccessful attempts to build a portfolio, will judge its success on the pitch - while Sander Berge's arrival was aided by United World links, administrative hurdles are still to be cleared for Galatasaray and AC Milan target Ismaila Coulibaly to land at Bramall Lane - but Bettis stresses operational and commercial advantages for now.

"United World is still in its infancy but I see it as nothing but a positive. There's a pyramid in the sense that none of the clubs are at a level where they're competing with each other. That creates the ability to feed clubs above and develop clubs below; it's a model for me that will bring benefits in the long-term.

"Each club has their own scouting and recruitment departments but we work together so it's improving our network. Off the pitch, too, we can do better deals commercially where we'll give a sponsor the opportunity to hit five football clubs in five different parts of the world, all with one deal."

Back in Sheffield, the fortunes of the flagship will need to stay in sharp focus.

A quarter of sides relegated from the Premier League have bounced straight back, usually from familiar foundations. United's midfield is ripe for refreshing but young players who struggled in the Premier League like Rhian Brewster have Championship pedigree. Jack O'Connell, whose injury absence was so sorely felt last season, and John Egan are core components in front of goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, whose signing seemed ever smarter as the season went on.

"I don't think there's a magic formula but I think we're in a really strong position in terms of the strength and depth of our squad and the experience of promotion that the new manager brings. And starting well; that might come back to bite me but I think it's so important. Getting supporters back in the stadium will be a massive positive, too. I hope they can get behind us."

Bettis admits "a level of sadness that the chapter is over" when he thinks about the premature departure of a manager with whom he worked for so long, so closely, but the task in hand requires pragmatism and fresh optimism now.

"We had such an amazing journey during Chris's time, such success, until this season and the back-end of last season where results didn't go our way. You can put that down to a number of things that were out of our control; I think Covid had a huge impact.

"But the football club has to look forward now; now there's a fire and a desire in me to get us back to the Premier League, hoping the new manager will help that come to fruition."

It took time to signpost the direction but in calling for Jokanovic, Bettis and the boardroom have set Sheffield United on a clearer course.



https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11683/12323408/slavisa-jokanovic-backed-as-sheffield-united-plot-swift-premier-league-return

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2021, 08:55:11 AM »
Bournemouth “closing in” on managerial decision

AFC Bournemouth are said to be closing in on their managerial decision, according to AFC Bournemouth chairman Jeff Mostyn, who has held his first interview with BBC Radio Solent in four years.

Speculation on who will get the job in the Dean Court hot seat for the 2021/22 Championship campaign has been limited.

The Daily Echo has reported that they believe the current shortlist includes both internal and external options. Which appears to suggest that Jonathan Woodgate, who was handed a short-term contract until the end of the season to continue as head coach, is in the running for a more permanent position on the south coast.
External candidates that Mostyn, chief executive Neill Blake, technical director Richard Hughes and AFC Bournemouth owner Maxim Demin could be considering are former Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner and former Arsenal legend Thierry Henry as they had previously topped the Cherries shortlist for an external appointment in January following the departure of Jason Tindall.
Another person reportedly under consideration, according to The Sun newspaper, is Fulham manager Scott Parker.
Parker was said to be a target in the summer of 2020 following the departure of Eddie Howe, alongside former England captain John Terry and then England women’s manager Phil Neville.
But following Fulham’s success in the Championship play-offs and subsequent promotion to the Premier League, Parker was handed a new contract at Craven Cottage.
The tabloid states…
“The Cherries plan to change manager after Woodgate’s failure to get through the Championship promotion play-offs when he took over.

“And Fulham chief Parker is top of the wanted list because of his past record at this level and amid growing talk that he wants a new challenge.

“Parker, 40, was wanted by Bournemouth when Eddie Howe left a year ago, but they could not seal a deal as the Cottagers were in the top flight.

“Now there will be a second attempt to get him and Parker may decide to move on because Fulham have gone down.

So who will be offered the role of AFC Bournemouth manager/head coach? Will that person take the job if offered?

Mostyn told BBC Radio Solent reporter Kris Temple…

“We are currently finalising the recruitment process for a manager and we’re in the closing stages of that.

“The manager appointment we all know, is fundamental, it’s the key appointment of the summer and it’s the first piece of a puzzle.

“Once we have the manager in place, we will build a squad around him and the aim is to put together a playing squad that’s going to be competitive and progressive in the Championship next season.”



https://bournemouth.vitalfootball.co.uk/bournemouth-closing-in-on-managerial-decision/

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2021, 08:57:13 AM »
Journalist details the state of play with Fulham’s Scott Parker and Bournemouth

Football journalist Alan Nixon has taken to Twitter to provide an update on Bournemouth’s pursuit of Fulham boss Scott Parker.

The Cherries are said to be eyeing the Whites’ manager this summer as they weigh up whether to replace Jonathan Woodgate in the dugout after falling short in the race for promotion back to the Premier League last term.

