Being a football fan is a funny old game: one minute you’re wallowing in the doldrums, the next you’re dancing for joy as your team goes 5 unbeaten.
It’s fair to say that the start to this season has been a pleasant surprise. Marco Silva has taken this squad of potentially demoralised players and rivaltilsed them. Quite simply, it’s a joy to watch.
The game against Stoke was potentially the trickiest one of the season to date, yet the Whites simply blew them away. The opposition weren’t bad, Fulham were just too good. From the moment Harry Wilson prodded in the opening goal within 5 minutes, you knew Fulham wouldn’t be coming away with fewer than 3 points. Whilst it’s dangerous to get cocky this early in the season, it seems as if the days of going 1-up and bringing on 3 defenders are a thing of the past and it’s incredibly refreshing. There’s bound to be bumps along the road in this most competitive of leagues, but right now life seems rosey.
Comparisons with the Tigana team of 00/01 are easy to make, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. However, it doesn’t hurt to be slightly optimistic, especially after a clearly revitalised Mitro signed a new contract and celebrated by bagging an assist and a goal in a dominant performance that was only tarnished by a missed penalty. (But what would a Fulham game be without a missed penalty?!). It’s just fantastic to watch our favourite Serbian play with a grin once again, whether this is because Silva has come in and whispered sweet nothings in his ear or just because Parker isn’t there is hard to say but either way, it’s wonderful to see him playing with confidence again.
Despite the commanding performances of the last 3 games, it was great to have Wilson back in the starting XI again and he celebrated by bagging his 2nd goal for the club inside while some fans were still getting to their seats. The Welshman is clearly an exciting signing and hopefully that one red card will be the single blight on his record over this season as he is bound to be an incredibly important element in this team if we are to go back up at the first time of asking (again).
Despite the worry that we were going to be somewhat threadbare this season, we’ve managed to head into this campaign with a strong and seemingly happy squad, regardless of the lack of new recruits. Let’s just hope the new management team have it within them to keep this squad’s morale up and playing the sort of football that whilst isn’t spectacular, is incredibly efficient. It’s the sort of style that doesn’t appear to exert too much energy and therefore the hope is that they can keep it up throughout this marathon of a Championship season. Sure, opposition teams may figure it out but do they have the ability to stop it?
Even the lack of Kenny Tete at right back didn’t seem to affect the balance as Denis Odoi stepped in and didn’t put a foot wrong. Given the fact Dutchman may be out for a while with his hamstring injury, we may be seeing quite a bit more of our favourite Belgian, although Silva’s pre-game conference suggested a new right back may be on the shopping list prior to Tuesday’s 11pm deadline.
Despite The Potters promising to be a tough test of the Whites’ newfound swagger, the team looked as comfortable as ever, being marshalled once again by Captain America, Tim Ream. I don’t know what he did over the summer but his showings in these first 5 games have been nothing short of extraordinary, especially given his lack of game time last season (coupled with what was clearly a demoralising experience on top of the bench warming).
All over the pitch there were solid performances and there’s very little to be critical of, which is an unusual experience for us seasoned Fulham fans! Perhaps we could be a bit more clinical with our finishing but when you’ve won 3-0, that seems a bit petty.
The atmosphere around the club just feels so much more positive now, but that’s generally the case when you’ve strung a few wins together. But hopefully it can continue throughout the season and it’s not solely based on results so far.
The impending shutting of the transfer window could see a few ins and outs but if we were able to keep the current squad intact I think we would all be happy. It’s likely Anguissa will be on the way out but while he’s a great player, I don’t think the team will be adversely affected by his departure based on performances so far.
The other big hope is that this international break won’t stunt the performances; it’s great to head into it on the back of strong performances but hopefully the extended gap between games won’t do anything but leave the team feeling refreshed and ready to continue their early season form.