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Saturday Fulham Stuff - 07/08/21...

Started by WhiteJC, August 07, 2021, 12:24:31 AM

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West Brom


Grimes future unclear as Fulham and Brighton both wait

Matt Grimes was in training with the Swans this week ahead of the Blackburn game having recovered from both illness and injury which increased the speculation that the Swans captain is about to leave the club.

Fulham are reported to be leading the race for the midfielder but Brighton are also suggested to be interested with Newcastle and Southampton linked earlier in the summer with the Swans captain in the last year of his contract.

Any chance of Grimes leaving was put on hold with the uncertain future of Swans manager Steve Cooper, a future that was settled with Cooper's departure and the appointment last weekend of Russell Martin.

There was a suggestion earlier in the week that Martin's arrival could prompt a change in the Grimes position with the Swans captain having made it known that he likes Swansea as a club and an area which could yet see him stay at Swansea.

Speaking to the press yesterday, Martin was speaking not just on the future of Matt Grimes but also Connor Roberts who has also been the subject of transfer speculation this summer.

On Grimes, the Swans boss said "He's a fantastic player, If it comes to a point where Matt has left it's because the deal is right for the football club and it means we can use that to help us out in other areas.

"From what I've seen already from Grimesy, he has a great relationship with Matt Gill because they played together at Exeter.

"I've got a guy – whilst he's here – he's fully committed. There's no concerns about him on any front about being distracted or not focused.

"He loves it here and he really enjoys playing for the club. Whilst he's here we'll work really hard with him."

Adding to his comments he was asked about Connor Roberts and responded "I've not chatted to Connor so much because we've not had a lot of time on the grass and because he's injured but I'm aware he's a fantastic player. I've seen a lot of him.

"It's a difficult position because for us he's a player we like and he's a player who would suit what we're doing, but at the same time, when someone enters the last year of their contract, no one's naive.

"If a club comes in with the right offer that we can then use to strengthen our squad, we have to plan not just for this season but for the season beyond.

"We'll have to wait and see on that, but they're both really good players, and if they're here after the transfer window shuts, then we'll be more than happy."



Fulham man 'would love' to join particular club amid interest – Two obstacles in way of deal

Fulham midfielder Franck Zambo Anguissa 'would love' to join AS Roma this summer, but there are 'two obstacles' to overcome to make the move happen.

That's according to Calciomercato.it, who cover the situation today amid reports regarding the midfielder moving to Italy.

Earlier today, we covered a report that stated Roma have turned their attention to Anguissa this summer as Jose Mourinho wants to improve his midfield.

They have been made aware he would cost around €25m but are hoping that Fulham would agree for the figure to be paid over several years.

CM.it pick up on that and confirm the Italian side's interest but say there are obstacles in the way of them getting a deal done.

The first of those is that new Fulham coach Marco Silva considers Anguissa as an 'important pawn' for his side this season as they look to get back into the Premier League, so much so he'll be a starter for the opening clash with Middlesbrough this weekend.

The possible arrival of Matt Grimes could change this, but until that happens, a move is unlikely to be sanctioned.

The second issue is Fulham's asking price. They don't want to sanction a loan deal and have put a €20m price on his head; a figure Roma can't match at this point.

They are hoping the Cottagers will lower their demands as the market winds down, meaning they are likely to hold off on making a move anytime soon.

Essentially, Fulham don't want to sell, and their demands mean Roma can't get him, but that could change, so the Italian side are willing to sit and wait to see how things develop.



Who should Silva select at left back?

As we move closer to the big kick-off against Middlesbrough on Sunday, there are still some outstanding questions over who Marco Silva will select in his starting line-up. Many numbers pick themselves, but perhaps the most intriguing dilemma surrounds who will start at left back. Fulham are blessed two high-quality Championship options in this position with the American international Antonee Robinson and Wembley hero Joe Bryan battling it out for the start.

Robinson has plenty of Championship experience after making a Β£2m from Wigan Athletic last summer. It didn't take him long to oust Bryan from Scott Parker's preferred starting line-up and he didn't look out of the place in the Premier League. His biggest asset is his rapidity, with his pace posing real problems for opposition defences as well as offering recovery speed to help him get back to defend against tricky wingers. He has also become a regular feature in the American international squad – with twelve senior caps – and made 94 appearances at this level for the Latics. While Robinson does have pace to burn, the one frustration has been a failure to add assists or goals to his game. His crossing was often found wanting last season, and in modern football, full backs are supposed to be attacking outlets as well.

