Disorganised, gutless and with a manager unsure of his best team, Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham are staring at Premier League relegation with 100 in the goals against column
- Fulham slumped to the foot of the Premier League after 1-0 loss at Huddersfield
- The defeat against relegation rivals has left boss Slavisa Jokanovic on brink
- Sam Allardyce and David Moyes are the bookmakers’ favourites to replace him
- Jokanovic has struggled to replicate Fulham’s free-flowing football in top-flight
- 12 summer arrivals have made Serbian manager unsure of his strongest team
- His tinkering in defence has left Fulham on course for record goals against tally
It comes to something when the official club Twitter account announces the result with the message ‘really sorry everyone’ before telling the fans ‘you deserved better’.
But for Fulham, an autumnal Monday night in Huddersfield represented an acid test as to whether they truly belong in the Premier League. And they failed it miserably.
They turned in another spineless, disorganised and disengaged performance in a 1-0 loss that saw them replace the Terriers at the bottom of the table.
A dejected Andre Schurrle trudges off after Fulham’s 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield Town
Ryan Sessegnon looks downcast as Fulham slumped to another defeat on Monday evening
Manager Jokanovic stands on the brink of the sack after just 11 league games this season
Fulham replaced Huddersfield at the bottom of the Premier League after their loss on Monday
FT: Really sorry everyone ?
[1-0] #HUDFUL pic.twitter.com/tuYOpGA9p3
Thank you to the #FFC fans who joined us at the game tonight. You deserved better. Safe journey home. pic.twitter.com/wrK17gpjkw
Their manager Slavisa Jokanovic now stands on the brink – the man who guided them so stylishly back to the big time facing the sack just 11 matches into their return.
Inevitably, Sam Allardyce and David Moyes, two managers seen as football’s equivalent of fire-fighters, have the shortest odds to replace the Serb, who looks increasingly like a man who has exhausted all his options.
Fulham’s season already resembles a salvage operation with the team leaking goals at a rate that could easily lead to an unwanted line in the Premier League record books.
Various beatings in the early stages of the season have seen Fulham concede 29 goals so far at an average of 2.64 goals per game.
If they continue to let them in at such a rate, they will surpass 100 in the goals against column.
Fulham, who have conceded goals this season at a rate of 2.64 per game, are on course for an unwanted Premier League record. Source: Opta
Timothy Fosu-Mensah deflected a Christopher Schindler header into his own net
Huddersfield celebrate the goal that lifted them off the bottom of the Premier League
All Premier League
November 11 Liverpool (A)
November 24 Southampton (H)
December 2 Chelsea (A)
December 5 Leicester City (H)
December 8 Manchester United (A)
December 15 West Ham United (H)
Swindon Town conceded 100 in the 1993-94 campaign — the Premier League’s worst-ever record – but that was over 42 games rather than the present 38.
Judging by their gutless showing at Huddersfield, some of the players have already given up on Jokanovic and the season as a whole. ‘We were a little bit confused, some players a bit scared,’ said the manager.
There was certainly little fight, spirit or cohesion in evidence and Huddersfield, who hadn’t won this season until Monday night, could easily have scored more.
Jokanovic is responsible to a certain extent, but not entirely.
Fulham achieved promotion last season, beating Aston Villa in the Wembley play-off final, with a settled side and an attractive brand of football.
They were the great entertainers of the Championship, tearing opposition defenders apart with their well-developed brand of attacking football.
Schurrle and his team-mates look downbeat after conceding a third against Bournemouth
Ryan Sessegnon was unstoppable last season but has struggled for Premier League impact
Teenager Ryan Sessegnon was a revelation after being moved from left-back to the left side of attack. Captain Tom Cairney was a dynamo in midfield.
The goals of Aleksandar Mitrovic, signed on loan from Newcastle in January, proved the missing piece of the puzzle.
But this successful side has been ripped up by no fewer than 12 summer signings.
While owner Shahid Khan wanted to make a statement of intent with £100million of summer outlay, the side-effects have been negative.
Tasked with integrating these new signings – five of whom arrived on deadline day in August – Jokanovic now has no idea what his best starting line-up is and it shows in Fulham’s performances.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah concedes a penalty by tripping Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson
Denis Odoi and Marcus Bettinelli in animated discussion following the 5-1 loss to Arsenal
NEXT FULHAM MANAGER ODDS
7/2 – David Moyes
6/1 – Sam Allardyce
7/1 – Chris Coleman, Claudio Ranieri
9/1 – Michael O’Neill
10/1 – Brendan Rodgers, Frank de Boer
The leaky defence is a case in point – there hasn’t been a single Premier League match this season when Jokanovic has stuck with the same back four.
On the opening day of the season against Crystal Palace, he started with four new faces at the back – Fabri in goal and Joe Bryan, Maxime Le Marchand and Calum Chambers in defence.
He then introduced newcomers Timothy Fosu-Mensah at right back and Alfie Mawson at centre half.
Eventually, he brought back old faces Marcus Bettinelli, Denis Odoi, Tim Ream and Sessegnon, but nothing has stemmed the flow of goals against.
Against Arsenal at Craven Cottage last month, they lined up with five at the back and conceded five.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa is beaten in the air by Huddersfield’s Steve Mounie
Jean Michael Seri is beaten by Bournemouth’s David Brooks during last weekend’s clash
Fulham have generally remained true to their 4-3-3 set-up of last season, but this has been far less effective against higher quality teams in the Premier League and Jokanovic has tinkered over and over again.
It’s led to a sense of confusion, with new signings and old heads alike under-performing.
Jean Michael Seri and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, signed from Nice and Marseille respectively, have failed to provide the required bite in midfield, while on-loan Andre Schurrle blows hot and cold.
Cairney and Sessegnon were expected to take the Premier League by storm but have been playing well within themselves. Kevin McDonald’s injury on Monday night is another blow.
Kevin McDonald leaves the field at Huddersfield after picking up an injury on Monday night
Tom Cairney reacts angrily to a misplaced pass during Monday night’s defeat in Yorkshire
Andre Schurrle appeals to the linesman after being flagged offside at Huddersfield
The service for Mitrovic last season came from wide areas and was generally excellent, but the Serb striker has cut a frustrated figure this season.
He hasn’t scored for five league matches now and is often being required to take on entire defence by himself as a target man. The service is lacking.
Really the only player to cover himself in glory has been Bettinelli, who earned an England call-up for the saves made in trying to keep the score down.
It all adds up to a sorry picture and Jokanovic has altered starting line-ups and tactics so much it appears he has run out of ideas.
Aleksandar Mitrovic speaks to Jokanovic during the loss at Huddersfield on Monday night
Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic reacts furiously during Fulham’s recent home loss to Bournemouth
Fulham’s owners now face a stark choice – stick with Jokanovic and his failing ‘project’ of trying to play free-flowing football, but make an immediate return to the Championship.
Or dismiss him and hope a Moyes or Allardyce sails the ship to safety.
Worse still, with their next fixture a trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool this Sunday, that goals against tally looks likely to take another hammering.
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