Parker himself is bound to have a lot on his mind at present, with his Fulham side having too fallen short of their objective as they succumbed to relegation back to the Sky Bet Championship after one season back in the top flight.

Now it appears that the 40-year-old could be tempted to quit Craven Cottage for the Vitality Stadium this summer, with the Cherries said to have had a long term interest in the coach which dates back to the 2019/20 campaign.

Responding to a question about the speculation involving Parker, Nixon tweeted the following update:


The former West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder has been with the Whites since February 2019 and masterminded their promotion back to the top flight in the 2019/20 season.

He currently has two years remaining on his current contract with the West London outfit.

The Verdict

Bournemouth certainly have the financial capabilities required to pull off a deal for Parker this summer and I would like to think that compensation and wages wouldn’t be a problem for the South Coast club.

I think the decision to dispense of Woodgate would be a tad harsh, however the club did fall short in the play-offs, which won’t have gone down well after they surrendered a 2-0 lead to Brentford.

Whether Parker would have a better chance of achieving promotion with the Cherries than Fulham is another matter however and it would be interesting to see how he would get on at the Vitality Stadium.

The speculation isn’t going away and I think we haven’t heard the last on this story.



https://footballleagueworld.co.uk/journalist-details-the-state-of-play-with-fulhams-scott-parker-and-bournemouth/


Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2021, 08:58:18 AM »
Scott Parker in talks with Fulham’s Championship rivals

Scott Parker could well be in talks with one of Fulham’s Championship rivals ahead of a potential summer switch.

What’s the talk?

That’s according to The Sun journalist Alan Nixon, who has hinted in a post on Twitter that Parker is already in talks with the Bournemouth hierarchy regarding a move to the Vitality Stadium this summer.

A recent report by talkSPORT claimed that the 40-year-old would be tempted to quit Fulham in favour of a switch to the Cherries, who are thought to be willing to part company with Jonathan Woodgate after his failure to secure promotion to the Premier League via the Championship play-offs last season.

Considering the marvellous job Parker has done at Craven Cottage since taking over at the club back in February of 2019, the fact that there appears to be a very real chance of the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder leaving the club this summer is sure to leave fans of Fulham distraught.

Indeed, despite suffering relegation in his first term at the club, in Fulham’s first full season under the 40-year-old, the Cottagers went on to secure an immediate return to the top flight, beating Brentford 2-1 AET in the 2019/20 play-off final.

And, while Fulham went on to suffer relegation from the top flight for the second time in three seasons under Parker in their subsequent campaign, the west London side earned plaudits from the likes of Pep Guardiola, Marcelo Bielsa and Jurgen Klopp for their “exceptional” style of attacking and exciting football.

As such, if the Cottagers were to lose the services of the young manager this summer, not only would they be without a coach who has a proven track record of getting them out of the second tier, but also one who very much seems to play football in the right way as well as appearing to have an extremely bright future in the game.



https://www.footballfancast.com/fulham-fc-transfer-rumours/fulham-transfer-manager-news-scott-parker-bournemouth-the-championship

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2021, 08:59:34 AM »
Italian outfit keen on move for Fulham man

Napoli are interested in signing midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa from Fulham, a report from Italian outlet CalcioMercato has claimed.

Anguissa joined Fulham for a club record £30million following their promotion to the Premier League in the summer of 2018, but was unable to prevent them suffering an immediate relegation to the Championship.

The midfielder then spent the subsequent campaign on loan in Spain with Villarreal, before moving back to Fulham for their return to the Premier League last season.

But with the Cottagers once again suffering an immediate relegation back to the Championship, it does seem as though Anguissa could once again be on the move this summer.

According to this latest update, Napoli are now keen on a deal for Anguissa, with the 25-year-old apparently expected to leave Fulham when the transfer market opens.

As things stand, there are two years remaining on Anguissa’s current contract with Fulham, meaning they are in a decent position to negotiate any offers that come in for the Cameroon international.

Since making the move to Fulham, Anguissa has made 63 appearances in all competitions for the Cottagers, although he has yet to score for the club.

The Verdict

This is an interesting one to consider from a Fulham perspective.

Anguissa did seem to impress more for the club last season than he did during his previous campaign at Craven Cottage, which could tempt to try and keep him.

However, it may be difficult for them to do that amid interest from elsewhere, particularly if they receive a decent offer, which would help to offset the financial blow of their relegation from the Premier League, following a challenging season largely played behind closed doors.

Indeed, given Anguissa headed out on loan to La Liga the last time Fulham were relegated, you get the impression he could be reluctant to play in the Championship next season, meaning he himself could push for a move, which could tempt the club to move him on rather than keep an unhappy player in the dressing room.



https://footballleagueworld.co.uk/italian-outfit-keen-on-move-for-fulham-man/

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2021, 09:01:12 AM »
Fulham extend contract of former Plymouth Argyle loan signing Jerome Opoku

The 22-year-old defender spent the 2020/21 season with the Pilgrims

Former Plymouth Argyle loan signing Jerome Opoku could get the chance to play for Fulham in the Championship next season.

