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Fulham, much like Reading down the road and to the surprise of many, are simply not the force that they were last season and something is definitely missing from their side.
Despite managing to keep Tom Cairney following the overtures of Newcastle United, manager Salvisa Jokanovic knew his midfield may need reinforcement and so Ibrahima Cisse and Oliver Norwood were both brought in. Despite these signings, the boss completely rebuffed Nottingham Forest’s advances when it came to Kevin McDonald too and it appeared his midfield would be as solid as ever.
That midfield though, extends into a three behind the central striker most of the time and it’s in this area they have been severely weakened this term. For whatever reason, Sone Aluko was allowed to join Reading and the manager has seen it fit to deem Ryan Sessegnon only as an attacking left-back, with the youngster having covered the loss of Scott Malone so far.
Fulham’s best work last season by far and away was done at the tail end of the campaign, a time when Aluko was on the right of the attacking midfield three and Sessegnon on the left. Coincidence? Their form this season would suggest not.
The manager has tinkered this season with playing a 4-3-3 instead of the 4-2-3-1, with misfiring striker Rui Fonte playing out wide instead of playing down the middle. Jokanovic has also tried a number of other players on the left. If they aren’t working, there’s probably a reason. They aren’t good enough!
Surely it’s blatantly obvious that having Cairney in the middle of the three and Sessegnon on the left of it is the best attacking solution here, and the selection headaches can be saved for the right-wing and left-back. But sadly, this seems to be yet another case where a manager becomes very stubborn and refuses to believe anyone other than himself. Jokanovic can’t see what is needed and so I don’t think Sessegnon will be invited forward anytime soon.
With that in mind, Fulham could do a lot worse than give the £1.54m rated Ben Marshall a whirl in this position. He precisely played there for a manager who knows him so well, Paul Lambert, in an underwhelming Wolves team last season. In the left of the three behind the striker, Marshall managed to do well, which, at a club struggling while going forward was a good effort.
Ben Marshall would help Jokanovic solve a problem or two and Fulham should go for his signature when the January window opens.