That's where Bryan holds a significant advantage. Not only did he seal Fulham's place in the Premier League this time last year with a brilliant brace against Brentford this time last year, but he was a regular source of supply for Aleskandar Mitrovic. His reward for three goals and eight assists in 49 games was a contract extension and a place on the sidelines for much of the season – as he had to settle for just nineteen appearances in the whole campaign. He did score the equaliser at Old Trafford -heading home his old mate Bobby Decordova-Reid's cross to earn a point at Manchester United – but it felt like a frustrating campaign for the former Bristol City full back. Bryan's major drawback is his defensive positioning, which sees him regularly caught out of position.

Both men will start the season at Craven Cottage, despite a host of fevered speculation linking Robinson with a move away. Manchester City and Wolves were rumoured to be prepared Β£10m offers by the tabloids and Bordeaux fancied taking him on loan. No bids have materialised for the ex-Everton trainee, who you still feel has plenty of possible improvement in him. Silva likes adventurous full-backs to get forward and provide an extra attacking outlet. He'd have the perfect player if he could blend Bryan's crossing ability with Robinson's blistering pace, but it will be very interesting to see who Fulham's new head coach starts the season with.



Middlesbrough still waiting for international clearance for Martin Payero ahead of Fulham clash
Middlesbrough are still waiting for international clearance which would allow Martin Payero to make his debut for the club.

The 22-year-old midfielder completed his move to the Riverside from Argentine club Banfield this week following his involvement at the Tokyo Olympics.

Boro hope Payero will get international clearance on Friday, which would make him available for Sunday's Championship opener against Fulham.

When asked about Payero, Warnock said: "We still haven't got international clearance. We still need international clearance which we hope we can get this morning.

"He's a lad we've looked at for quite a long time and I've spoken to him a couple of times, he seems like a really nice lad and I think he'll fit in well."

Payero could be in the squad for the Fulham match but is still getting back up to speed following his involvement at the Olympics.

When asked what Payero can bring to the side, Warnock added: "I think it's just his enthusiasm, he's got a great touch, both feet and I think he just gives us a bit more quality in that area.

"We have a lot of lads who are very similar and will do a job but sometimes you need somebody just to unlock the door and I think Martin has got that in his locker."

Sammy Ameobi will miss the match with a knee injury, while Marc Bola is back in training after isolating.

Marcus Tavernier has been sidelined with a hamstring issue in recent weeks and will be assessed ahead of the match, while Hayden Coulson remains out.



Fulham's Anguissa wants Roma move this summer, reports claims

Fulham midfielder Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa would prefer a move to Roma this summer, claims a report from Calcio Mercato (via Sport Witness).

Anguissa, 25, has been linked with a host of clubs this summer.

He joined the club in a record Β£30million deal from Marseille ahead of Fulham's promotion in 2018 but would find himself loaned out to Villarreal upon Fulham's initial relegation.

But he returned when Scott Parker took Fulham back into the top flight at first time of asking last year and featured 36 times in the Premier League.

He impress by all accounts. But after yet another relegation for the Whites it seems like Anguissa will finally leave the club permanently, and he's not short of suitors.

Valencia have already had a bid knocked back for the midfielder and Jose Mourinho's Roma have also been linked – more recently, Everton have been linked with a move.

But Calcio Mercato claim that Anguissa would 'love' a move to Roma this summer, going on to say that Fulham want €25million for the midfielder and that they are happy for the fee to be paid over time.

A failed investment from Fulham?
Not necessarily – Anguissa when he's been involved at Fulham has shown glimpses of what he's capable of. Last season in particular he was a consistent performer for Parker's side but Fulham can't offer consistent Premier League football and so they look likely to be selling Anguissa this summer.

If they can recoup the majority of that Β£30million transfer fee they paid for him then that will be a shrewd bit of business from the club and for the player, a move to Mourinho's Roma would be a hugely exciting one.



Peterborough United out of running to sign Tay Edun leaving Luton Town in pole position

Peterborough United have 'pulled out of the running' to sign Lincoln City's Tayo Edun, as per the Posh's director of football Barry Fry.

