Fulham: Work to still be done
Let’s not get this wrong. Fulham have made good signings this summer. A lot better than the last one. Mike Rigg (or whoever is in charge of transfers there now, God only knows) has seemingly decided that signing “good” players from “good” teams is going to work out a lot more than signing “good” players from “bad” teams (Mike, a little hint: there’s a reason no one rushed out to sign Jamie O’Hara after a supposedly “good” season with Blackpool).
There’s one problem though. We still have a ton of work left to do in the market. Pending Ross McCormack’s departure to whichever of the 3 relegated sides (Aston Villa, Newcastle, Norwich) is seemingly going to sign him (Yes, it’s going to happen), Fulham still have to sign: a Striker (preferably 2), one more CM (I’m not expecting Scott Parker to play any more than 15–20 games this season and a midfield rotation of LVC, Tunnicliffe and McDonald scares me quite a lot) and a winger (Aluko, Ayite, George Williams and…?). So make that, what, 4 signings, at the least for Fulham to have any hope of competing for promotion?
Here is my predicted lineup for this Saturday’s friendly against Crystal Palace, barring any sudden signings (No, I don’t expect any of Ryan Sessegnon, Tayo Edun or Dennis Adineran to feature in the friendly or season ahead).
As you can see, it’s, well, “better”, for lack of better word. That defence should be much improved with Madl and Kalas (Please Slavisa, keep this partnership consistent throughout the season). I have no idea if Tim Ream would be fine with playing at LB but the thought of Scott Malone starting there initially seems terrifying. LVC and McDonald will be an interesting dog fight against the likes of Cabaye, Mcarthur, Mutch, etc. LVC’s health is something that we must pray stays steady throughout the season. I just don’t trust the likes of Ryan Tunnicliffe yet and as stated, I’m not banking on Scott Parker playing too much.
Up top is what worries me the most. Cauley Woodrow’s finishing leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t doubt for a second that Ayite, Cairney and Aluko can create chances for him but we really need to see a better Woodrow than we have in season’s past, if he’s to be the main guy. Just to clarify, I doubt Woodrow is the starting striker by the end of August (Barring a miracle with Ross, it’ll be a new striker). But hey, I’m prepared to give Cauley a couple chances during August.
In all honesty, Fulham should do better this year. They have to. The defence can’t be as leaky as it was last year. 3 of last year’s centre back culprits have left (Dan Burn was bloody awful and it doesn’t seem he’s been having the best of pre-seasons with Wigan and Amorebieta wasn’t much better. Also, who’s Shaun Hutchinson?). We can’t expect Fulham to score anywhere near as many goals as they did last season (Duh). But, with an improved defence (and an actual idea about defensive tactics *cough* Kit Symons *cough), who knows. I mean, Middlesbrough got promoted with their top scorer in the Championship scoring 8 goals. But we still need to improve the team. In many ways.