Collins Column: Leaving It Late (Again)

2nd February 2018

With the window slamming shut and Fulham closing out two last-minute deals, Jack J Collins looks back at a week where late was the buzzword of the week for the Whites.

It’s never simple, as a Fulham fan, is it!? As the seconds ticked down on deadline day and tempers flared across Fulham social media and message boards, it was easy to forget that this is a team currently sat in the top six of the division and in the best run of form of any side across the English professional game.

But, just like Barnsley at the weekend, Fulham managed two late salvos in order to make sure that the fans went home happy.

One, a bundled over the line deal that owed as much to sloppy play from others in the final third as it did to Fulham’s endeavour in the market; and the other a covert and slick breakaway that had been in the offing but was only converted with almost the last touch of the window of opportunity. Sound familiar?

Photo: REX FEATURES

Analogies aside, these two signings are clever bits of business from Fulham. Cyrus Christie has featured on my radar a lot, following the Republic to the death of a World Cup dream and in him we have both cover and competition for Ryan Fredericks, in the short and long-term.

Christie’s ability to whip the ball in from wide would potentially have been lost on a Fulham strike force that aren’t exactly prolific from crosses, but the addition of Aleksandar Mitrovic does seem to allay those fears.

Mitrovic, still only 23, was widely touted as one of the hottest prospects in European Football a while back, with his move to Newcastle being seen by many as a stepping stone on his inevitable rise to a top-tier club where he would continue scoring goals for fun.

Needless to say, it hasn’t quite gone to script, but with time on his side and his attributes still appearing in fine esteem for his country, I’m hopeful that Mitrovic might cause havoc in the Championship under a manager who rates him and with a creative team around him able to provide him with chances.

We talked to Gallowgate Shots about Aleksandar Mitrovic

For anyone that listens regularly to the podcast, you’ll know that I’ve been touting the signing of Jack Marriott to anyone who will listen.

You might not think there’s too much in common between an English poacher-cum-speed merchant and a physical Serbian wrecking ball, but there’s one statistic they both excel in, and that’s in taking shots.

Both players are renowned for seeing an opportunity and not being afraid to have a go, which is something that I’ve been saying would be a useful trait for a Fulham frontman (not a wide player cutting in, Sone, before you kick off).

In that regard I’m excited to see what Mitrovic can bring, and whether he can finally really start to fulfil the potential that he undoubtedly has.

In the signings madness, there’s also been not enough talk of Fulham’s late late show at Barnsley, where two injury time goals gave the Whites all three points and, perhaps more importantly, sent the travelling fans into pandemonium in the Oakwell North Stand.

As away days go, it was nigh on perfect. Good train journey, little hop on a Northern Rail rattler, spacious Wetherspoons, injury-time winners, limbs in the stands and a train home full of jubilant Fulham.

(Photo: Rex Features)

As performances go, however, it left a lot to be desired. Yes, Fulham were better in the second half, but against 10 men, it was the least expected of Slavisa’s men.

I’ve said it before, but it’s the performances that need to improve in order that we can genuinely challenge those teams around us for the positions in the league that we want to be fighting for.

That said, the pieces are now in places. I’m hoping that the new signings can give the player the boost they need in really kicking on from here to the end of the season, and being in the mix when it comes to the promotion battle.

The squad is now there, and with the exception (potentially) of one more centre-half, Slavisa has the building blocks to make his dream a reality.

Now the graft starts to make sure that everyone is ready and able to play their part in that challenge when the going gets tough.

KMac for President, COYW.

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