Monsieur Salut writes: I had a dream; Sunderland beat Fulham 2-0 before my eyes to end the home hoodoo. A likely outcome? Russ Goldman*, a USA-based Fulham fan who hosts the Cottage Talk podcast (as well as a New England Patriots podcast, disagrees as you would expect. He is not too downbeat about his club’s failure to live up to expectations so far and believes they will end up in the top six. He also expects them to beat us on Saturday …
Salut! Sunderland: if our season has been a disaster so far, you must be bitterly disappointed at Fulham’s failure to mount the expected prompotion challenge. What are the issues?
Russell Goldman: for me a decent amount of it is injury related as Fulham are built around Tom Cairney. He was injured in the pre-season with a knee injury and still working back to full fitness. I think his loss combined with how teams now know how we like to play has slowed us down, but not as much as you might think.
We are only three points behind our pace from last season and once we get some players back to full fitness, I expect the results to pick up just like they did last season.
Is Slaviša Jokanovi? still the manager to get you back up and is he backed by the fans and the owner Shahid Khan?
Jokanovic I feel is the man to bring Fulham back up to the EPL as all you have to look at is the team from last season to see why I feel that way. However, opinion is split on Jokanovic as he only goes with a “Plan A,” and really won’t try a “Plan B” so that has left some fans split on him. Khan has backed Jokanovic I feel, but the recruitment system that relies on scouting and stats has been controversial.
There seems a good mix of youth an experience in your squad, with useful looking on-loan players. Who has shone and who han’t really been doing the business?
I think the additions of Oliver Norwood and Sheyi Ojo both on loan have been assets this season. On the flip side, strikers Rui Fonte and Aboubakar Kamara are just not scoring the goals Fulham need from them. They both work hard, but we need goals from them so they both have been disappointments.
What about us? Surprised at how bad we’ve been or did you see it all coming?
Unfortunately, I saw this coming because of what happened to Fulham when they got relegated. Both clubs were not prepared for the Championship, and it has shown itself to be true. There are exceptions to the rule like Newcastle United last season, but I feel you need players that can fit into the Championship, and also have a mix of players that come from the Championship. Unfortunately, Sunderland are learning about surviving this Division, but if you can do that this season, it can give you the opportunity to rebuild for the future.
Hand on heart, where will our clubs finish?
I still believe Fulham will finish in the top six as we are now winning matches ugly which is needed for this division. I expect a good second half of the season for Fulham. I believe Sunderland will stay in the Division and end around 17th. You have two coaches now that will keepy you in this Division I feel.
Tell us your highlights as a Fulham supporter
It would have to getting to the Europa League Final and beating Hamburg to get there. That was a night I will never forget.
And the low points?
It has to be getting relegated and the two seasons after that. It was tough going down, but it was just as tough surviving the Championship.
The best players you’ve seen in Fulham colours?
Danny Murphy is my favorite player and there is no one who is a close second.
And the worst?
For a player who started I would say Jazz Richards as he was poor for Fulham and was glad to see him go.
Let’s assume you made the playoffs and went up. Is the ground, lovely as it is, big enough or capable of expansion? Either way, what would it take to survive let alone prosper?
Fulham are in the planning stages to redevelop the Riverside Stand to expand the overall capacity from 25K to 30K. This expansion is to help us compete better in the Premier League.
We play a possession style football right now that when it works can be devastating, so I think hands down this style can work in the Premier League when Fulham get there. For Fulham, once they get to the EPL, it is about finding the players at a higher level that can play Jokanovic’s style.
Does Grabban or anyone else in our squad interest you?
I am not against Grabban, but I really want Dwight Gayle as he is the perfect fit for Fulham. However, I don’t see that happening as he is playing a decent amount now with Newcastle. We need a goal scorer so I am open to finding that player wherever they can find him.
Lots of shared links – Lee Clark, Kevin Ball, Steed, Melville and of course Chris Coleman. Who stands out?
All of these players are before my time so I can’t really give you a proper answer on this one. I became a supporter in 2007.
Any other thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city? It is a team with a rich tradition that will return to the EPL someday. It is just time to rebuild and when you do return to have a team that can be closer to the top ten than the relegations positions.
The Niasse question: are the authorities at last taking diving seriously and will getting tough work?
I am completely against diving so I want it out of the sport completely. I don’t like it at all when Fulham players have dived in the past.
Will you be at our game? What will be the score? I will not be at the game, but I am predicting a tough 2-1 Fulham victory.
* Russ Goldman on himself: I have been a Fulham supporter for 10 years now, and I host Cottage Talk which is a podcast about Fulham and this is our sixth season.
Interview: Colin Randall