On the 14th of November, Fulham made a monumental double announcement. One was the sacking of Slaviša Jokanović while the other was the appointment of Claudio Ranieri. The announcement sent shockwaves around the world of football as Jokanović was a fan favourite at the Cottage, having taken over the club in 2015 and led them back to the promised land.
Regardless, in a statement on the club’s website, owner Shahid Khan thanked the 50-year-old for his time but stated that the club’s current flight couldn’t continue hence the appointment of the former Premier League winner.
The Cottagers currently sit bottom of the Premier League having lost nine out of 13 games. Such a record isn’t good enough when you consider the newly promoted side spent £100m in the summer. Over the weekend, Ranieri led Fulham to only their second win of the season. But the Italian will need more than tactics to avoid a return to the Championship.
Here’s what Fulham need to do in January to avoid relegation.
New Left-Back to free up Ryan Sessegnon
André Schürrle is experienced and intelligent but his best days are certainly behind him. Meaning he can no longer run past full-backs and beat them for pace, instead, he needs to be stationed on the shoulder of the opposing defence. On the other side, the exciting youngster Ryan Sessegnon should be the one running at defenders and crossing from the by-line.
On the weekend, we saw a prime example of why this set up needs to be a permanent scenario as the 18-year-old produced a stupendous assist for his German counterpart on the other flank. Whether it be on loan or permanent transfer, Ranieri needs to find a defensively solid left-back that will give Sessegnon the freedom to occupy the left flank in the final third.
No team in the league has conceded more goals than Fulham this season. Claudio Ranieri’s men have conceded an astonishing 33 goals in 13 games, resulting in a goal difference of -19. Although Fulham signed Calum Chambers on a season-long loan deal, more defensive cover is needed in January.
Chambers may have arrived from a big club, but he’s the product of an era of defensive naivety at the Emirates, meaning he still makes mistakes a player his age shouldn’t. He needs an experienced and mobile centre-back next to him to deal with what the league has to offer. I don’t know why but I feel a Gary Cahill transfer could be on the cards, the more you think about it, the more it makes sense
Jean Michael Seri is one of the most versatile midfielders in European football -there’s a reason he was linked with a host of top European clubs in the summer. But even he needs some help in the middle of the pitch. If Ranieri is to get the best out of the Frenchman, he will need to purchase a competent holding midfielder to accompany the 24-year-old, thus allowing him to be more effective in the final third.
This holding midfielder not only needs to be defensively competent but also able to contribute to the build-up phase of play. We spoke about Calum Chambers earlier, he’s a player that both have a defensive mindset but due to the coaching of Arsène Wenger, he is very good on the ball and playing out from the back. Could the 23-year-old be the defensive midfielder Fulham are looking for? We saw a glimpse of that against Southampton, but to ensure success, it needs to become a permanent fixture.