Q&A With Fulham

  • October 28, 2017 | By Gabe John
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/2cfa0

Bolton's two most recent outings prove they have the quality required to compete at Championship level and avoid an immediate return to League One.

Those are the views of Fulham supporter Dan Crawford, editor at HammyEnd.com, who spoke to us ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet Championship fixture between the two sides at Craven Cottage.

In the following Q&A interview, Dan shares his views on the task that lies ahead for Phil Parkinson's side between now and May, how Tim Ream overcame a poor start to become a fans' favourite at Fulham, as well as memories of Wanderers' last league win at the Cottage - back in 1992.

Q: Last season, Fulham were agonisingly close to a return to the Premier League, losing narrowly to Reading in the semi-finals of the Play-Offs. Bearing that in mind, can you see Fulham replicating something similar to last year's campaign and go one further this time around?

A: The run at the end of last season to reach the Play-Offs was absolutely sensational. Fulham made up 11 points on Leeds and played some flawless football to make the top-six, but were ultimately nullified by a cynical Reading side at the Madjeski Stadium.

Whereas opponents last year had little answer to the patient passing football that prised open defences, sides now have have a greater idea of how Fulham will play - and Slavisa Jokanovic hasn't come up with a convincing Plan B.

The Championship is a notoriously unforgiving league, so just reaching the Play-Offs will be a tough task, especially as Fulham's start to the season can only be described as stuttering.

Q: Slavisa Jokanovic has been at Craven Cottage since 2015. What have you made of the job he has done and do you believe he is the right person to take Fulham forward?

A: Jokanovic's achievement in totally transforming a side that, at one point, looked in serious danger of relegation, to one of the divsion's most attractive teams shouldn't be understated.

He's loved by the Fulham fans for the fact that he's both a hard taskmaster and fiercely ambitious, and has his side playing easy-on-the-eye football, competing at the right end of the table.

He already has one Championship promotion - with Watford - on his CV and I think you would struggle to get a better manager at this level.

The last Fulham side to play such sublime football was Jean Tigana's Division One title-winning side at the turn of the millennium. Jokanovic's team aren't at that level - and there are question marks about whether a team that values possession and passing so highly can succeed in the Championship - but it is great to watch.

Q: A familiar name to Wanderers fans is Tim Ream, who left in 2015 to join Fulham. How has he performed over the past two years?

A: Tim Ream has overcome a tough start to firmly establish himself as one of the most popular members of this Fulham side.

He was brought in alongside Richard Stearman to bring some experience to a defence that was far too generous, but it wasn't until Jokanovic paired him with Tomas Kalas for the American's outdoubted class to shine through.

Bolton fans won't need me to tell them that Ream always gives his all and his ball distribution from the back is a fundamental part of the way Fulham play. He's also far more thoughtful than most modern footballers and has formed a genuine bond with the fans.

Q: Turning our reflection to Bolton - can you see any sort of hope for Wanderers fans this season and, more importantly, will we survive the drop?

A: I think the last two results have shown what quality there is in the Wanderers squad and that the team definitely has the ability to survive in the Championship.

The fantastic victory against Sheffield Wednesday and the point against QPR show that, when Wanderers are able to put their best players on the park, they have the quality to match anyone in the division.

It was good to see former Fulham midfielder Darren Pratley make his mark against Rangers and we look forward to welcoming him back to Craven Cottage this weekend.

Q: Looking forward to Saturday, who would you pick out as Fulham's biggest threat to Wanderers?

A: It's no coincidence that Fulham's rather indifferent start to the new season has coincided with Tom Cairney's struggles with a knee injury.

The captain has played a part in Fulham's last two fixtures from the bench, but a fully-fit Cairney alongside Kevin McDonald and Stefan Johansen at the heart of the midfield makes such a difference.

It remains to be seen whether the Scottish international will be able to start this game, but Wanderers will need to watch teenager Ryan Sessegnon's penetrating runs down the left flank carefully as well.

Q: It's been 25 years since Wanderers picked up three points at Craven Cottage. Do you see Bolton ending this miserable run or will the slump continue?

A: Fulham have been fairly accommodating hosts so far this season - and it seems like the Craven Cottage fortress built up during the Premier League years is a thing of the past - so I can certainly see Bolton making a game of it.

I remember reacting with fury when Alan Stubbs scored the fourth goal on that November afternoon back in 1992 - and I'm sure Wanderers will travel with a bit more confidence now after those last two results.

Whatever happens in the game, I'd like to wish Wanderers the very best for the rest of the season.

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 AFC Wimbledon 19 17
20 Tranmere Rovers 18 17
21 Milton Keynes Dons 19 14
22 Southend United 20 6
23 Bolton Wanderers 16 2
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