Q&A With Fulham

  • February 09, 2018 | By Gabe John
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/b8d5d

Despite finding themselves in the midst of an eight-game unbeaten run, Fulham will have to perform if they are to extend that at Bolton on Saturday.

Those are the views of Whites supporter Dan Crawford (@dancrawford85), who spoke to us ahead of their Sky Bet Championship trip to Macron Stadium.

In the following Q&A interview, Dan shares his views on Fulham's ambition of Premier League football, how Tim Ream's return to form has coincided with their upturn in form, as well as why the duo of Sammy Ameobi and Zach Clough could see the home side emerge victorious.

Q: Fulham go into the weekend occupying 5th place in the Sky Bet Championship. From a fans' perspective, has this been successful campaign so far and what are your aspirations for the end of the season?

A: I think it would be far to say that, initially, Fulham did hit the heights expected of them following the phenomenal form at the end of last season.

It might have been a combination of a hangover from the agonising play-off defeat, injuries to key players and the rest of the Championship having had the summer to work out how Slavisa Jokanovic likes his teams to play, but it was a very slow start.

Some fans even questioned Jokanovic's future as head coach after a defeat at Wolves in November, but the team grafted out some crucial wins over Christmas to climb the table and we are now very much back in the play-off picture. The more optimistic parts of the fanbase believe we can catch Derby in second, but for now the focus has to be on remaining in the top six.

Q: Fulham are currently on an eight-game unbeaten run, beating the likes of Middlesbrough and Cardiff along the way. What has been the key factor in your success of recent weeks - has one player shone above the rest or has it been a valiant team effort?

A: It would be easy to highlight the contribution of young Ryan Sessegnon, who has moved forward to play on the left wing and scored six goals in January alone. But the key to Fulham's recent resurgence has been being tighter at the back.

Jokanovic brought academy graduate Marcus Bettinelli back to keep goal in December and he has made some vital saves, particularly against Barnsley and last weekend in the win over Nottingham Forest.

Just as crucial has been the superb form of Tim Ream, someone the Bolton fans will remember fondly, who has been an absolute revelation since coming back into the side and is arguably Fulham's Player of the Season so far.

Q: In the reverse fixture, Wanderers were agonisingly denied all three points at Craven Cottage as Tom Cairney headed home in stoppage time. Wanderers gave a good account of themselves on the day - can you see similar events occurring on Saturday?

A: I thought Bolton were really unlucky at Craven Cottage back in October. They defended really bravely, were well organised and posed a real threat on the break - and showed commendable spirit.

I watched last Friday night's win over Bristol City and those battling qualities, as well as plenty of skill, were in evidence again.

I'd expect Phil Parkinson to want his team to show a bit more adventure at home and that may suit Fulham, who have struggled this season to break down sides who have sat in and been patient against us.

Q: Looking forward to Saturday - who would you view as Fulham's biggest threat and, vice versa, who do you view as Wanderers' key man?

A: It rather depends who Jokanovic goes with up front. Rui Fonte has shown signs of adjusting to the physicality of the Championship - with a couple of goals against Burton Albion - but Fulham have real options in attack now, with Aboubakar Kamara hitting his stride over Christmas, and Aleksandar Mitrovic, who arrived on deadline day, enjoyed an excellent debut as a substitute last week.

Bolton would be wise to watch out for Sessegnon and Matt Targett, who have struck up a strong understanding down the left flank.

I've always been a big admirer of Zach Clough, so it will be interesting to see how he goes at Bolton again. He's always had the ability to find an extra yard of space and, either create something or crack off a shot, whilst Fulham have struggled against strikers of the ilk of Sammy Ameobi so if the pair play together then they may pose real problems for the visiting defence.

Q: Finally, how do you see Saturday's game panning out and, more importantly, will Wanderers avoid the drop and Fulham secure promotion?

A: Fulham will be after a win here to extend their fine recent run, but they would be foolish to underestimate Bolton and I'm sticking to my belief from the last preview I did with you that Wanderers have enough quality to get out of trouble.

We've always enjoyed our visits to Bolton - it's a very special club, with a welcoming set of fans - and I do hope that you can survive. I'm going for a 2-1 Fulham win, but it certainly won't be straightforward.

As for our promotion prospects, I can't bring myself to jinx Fulham's fabulous form at the moment. We've never even won a play-off match, but records are there to be broken, and the immediate target has to be keeping ourselves in that top six.

After this weekend, Fulham have six matches that include three or four against potential promotion rivals that will probably define our season - so we'll have a clearer idea by the end of February.

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
20 Sunderland 0 0
21 Tranmere Rovers 0 0
22 Wycombe Wanderers 0 0
23 Bolton Wanderers 0 -12
24 Bury 0 -12
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Poll

Who is Bolton's 2018/19 Player of the Year?
34.62% Gary O'Neil
19.38% David Wheater
18.92% Pawel Olkowski
9.27% Joe Williams
5.33% Jason Lowe
4.13% Sammy Ameobi
2.85% Josh Magennis
2.75% Mark Beevers
1.19% Jack Hobbs
1.01% Ben Alnwick
0.28% Andrew Taylor
0.28% Craig Noone