Edun, 23, has been linked with both Peterborough United and Luton Town this summer.

Both clubs have reportedly tabled bids to sign the left-back – Football Insider reported earlier this week that both Championship sides had launched bids to bring in the former Fulham man before the close of the transfer window at the end of this month.

Now though, Fry has told Peterborough Telegraph: "We did make a bid, but we subsequently pulled out of the running for him."

Edun joined Lincoln City during the 2019/20 season though it was in the previous 2021/22 season where he really prevailed.

He made 44 League One outings as he helped the Imps to the League One play-off final, scoring once and assisting six goals along the way.

Fulham upbringing
Seeing Edun flourish might come as a surprise to Fulham who handed Edun just two league appearances during his time at Craven Cottage.

He featured twice during Fulham's 2017/18 promotion winning season in the Championship before joining Lincoln City in January 2020.

That's since proved to be a really shrewd move from the Imps and they could yet cash in on the Islington-born full-back this summer, with Luton Town now seemingly in pole position after Posh's exit from the transfer race.

Luton's summer overhaul
Nathan Jones has so far put together a really impressive summer transfer window at Kenilworth Road. The Hatters after their solid 12th-place finish last season have worked wonders to bring in the likes of Carlos Mendes Gomes and Allan Campbell to name a couple and signing Edun would be another keen addition.

They could yet be dark horses in the top-half of the table next season, and they coincidentally kick-off their season at home to Peterborough United this weekend.



Fulham v Boro: Warnock Weighs Up His Options

Boro boss Neil Warnock is weighing up his available options ahead of Sunday's Championship opener at Fulham.

The boss has selection dilemmas as he considers his first starting line-up of the season.

New signings Joe Lumley, Uche Ikpeazu, Lee Peltier, and Matt Crooks could all make their debuts while Martin Payero is still awaiting on international clearance and Sammy Ameobi is ruled out with a knee injury.

"We're waiting on the clearance for Martin so that's obviously a priority for us at the moment," said the boss. "He came in yesterday and met a few of the lads and he'll train with everyone this morning.

"Sammy unfortunately has a problem with his knee that keeps flaring up. He's no nearer to being fit than he was three or four weeks ago."

The boss also confirmed that Isaiah Jones has had a mask fitted after he needed facial surgery following a clash at Rotherham in the final pre-season friendly last week.



The Middlesbrough view with Boropolis

Ahead of the eagerly anticipated Championship opener at Craven Cottage on Sunday, we caught up with Nathan Rayner, host of the brilliant new Middlesbrough podcast Boropolis, to get the view from Teesside. We discussed Boro's pre-season, Neil Warnock, the hopes for the new campaign and who Fulham should be worried about ...

How excited are Middlesbrough fans for the new season?

I'm sure that every club's fans up and down the country cannot wait to be able to attend football games in the flesh once again this season, and for Middlesbrough fans it is no different!

We all cannot wait to be back inside of the Riverside after what feels like a whole lifetime since we were all last in attendance.

When it comes to the football, the Championship provides so much excitement, with plenty of highs and lows, and I am so excited to watch all the action unfold!

What are the expectations for this campaign with Neil Warnock at the helm?

I think that the expectations for the campaign ahead are a pretty mixed bag from Middlesbrough fans.

Last season, Boro started reasonably well and were vying for the final playoff places in the first half of the season but despite reinforcements being brought in during the January transfer window (Fulham's Neeskens Kebano being one!), the team fell away and finished in a comfortable 10th place – progress on the previous season under ex-manager Jonathan Woodgate.

I think some fans are looking at the coming campaign with a little bit of pessimism and predicting a similar season to last; however, many are looking forward to seeing what other reinforcements the club can bring in and hoping that the club can push on into the playoff places... after all, doubt Neil Warnock at your peril!

How has the summer recruitment and pre-season gone?

In terms of summer recruitment, the club have managed to bring in a few players that look to be much more suited to the way that Warnock would like to play.

Uche Ikpeazu and Matt Crooks have been brought in as forward options from recently relegated Wycombe Wanderers and Rotherham United respectively, whilst, the club have been linked with a few different players from abroad – something which has got plenty of fans excited.