Fulham, recently relegated from the Premier League, have activated a one-year contract extension to keep the 6ft 5in defender at Craven Cottage into 2021/22.

Opoku has yet to make a first team appearance for Fulham, although he has played three times in EFL Trophy ties for their under-21s' side.

The 22-year-old has had loan spells in League One with Accrington Stanley and Argyle over the past two seasons.

Opoku spent most of the 2020/21 campaign with Ryan Lowe's Pilgrims, making a total of 33 starts and five substitute appearances.

His only goal was a late equaliser in the Sky-televised 2-2 draw with Portsmouth at Home Park last November.

Opoku had made his debut for Argyle as a left wing-back in a 1-0 defeat at Hull City but most of his appearances came as part of a three-man central defence.

He picked up 12 yellow cards during his time with the Pilgrims and was sent-off once, for a second bookable offence in the 3-1 home league defeat by Sunderland on May 1.

That led to an early end to his loan at Argyle as he was suspended for the season-ending away game against Gillingham.

With Fulham back in the Championship after one season in the Premier League, Opoku's aim will be to try to catch the eye of boss Scott Parker during pre-season and stake a claim for a first team spot.



https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/sport/football/fulham-extend-contract-former-plymouth-5502786


Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2021, 09:05:48 AM »
Campbell in, Anguissa out: An early look at how Fulham’s starting XI could look in 2021/22

Several changes are set to take place at Fulham this summer and their starting XI could look very different to the one that last headed out onto the pitch in the Premier League in May.

The Lilywhites are back in the second-tier after just one season and will be looking to try and bounce back as soon as possible, though it remains to be seen whether Scott Parker is going to be at the helm to oversee things.

Even so, the playing squad is going to change regardless of who is in the dugout and here we’ve taken a look at what the Fulham starting line-up could be for the early weeks of next season, going on different transfer rumours about exits and such.

Take a look through the team and see where you think it might finish in next year’s Championship standings…

GK: Marek Rodak
Marek Rodak could well be back in goal after seeing Alphonse Areola take the number one spot last year in the Premier League.

The French stopper was arguably Fulham’s best player last season but, that said, it therefore seems unlikely he’s going to return for another spell with his loan at the club ending.

Rodak, then, should get his chance to come back in and, after doing well in the last Championship campaign, that’s not such a bad option for the Lilywhites.

RB: Kenny Tete
Kenny Tete should stick around for next season and he’ll be fighting Cyrus Christie and potentially the utility man Denis Odoi for the right-back spot.

Tete is a real flyer when he gets going up and down the flanks and it’s going to be interesting watching him in the Championship with the attacking intent he has.

He’ll be able to get forward much more now that Fulham are in a league where they will be needing to impose themselves and he could be a real outlet.

CB: Michael Hector
Michael Hector quickly dropped down the pecking order last season at Fulham with the likes of Joachim Andersen arriving and impressing but, of course, the latter has left now and it is unlikely he is going to return to Craven Cottage for next season.

Hector was brilliant for Fulham in their last promotion-winning campaign and there’s no reason why he cannot be that again should he be reinstated to the side.

He’s defender, at least at Championship level, that is a real proven performer.

CB: Tosin Adarabioyo
Tosin Adarabioyo is going to be linked away a lot this summer but, as yet, no firm offer has come in for him and Fulham will hope that can remain the case for the rest of the market.

He formed a really decent partnership with Andersen last season and there is no reason why he cannot do similar with someone like Hector in the Championship.

If he does leave, though, you’ve got the likes of Alfie Mawson or Tim Ream that can come in and do a job at this level.

LB: Joe Bryan
Joe Bryan could well be a regular fixture at left-back next season for Fulham.

He’s a player that knows the Championship very well and there is speculation around Antonee Robinson at the moment, who is a very decent full-back in his own right.

Indeed, if Robinson leaves, the path is pretty clear for Bryan to be Fulham’s first-choice left-side defender and he’ll be eager to show why he’ll be considered one of the better defenders in the Championship once more.

CM: Harrison Reed
Harrison Reed could be one of the midfielders left with this part of the pitch looking set for a real shake-up at Fulham.

The likes of André-Frank Zambo Anguissa are getting linked away at the moment and we could see Fulham’s midfield largely revert back to what it was when they were in the Championship last.

Reed is a decent player, though, and could again be one of the better holding players in the middle of the park in the league next year.

CM: Allan Campbell
Allan Campbell is being linked with a move to Fulham at the moment with the Motherwell midfielder potentially set for a move down south as a number of clubs are being credited with an interest in him.

The 22-year-old is a busy midfielder and is available on a free which is probably part of the reason Fulham are looking at him.

This summer will be about bringing costs into line a little more and if they can sign a decent player on a free they should look at it.

CM: Tom Cairney
Tom Cairney has been linked with a move to Sheffield United but the Fulham midfielder could well remain at Craven Cottage as the Lilywhites are bound to ask for a big fee before sanctioning such an exit.

