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The Opposition View - Fulham

The Opposition View - Fulham
As we look forward to Saturday's game with Fulham, we caught up with a Fulham fan and season ticket holder, Jaik Bramley-Fenton (@JaikBFenton). We asked Jaik about Fulham's expectations, the form of Ross McCormack and early success under Symons, but how this has dipped off slightly, among other topics.

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1. What were your expectations before the season started?

Despite popular opinion of automatic promotion, I was very wary about how we would adapt to the Championship. Such a drastic change in the squad was always going to have it's downfalls.

In light of this, I had initially thought that Magath had pieced together a decent squad, and following a fruitful pre-season, a play-off position would have been the minimum expectation.

The club seemed confident that they had acquired all targets and that gave a lot of fans - including myself - confidence that we would challenge this season.

2. Now you have escaped the relegation zone after a disastrous start, how far do you think Symons can take you? Is escaping relegation then building for next season still the objective?

I am worried as to whether or not Symons can actually take us that far. My burning issue is the current dip in form and the way in which we have recently setup for encounters. In-game he seems a little confused as to what to do, and more often than not, fails to respond to tough periods in matches, particularly after conceding. He does, however, deserve a fair shot at the window to bring in players to his suiting.

The target this season is definitely to obtain a respectable league position, as promotion is definitely off the cards at this moment in time. People have to remember that we have an incredibly young group of players and instant success cannot be guaranteed. A swift return would be desirable, but the shining light in failure to do so is that we are nowhere near ready for the top flight.

3. How has Ross McCormack been doing since he joined? It seems he has taken on a more creative role, having more assists than goals at the moment.

Ross is definitely one of the standout performers in the squad. He is one of few players constantly chasing balls and engineering attacks, with his first touch a joy to watch at times.

However, Symons has decided to play him in a deeper role in recent weeks, which has frustrated me as I feel it does not fully utilise his ability. When you have last season's top goalscorer in the Championship in your side, and you refrain from using him upfront, it is hard to understand the logic behind it.

His creativity is evident, and a deeper role helps to unlock that side of his game, but it leaves you ignoring his biggest traits. Despite his addition being a positive one, I would like to see Kit play him in the right position.

4. Kit Symons has stabled Fulham since he took over - how much has he impressed you and why do you think he had such a good early impact?

Initially I was impressed by the way in which he managed to oversee a change in fortune, but this has waned of late. In recent weeks, he has begun to show his evident inexperience as a manager, with tactics puzzling fans and his setup sometimes questionable.

The reason behind his good early impact was that he instilled confidence and managed to lift the both negative and tense atmosphere around the club. However, this is never enough to sustain form and cracks are slowly starting to appear.

Prior to our win on penalties at Molineux on Tuesday, our previous four outings saw us fail to register a goal. I am hoping that it is only a minor blip, but from what I have seen, I do not think that is the case. Many players look to be too comfortable on the pitch, which would suggest that there is a lack of discipline being enforced.

5. What business do you think you need to do in January?

We definitely need to dip our toes into the market, and invest in a few positions. I, for one, would like to see us scrap our current diamond formation and bring in some exciting wingers. An enforcer in the middle is definitely a must, with battles more often that not lost in that part of the field. Our back four has been shaky, and quite frankly, a shambles at times, so a few new additions there would be great.

6. Which Fulham player(s) are really excelling so far this season?

I think most Fulham fans would agree when I say that youngster Lasse-Vigen Christensen has really come into his own this season. After promotion from the Under-21 side, he has slotted into the first team squad effortlessly. His creativity has been nothing but a joy to watch, and it comes as no surprise that a number of Premier League clubs have been swooping around for him. With all the talk surrounding Patrick Roberts and George Williams pre-season, he has eclipsed both in terms of stamping his authority.

Another player to have impressed me is young goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli. I was worried when we sold David Stockdale to Brighton in the summer - particularly without a replacement being drafted in - but Marcus has more than earned his sport in the starting XI. His performances have even attracted the attentions of the England Under-21 coaching staff, where he has been called up to squads. I envisage a big future if he carries on in such a fashion.

7. If you could take any Reading player, who would it be and why?

Despite his lengthy layoff, I have always been a fan of Jem Karacan, and it was nice to see him return to the pitch last weekend. When fully fit, he is just the sort of player we need at Fulham. Karacan is that engine in midfield that every team needs, and I am hopeful that being out for near on 16 months will not have affected his physicality and stamina (granted it does not hinder Fulham's chances on Saturday).

8. What starting XI and shape do you expect to see from Symons on Saturday?

Once again, I fully expect Symons to start with a diamond formation, ceasing us of any width. Kit is not one to spring surprises upon a starting XI, so I would imagine us lining up with this: Bettinelli; Stafylidis, Bodurov, Hutchinson, Grimmer; Tunniclife, Parker, Fofana, McCormack; Rodallega, Woodrow.

Writer:Josh
Date:Thursday January 15 2015
Time: 7:29PM

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