One name previously mentioned in the Boro rumour mill was Flamengo forward Rodrigo Muniz, who now looks set to sign for Fulham!

Pre-season has been okay for Boro, with a week in Cornwall; a trip to York, and a visit to Rotherham all offering up Warnock some food for thought after a few wins and one loss.

What sort of side do you expect to field on the opening weekend?

Pre-season has seen Warnock switch between a back three and a back four, though I would expect us to set up in a 3-5-2 system come Sunday afternoon.

Who should Fulham be worried about facing in the Middlesbrough side?

If I had to give one player to look out for, it would be Duncan Watmore – brought in on a free transfer last season and ended the season as the club's top goal scorer. Though, I would say that the team doesn't necessarily have many standouts. They work as a unit and are very much a "Neil Warnock team", with regimented defending and 100% effort in every position.

Is everyone looking forward to coming to Craven Cottage?

Boro's initial allocation of 1,000 tickets sold out within four minutes last week. I think the club may receive more hopefully but I'm within no doubt that the away end at Craven Cottage will be a sell-out!

Can you give us a prediction for Sunday?

I would be over the moon with a 1-1 draw this Sunday and that is what the optimist in me is thinking. However, as a realist, I think Fulham will run out 2-1 winners on the opening weekend!

We'd like say a massive thank you to Nathan for his time. Do check out Boropolis (on Youtube, Spotify and Apple Podcasts), who also run a terrific Twitter feed, and best of luck to Middlesbrough for the forthcoming campaign.



Fulham star 'looks set to leave' this summer – 'Has several requests', Cottagers 'would like to extend contract'

Despite Fulham being relegated back down to the Championship, the exodus has been kept to a minimum, with only Stefan Johansen, Marcus Bettinelli and Kevin McDonald leaving the club.

The rest of the exits were expiring loan deals, and money was invested in Liverpool's Harry Wilson while Paulo Gazzaniga arrived from Tottenham on a free.

One man, however, who could be a big sale for the Cottagers is AndrΓ©-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who has ended up on AS Roma's wishlist this summer.

Failing to attract Granit Xhaka, the Serie A side have started to look elsewhere, ending up on the Cameroon international, 'who has several requests and looks set to leave the London club during the summer'.

That's according to Corriere dello Sport, who explain that despite this, Fulham value him at €20m and ideally 'would like to extend his contract and make him the player around whom they rebuild the team to immediately attempt a return to the Premier League'.

Down their end, Roma have 'made an enquiry, but do not intend to reach €20m'.

That's despite JosΓ© Mourinho knowing Anguissa 'well', most likely from his time at Tottenham, where he will have been able to witness him first hand.

It's a story that's only just started, but it's clear Roma won't overpay for anyone this summer, which was exemplified in their failed attempts to lower Arsenal's asking price for Xhaka.



All the latest Middlesbrough team news ahead of Fulham clash

Neil Warnock faces a number of selection dilemmas as his Middlesbrough side prepare for Sunday's clash with Fulham.

It's the first game of the Championship season for both sides and while the Teessiders have made six summer signings, he faces a bit of a headache with regards to availability.

Joe Lumley, Lee Peltier, Matt Crooks and Uche Ikpeazu are all in line to make their debuts for the club, however Warnock is set to be without Hayden Coulson (illness) and Sammy Ameobi (knee) for this one. The medical team will make a late decision regarding Marcus Tavernier and Marc Bola who missed a significant amount of pre-season through injury.

Speaking to the Northern Echo, Warnock explained: "He's (Ameobi) got a problem with the knee. Not the bad knee that he had but it keeps flaring up and at he moment it doesn't look like we can stop it from flaring up so I don't think he's any nearer to being fit than he was three weeks ago.

"He's (Coulson) got two more days with the Covid. We've a few little sniffs of the virus which we've got to overcome, we're still getting tested everyday. It's one of those things I'm afraid. For whatever reason, the majority of the players don't have vaccinations which I think is wrong but that's how it goes.

"We've got a problem on that (left) side, it's how we sort it out. I know Bola's training so we'll have a look how fit he is. Pelts (Lee Peltier) has played on that side, Djiksteel's played on that side before so we'll just have a look in training and I'm sure we can come up with something.

"Isaiah (Jones) did really well before he smashed his nose at Rotherham for a young lad but it might be asking a lot to play against Fulham first game of the season for a young lad so we'll have a look."