If Cairney can stay fit he will once again be integral to this Fulham team in the heart of midfield with his range of passing and that will be his plan.

He’s a cracking player, particularly at Championship level, and could have a big season for the club as long as he avoids fitness problems.

RW: Neeskens Kebano
Neeskens Kebano could be one man to benefit from the likes of Ademola Lookman and Anthony Knockaert potentially not being around next year.

Kebano is a decent player for Championship level and could fight with the likes of Aboubakar Kamara for one of those spots out wide.

Evidently, though, there is a good chance Fulham need to add to their attacking options.

LW: Ivan Cavaleiro
Fulham’s attack is another area set for a shake-up and, as yet, it’s looking set to be a little light.

Ivan Cavaleiro will be one man set to stick around and he’ll be looking to help Fulham earn promotion as he has done before and as he has with Wolves in his career.

He’s a powerful runner and at Championship level should look a real threat, especially if Fulham can spring quick attacks.

ST: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic, currently, is a Fulham player but it does seem to be hanging in the balance right now.

The Serbian forward loves the Championship and if he sticks around he’s sure to score goals but, with his and Scott Parker’s relationship perhaps not as good as it could be, there’s every chance he could move on this summer too.

It’s hanging in the balance, then, but either way at least one other attacking addition really needs to be signed to head through the middle this summer.




https://footballleagueworld.co.uk/campbell-in-anguissa-out-an-early-look-at-how-fulhams-starting-xi-could-look-in-2021-22/

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2021, 09:07:30 AM »
Antonee Robinson to Manchester City: Is it a good potential move? Would he start? What does he offer?

Every transfer window has the potential to see unexpected moves between players and clubs emerge, and with the market still in its very early stages, it seems as though that could already be about to happen this summer.

According to recent reports from The Sun, Premier League champions Manchester City are interested in signing left-back Antonee Robinson from recently relegated Fulham when the market reopens.

Robinson only joined Fulham from Wigan Athletic last summer, and made 32 appearances in all competitions during his debut campaign at Craven Cottage, although he was unable to prevent Scott Parker’s side from suffering an immediate relegation back to the Championship.

But just what it would mean for Manchester City if they were to complete a deal for the American international?

We’ve weighed that up with a look at this potential move right here.

Is it a good potential move?

This could be a useful signing for City.

Robinson has experience in the Premier League from his time with Fulham last season, so he does know what it takes to compete in the top-flight.

With a reported asking price of £10million this is a deal that City ought to be able to afford, and Robinson would surely relish the chance to compete for silverware alongside some of the best players on the planet at The Etihad.

Indeed, in the wake of the financial setback of dropping a division, the financial lift the sale of Robinson could provide Fulham with, may mean this turns out to be a decent move for all parties.

Would he start?

It seems unlikely that Robinson would be a regular feature in City’s starting lineup, certainly to begin with.

Reports linking the 23-year-old with a move to The Etihad have suggested that Robinson is viewed by City boss Pep Guardiola as a potential cover player for his more senior players, and in Benjamin Mendy, Joao Cancelo and  Oleksandr Zinchenko, he does have plenty of other options at left-back.

As a result, there would be some opportunities for Robinson to prove himself, but you imagine they are more likely to come in the domestic cups that City may be less likely to prioritise, given the more established options Guardiola is likely to rely in the Premier League, and in particular Champions League, that the club are so desperate to win.

What Does he offer?

In fairness to Robinson, he provide quite a lot to City even if he is not a regular starter.

For starters, he would provide strength in depth for a City team who like always, will be expected to compete for multiple domestic and European trophies across the course of the campaign.

The pace and athleticism that he provides could also help drive City forwards in games, while his versatility – he can play wing-back or full-back – could be useful to Guardiola should he want to tweak things tactically.

You also feel that the size of this opportunity means Robinson would bring a great deal of desire with him, both to show he is deserving of a place in a team with this reputation, and get the chance to play as big a role as possible in a side competing for silverware, which should see him up his game as much as possible.



https://footballleagueworld.co.uk/antonee-robinson-to-manchester-city-is-it-a-good-potential-move-would-he-start-what-does-he-offer/

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2021, 09:09:09 AM »
Sheffield United dealt blow in Tom Cairney pursuit

Slavisa Jokanovic has been handed a huge blow in his bid to bring Tom Cairney to Sheffield United this summer.

What’s the talk?

That’s according to a report by the Sheffield Star, who claim that, although the club are monitoring the situation of the midfielder, the Sheffield United hierarchy are unlikely to meet Fulham’s £10m valuation of the 30-year-old in the upcoming transfer window.

It has also been reported that the west London side may even raise their price tag for the Scotland international if they were to receive a formal bid from the Blades this summer.

Considering just how influential Cairney was within Jokanovic’s promotion-winning Fulham team in the 2017/18 Championship campaign, the news that a deal for the midfielder looks unlikely to happen this summer is sure to leave the 52-year-old gutted.

