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Monday Fulham Stuff - 18/09/23...

Started by WhiteJC, September 18, 2023, 08:00:12 AM

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Premier League: Fulham's boss Silva talks up ex-Everton man Iwobi's debut display in Luton Town win

The Super Eagles winger passed a late fitness test in London after returning from international duty with Nigeria last weekend

Fulham boss Marco Silva has hailed Alex Iwobi's contribution in the club's narrow 1-0 victory over Luton Town on Saturday, reports.

Iwobi, who joined Fulham from Everton this summer, made his debut as substitute Carlos Vinicius's second-half strike handed the Cottagers all three points at Craven Cottage.

Luton Town had done a great job keeping Fulham's attack at bay for the best part of an hour before the Whites' manager Silva introduced Vinicius and Iwobi in the 62nd minute.

Three minutes later, the Brazilian forward finished well inside the danger area following good work from former Chelsea man Willian.

Iwobi showed off his playmaking attributes in the 28 minutes he was on the pitch, as he made 35 touches and completed 87% of his 30 passes.

After the match, Silva admired Iwobi's display and the contributions of Timothy Castagne, who joined Fulham from Leicester City in the summer.

    "First-half, we lacked something dynamic to be honest to create chances," Silva said, as per Tribal Football.

    "Second-half, some improvements, more dynamic and the two changes made a huge impact in the game.

    "Nice to see Timothy impress out of his natural position, even if he can play left or right. He can play both sides so well and he's a great addition for us, definitely.

    "Nice to see Alex (Iwobi) come in and get his first minutes. They are going to improve for sure. The way we play is going to make them better players, for sure. We're really happy to have them."

Fulham finished in tenth position last season and already have two wins and a draw in five games this term to sit in ninth place.


Mitrovic's latest comments will not go down well with Fulham fans
After seemingly going on strike in west London, Aleksandar Mitrovic, was always going to end up leaving Fulham in the summer, it was just a question of when.

As something of a cult hero at the club, loved by the fans and a certain starter when fit, the striker had no reason to leave the Cottagers other than the embarrassment of riches on offer in the Saudi Pro League.

A subsequent switch to Al-Hilal meant that Marco Silva would be without the bullish hit man, and any feelings that the Premier League club had for him at that time will have arguably disappeared by now after his latest outburst.

"Al-Hilal is a bit like Real Madrid in Europe. It's difficult to make comparisons," he was quoted as saying by Bernabeu Digital.

"It's not at Premier League level yet, but at this rate it will be in the future. In Arabia I was positively surprised by football and people's interest in it."

Regardless of the spin being put on things by players, clubs and the Saudi Pro League, the fact remains that it is well behind the Premier League in terms of development and entertainment, and anyone can read between the lines of what players are saying.

In Mitrovic's case, comparing Al-Hilal to Real Madrid is, frankly, ridiculous and, in hindsight, Fulham might feel that they've done exactly the right thing in selling a player that clearly has ideas well above his station.


Marco Silva complains about refereeing decisions going against Fulham in the Premier League
Fulham manager Marco Silva has been left frustrated by a gruelling schedule that he feels has been exacerbated by some poor refereeing decisions against his side.

The Cottagers moved into ninth place after they claimed their second win of the season through Carlos Vinicius' 65th-minute winner.

But Silva felt hard done by after the officiating during their 5-1 defeat at Manchester City and Tim Ream being shown red in their 3-0 loss at home to Brentford last month.

"We've had five games with a tough schedule and many decisions against us," Silva said.

"Sometimes it's important to remind you because you forget the many decisions against us that have had a huge impact in the Manchester City game, Brentford game after the penalty and red card.

"It's not an excuse, but it's a reality. 40 per cent of our XI didn't have a normal pre season because they were injured and this group of players showed great togetherness, organisation in moments in the way we play. We took points away from home and I'm pleased with the way they work and their commitment.

"It's easy to say we lost 5-1 (Manchester City) but the game should have been 1-1 before it went to 2-1 and the fourth goal is not a penalty. If the goals were disallowed and they didn't have the penalty then the result would be completely different."

Silva praised Vinicius' impact off the bench after the striker replaced Raul Jimenez in the second-half to open his account for the season.

And the Fulham boss admitted that chance creation needs to improve but credited Vinicius' hard work to try to break into the starting XI.

"It's an opportunity for him (Vinicius) and the other strikers as well," Silva added.

