The best managers get the best out of the players they have at their disposal, and if he continues in this vein, Marco Silva’s once seemingly inevitable rise to the top of the game will gain momentum once again. He has consistently guided players towards their full potential since arriving at Craven Cottage, and the fans of London’s original club don’t mind sharing their admiration for him.
Two tunes were new on the Hammy End hit parade last season and are still being sung with gusto this term. Benny and Bjorn must be chuffed that their old classic Super Trouper has been reimagined as a tribute to the goalscoring trio of Harry Wilson, Mitrovic and Neeskens. I’m just surprised they haven’t cashed in and got it re-released with the girls singing the new lyrics? The other tune getting plenty of match day traction is the one offering Scotty Parker some succinct travel advice before lauding the genius of current manager, Silva.
Parker’s drawn out exit in the summer of 2021 and the way we’d finished the previous season so lamely to be relegated, wiped out most of the credit he’d got for getting us promoted courtesy of a memorable play off win against Brentford. Furthermore the way he’d treated Aleksandar Mitrovic in that campaign suggested there wouldn’t be room for both of them at the club and most Fulham fans wouldn’t have needed to phone a friend to decide who they wanted to stick around most.
We still had to wait a while to learn who Parker’s replacement would be with the rumour mill in full swing. When the club finally announced Marco Silva there was more an air of curiosity amongst our support than unbridled joy. We knew of the reputation he’d built at Hull, Watford and Everton but the manner of his departure from the latter two clubs left more questions than answers. Silva quickly got fans onside with the appointment of our old favourite Luis Boa Morte as his assistant and made all the right noises about Mitro being integral to his plans. Words are cheap but it wasn’t long before we saw his ideas put to stunning effect. Mitrovic naturally got headlines for the sheer scale of his goalscoring feats as we romped imperiously to the Championship title. However, with us having the privilege of seeing every game we could see the transformation in the Serbian forward’s all round game. He was so much more than just the penalty box predator that Parker had decided didn’t fit his flawed survival template. Instead Mitrovic was far more involved all around the pitch, linking play as often as finishing chances.
In the close season the usual gallery of uninformed pundits said that for all his achievements at Championship level Mitro wasn’t a Premier League quality player. This ignored the evidence of his stunning goal record at International level and the fact that hitherto in the top flight he had only played at struggling clubs. With Silva having complete faith in him and building a style of aggressive front foot football that plays to his strengths Mitrovic has started the season on fire and is proving the naysayers wrong. Silva’s methods are also bringing out the best in some players our own fans have written off as not being up to Premier League standards. His starting line up for the opening game against Liverpool included 9 of last season’s regulars. This may have owed something to our familiar late recruitment but now, 7 games in, last term’s back four are still first choice, with the form of Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson in particular, being a pleasant surprise to many.
Silva does now have more weapons at his disposal but he’s sensibly blending some of them in slowly whilst still giving plenty of game time to the tried and trusted likes of Neeskens Kebano and Bobby Decordova- Reid. It’s a stark contrast to the the chaotic way we started our last two Premier League campaigns and is evidence that Marco Silva is certainly justifying the words of the song. What’s more is that the lyrics seem to have caught on in Dorset where Bournemouth recently heeded the advice we afforded Mr Parker. Of course we shouldn’t get too carried away with the season just 7 games in but the way Silva has us playing so far suggests this campaign may end very differently to our previous 3 tilts in the Premier League. With luck, we’ll be hearing the Hammy End belting out that Marco Silva is a genius for some time yet.