Indeed, over his 34 Championship appearances that season, the £8.1m-rated man scored five goals, provided five assists and created four big chances for his teammates, as well as averaging 93.5 touches of the ball and 1.9 key passes per game.

These metrics saw the £27k-per-week midfielder earn a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 7.35, ranking him as the club’s joint second-best performer in the second tier that year.

As such, with Sheffield United looking to secure an immediate return to the Premier League under the guidance of Jokanovic next season, the addition of the Serbian’s former Fulham talisman would have more than likely boosted the Blades’ chances of going on to achieve this feat.

Having said that, with the man dubbed a “quality” player by Scott Parker now a few years older, as well as having suffered a rather serious knee injury last term, perhaps the fact that a deal for the midfielder looks difficult to complete is something of a blessing in disguise for United.

Although, either way, with Jokanovic looking likely to be without the services of a player he knows has the potential to fire a team to promotion from the Championship, the new Sheffield United boss will undoubtedly be disappointed.



https://www.footballfancast.com/sheffield-united-transfer-rumours/sheffield-united-transfer-news-slavisa-jokanovic-fulham-tom-cairney-the-championship


Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2021, 09:10:10 AM »
Fulham interested in Allan Campbell

Fulham are interested in a deal to bring Allan Campbell to Craven Cottage this summer.

What’s the talk?

That’s according to a report by Football Insider, who claimed that the Cottagers, along with Millwall, Luton Town and Peterborough United, are considering a move for the Motherwell midfielder in the upcoming transfer window.

It is reported that the 22-year-old has decided to reject the Scottish Premiership club’s offer of a new contract, meaning he will become a free agent upon the expiry of his current deal at Fir Park in the coming weeks.

With Stefan Johansen looking likely to leave Craven Cottage this summer, with the 30-year-old reported to be in talks with Queens Park Rangers regarding a permanent switch to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, midfield would appear to be an area in which Fulham will look to strengthen ahead of their upcoming Championship campaign.

Considering the potential Campbell seems to possess, the Motherwell midfielder could well prove a very astute addition to the Cottagers’ squad this summer.

Indeed, the £1.08m-rated youngster impressed over his 34 Premiership fixtures for Graham Alexander’s side last season, scoring four goals and creating one big chance for his teammates, as well as averaging 1.4 interceptions and 1.8 tackles and winning 4.7 duels per game.

These metrics saw the £1,500-per-week Scotland under-21 international earn a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 6.82, ranking him as Motherwell’s joint ninth-best performer in the Scottish top flight. However, what makes his returns all the more impressive is the fact that Campbell is still just 22 years of age, meaning he has considerable scope to develop even further as a footballer.

The opinion surrounding the “highly-rated” midfielder – in the words of Alexander – would very much appear to be that he has a very bright future ahead of him in the game, with his manager stating that the Glaswegian is “everything that a professional footballer should be“, as well as dubbing him a “shining example” for others at the club.

As such, when adding in the fact that he will be available on a free transfer this summer, it would appear most advisable for the Cottagers to do all they can to get a deal over the line for Campbell this summer. Not only would his signing appear to be a fantastic piece of business for the club, but also one which has the potential to leave Fulham fans buzzing.



https://www.footballfancast.com/fulham-fc-transfer-rumours/fulham-transfer-news-allan-campbell-motherwell-the-championship

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2021, 09:10:46 AM »
Fossey Extends Stay

Academy full-back Marlon Fossey has signed a new two-year deal, keeping him at the Club until June 2023.

The 22-year-old enjoyed a successful loan spell at League One side Shrewsbury Town for the first half of last season, before returning to Fulham after picking up an injury.

He ended his campaign positively, putting in a great shift in our Under-23s' final game of the season, which saw them defeat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Cottage.

The American was delighted after hearing the news.

"I'm really appreciative that they have confidence in me and I'm grateful that I'm going to be around people and players for the next two years that I've learnt a hell of a lot from. I aim to work as hard as I can to better myself as a player."

Following a frustrating season full of injury, Marlon is hoping to get plenty more minutes under his belt over the next year.

"It was difficult because no footballer wants to spend the majority of the season on the sidelines. I learnt a lot from it in terms of how to look after my body better and function better. I'm going to do everything within my power to make sure I put my body in a good position to play a full season."

If more consistent game-time can be achieved, the pacey yet powerful defender has his sights set on senior football at Fulham.

"Every young player has the aim of playing for the First Team, and I'm going to put myself in the best position to get to that point as soon as possible."



https://www.fulhamfc.com/news/2021/june/Fossey-Extends-Stay/

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2021, 09:11:48 AM »
Fenerbahche chasing Mitrovic

Fenerbahce have tabled a loan offer for Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, according to reports from Turkey.

The Istanbul giants want to take the Serbian forward on loan, with a £6.8m option to buy. The Turkish newspaper Calendar claims that Fener have offered Mitrovic a basic salary of around £2.6m a year, which would increase with bonuses.