"He's working really hard and improving like Raul (Jimenez) and they need to compete and we'll decide who will be the best striker for each game depending on our strategy

"If we didn't build that moment (for the goal) when we went between the lines with Alex Iwobi before the ball arrived for Willian (who assisted) then it doesn't matter which striker we play on the pitch.

"If we don't create for them then they are not going to score. We have to create more chances, we have to perform better for our strikers to score more goals but it's nice to see one of them score the winner."

Luton have now lost four straight games and sit at the foot of the table.

Rob Edwards' side nearly grabbed a late equaliser through Tom Lockyer but they failed to bring the score level despite a positive spell late on.

"We have to try and stay in the games," Edwards said.

"It's important we don't go 2-0 down and we maintained a presence by keeping it at 1-0 and turning up the heat later on. We made the changes and started to press high and forcing the issue."


Karim Fayed savours 'special' tribute to his father
Karim Fayed has thanked the Fulham faithful for their 'special' tribute to his late father Mohamed Al-Fayed before, during and after the Whites' 1-0 win over Luton Town yesterday afternoon.

The Egyptian billionaire's youngest son, who took a leading role in the development of Fulham's Foundation and served as the club's vice chairman for the final year of Al-Fayed's tenure Craven Cottage, joined club director David Daly and the Fulham Supporters' Trust chair Simon Duke in laying floral tributes to his father before a minute's silence in Al-Fayed's honour.

The home fans sang Al-Fayed's name throughout the first home game since the former chairman's passing and greeted the team, who wore black armbands, by swirling special scarves in the way he did before games at Craven Cottage.

Karim Fayed told the Athletic's Peter Rutzler:

"It was wonderful. One of the things that I remember from my time here is that it was important for my father to engage with the fans in many ways. It's one of the things where we felt very close. For me it was a fantastic opportunity, watching him take the club to where it is now. It is something I will always keep close to me. The scarf-waving was a brilliant idea. Not many chairmen did that.

I really enjoyed watching the club, bringing fantastic players [to Fulham], watching those players in the Premier League. They were rare moments and fantastic days when I was growing up. I'm extremely proud that he's also managed to keep the club where it is and pass on the baton. It is a club that we we all want ... to stay in the Premier League for a time.


Positives and negatives: Fulham 1-0 Luton Town

A hard-earned victory in the splendour of SW6 in mid-September, happily picked apart by Cam Ramsey. Grand.

Our second win of the 2023/24 season wasn't a belter, it wasn't one that'll live long in the memory, but it was paramount. We have to gain three points from destined basement boys like Luton Town, no disrespect, that is literally what they are and no matter how you spin it, we got the job done and that's the bottom line.

We commemorated the passing of club saviour Mohamed Al Fayed, we were silenced for the tragic deaths in both Morocco and Libya, a toll in its thousands – it's just a shame the grubbiest fan base in existence couldn't cooperate. These knuckle draggers are cluttering up the joint and I sincerely hope that they set a new top-flight low, because their supporters dragged them down to the pits.

Anyway, that's one shitheap out of the way, and up next is a short trip to Selhurst Park. The joys. We're yet to have found momentum, obviously as we're only five weeks in, but let's use this victory as a platform to really push on and against Crystal Palace, we've got no excuses. It'll be tight, unpredictable, although I'm hankering for another 3-0-er and as we're good value on the road, there's every chance that could be the case. Get up!

Banana skin: swerved

A first victory at the Cottage, a clean sheet to boot and a potential banana skin of a fixture swerved as Marco Silva celebrated his 100th game in the dugout. Luton probably looked upon their visit to the capital with optimism, the possibility of racking up their first Premier League points against a Fulham side that hadn't quite found their feet would've been their ultimate focus and to their credit, their stubborn resilience was commendable.

Rob Edwards's Hatters aren't blessed with true top-flight talent but they graft, they're unified and while the Whites monopolised the game with 78% possession – the greatest amount of time spent on the ball in the Premier League since records began – the visitors fashioned what were arguably the better opportunities and we were actually fortunate not to have been a few goals down before we eventually broke the deadlock.

It doesn't matter how you win, and given Luton's desire to frustrate, this single-goal victory is oh-so satisfying. Perhaps we tried to be a little too intricate in our attacking sequences, cute flicks and Cruyffs were often intercepted within heavy congestion but we continued to chisel away at our guests' rigid shape and that's testament to our collective determination in testing circumstances, too.