Warnock also discussed the prospect of Martin Payero featuring with the club's official website, saying: "We're waiting on the clearance for Martin so that's obviously a priority for us at the moment.

"He came in yesterday and met a few of the lads and he'll train with everyone this morning."



Fulham Poised To Beat Middlesbrough To Rodrigo Muniz

Fulham are closing in on a deal to sign Flamengo forward Rodrigo Muniz, who is also a target for Middlesbrough this summer, it has been claimed in Italy.

The 20-year-old forward has been a big target for two clubs in Championship, who have been chasing him this summer.

Middlesbrough have been in talks with his agent and Flamengo in Lisbon about taking the forward to Teesside in the ongoing transfer window.

Fulham manager Marco Silva is also a big fan and the Cottagers recently tabled a bid to take Muniz to west London this summer.

And it seems an agreement is imminent as, according to Italian outlet Tutto Mercato, Fulham are set to finalise the deal to sign the forward today.

The negotiations are at an advanced stage and they are on track to beat Middlesbrough to his signature.

The Cottagers are set to splash out a fee worth €8m and they are expected to work out personal terms with the player today as well.

Muniz will fly out to England as soon as he gets the green signal from Fulham and Flamengo.



Neil Warnock confirms Middlesbrough won't be signing Rodrigo Muniz, despite new reports

Rodrigo Muniz was a player on Middlesbrough's summer wishlist but looks set for Fulham

Neil Warnock has confirmed that Middlesbrough have missed out on striker Rodrigo Muniz, despite new South American reports claiming they were back in the race.

The Brazilian striker has been on Boro's radar for around a year now and there were serious talks held with Flamengo to bring him to Teesside along with Argentine midfielder Martin Payero this summer.

After talks with the player's representative, they felt ready to progress the deal and chief executive Neil Bausor flew to Lisbon last week to finalise it.

However, while Boro met with the Brazilian club's officials, Muniz's agent was talking to Fulham and had convinced Boro's opening day opponents to themselves enter the race. And with their Premier League parachute payments, the Cottagers were able to outbid Boro and win that battle.

But after Warnock conceded defeat on the striker last week, reports later emerged in South America that Fulham had started trying to renegotiate the agreed price down, thus bring Boro back into the race.

Sources indicated to Teesside Live earlier this week that those reports were wide of the mark and likely driven with the intention of pushing Fulham along with their own negotiations.

And speaking ahead of the trip to Fulham on Sunday, Warnock has confirmed that no such move for Muniz to Teesside will be happening.

He said: "I think we've missed out on that but it was worth a shot. I think we were in the driving seat for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, but it looks like we've missed out on that to Fulham. But you know, hey ho. That's how these things go, isn't it?

"We've just got to keep looking and not worry too much about it.

"We probably lost out on the odd striker by waiting [for Muniz], but that was my decision really, to hang fire and see if we could get the lad.

"Now we do still need another option there because we are thin and we could get injuries. We just can't do with the numbers we currently have.

"I do have Matt Crooks who can help me out in that areas as well if I need to."

The end of the Muniz pursuit is likely to bring an end to Boro's summer of South American scouting, with the club now focused on targets closer to home - including a new striker. A pursuit of one in particular from Europe is still active, with the deal being described as one that will shock Boro fans if they were able to get it over the line.

Despite missing out on the highly-touted young Brazilian, Warnock says he rarely ever gets down about missing out - taking more of a what will be, will be outlook.

"I think I said that last year about somebody," he said. "It's their loss because Middlesbrough's a great place. It will be somebody's lucky day really that I didn't take them and I get somebody else in. Somebody who wants to come really.

"I'm never disappointed really in missing out on players.

"Possibly I was on one last season because I thought we could sign one but other than that, I've never been. I always think what will be will be really.

"I mean, for example, I went after two players at Cardiff - or one of them was even here actually - and the kid got injured and never played a game hardly. So you just don't know what's around the corner."



Fulham exchange documents, close to completing signing – Club managed to keep big percentage of future transfer

It now looks like Flamengo striker Rodrigo Muniz can no longer escape from Fulham's hands.

According to the latest reports from Brazil, the clubs are now sorting out the final details before his transfer to the Championship side can be announced.