It remains to be seen how Fulham will respond to this offer. Mitrovic, who has scored 53 goals in 131 games at Craven Cottage since initially moving on loan in from Newcastle in January 2018, endured a difficult season as the Whites went were relegated from the Premier League. He scored just four goals in 31 appearances, was frequently left out by Scott Parker and missed the decisive penalty as Serbia missed out on the European Championships, losing a play-off shootout to Scotland.

The Turkish press claim that the 26 year-old does not wish to play in the Championship, having previously won promotion twice with Fulham, and is ‘certain’ to move on this summer.



https://hammyend.com/index.php/2021/06/fenerbahche-chasing-mitrovic/


Offline blingo

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 09/03/21...
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2021, 11:16:30 AM »

Slavisa Jokanovic backed as Sheffield United plot swift Premier League return

Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis speaks exclusively to Sky Sports about Jokanovic appointment and Blades' burning ambition to bounce back; club plotting Premier League return with promotion specialist through 'evolution not revolution'

It took 75 days in the end; agonising days as Sheffield United reeled from a messy managerial divorce and the reality of relegation, anxious ones as supporters and staff yearned for closure and clarity.

Even on the eve of their Premier League farewell, interim boss Paul Heckingbottom had repeated his call for a "quick decision" after a season that that had sapped minds as well as bodies at Bramall Lane.

But amid the clamour, the man tasked with securing a permanent successor to Chris Wilder was calm. Four days after bowing out with a 1-0 win over Burnley, Slavisa Jokanovic's return to English football was confirmed, sealed over lunch in Dubai with the club's owner Prince Abdullah.

It was a protracted pursuit but a worthwhile one for a promotion specialist, believes the club's chief executive, Stephen Bettis.

"At times, I think the supporters were wondering, 'What are they doing? Why aren't they making an announcement?' but in the background, we were all working hard," Bettis tells Sky Sports over a video call in an exclusive interview following the Serb's appointment.

"The impact that Chris had, they're big shoes to fill, there's no doubt about that. We didn't want to make a rushed decision.

"The key thing for us was to get someone in straight after the season finished so that we could get preparing for next season, so that the new manager had time to work with the players and be involved in recruitment to ensure we're hitting the ground running.

"It took time but I think we've shown our intent, our ambition to come straight back up."

Jokanovic, who will work the final weeks of his contract at Al-Gharafa in Qatar before plotting a repeat of his Championship trick with Watford and Fulham, was "always in the running," according to Bettis, though a five-man shortlist for the job - formulated from "20 to 30 good candidates on paper" - also included Heckingbottom.

The club's U23 boss had stepped into the breach following Wilder's acrimonious exit in March and Bettis admits the club considered an internal solution: "Paul taking charge for the remainder of the season was always our first choice - to give us time to recruit the right man but also to give Paul the opportunity to see how he got on."

Despite a 5-0 pummelling by Leicester in his first game in temporary charge, players punch-drunk shorn of their leader, Heckingbottom would finish a long ill-fated campaign with three wins from the club's final six games.

He would play counsellor as well as caretaker, providing stability and a glimpse of the future, but only an appointment with clout could really stand a chance of replacing the revered former boss whose fingerprints in every corner of the club propelled it to the Premier League.

Only a man with promotion pedigree would act in the eyes of many supporters as a marker of legitimacy and credibility for the Prince Abdullah regime. Only a fresh start was likely to help the healing process and reset the mood.

"You need a strong character after Chris," Bettis, who helped appoint Wilder back in 2016 and was persuaded by him to return in 2018 after a brief hiatus, admits. "Slav's definitely that and I think he'll show it when he gets here and starts working with the players.

"His track record with Fulham and Watford shows he can get clubs out of the Championship, which is absolutely our desire for next season, he's very confident in his own abilities, and when you really start getting into the detail of his philosophy; the way he plays, the way he wants to incorporate young players, that was a big plus for us."

The Jokanovic way certainly left an impression on Bramall Lane on a November night in 2017 when his Fulham side edged a nine-goal epic that left shattered players from both sides prone on the turf.

There will be appetite for more of the same in an attacking sense after an impotent campaign that yielded just 20 goals. Supporters can expect possession-based, counter-pressing football - "Press after loss, press after loss," was how midfielder Kevin McDonald once summed it up at Craven Cottage - and, according to the man himself during a short club interview that drew delight on social media: aggressivity.

But there is unlikely to be a revolution in the red half of the city just yet.

Bettis indicates that Jokanovic will seek to retain, if adapt, the unique 3-5-2 system deployed by his predecessor.

"A lot of how Slav wants to play and work aligns with our current squad. We've tried to incorporate Chris's style of football as a club - it's pointless the academy playing a completely different way - and we've tried to ensure a culture and football philosophy going forward. We think there's a lot of synergy with Slav.

"It's evolution over revolution. I just don't think revolutions work in the short-term in football.

"If you blow it up, clear out all your key players and totally change the team's philosophy and identity, it takes two, three, four years to come to fruition. You don't get that luxury in football, especially in our position where we've been relegated and we have the desire to go straight back.