It wasn't an attractive spectacle; Luton's typical grit made for a physically sapping encounter and we had to ensure that weren't led astray. A team as antagonising as Luton could've manipulated the mental battle, they set out to ruffle feathers but we remained disciplined, our sense of purpose was constant and we now also know so much more about ourselves than we did beforehand.

You don't have to secure dubs at a canter, synchronised, flawless football isn't always the ideal method and it's proven that Silva's side rise to the challenge more often than not. We can discount expected defeats at Manchester City or humbling home losses against Brentford because at the Emirates, and indeed on Saturday afternoon, Fulham didn't relent. They were determined to pick up maximum points, it was non-negotiable, and that is a characteristic which is hugely necessary at the highest level, and not all teams have it either.

Vini's instant impact

Like many, I am still unsold on our striking options following the transfer window's closure, but returning to first-team matters, Carlos Vinicius's game-changing impact was instant and while he could've bagged a brace, his efforts were very well received. We've three recognised strikers at our disposal, Vinicius, Raul Jimenez and Rodrigo Muniz. Of that trio, there isn't an outright favourite or a consistent goal-getter however Vini's form is promising and as Jimenez hasn't opened his account, should the Brazilian start ahead of the Mexican?

Within three minutes, upon his first outing for the Whites, Vini's opportunism paid off and his animation contrasted Raul's. That's four goals and an assist in his last six appearances for the Whites, we cannot be sure why he wasn't selected by Silva in our opening fixtures but honestly, Carlos surely deserves the nod and I fully expect him to lead the line at Selhurst Park next weekend. His winning contribution was a proper striker's finish, alive and energised in the danger area as any number nine should be and that alone is enough to warrant a spot in the matchday XI.

Castagne's first 90 of many

Adaptability is a prominent feature of Timothy Castagne's make-up and while he's a recognised right-back by trade, the Belgium international was fielded at left-back upon his full debut for his new club and he was excellent. It wasn't unnatural to Castagne, he appeared to be quite comfortable on the opposite flank and he dealt with a fleet-footed Issa Kabore without hesitancy, by hook or crook.

Ready to support his teammates wherever required, the 27-year-old bombed it up and down his channel to both instigate and infiltrate in equal measure. He's a balanced defender, a tidy distributor and he isn't afraid to hurl himself into combat either. In Antonee Robinson's sudden absence, the former Leicester City utility specialist deputised to a complimentary standard and his aptitude across a range of roles is going to be advantageous as the schedule hots up. Castagne can cover a number of positions, from right-back to right-wing, and as injuries will almost certainly blight the squad at some point, we'll be able to plug the gaps with a tried and tested expert, not an inexperienced stand-in.

I like what "Timmy Chestnuts" brought to the jamboree. As first impressions go, his was intriguing because while he's viewed to be a rotational option behind Jedi and indeed Kenny Tete, he's definitely skilled enough to muscle in on the starting string and this will be his first 90 of many. That's undeniable. He's streets ahead of Kevin Mbabu and Layvin Kurzawa for that matter, we've credible defensive depth and Timothy's capable of competing in multiple capacities.

Iwobi's enlivened initiation

Another summer signing that introduced himself to CC for the first time was Alex Iwobi and again, his initiation was one that spoke volumes. In the same way Castagne can function in varying positions, Iwobi is the midfield equivalent and as he replaced a slightly bruised Harrison Reed in the 62nd minute, his liveliness in the centre of the park was pronounced.

The 20-odd million pound addition was a terrific mediator between attack and defence, in advanced areas his movement and attention to detail was constructive and if possession was overturned by Luton, his willingness to recover and disrupt was also effective. Gravitating to the run of play, always ready to retrieve and rotate, the Nigeria international enlivened our approach play and he is going to be an influence throughout the campaign.

We have bolstered the ranks with Everton's undisputed talisman. For once, we have poached a top, top player from a Premier League rival and I'm frothing to see what he can conjure up in the coming weeks. He's going to be a big, big problem for opponents, his interchangeability is a gift, not just a bonus and at 27 years old, working under a manager he genuinely respects, he's going to stamp his mark and he's going to stake a claim.

If we're going to deploy him centrally, he has to be untethered because if he's granted the freedom to roam, he'll cause a ruckus. This is the conundrum, though: who do we drop? Do we swap Alex for Andreas Pereira? Do we partner him with Joao Palhinha at Harrison's expense? Do we let him loose out wide and if so, who's making way? It's a headache but truthfully, it's one we can appreciate.

