Time’s running out but Jokanovic remains positive

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Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic. PICTURE: ACTION IMAGES


Morgan Phillips

By Morgan Phillips

For the second time in a week Fulham underperformed at home. 

Having surrendered two points to Blackburn Rovers, Tom Cairney and his team were then well beaten by Wolverhampton Wanderers. 

On neither occasion did the players manifest the confidence and mastery that they had displayed against Newcastle just days before. The Wolves keeper Carl Ikeme enjoyed a peaceful afternoon, and Ryan Fredericks and Ryan Sessegnon struggled to contain the visiting forwards, especially Helder Costa.

In the 34th minute of a dull first period Fredericks seemed to have thwarted Costa but he hesitated and allowed the Portuguese to dispossess him and create a goal for Ivan Cavaleiro. Fulham went into the break 1-0 down, and conceded again after the restart when a seriously undermanned defence watched Andreas Weimann find the net.

Only two home players can have felt any satisfaction from this match: Denis Odoi came on as a substitute and scored almost immediately, and Floyd Ayite returning from injury almost deceived Ikeme with a fierce drive. By that time Wolves were leading 3-1, Costa having outfoxed Ryan Sessegon.

Fulham’s teenage star had his quietest game so far but his progress this season has been astounding. Unluckily for him as an apprentice he has been earning just £3.30 an hour up to a maximum of £99 a week. 

These amounts are laid down by the League Football Education agreement. Not surprisingly the League has given Fulham special permission to pay Ryan appearance fees and win bonuses.

Even more startling than Ryan Sessegnon’s basic pay was the BBC Breakfast feature on Fulham’s cryo-chamber at Motspur Park. 

In what looks like an overlong caravan thinly clad players were subjected to sub-zero temperatures for two minutes on the day before and the day after a match. 

The pre-chamber alone was minus 60 degrees Celsius. Mike Bushell had to try it out for himself and found the experience ‘like knives in your legs and arms’, though afterwards he felt positively superhuman. So why didn’t we beat Wolves?

The international break (which involves several Fulham players) has arrived with the club still outside the play-off places, but Slavisa Jokanovic remains positive: “In front of us is eight more games …. It’s not time to finish the season, it’s time to push harder still, to recover ourselves and try and do everything to be in the top six, come the seventh May.”

After three of those eight matches season ticket holders will have to decide whether to renew for 2017-18. 

It is an earlier cut-off date than usual with the present season’s outcome unlikely to be settled. But we are a loyal bunch, and if we find that we have paid for 19 home matches in the Premier League instead of 23 in the Championship there will not be too many complaints.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

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