Here’s a feature article from Helene on how Fulham could be facing relegation despite spending £100m on transfers in the summer.
Fulham could be facing relegation alongside Huddersfield
Fulham are languishing just one off the bottom in the Premiership table. Strangely enough, putting their immediate supporter base to one side, they remain one of the most popular teams in English football.
This popularity is evident particularly among the older generation of football fans who remember players the likes of George Best, Bobby Moore, Alan Mullery and Rodney March all of whom spent the final years of their great soccer careers at Craven Cottage. Fulham are also the oldest London football team to have played in the football league.
Today, without any classic players on their parole, and although they have spent in excess of £100-million this season, they are still struggling.
Their biggest spends this season have been £27-million on Jean Michael Seri who came from OGC Nice; £22.37-million on André Zambo Anguissa, the defensive midfielder formerly of Marseilles, and Aleksandar Mitrovic who they bought off Newcastle for £18.18-million.
The biggest problem for the Cottagers has been their defence. Even after their activity in the transfer market, they had the worst defensive record in the Premiership. In their first 12 matches under the reign of Jokanovic, they conceded 31 goals.
Of course, there is little room for sentiment in football. So, Serbian born Slavisa Jokanovic, who brought Fulham up from the Championship last season, but who after the first twelve matches this season saw the club with a total of only five points, had to go. Club owner, Shahid Khan, brought in Claudio Ranieri as his replacement.
Khan is reported as saying that Ranieri is a risk-free option who is ready-made for both the Premier League and the uphill struggle that Fulham face it they are to stay in the Premiership. Ranieri did after all lead Leicester to their extraordinary Premiership title.
The Italian has already faced his old club once when his new club managed a 1-1 draw at the Cottage. He will be hoping for a win when they meet again at the King Power Stadium.
Ranieri will need all of his experience to the most out of Fulham’s remaining games.
It is therefore strange though that one of Ranieri’s first signings, Ryan Babel should be an attacker. Given the Cottager’s poor defensive record you might have thought he would be shoring up his defence. But Babel does have a good pedigree. He began his professional career with Dutch side Ajax, before joining Liverpool in 2007. At 32 years of age, however, he is no youngster.
But it is his experience that is already beginning to tell. The Dutchman had an excellent debut appearance in Fulham’s 2-1 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur. He also played an influential role in their defeat of Brighton. At training, Ranieri is pleased to note that Babel gets involved with some of the younger players, giving them tips on what to do.
It is though Fulham’s defence that still lets them down. In the weekend’s game when they lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace, it was full-back Cyrus Christie’s handball that gave away a penalty, in what Ranieri criticised as a stupid error. On the back of Mitrovic’s glaring miss when he headed the ball wide of the Palace goal, it signalled a looming defeat.
While at the other end of the table the odds are stacking up for a Liverpool or Manchester City Premiership title, at the bottom of the table and with the number of remaining matches rapidly dwindling, Fulham are beginning to look odds on for joining Huddersfield in relegation.
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