Business as usual for Joao

Fresh from putting pen to paper on a shock contract renewal (presumably at gunpoint, as his helmet of a brother would have you believe), Palhinha got back to business in black and white with a performance worth its weight in gold – or eighty million quid if Bayern Munich's asking – and as if we didn't know so already, the wantaway midfield showcased precisely why he's being stalked by crazed Bavarians with a fetish for deadline day tardiness.

Putting the past few weeks behind him, the 28-year-old wasted no time on setting the record straight and up against Luton's midfielders, bless 'em, J-Pally's presiding rule was unshakable. He was maniacal, opposing ball carriers braced themselves as he charged at pace and, as ever, nothing or nobody survived in his unforgiving company.

As an opponent, entering the middle third of the pitch must be like treading through classified military minefields when Palhinha's present. Players depart proceedings with PTSD, Marvelous Nakamba and Sambi Lokonga will need counselling because every time they even glanced in the ball's general direction, the Portuguese battering ram had them seeing stars, and he was one of them.

If he simply wishes to knuckle down, to commit 100% as he's promised, I will not begrudge Joao. There is a pecking order, Bayern are an institute that demands titles; they're perennial Champions League contenders and if they'd have sparked a dialogue with Fulham earlier in the window, I've no doubt that he'd be lining up at the Allianz Arena right now. He isn't, though, and as we lap up another Man of the Match outing, loaded with clinical challenges, hard knocks and 25-yard poo whistlers, little, insignificant Fulham will continue to reap the benefits from Joao's world-class input.


Awaiting Raul's reignition

Returning from a fruitful international break with Mexico in which he dispatched three goals in two games, Jimenez was named as our lone ranger up top and as much as I want him to succeed, as good as he is under the surface, he has to dust the cobwebs off at club level. I don't want this to be misconstrued, all I want is for Raul to reignite and when he does, it'll be a weight off everyone's shoulders, not just his.

Service from wide areas wasn't up to scratch, which didn't help the 32-year-old's cause, and as he was swarmed by Luton's sitting defenders, Raul's outing was distinctly ordinary and the only moment of note was a botched attempt at an overhead kick (which I rate, strangely). He was decent on the ball, he wasn't a passenger by any means, but as he's intended to be our main scoring source, he has to dig deeper and he has to master his demons which are evidently still at large.

We didn't really play to his strengths, I get that, we tend to neglect direct routes for complexity and in the first half in particular, even when we swung crosses into the mix, they were either undercooked or overhit. At the moment, Jimenez is still acclimatizing to new demands but his primary responsibilities as a striker haven't altered, it's simply a matter of when and where for him. What he needs is a goal like Vini's, a routine, bread and butter prod from close range but annoyingly for him against the Hatters, he was rarely where he needed to be and that is something only he can rectify.


Four-star Fulham Women smash Saltdean
Georgia Heasman bagged a brace as Fulham Women made it three wins in a row and ended Saltdean United's 100% start to the season with a 4-1 win at Hill Park this afternoon.

Saltdean, who had won 4-0 at Enfield Town last weekend, began brightly with Georgia Bridges seeing a second-minute strike ruled out for offside before Heasman hit her first shot of the afternoon over the bar and the lively Lilly Lambird whistled one wide. The visitors went in front on the twenty minute mark when wing-back Madi Parsonson scored straight from a corner.

Steve Jaye's drew confidence from their summer signing's stunning strike and doubled their lead five minutes later. Heasman scored her fourth goal of the season after being set up by Sasha Adamson to give Fulham a firm foothold at one of the division's in-form sides. Sophie Manzi and Adamson had chances to score a third before half-time but the Whites' flawless away display saw them head in at half-time with a deserved two-goal lead.

The returning Mary Southgate radiated confidence at the heart of Fulham's back three, who stepped up astutely to end a promising Saltdean attack at the start of the second half to see Lucy Jellett flagged offside. Manzi almost converted a fine free-kick from Megalie Mendes but United managed to clear the danger before the former Dulwich striker saw a snapshot saved.

A third goal looked on the cards and it came as substitute Mia Adaway seized on a defensive lapse to play in the ice-cool Heasman for her second of the afternoon. Adaway, who arrived from Portsmouth last month, then fired home Fulham's fourth with fifteen minutes remaining. The Cottagers couldn't keep a clean sheet as Chloe Nye grabbed a late consolation for Saltdean after Olivia Dale had hit her own crossbar with an attempted clearance – but that couldn't take the shine of an accomplished away display.