Journalist VenΓͺ Casagrande, who's been covering the whole saga, writes that Flamengo officials Bruno Spindel and Marcos Braz went to Spain to 'finalise the operation' along with the player's agent.

It's said the clubs started the exchange of contracts so the transfer can be done. The parties are now set to check the documents as the last part of the operation.

Casagrande claims that the deal should now be completed for €8m. At first, Flamengo would have only 20% of a future transfer, but after recent talks, the Brazilian side managed to convince Fulham to let them get 25%.

Rodrigo Muniz is 20 years old and still hadn't been able to be a regular starter at the Rio de Janeiro club, given the many stars they have for the position. He has five goals and one assist in 24 appearances for the club.

The player tested positive for Covid last Saturday, and that should delay his presentation at Fulham a little.



Reed among Fulham injury doubts

Fulham boss Marco Silva says there are a number of players facing late fitness tests ahead of Sunday's Championship opener against Middlesbrough.

Tom Cairney isn't one of them – he's definitely out.

Along with defender Terence Kongolo, the Whites captain is still struggling with a continuing knee injury.

And Harrison Reed is causing concern.

The midfielder missed the 1-0 win over Charlton last Saturday, with Silva explaining tomorrow's training session will decide Sunday's team.

The good news is that keeper Marek Rodak has been passed fit after also missing out against Charlton.

Silva said: "Marek is completely fit: it was only a precaution last week.

"About Harrison Reed, he is a player in doubt and we have one more session when we take important decisions, not just about him but about some of the others."

The new boss admits he sought advice from Portuguese managers who have worked in the Championship to discover just how tough a league it is, with eight more games than the Premier League for starters.

He said: "Yes, we are one of the favourites, but the three relegated sides always are.

"But our players believe this is also a chance to play again in the Premier League, and I have asked about this league.

"Who? There were Portuguese managers who have managed here before."



Reed faces late fitness test

Harrison Reed will have a fitness test to determine if he can feature in Fulham's Championship opener against Middlesbrough on Sunday, according to Marco Silva.

The Fulham head coach confirmed that Tom Cairney and Terence Kongolo will definitely miss the meeting with Neil Warnock's side at Craven Cottage with injuries that are still preventing them from taking a full part in training. Reed, who missed the final friendly against Charlton last weekend, was described by Silva 'as a player in doubt' and Fulham are planning to assess his fitness again after tomorrow's training session.

There is better news regarding Slovakian international goalkeeper Marek Rodak, who also missed the Charlton victory:

"Marek is completely fit: it was only a precaution last week."

Silva downplayed Fulham's status as promotion favourites with the bookmakers, highlighting the unpredictability of the Championship.

"In a competition you have favourites, and the three that got relegated are favourites, it's normal. We have seen examples in the past that it's not easy. Bournemouth are a good example last year, they kept a good part of their squad."



Pre-Boro Press Conference

Marco Silva is relishing his first taste of Championship football, starting when Fulham host Middlesbrough on Sunday.

Our Head Coach has plenty of experience in the English game, but he's previously only ever managed in the Premier League.

"It will be a big challenge, I don't have any doubts about that," he admitted in his pre-match press conference. "Of course I spoke with some people who know the competition.

"I haven't participated yet, I will start on Sunday, but with so many years working in England, I have followed and been aware of the Championship.

"It's really tough, a long journey for us. So many games, short space between games to prepare for the next one.

"The only way I can see of preparing for this competition is to think about one game at the right moment, when it's finished then you analyse and start to prepare for the next one, because the time is really short between one and the other.

"You have to analyse as quick as you can, feedback to the players, but in the meantime start to prepare for the next one. Long, long journey, tough, tough competition.

"Everyone is looking forward to the game. But for all of us, it's not the first time. We are all experienced enough to deal with the situation, and we will be ready to start the competition against a good side.

"I hope we can play with the quality that we've been working on so far."

The weekend will see the biggest following at Craven Cottage since a 2-0 win over Preston North End 18 months ago.

Asked if he's looking forward to having a proper crowd in attendance, Silva replied: "Definitely, I'm really looking forward to that. It will be a good feeling for sure.

"I expect a very good atmosphere in our stadium for the first game. Everyone is expecting a good game from ourselves, and from our opponent of course.