"We have to put faith in a lot of the players who have served us so well. You look at certain clubs who get relegated from the Premier League and half of the squad immediately wants to leave. Obviously, everyone wants to play top-tier football but a lot of our players have come through the journey and know what it takes to get out of the Championship. I think that will stand us in really good stead."

Jokanovic will start at Sheffield United on July 1 but work is already happening in earnest behind the scenes. Sky Sports understands plans are underway to make two Spanish appointments to his backroom staff, while the Serb is understood to have taken part last week in a three-hour video call to firm up summer recruitment, with the loan market a focus.


    It's evolution over revolution. If you blow it up, clear out all your key players and totally change the team's philosophy and identity, it takes two, three, four years to come to fruition. We have the desire to go straight back.
    Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis

Bettis, through his accountant's eye, admits there will be "a level of balancing the books - there's got to be, we've been relegated from the Premier League." But there is enough optimism amid the numbers for him to insist there remains in the boardroom "100 per cent commitment to keeping the core squad".

Despite the ravages of coronavirus on balance sheets, United posted a profit of £17.5m. Relegation clauses will mean wage cuts, Sky Sports understands, of up to 50 per cent. The significant drop in broadcast income will be cushioned by an initial parachute payment of around £42m. Jokanovic, Bettis confirms, will have resources in the forthcoming window.

"That's what parachute payments are there for, to help with that hangover. All of our players have relegation clauses in their contracts. That puts us in a stronger position financially.

"We don't want any of our players to leave, simple as that. We just want to strengthen. There has to be sustainability, it's not boom or bust. But Slav does have the ability to bring players in this window and he knows that.

"We've successfully used the loan market at times with the likes of Dean Henderson and Ethan Ampadu and we'll look at utilising that as well.

"One of the real positives over the last few years is the relationships we've made with other Premier League clubs. I think we're tried and trusted in terms in terms of duty of care and opportunity to develop; I think clubs will be open to giving some of their players to us next season."

There will be a shift towards a more collaborative approach to recruitment.

Wilder's recruitment chief, Paul Mitchell, has been retained and will work closely with head of football administration, Carl Shieber and Jan Van Winckel, club director and long-term football advisor to Prince Abdullah. Wilder is understood to have increasingly felt his remit squeezed in a more continental model but Bettis insists the new manager will still have "the final say".

"Talking to Slavisa, at other clubs, he's not had much involvement in recruitment and we don't want that. We want him involved but we want our voices to be heard.

"I think Slav will find he'll have a lot more involvement here than he has had at times previously. He's not pushing for that - I think he would have accepted it if we'd have wanted to bring in a director of football and been fine with it but we don't; we want to work with the people we've got. Paul is key and we want Slav's input and knowledge.

"Slav might tell us - as an example - we want a left-back with these attributes. Paul will go away and find maybe five players he thinks meet the criteria. Then we'll all sit and analyse those. We want to work in a way where we highlight two or three options but Slav, ultimately, will have the final say on which one we go for."

The hope is that Jokanovic, who handed first-team debuts at Fulham to Harvey Elliott and Ryan Sessegnon at 15 and 16 respectively, will further help a new crop of promising academy youngsters realise their potential.

Antwoine Hackford, Iliman Ndiaye, Daniel Jebbison and Femi Seriki have all made first-team debuts since the turn of the year for a club that has nurtured a cluster of stars hoping for Euro 2020 success with England this summer. Jebbison, a memorable matchwinner at Everton, and wing-back Seriki were part of the side that finished as Professional Development League North champions and are two of five teenagers to recently sign their first professional contracts.

"It's key for us as well that we incorporate our academy players," Bettis says. "We've not had as many players as we'd like breaking through but I think the latter part of the season has really opened the door.

"Everyone knows the history of our academy and it's reignited our love for it; we've seen the potential there. It's made everyone excited again about it.

"I think we've got four or five at least who we really think can break through and make an impact. If they're good enough, let's play them. If they don't break through, they don't, but it's about a pathway and that's totally a part of Slav's thinking for the future."


    Everyone knows the history of our academy, We've seen the potential there. It's made everyone excited again. I think we've got four or five at least who we really think can break through and make an impact.
    Stephen Bettis on the Blades' academy youngsters

An academy restructure instigated by Wilder in 2019 with Jack Lester's arrival and Heckingbottom's the following summer is bearing fruit but Bettis concedes that the club is still playing catch-up, their Cat 2 academy status leaving them vulnerable to predators in far flashier habitats than the working men's club repurposed as a training ground. Wilder had detailed his drive to improve infrastructure in a Sky Sports interview back in 2019 but lamented a lack of progress.

"The issue with Cat 2 is that we can get players taken from us by Cat 1 and it's really frustrating at times," Bettis says. "We know we need to be Cat 1 to compete. But you need a certain level of facilities - we need more pitches - and we're struggling to incorporate that into the land we have at Shirecliffe.