The Whites have moved into second place in the early table two points behind Dartford and will look to keep their impressive run going against Millwall Lionesses at Motspur Park next Sunday afternoon.

FULHAM FC WOMEN (3-4-3): Parker; Tagliavini, Dale, Southgate; Parsonson, Mendes, Hill, Lambird; Heasman, Adamson, Manzi. Subs: Gibbs, Adaway, Huntrods, Barron-Clarke, Buchele.

GOALS: Parsonson (20), Heasman (25, 67), Adaway (75).

REFEREE: Lisa Bean.


Super Eagles' Iwobi breaks curse in Fulham's win against Luton Town
Alex Iwobi featured in all of Everton's 38 Premier League matches in the 2023/23 season, and recently saw a run of 52 consecutive league appearances end due to a hamstring injury

Super Eagles forward Alex Iwobi has finally won a game on his debut after Fulham's 1-0 win over Luton Town in a Premier League fixture at the Craven Cottage on Saturday, reports.

The 27-year-old made a switch from Merseyside to London on the final day of the summer transfer window, having spent the last five years at Everton.

But a hamstring injury he suffered in Everton's 4-0 defeat away at Aston Villa, in what was his last game for the Toffees, had to delay his debut appearance for Fulham.

Iwobi finally got the chance to put on his new club jersey in a Premier League game on Saturday, coming on in the 62nd minute to replace Harrison Reed. His presence would prove lucky as Carlos Vinicius struck three minutes after his introduction to hand Fulham their second win of the season.

For Iwobi to have ended up on the winning side in his debut appearance for the Cottagers, it was the first time in his professional career that he ended up on the winning side for a new team.

Having come through Arsenal's youth system, Iwobi was first involved in a first-team match as an unused substitute in a League Cup match against West Bromwich Albion on 25 September 2013.

In what was his maiden first-team appearance, Iwobi suffered a 2-0 defeat with the Super Eagles in a friendly game against the Democratic Republic of Congo on 8 October 2015, coming on to replace Ahmed Musa in the 57th minute.

On 27 October 2015, he made his first team appearance for Arsenal in a 3-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup.

Iwobi did not fare better on his Everton debut, coming on to replace Gylfi Sigurdsson in a 2-0 loss at Aston Villa.

The 27-year-old will be aiming to return to the Super Eagles squad for their friendly game against Saudi Arabia next month, having missed out on the team that beat minnows Sao Tome and Principe 6-0 a week ago.


Veni, Vini, Vici
It wasn't as pretty as we've come to expect but Marco Silva got what he wanted. The Portuguese manager didn't realise he would be taking charge of his hundredth game in charge of Fulham this weekend but after briefly entertaining the highs he's overseen since replacing Scott Parker after the Whites' meek capitulation to the drop during Friday's press conference, he insisted the 'nice number' would mean nothing without three points.

Silva got the victory he craved to help down the page after a tricky August for everyone connected with the Whites. Fulham will feel the loss of Aleksandar Mitrovic for a while yet – we'll gloss over the Serbian's laughable assertion that his Saudi paymasters are on a par with Real Madrid – and it seemed that the Cottagers might have to contend with Joao Palhinha's exit on transfer deadline day. But the collapse of our tenacious tackler's move to Bayern Munich remarkably led to the ex-Sporting schemer signing a new deal alongside his partner in the engine room, Harrison Reed, and instantaneously, the mood around Craven Cottage lifted.

Beating Luton on an emotional day when the Fulham faithful paid tribute to Mohamed Al-Fayed was never going to be as straightforward as some had suggested. Rob Edwards' side were fired up by some inane comments from Garth Crooks, which could easily have served as the Hatters' pre-match pep talk. The visitors' best performance of the season saw them serenely soak up all of Fulham's possession and create the better chances for good measure too. Carlton Morris snatched at an early volley, Jacob Brown should have buried a free header and Reed was fortunate not to give away a penalty when he took out Morris at a set play.

Luton continued in much the same vein in the second half, with Brown creating a glorious chance for Amari Bell, whilst keeping a feeble Fulham front line at bay with ease. Last season's side had goals everywhere – even discounting Mitrovic, you always felt the likes of Andreas Pereira, Willian, Harry Wilson or even Reed and Palhinha could pop up with something special. By contrast, yesterday afternoon, Raul Jimenez was easily nullified, Pereira appeared peripheral, whilst Wilson ran into orange shirts having ventured off the right flank in search of the ball. It's no surprise that Fulham were far from fluent so soon after an international break – but the reshaping of Silva's side means being miserly at the back is now vital.

