After a 4-2 humbling at the hands of fellow strugglers Cardiff City, Fulham extended their winless run to 6 games. Fulham boss, Slaviša Jokanović, looks to be skating on extremely thin ice.
Despite the goodwill earned by bringing the Lily Whites back into the top flight after their 3 season absence, he has reportedly been given only two games to get the season back on track. If unable to do so, he will likely find himself at Fulham Broadway station, P45 in hand, leaving Fulham’s managerial hot-seat up for grabs. If this is the case, there is only one man “big” enough to fill it.
So, grab a pint of wine; these are the three reasons Sam Allardyce should take over at Craven Cottage.
1) He Can Organise A Defence
After spending so much money in the summer, there were always going to be questions about how Jokanović would be able to integrate so many new faces into the team. Their current performances have raised more questions than they’ve answered.
The lack of chemistry between their defenders is palpable. You’d be forgiven for thinking that they’d drafted in someone from the stands to fill in at centre-back. Some of their defending is so comically haphazard, it makes you genuinely question what they do at training all week. So far this season they have conceded 25 goals and, if they carry on at this rate, they will have shipped 106 by the end of the season.
By appointing Allardyce, they would be bringing in a man whose sole purpose on this earth is to coach a team into becoming a cohesive defensive unit. Without a solid base to build upon, this Fulham team is going nowhere fast. They need to sort out their defensive woes with a matter of urgency before they end up adrift at the foot of the table.
2) His Functional Style of Play is Suited to the Situation
Jokanović was revered last season for his team’s free-flowing style of play. But in the Premier League opposition, it seems inadequate and naïve. The pressing game of the league’s elites makes playing out from the back nigh-on impossible and is turning Fulham’s game plan into a recipe for disaster.
Allardyce’s reputation of playing turgid football precedes him and has led to him becoming synonymous with “proper football”.
However, behind this caricature lies a tactically astute manager, who is able to grind out results. A return to a more direct style of play seems like the logical option for a team in Fulham’s position. With a target man like Aleksandar Mitrović spearheading their attack, it could be the secret to a winning formula.
3) He is a Good Short-term Option
Parting ways with a manager mid-way through a season is never ideal and raises several issues when bringing in a replacement. At this current juncture, it appears the best that Fulham could hope for is to appoint a manager in the interim to keep them up and then go again with a new face next summer.
A manager like Sam Allardyce knows his worth and therefore doesn’t come cheap. But, his new-found penchant for short-term contracts, and seeming inability to be relegated, could be worth every penny if it keeps Fulham in the Premier League. Also, his experience in these situations is unparalleled: he will quickly allay any fears that fans have about a swift return to the Championship. Overall, based on their current predicament, there is no manager more suited for a short-spell in West London than Sam Allardyce.
In the long term, I hear Leonardo Jardim has a lot of time on his hands these days. But good luck convincing him to swap the glorious French Riviera for the muddy banks of the River Thames.