After travelling back with all three points from Huddersfield and putting on a solid, disciplined display, the Owls now host Fulham. In the Premier League last season, and with a squad far too good on paper for this league, many see it being a Fulham vs Leeds United battle for the crown of ‘champions’. Whilst Leeds are leading that race so far, The Cottager’s have an ‘ok’ 11 points although their fixtures have been far from easy. I certainly feel that this game will be Wednesday’s hardest test so far whilst Fulham will definitely be wanting no less than a win…
How I would line up-
In what will be Garry Monk’s debut game in front of the Hillsborough faithful, I hope to see a possible change to the starting XI that won last Saturday…
I think Winnall was superb when he came on last week, warranting a starting place against Fulham. I was also extremely impressed with Iorfa, who I have to say I have previously questioned at Centre-Back.
So, that’s how I hope Wednesday start. To learn more about our opposition, I spoke to Farrell from the ‘Fulhamish’ podcast…
It’s been well documented that considering the money you spent, to be relegated back to the Championship straight away was hugely disappointing. As a fan speaking, what do you think was the problem?
You can’t necessarily pin it on one overriding thing, but I’ll try and be brief. Fulham indeed lost a number of loan players at the end of the season, plus Ryan Fredricks, all of which needed replacing and, as we know, starting Premier League players is quite spenny. At least four regular starting players in the Premier League these days are certainly going to cost you upwards of £50m. However, Fulham seemed to focus on the places that didn’t necessarily require strengthening. Half the outlay was on central midfielders, where Fulham’s core strength was already and another quarter was on bringing back Mitrovic to South West London. Past these, they’re mostly loans and smaller fees. So the squad overhaul, coupled with Jokanovic’s usual methods of rotating players for the first 10-15 games to find his strongest line up meant form wasn’t strong enough to win enough points in the early stages of the season.
What do you make of the decision to employ Scott Parker as your manager?
To give a fair assessment, the context of the appointment is probably worth highlighting. We had gone from Jokanovic who’d been steadily building an excellent team and squad mentality which, through bad luck and possibly bad judgement, suffered through poor form and confidence. The decision to remove Slavisa was to some extent unpopular, but not as unpopular as his replacement, Claudio Ranieri, who’s strange tactical and personnel changes by not utilising talisman Cairney and playing defensive football with the worst defence in the league. It was therefore pleasing that caretaker Scott Parker, who played and coached during Jokanovic’s most successful period with largely the same squad so a welcome return to playing the way the players knew. His full time appointment was therefore no surprise after winning three in a row towards the end of last season. It’s great to see him carry that style through to this season, the system has been tweaked, but the basis is there. Control possession, be positive but not reckless on the ball and break the lines through passing not long balls. Results have been OK, but definitely not reflective of performances, considering Fulham have already played the other two of the relegated clubs and three teams sitting in the top half.
How would you rate Fulham’s transfer business in the summer?
Very good. However, our financial clout in the league should be measured against this. The main thing for us was to hang on to our best players who realistically could stay, namely Cairney and Mitrovic. There was a sniff that Ryan Sessegnon might have stayed, but that was a hope rather than expectation considering the year left on his contract. Strengthening, we couldn’t have hoped to have brought in better wingers than Cavaliero and Knockaert and the pleasantly surprising dynamic duo of Harrison Reed and Harry Arter have really added to the squad. A lot of the fanbase would have expected the club to go all out for defensive, especially right back, reinforcements since Ryan Fredricks left year ago now with no one coming back the other way come deadline day. But we were all sold a dummy to hear the news that former Owl Michael Hector will be joining in January, however, good luck getting past the pairing of Mawson and Ream. Plus, angering Neil Warnock by having Bobby Decordova-Reid come to him saying that he wants to leave for Fulham is delicious in itself.
(Ivan Cavaleiro signed from Wolves and already has 3 goals and 3 assists to his name. Photo – skysports.com)
Which player(s) should Wednesday look out for?
Thankfully, although we have plenty of quality throughout, the main person will always be Tom Cairney. Not only does he never lose the ball, what he does with the bloody thing is memorising. I almost feel bad for opposition numbers trying to mark him… actually I don’t.
If you could have any SWFC player at Craven Cottage, who would it be and why?
I have always enjoyed Barry Bannan in the blue and white stripes, a few years ago he tore us apart at the Cottage only for a late equaliser that day to stifle his efforts. But it would be weird after waxing lyrical about Cairney to swap for another number 10. So I’ll go for Adam Reach, who I think brings a lot of productivity to the flanks and is also versatile.
What is your prediction for the match?
Although my namesake Garry has got off to a good start beating a winless Huddersfield, and although Wednesday have got a very good squad and expect them to come good at the business end, I see Fulham having too much quality, but it will be a narrow win. 2-1 to Fulham.
Although it’s still early days, how do you see the season going for Fulham?
Many thanks to Farrell for answering the questions, you can follow him on Twitter @FarrellMonk