Fortunately, the Whites have a bit more depth in defence than they did at the start of last season. Issa Diop played more passes than any other Premier League defender this term – and the entire Luton side (although that includes the one he launched back to an unsuspecting Bernd Leno in the second half, whilst Tim Ream's reading of the game and dependable distribution make him ideally suited to playing out from the back. The revelation was Timothy Castagne, thrown in at left back after Antonee Robinson returned from the States with a knock, who looked outstanding on his home debut.

Clean sheets can only get you so far – and it was pleasing to see Silva shuffle his pack swifter than early in the season when games were drifting. The Fulham boss believes Alex Iwobi can be an asset and the Nigerian definitely added a new dimension to the home midfield after coming on, whilst the lesser-spotted Carlos Vinicius needed only three minutes to remind Silva just how deadly he can be. One of the mysteries of the first month of the season is why a man who deputised so well for Mitrovic last term hasn't been seen since, but Vinicius gobbled up the first chance that came his way.

I don't buy for one second that Silva wasn't interested in replacing Fulham's most potent source of goals during the summer transfer window and I'm not about to write Raul off. After all, the very people who were venturing the opinion that Vinicius was Vanarama standard last season are now saying he should lead the line in the top flight. Vinicius does now have four goals and an assist in his last six league outings so he deserves more game time, but Jimenez shouldn't be lampooned after six games. It is no shock that football fans are fickle, but Fulham will need to fashion a few more chances and play at a higher tempo whoever plays centre forward.

The biggest positive was that what might have been another frustrating afternoon actually delivered a gritty win. You don't get awarded Premier League points for style – as we discovered under Slavisa Jokanovic. Fulham will have to be more streetwise to succeed in their second season. The peerless Palhinha will help in that regard but the Whites have already demonstrated that they can triumph in adversity. Silva's fiftieth win makes him the second most successful Fulham boss in percentage terms behind Kevin Keegan (before England enticed him into the unforgiving world of international management) and I'm confident there's even more excitement ahead.


Bayern Munich eyeing Scott McTominay as Joao Palhinha alternative
Bayern Munich are eyeing Scott McTominay as an alternative for Joao Palhinha.

According to Daily Mirror, Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich are eyeing Manchester United star Scott McTominay should a move for Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha fall flat.

The German giants were close to landing the Portuguese star in the recently-concluded summer transfer window but were unable to see it through. In fact, Palhinha was in Germany and had already undergone his medical before the transfer fell through.

Now back at Fulham, the 28-year-old stunned everyone by penning a new deal that will hitch his future to the Londoners for years to come. However, the player has always dreamt of playing for a club such as Bayern and it could indicate a semblance of encouragement should the Bavarians make a renewed effort in the upcoming windows.

But then, Bayern appear to have learned from their faux pas last summer and are readying contingency plans. Manchester United star Scott McTominay is being mooted as the alternative should they once again fail to land Palhinha.

It is a curious selection given that Fulham have been eyeing the Scottish star as a replacement for Palhinha. It could prove to be an interesting set of dominoes should the saga rekindle itself in January.

McTominay has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford and can be allowed to move on for the right price. Thomas Tuchel is very keen on a new defensive midfielder and despite being an inferior option to Palhinha, McTominay can do a job in the role.

The Bundesliga giants lack a specialist defensive midfield in their ranks and also sold Ryan Gravenberch on deadline day without bringing in a replacement. With Bayern once again expected to fight on all fronts, a clinical starting XI with enough strength in depth is key.

McTominay is a no-nonsense player who is not afraid to put in a tackle. He might lack in technical prowess but can do the dirty work in the middle of the park, potentially helping the likes of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Gopretzka make a difference further upfield. The Palhinha saga appears likely to continue when the 2024 January transfer window opens. A whole host of clubs will be watching it unfold.


Club Still Feel Deal For Fulham Man Possible
Bayern Munich believe that signing Joao Palhinha is still realistic in January despite the midfielder signing a new contract with Fulham.

Palhinha was left stranded in Munich on deadline day after Bayern Munich failed to sign him before the transfer window closed in Germany.

Fulham did not sign off on the transfer despite agreeing on a fee and the midfielder passing a medical and completing all the media formalities with the German champions.

