After a slow start to last season, it turned out to be an excellent campaign for the Cottagers, as they won promotion at Wembley by beating Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final.
Fulham were one of a number of sides to strengthen heavily in the summer window. They strengthened across the park in a number of positions, and became the first Premier League club to spend over £100m upon promotion. In an almost complete squad overhaul, signings such as goalkeeper Sergio Rico and Andre Schurrle arrived on season-long loans, meanwhile large fees were agreed for Andre-Frank Anguissa, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Jean Michael Serri.
However, these signings have not made it plain sailing for the Lilywhites upon their re-introduction to the Premier League, still yet to secure their first point as fellow London clubs Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur snatched maximum points from the Cottagers. Perhaps the squad are in desperate need of time to gel, making over a dozen new additions, or perhaps the problems at the Cottage run slightly deeper.
Slavisa Jokanovic and Shahid Khan did not account for the need for a top quality defensive midfielder to protect the centre-backs in Premier League football. The loss against the Eagles on the opening day was a perfect example of the Jokanovic’s sides vulnerabilities. Despite controlling much of the ball, Palace could hit them on the counter with ease, with new signing centre-back Alfie Mawson left badly exposed. Due to the lack of top quality defensive midfield option, once Palace had turned over possession and got the ball forward, 2-on-2 and 3-0n-3 situations were created all too easily. This is because Fulham’s midfield, containing the creativity and attacking qualities of Tom Cairney, were too advanced up the pitch and unable to track back. They sorely missed the presence of a holding midfielder, willing to sit deep.
Slavisa Jokanovic will live to regret this oversight in the summer transfer window.