"It's a tough game for us but, as I said, it's the beginning of a long journey for us. With the fans behind us, we'll be stronger for sure. Craven Cottage behind us, making everything difficult for the opponent, will be the best way to deal with this competition.

"We have to feel good playing at home, we have to feel at home, we have to feel comfortable with the situation, even though all the games will be really tough.

"The opponents will come here to make life really difficult for us but we have to be able to answer in the right way.

"With the right atmosphere at Craven Cottage, everything will be more difficult for our opponents.

Marco Silva
Fulham Head Coach

"As a technical staff, and myself, we are looking forward to that.

"We have to give good feelings to the fans during the matchday and make them feel proud of our team.

"I'm not saying that we will win all the matches that we'll play, but we have to do everything to win.

"Our commitment, our desire to win has to be 100 per cent there. Of course, anything can happen in a football match, but our desire and commitment has to be there always."

Neil Warnock is in the Boro dugout these days, a familiar face to Fulham supporters from our battles with Cardiff City in recent years.

"I've come up against him in some games," Silva said. "Everyone knows his history in this competition, and in the Premier League as well.

"He has his way he likes his teams to play. It's not for us to try to guess his line-up because the first game is always difficult, but the idea and what they try to do I think is clear to everyone.

"The way they play, the way they try to do things, they are strong. In that style they are really tough to beat and it's up to us, in our way, to do what we want to do in the game, to show our quality, and the same commitment and desire as them."

The Whites' squad is full of players who have won promotion from the Championship before at least once.

A number of those did not feature as often as they would have liked in the Premier League, but Silva has had no problems in terms of attitude.

"I don't want to talk too much about last season," he explained. "I was not here and I have to be fair to the people who were here working last season. It was their decision at that moment.

"It's a new season now, new challenge and what I can tell you is that since the first day everyone has had the right mentality, right mindset to work.

"Everyone is aware of what the Championship means for us as a club, and what our aims are in the competition.

"I saw players with the right mentality to work, to learn as fast as they can, what it means to be in this competition, and to take our ideas on board as fast as they can."



Marco Silva not concerned with favourites tag as Fulham prepare for new season

Fulham manager Marco Silva insists the club are not feeling the pressure of being among the promotion favourites as he prepares for his first game in charge.

Middlesbrough, under manager Neil Warnock, will be Fulham's first opponents of the new Championship season as Craven Cottage could welcome more than 2,000 fans for the first time since February 2020.

The Cottagers were relegated last season after just one campaign back in the Premier League, while Silva had been out of work since being sacked by Everton in December 2019.

Silva took the reins on July 1 after Scott Parker had departed to become Bournemouth manager, and insists being labelled as one of the league favourites is of no concern to the squad.

"When you look for the Championship competition and the contenders, it is normal that you create some favourites and the teams that got relegated, normally they are the three contenders to the competition and they are the favourites, or everyone calls them the favourites," Silva said.

"There is something natural, it is normal for us and it is not even a pressure for us because we look for that as a normal situation in football.

"Given time, we and other clubs will for sure try to do the same and get to those spots on the table that can give us the chance to play Premier League next season, and there are enough past examples that it is not so easy as everyone thinks."

The Fulham squad were heavily reliant on the loan market last season, including five members of the first team and stand-in captain Joachim Andersen, but the new manager says he is satisfied with his squad.

""I am happy with the players that we have here but sometimes to say that we kept all the squad is not true," the 44-year-old said.

""We kept our players, but if you remember we played last season with five loan players and none of them are here today. I'm not working with them."

Silva has already made two signings since taking charge, bringing in midfielder Harry Wilson from Liverpool and former Tottenham goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, but more deals could yet be made before the end of the transfer window.

"Until August 31 anything can happen in football, even something you don't expect," he said.

"We are ready for anything that can happen in the market. We didn't have some offers for some important players in our squad.

"Of course I would like to keep all of them, but we are looking to the market to strengthen our squad as well."



EFL pundit delivers prediction as Fulham clash with Middlesbrough

It's a new season and a new manager in charge at Craven Cottage this season as Marco Silva returns to English football with Fulham.

With Scott Parker departing the Cottagers for pastures new, the Khan family hunted down a manager who will play attacking football and hopefully get Fulham back to the Premier League at the first time of asking, and Silva has been tasked with that responsibility.