The Cottagers did not get an adequate replacement and refused to sell him but he is expected to be on Bayern Munich's radar in the winter window.

The Portuguese signed a new five-year deal with Fulham on Thursday, but according to German broadcaster Sport1 (via Fussball Transfers), it does not mean that the player is not for sale in January.

Bayern Munich still believe that signing the midfielder is a realistic option in the winter transfer window.

They are of the view that the new contract is just about giving Palhinha a pay rise at Fulham in line with his performances.

However, it is likely Fulham are likely to demand more than the €65m figure they agreed with the German champions in the summer.


Joao Palhinha puts deadline-day pain behind him after £55million move to Bayern Munich fell through as his performance against Luton shows why the Cottagers are so glad he stayed

    Joao Palhinha's £55 million move to Bayern Munich on deadline day fell through
    Fulham were unable to find replacement in time though the star was welcomed

On deadline day, Joao Palhinha flew to Munich for a medical and to sign for Bayern Munich in a deal worth £55million. It fell through after Fulham failed to sign a replacement in time and Palhinha returned to London.

It spoke volumes for his character that when his name was announced at Craven Cottage for his first Fulham appearance since then, the ovation was warm and appreciative.

'I cannot lie. It was a tough week for me and my family but I don't want to think about that anymore,' said Palhinha, after a typically determined display.

The 28-year-old signed a new contract on Thursday, committing his future to the Cottagers until 2028, but Bayern and others will return sooner rather than later.

Fulham turned down a £45m offer from West Ham for Palhinha in July and he was also of interest to Liverpool in the summer.

Joao Palhinha put on an impressive performance as Fulham beat Luton on Saturday

The Portuguese star's move to Bayern fell through on deadline day but it did not show

Palhinha's performance against Luton — beaten by a goal from substitute Carlos Vinicius (right) — was a reminder of why he is so highly rated as he displayed the tenacity that must make him a joy to play alongside.

Since his arrival last season, he has made 160 tackles in the Premier League. The next best are Everton's Idrissa Gueye and Chelsea's Moises Caicedo with 109 and 107 respectively.

Marco Silva, who signed Palhinha from Sporting Lisbon for £20m last year, understood why the player had wanted to leave.

'When one of the biggest clubs in the world come in, the player wants to go and improve. It happened with Joao but I never had any doubts about his commitment,' he said.

As for Luton, it was another defeat but their best performance of the season. Rob Edwards' team missed three glorious opportunities and should have had a penalty when Harrison Reed fouled Carlton Morris.

'It was obvious. It's not good enough (the officiating),' said defender Mads Andersen. 'It's very frustrating, it's a big thing and they should really have looked at it in the (VAR) room.'


Godo dazzles on Wigan debut
Anyone who has watched Fulham's under-21s over the past year knows just what a prodigious talent. The young winger has had a meteoric rise since being spotted shining for Margate and that starring for Steve Wigley's side after a successful trial at Motspur Park. His explosive space and ability to do the unexpected have made him one of the most electric performers at PL2 level – witness his player of the month award after an excellent August – and even earned him a first-team debut on an otherwise dreadful night at Crawley in the League Cup last season.

Godo began the season in fantastic form – scoring six goals and adding two assists in five games as as Fulham's under-21s made a superb start to life under their new coach Hayden Mullins – sealing a season-loan loan to Wigan Athletic, joining fellow former Fulham youngsters in Stevie Humphrys and Steven Sessegnon at the DW Stadium. The 20 year-old seized his chance when named in the Latics starting line-up against Cambridge United on Saturday.

He nearly provided a goal for Humphrys ten minutes before the break with some intelligent play on the right flank and then, five minutes after the striker had opened the scoring with his third goal of the season, Godo produced a moment of magic to lay on a crucial second for Shaun Maloney's side. He surged into the box, mesmerising a couple of Cambridge defenders with some fancy footwork before teeing up Thelo Aasgaard, who cannoned a shot in off the underside of the crossbar.

The U's did pull a goal back from the penalty spot through substitute Fejiri Okenabirhie but Wigan held firm to return to winning ways after the international break.


