Anyone hoping for a window as season defining as last January will surely be disappointed by the activity this time around? Ryan Babel’s 6-month contract was greeted with mainly sceptical responses from fans, which was no surprise given how he had fallen off the radar for so long. However, it’s been a relief that he has hit the ground running with two solid performances and appears, on the surface, to be a good addition with a grounded mentality.
The club were unlucky in the sense that Aboubakar Kamara’s potential to be a loose cannon exploded over the new year and it makes you wonder how on earth Slav managed to control him for so long. Good riddance has to be the response to this departure, although that is said with a heavy heart because he was one of our most impactful subs and I’d seriously question whether failing to replace him makes us anything but a little weaker for options off the bench. Nevertheless, Babel gives us a very decent option.
Other than that it was a waiting game all month. Before Babel has even arrived, we’ve exited the cup to Oldham and been battered by Arsenal. We continue to wait. And wait some more. Still waiting. First up, we have the crucial trip to Burnley that could have done with some fresh blood, no fresh blood and we lost to a team who didn’t even need a shot on target! Nevermind, plenty of time. Be patient. Up next, a much weakened Spurs side who were average at best on the day, but snatch 3 points with the last kick after we decided not to turn up in the 2nd half. Two missed opportunities. Nevermind, still a week before Brighton. Still waiting. Luckily we beat Brighton with a superb second-half performance but at present, we need to see the momentum in progress and beat Palace before this is anything but prolonging the inevitable. Onto deadline day and still waiting. Then, cometh the hour, cometh the Bordeaux tactics. We should have learnt after the Diego Rolan/Malcom saga not to put all our croissants in their basket. But we did and surprise, surprise, we left it too late. Merde. Now we’re puzzled as to why a club would avoid selling a good player at such short notice without a replacement. Perhaps instead, it should be Bordeaux that are confused as to why you’d wait until the final day when you’ve had a month to make the offer? Anyway, we miss out on a much needed right back in Sabaly, which is a bitter pill to swallow as the clock countdown to 11pm.
But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So fear not, Fulham fans! For, like an American Baldrick, Tony has a cunning plan! After isolating two players who performed miraculously at times last season and could have been big characters next season if we go down (StefJo and Kmac), we decide to let go of our charismatic Norwegian and bring in a defender whose only started 4 games this season?
My knowledge of Nordtveit isn’t good but the laughs from West Ham fans on social media don’t exactly fill frazzled Whites supporters with encouragement. Still, it’s early days so let’s see how this one plays out. I suppose at least he’s got Premier League experience and comes with the recommendation of Brede Hangeland, a man whose judgement I trust! I’ll sit on the fence over this one for now.
So West Ham are laughing and Bordeaux are laughing, but the biggest laugh, like a Northerner at a Peter Kaye gig, comes from Merseyside. Personally, I found the reaction to the announcement of Markovic a bit out of order, it’s not going to do the lad’s confidence any good seeing that Fulham fans are writing him off, but we all know that social media counts for just a percentage of what fans think and hopefully Markovic settles at Fulham and feels welcome with his old pal Mitrović. He gives us that off-the-bench option on the right vacated by the Turkey-bound bull in a china shop at least.
The flat response was to be expected though. When you wait up until gone midnight hoping for a Gary Cahill, a Danny Drinkwater, even a Scott Dann; someone with experience of this division, or even a young up-and-comer Championship player (Che Adams) who we could groom ready for next season should the trapdoor finally open beneath our feet. Instead, we signed a player who hasn’t played since we lost to Derby away in the first leg of last season’s playoffs on a free. I suppose it’s risk-free. It cost nothing (except an agent’s fee you’d have to imagine) but if it also gains us nothing then what a waste of time when we should have been either giving this a go or preparing for life in the Championship – the current situation is very much one way or another at this point and unfortunately we seem to have done neither. Instead, it feels like we’ve done nothing and are still feeling the effect of squandering £100 million pounds in the summer on players that are either injured or seemingly unprepared for the rigours of a relegation battle (although Seri’s performance midweek may suggest that he’s coming good just at the right time).
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I hope to be proven wrong; I’d be delighted to be made to look a right prat in a few months time, but I’ve got to say that I am extremely underwhelmed by the activity. Considering we have been in a mess since the season began, you could argue that we didn’t just have a month to get who we wanted, we had several months and we have not improved the overall squad. In my opinion anyway.
Window rating – 4/10 (Babel rescues this from being much lower)
01/01/19 – Arsenal 4-1 Fulham
06/01/19 – Fulham 1-2 Oldham Ath (FA Cup)
12/01/19 – Burnley 2-1 Fulham
20/01/19 – Fulham 1-2 Spurs
29/01/19 – Fulham 4-2 Brighton
Player of the month
Callum Chambers – It’s easy to hand this to Mitrović every month and the Serb will comfortably be voted our player of the season. But with those heroic performances comes a bar that he has set himself way above the rest of the squad. Therefore, I can’t give him it for January because he did miss that penalty against Oldham. Sounds petty but with the way the draw has opened up, we would have faced Doncaster and then Palace at home with a real opportunity of going all the way. So I’m going to give this to Chambers. Callum has improved so much of late and in the holding midfield role has developed into one of the first names on the team sheet. He wasn’t in the team for either the Arsenal battering or the cup shock, and his displays against Burnley, Spurs and Brighton were consistent where he didn’t put a foot wrong. Not to mention how the timing of his superb strike against Brighton ignited the comeback and gave the team belief with a whole half of football to play.
Top Fulham Player Stats (Premier League)
Most Minutes Played
Le Marchand (360)
Le Marchand (273)
Le Marchand (204)
R. Sessegnon (4)
Most Shots On Target
Le Marchand (11)
Most Aerial Battles Won
Le Marchand (9)
Le Marchand (4)
R. Sessegnon (2)
Rating for the month out of 10 – 4/10
Whatever you do, don’t look at our fixtures for March! We are already effectively 7 points behind the pack thanks to our goal difference, so it’s essential that we build on the comeback against Brighton with some much needed away wins. Our away form is notoriously bad in the Premier League and that theme has continued this season with the Whites yet to record an away victory.
The only period in the Premier League era where we had a good run of away performances was during the final run in of the great escape and history needs to repeat itself, otherwise, it’s curtains for our top-flight survival. I’m going to be bold and predict that we are going to do this, Brighton was the turning point. COYW!
02/02/19 – C Palace 1-2 Fulham
09/02/19 – Fulham 2-2 Man Utd
22/02/19 – West Ham 1-1 Fulham
27/02/19 – Southampton 1-2 Fulham
Stats were sourced using whoscored.com.