Signs at Craven Cottage are very worrying, with Fulham steeped in relegation after registering just four wins so far this season. 13 really is the unlucky number, and it’s the points tally that the Cottagers find themselves struggling on as only Sunderland have fared worse in the first half of the season.
Relegation looms for Fulham this season, and Martin Jol has already paid for poor results with his job. Now Rene Meulensteen has been tasked with the job of keeping Fulham in the Premier League, but he faces a tough fight.
Their aging squad is in desperate need of creativity, and Bryan Ruiz is the player who provides it. The Costa Rican international can operate out wide or behind the striker, and is an attacking outlet upon which Fulham are becoming rather dependent.
He’s also one of the first in the queue for set pieces, from which Fulham have scored more than a third of their goals; while fans in England will be wary of the midfielder at the World Cup next summer when he leads Costa Rica out against the Three Lions, Fulham fans will be hoping he can create enough at club level in order to keep their side in the Premier League.
One to Watch
In a squad that needs the vibrancy of youth, Pajtim Kasami has been a breath of fresh air at Craven Cottage this season. He made a statement of intent with a headed winner against Sunderland in the opening game of the season (the reverse fixture promising to be a six pointer for all the wrong reasons) and achieved worldwide renown for a sublime volleyed finish in a 4-1 thrashing of Crystal Palace.
Now the young Swiss midfielder will be hoping that his breakthrough season won’t end with relegation to the Championship.
Top of their Christmas list?
Martin Jol favoured experience over youth in the summer, but it has proved detrimental to a Fulham side that looks sluggish and passive. Rene Meulensteen praised the character of his side in their mini comeback against Man City recently, but his players were unable to contain much quicker opposition; the side is in desperate need of flair and more vibrant youngsters like Kasami to bring some energy to the side.
Meulensteen spent some good years under Sir Alex at Old Trafford, and now he has to introduce some real quality in what could be a crucial January transfer window.
It’s not looking good. Berbatov hasn’t really pulled his weight this season and when he fails to perform, so do Fulham. They have now conceded double the goals they’ve scored, showing concerns both in defence and in front of goal; they are currently lower than all three newly promoted sides, and the so far successful seasons of Hull and Cardiff in particular can only be detrimental to Meulensteen’s men.
I can’t see them avoiding the drop, and their time may be up in the Premier League: 19th
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