Fulham v Hull preview: chaos at Craven Cottage


Slavisa Jokanovic – www.standard.co.uk

Fulham are a mess at the moment. On the field, they have only won one game since the end of October and off it, their problems are just as grand. There is a lot of ambiguity about who is running the club right now and the club’s structure seems almost non-existent.

Alan Curbishley is there yet nobody outside the club seems to know what his role is, Mike Rigg has handled the managerial appointment processes very poorly and Alistair Mackintosh is supposedly in charge of looking after the finances, yet the club is not complying with FFP. Added to that, Jokanovic is a coach who wants things done his way and is not the most compromising when it comes to business decisions the club has to make. All of these factors suggest there could be a real power struggle at Fulham and that is not conducive to building the sense of transparency that all clubs need to move forward.

Ross McCormack has been the subject of reported interest from Championship promotion chasers Middlesbrough, the Teesside suitors apparently willing to pay at least £8 million to secure his services. Given the financial problems Fulham are facing, that is an offer they should consider. There is no doubt that McCormack is a very gifted footballer, his goal and assist statistics prove that. However, the question is whether Slavisa Jokanovic will be willing to build the team around him.

McCormack is at his best when he is paired with Moussa Dembele, a more physical striker, who can get the initial knock-downs and flick-ons. The problem is that Jokanovic appears to favour a 4-3-3 system and when he has put McCormack on the left it has not worked so well. Given that the former Leeds striker is approaching the twilight years of his career at 29, and that Fulham have to comply with Financial Fair Play, it might make sense for the club to sell him and rebuild the team.

Things are looking comparatively bright for Hull City, a team in impressive form at the moment. Following their 1-0 defeat at Preston in late December, they were three points behind Derby having played a game more. However, a combination of a Rams blip and three straight league wins since the turn of the year has put them back in the driving seat for promotion.

Impressively, their good results have come in spite of the absence of key man Michael Dawson. The Tigers have conceded only 9 goals in the 18 league games the centre-back has played and one might have thought that Dawson’s absence would prove problematic. In fact, it has created a window for Harry Maguire to come into the team, and he has formed a strong partnership with Curtis Davies. Maguire is clearly good in the air but he also looks composed on the ball and is a very level headed character, with leadership skills that perhaps bely his 22 years of age.

A lot of Hull’s goals come from attacks down the right hand side of the pitch. Given that left-back has been a problematic area for Fulham this season, with Luke Garbutt struggling to establish himself after a loan move from Everton, there is an opportunity for the visitors to cause problems here. Ahmed Elmohamady is one of the best players in the Championship and his performances on the right side have caught the eye of Premier League clubs this January, with Everton and West Brom reportedly interested.

One player unlikely to leave Hull right now is David Meyler. The midfielder has just signed a new two year contract with the East Yorkshire side, on the very same morning as the birth of his baby daughter. Meyler has never been a great passer of a ball but he gives Hull that aggression and tenacity in midfield which they will need if they are going to win promotion. The former Sunderland man has been vastly improved this season, and could play a key part in his side’s push for the top flight. Away win.