Godo brings some magic to the Tics – Wigan Athletic 2 Cambridge United 1

    Fulham loanee Martial Godo produced an impressive performance to help Wigan Athletic get back to winning ways against Cambridge United.
    Latics had lost their last two games but the on-loan winger making his debut helped to make the difference against the U's.
    The Tics might have gone ahead in the first half when Charlie Wyke hit the post and later forced a double save from goalkeeper Will Mannion.
    In a rare attack for the visitors Sullay Kaikai's long distance strike was well saved by keeper Sam Tickle.
    In the second half Stephen Humphrys broke the deadlock on 57 minutes when he cut inside and curled a superb strike into the corner.
    Five minutes later the Tics doubled their lead. Godo received the ball at the back post and the winger turned the defender inside and out before teeing-up Thelo Aasgaard who smashed the ball in off the crossbar.
    Substitute Callum McManaman made a rash challenge in the box on James Brophy on 76 minutes and Fejiri Okenabirhie converted the subsequent penalty for Cambridge.
    Despite late Cambridge pressure Latics held on for the three points.
    Latics remain in 20th place in the League One table and Cambridge are now in 10th place.

Shaun Maloney made several changes to the team which lost at Blackpool with Godo, Omar Rekik, Aasgaard and Charlie Hughes all starting.

The visitors threatened first when Kaikai fired across goal but Sam Tickle saved with his feet before Gassan Ahadme's header was easily saved by the Tics keper.

The hosts had a glorious opportunity to take the lead on seven minutes, Aasgaard put Wyke through on goal, but the normally prolific striker could only hit the base of the post and the visitors survived.

Wyke went close again soon afterwards Sean Clare crossing for the big striker but his close range efforts were twice denied by goalkeeper Mannion.

Godo was causing the visitors plenty of problems down the right hand side but also defending well when required.

Tics were enjoying the lion's share of possession but the visitors threatened when Kaikai tried his luck from distance forcing a good save from Tickle before Michael Morrison headed wide of the far post.

The Tics broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when Humphrys drove forward down the left before cutting inside and curling a superb strike into the far corner.

Five minutes later the Tics doubled their lead. Godo received the ball at the back post and the winger turned the defender inside and out before teeing-up Thelo Aasgaard who smashed the ball in off the crossbar.

George Thomas had an opportunity for the visitors on 65 minutes, but he fired over from 20 yards.

However, the visitors pulled a goal back on 76 minutes when substitute McManaman made a rash challenge in the box on Brophy and Okenabirhie converted from the penalty spot.

Cambridge applied pressure as Latics sat deep in added time and Okenabirhie was denied a second after some great last-ditch defending.

It had been a mixed display by Maloney's men but they held out at the end and were relieved to have got back to winning ways.

Latics certainly looked more of an attacking threat against Cambridge with Godo impressing on his debut. The Fulham loanee comes to the club highly regarded by the Fulham fans. If he can continue like he has started the Tics fans are in for a treat this season.

Maloney now has good attacking options with wide men Godo, McManaman, Humphrys, Jonny Smith and Jordan Jones all competing for a place in the starting line-up.

Charlie Hughes returning to the team after suspension brought much needed stability to the defence and Liam Morrison probably had his best game for the Tics.

There is, of course, still room for improvement as the build up play can be too slow and the team sometimes struggles to play through the centre of midfield. A more central role for Aasgaard would help to rectify this and link up play with the forwards.

However, overall Maloney's new team have started the season very well. It's worth noting that without the eight point deduction this team would be on the verge of the play-offs.

Post match comments
Speaking afterwards Maloney was happy with how his players performed both in and out of possession and with how they protected their lead at the end.

"The last 10 minutes – we showed a side to us which I think we've shown previously," he said.

"When we have to defend, we can defend when we are at it out of possession. The game shouldn't have ended like that.

"At two-nil, we should've been taking control of the game more, but I am very happy. I am very happy with a lot of it.

"I know it's tough for the fans, everyone has to stay patient, and sometimes we can move it quicker but it's hard to break these teams down.

"When we get it right, we've got talented players and we scored a brilliant goal to break the deadlock.

"I am confident. I've seen enough in training and in previous matches this year that we are a goal threat.

"It's something very different to what we were in my spell last season and a way of speed.

"I've still got confidence, and I can feel the Stadium. When we're more clinical, the feeling is different but overall I am very happy with the players."

Martial Godo set up Aasgaard's decisive goal, and Maloney heaped the praise on the Fulham loanee for his impressive debut display.

"I'm very pleased. I pushed really hard to get him from Fulham, and for a first senior game, I think he was very good.

"He's a talented boy, and it's a good start. He knows he needs to keep it going because there are players breathing down every starter's neck."