"[Cat 1] is in the plans but I think it's going to be a couple of years at least before we get to the point where we have it. But the feeling we have got over the last few months has encouraged our owner even more."

Sky Sports understands the club has agreed a deal to buy two plots of green belt land at a former RAF base, Norton Aerodrome, but is still waiting on the green light to acquire an adjoining area owned by Sheffield City Council, with demolition work on that site having been delayed by the pandemic.

Strategic investment to develop players and a long-term mindset has never felt more vital in the hapless fight for so many clubs without benevolent billionaires, swimming against the financial tide.

"I think Prince Abdullah has always been clear in terms of the way he wants to try and do this," Bettis responds when asked whether direct investment is likely to be sought in the future.

"It's always to try and be sustainable and do it from internal resources. I don't think there should be responsibility just on an owner to throw hundreds of millions at it. It doesn't always work. Our model is to run the club as a sustainable business and I don't think at times that's hurt us."

He points to a net spend over more than £50m in last summer's transfer window, the club's coffers boosted by their striking ninth-placed finish in 2019/20, and believes there has been a cultural change at the club since his permanent appointment in 2016 following an advisory spell.

A relatively modest wage-turnover ratio at around 54 per cent prompted respected football finance blogger Swiss Ramble to suggest "arguably the club played it too safe" in a verdict on their most recent accounts, while Wilder is understood to have wanted to push the wage structure for proven performers over potential.

But Bettis believes the club is acting shrewdly in an uncertain climate.

"When I came in, the club was being run more like a charity than a business. I think we've changed the outside view of us in the last five years. Chris was a big part of that too; he never wanted to overpay players and agents. Am I ashamed that we get good deals done and we don't throw money away? No, I'm proud of it actually.

"There are horror stories of teams paying £70k, 80k a week in the Championship. I'm a boring accountant! That's a recipe for disaster! We're trying to put the club in a good financial position and because we've done that we're in a place now where we're not saying it's a firesale.

"We're saying we want to keep our players, we want to keep our core squad, bring in a manager with pedigree - and that doesn't come cheap. I'm happy with what we've done."

The Premier League, he admits, "is almost a closed shop now. The 'Big Six' are in another stratosphere... then you've got the next bunch - Everton, Leicester, probably West Ham at times - and then you've got the rest, who would settle for 17th every season."

Brutal reality has prompted creative thinking, notably through the United World umbrella company of clubs owned by Prince Abdullah. The pyramid set-up, with Sheffield United at its apex, includes Belgian top-flight side Beerschot, Dubai's Al Hilal United, Kerala United from India and, most recently, French Ligue 2 side Chateauroux. Bettis says the project takes inspiration from Manchester City's City Football Group "but obviously on a smaller level and on a smaller budget".

Sheffield United supporters, some of whom will recall previous owner Kevin McCabe's unsuccessful attempts to build a portfolio, will judge its success on the pitch - while Sander Berge's arrival was aided by United World links, administrative hurdles are still to be cleared for Galatasaray and AC Milan target Ismaila Coulibaly to land at Bramall Lane - but Bettis stresses operational and commercial advantages for now.

"United World is still in its infancy but I see it as nothing but a positive. There's a pyramid in the sense that none of the clubs are at a level where they're competing with each other. That creates the ability to feed clubs above and develop clubs below; it's a model for me that will bring benefits in the long-term.

"Each club has their own scouting and recruitment departments but we work together so it's improving our network. Off the pitch, too, we can do better deals commercially where we'll give a sponsor the opportunity to hit five football clubs in five different parts of the world, all with one deal."

Back in Sheffield, the fortunes of the flagship will need to stay in sharp focus.

A quarter of sides relegated from the Premier League have bounced straight back, usually from familiar foundations. United's midfield is ripe for refreshing but young players who struggled in the Premier League like Rhian Brewster have Championship pedigree. Jack O'Connell, whose injury absence was so sorely felt last season, and John Egan are core components in front of goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, whose signing seemed ever smarter as the season went on.

"I don't think there's a magic formula but I think we're in a really strong position in terms of the strength and depth of our squad and the experience of promotion that the new manager brings. And starting well; that might come back to bite me but I think it's so important. Getting supporters back in the stadium will be a massive positive, too. I hope they can get behind us."

Bettis admits "a level of sadness that the chapter is over" when he thinks about the premature departure of a manager with whom he worked for so long, so closely, but the task in hand requires pragmatism and fresh optimism now.

"We had such an amazing journey during Chris's time, such success, until this season and the back-end of last season where results didn't go our way. You can put that down to a number of things that were out of our control; I think Covid had a huge impact.

"But the football club has to look forward now; now there's a fire and a desire in me to get us back to the Premier League, hoping the new manager will help that come to fruition."

It took time to signpost the direction but in calling for Jokanovic, Bettis and the boardroom have set Sheffield United on a clearer course.



https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11683/12323408/slavisa-jokanovic-backed-as-sheffield-united-plot-swift-premier-league-return


Great Article.