Another Saturday, another manager and another defeat. I would love to say that 2016 couldn’t be as bad as 2015 was for us Fulham fans (although to be fair that is what we said about 2014) but it didn’t get off to the greatest of starts.
The home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday was Jokanovic’s first game in charge and, if anything, perhaps sufficed in highlighting the monumnental task that faces the former Watford manager. Coming away with 68% possession we still managed just the one shot on target. Perhaps an inidcation of how low expectations are at the moment is that most people were at least somewhat satisfied by the fact that the winning goal was at least a belter, rather than an all too familiar defensive error.
By now, most of us are aware that the challenges facing our club in the coming months are as much affected by the events off the pitch as they are on it. While many Championship teams will be looking to make investments that could aid a late push for promotion, we face a transfer embargo in January having fallen foul of financial fair play. On the plus side, at least we have no expectations of acquisitions this time round and won’t need to worry about deadline day shenanigans and who we “should have been in for”. Our main concerns will be on who we could potentially lose given the reported interest in a number of our players.
Given his inability to be able to bring in “his own players”, the next few weeks could be a blessing in disguise for the remainder of the season. The argument under interim manager Stuart Gray was that many of the players were never going to buy into his way of thinking given his interim status and the likelihood of fairly imminent change. In Jokanovic, we hopefully have someone capable of implementing a style, some belief and positivity while getting the best out of the undoubtedly dcecent squad we have.
Whether this comes in the form of playing McCormack anywhere other than left midfield, finding a midfield that offers combativity as well as creativity, or even plugging a few holes in a defence that really shouldn’t be one of the worst in the Football League, remains to be seen, but as per usual we as fans have little choice but to blindly support our new man and hope that he can turn results around.
My suspicions are that we may well endure a few more turgid performances before we see a step forward. Jokanovic hopefully can use the upcoming FA Cup fixture to make a few tweeks and begin implementing his style on the players best suited to carrying it out on the pitch. As bad as the current situation is I still don’t believe we are in danger of going down. The positivity around the appointment was always going to take a knock with defeat in the opening fixture but as fans we should remain confident in the long-term progression we could make under Slavisa and the potential to have a defined style of play for the first time since probably Mark Hughes departed back in 2011. Well one we can enjoy anyway!