It will be no easy start for the Portuguese man though as Middlesbrough and Neil Warnock are the first visitors to west London this Sunday.

Boro will probably be coming to stifle Fulham's attacking talents, but it isn't just on the pitch where they're rivals with the two clubs locked in a battle in recent weeks for Brazilian striker Rodrigo Muniz.

Warnock conceded defeat in that race today with Fulham set to bring the 20-year-old to London, but even though Silva's men may have won that battle, EFL pundit David Prutton cannot split the two teams on the pitch this weekend with a 1-1 draw predicted.

"Fulham are back in the Championship and once again right among the favourites to return to the Premier League again with Marco Silva at the helm," Prutton wrote on his Sky Sports prediction blog.

"With Aleksandar Mitrovic up front in this league you have to fancy them.

"It has been a summer of shrewd business from Middlesbrough, and Neil Warnock would not still be there at this stage of his career if he didn't fancy them for promotion.

"With him in charge they are contenders. I'll back a draw here."

The Verdict

When Warnock's Boro side go to a strong attacking outfit away from home, you know what you're going to get from them – a lot of men behind the ball and to hit them on the counter attack.

The only issue here is that with no senior left-wing-back option to choose from, Boro could be exploited down that side, with Fulham having the likes of Kenny Tete and Bobby Decordova-Reid who could cause damage in that area.

Middlesbrough do look relatively strong in other areas of the pitch though but Fulham will be looking to impress from the get-go in-front of their fans – and of course they have Aleksandar Mitrovic fit and raring to go and he has a ridiculous record in the Championship.

I can only see this going one way and that's a comfortable home victory.



Kebano keen to make an impression

Neeskens Kebano is determined to make an impression on new Fulham boss Marco Silva – and help the Whites bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

The French-born Congolese winger's tough upbringing in the Parisian suburbs means he doesn't get too down when thinking about the rather stop-start nature of his Fulham career – as he told the Sun in a wide-ranging interview ahead of our Championship opener.

"There's a saying in the Bible which I don't know the exact translation into English – but essentially it is, 'You could be suffering today, smiling tomorrow then laughing the next day. Don't be stuck in your mood, life goes on.' You'll have a good game, another good game, maybe a bad game. You can't overthink things. Just do what you know and keep living your life."

"I didn't grow up on the Champs-Elysees. I grew up in a suburb of Paris where you don't have the new Nike trainers, the new branded jeans. You have to do what you have to do. Most of our parents from this community made sacrifices themselves just to make sure their children were not in need."

Kebano's passion for helping those less fortunate remains and, together with friends, he donated to and then organised a relief effort to support the Congolese communities struggling to deal with the pandemic.

The government forbade everyone from going outside of their homes but in Congo that's hard because the only way they earn their money is by selling bread, fish and water in the streets. If you're asking them to stay indoors, how can they live, eat and drink? How do they feed their families? We decided to send out some rice, oil, face-masks, hand-sanitising gels, that sort of stuff – just to give people there some sort of help."

He has also worked on an innovative project with his international team-mate and former Newcastle defender Chancel Mbema to pay medical fees for pregnant mothers. That comes as no surprise to anyone who has seen Kebano bouncing around Fulham's training ground or featuring in the viral video content put together by the club's media team. He clearly has a strong social conscience.

Sunday's game against Middlesbrough will be particularly special for Kebano, who spent the second half of last season on loan at the Riverside having only been offered five first-team appearances by Scott Parker. The winger can't speak highly enough of Boro boss Neil Warnock.

"I enjoyed my time at Boro because I was playing and an important player. It was one of the best dressing rooms. There was a good mix of older and younger players. Sometimes an experienced player doesn't want a younger one to show their potential because that makes him a threat to his position in the team – but that wasn't the case at Boro. like how Neil Warnock managed it – even players who weren't playing were positive. I was playing cards and things. It was a good vibe."

Kebano knows he will have to deliver in order to seal a place in Silva's starting line-up.

"He's demanding. That's the main thing. Before talking about tactics and the work we do, he knows what he wants from each of us. We speak about fine margins that can give us the edge – even just to draw a game when we can't win. They'll make the difference and help if we go up again. I like the idea of yo-yoing back to the Premier League. Then we must stop!"