In the latest Collins Column, Jack J Collins takes a look at Slavisa’s promises of squad rotation and whether or not they will come to fruition.
Slavisa Jokanovic is nothing if not a good media manipulator. This week, he’s kept Fulham fans happy by complimenting FFC legend Chris Coleman, his opposite number this weekend; but more importantly he talked about the way he uses his squad.
His point was that despite the fact that there are numerous players in his squad, he can only pick 11. This is a fact that even the most ardent Slavisa opponent would find it hard to disagree with.
The issue is that no-one was debating that to begin with. No-one was suggesting that it would be the best course of action if Slav was to start with 20 men on the field – what people have been suggesting is that Slavisa’s squad selection has been at best, questionable; and at worst, actively harmful to Fulham’s promotion chances.
The time has come for Jokanovic to back up his words with action. With Kebano, Ayite and Piazon injures (albeit on the way back), Graham and Mollo deserve their shot. Against a side like Sunderland, who will have to sit back and absorb pressure, Sess at left back should be a real consideration.
In no way am I suggesting that this is Sess’ best position. But against a side who will look to stifle, the full-back overloads make perfect sense. Playing two inverted wingers with Rui Fonte or Kamara inside them allows for the overlapping Sess and Fredericks to provide Fulham with men over.
Mollo should be utilised on the alternate wing to Sheyi Ojo, with Jordan Graham given at least half an hour to make an impact. These two games ahead are the perfect opportunity for Jokanovic to back up his words with actions, and to allow a squad full of talent to determine its true worth.
Fulham’s Number 1
The David Button/Marcus Bettinelli debate reached peak split last weekend with Bettinelli’s inclusion the XI being met with a chorus of assent before he went on to display exactly what we’ve been suggesting for weeks.
Bettinelli’s distribution was as bad, if not worse, than Button’s has been for the whole season. That’s not to say he had a bad game in the slightest, but suggestion that the two are exponentially different in terms of their output is one that is surely by now, completely disproved.
Whoever is in goal should have the backing of the Fulham faithful behind them. If you’re booing Button when he boots a ball out of play and then ignoring it when Bettinelli does exactly the same, you’re selling yourself short.
As eyes inevitably turn towards January, questions soon will be asked about whether Slavisa is getting the backing he wants in the transfer market.
There will still be an element of statistical analysis, which (if done right) is a good thing. James Lovell is widely accepted to be someone who Slavisa respects and this will surely put the ball in his court in this window.
The manager has been given a free whip by the press in being able to blame tactical failings on the fact he was not in control in the transfer market. This, therefore, represents his key opportunity to bring in the players he wants and then work with them. If that doesn’t work out, there are no more scapegoats to blame.
Black Cat Hurdle
Saturday is a perfect place to get the performances back on track. A good start at Sunderland and the Stadium of Light will take a turn for the negative, which will help Fulham out.
Slavisa has to go for the jugular and take the game to the Black Cats – if he does, there is no reason we could not have another Ipswich on our hands and it could be a crucial moment in turning performances around this season.