Talking Tactics

The promoted: Fulham set to return in style

By Adrian Clarke 11 Jun 2018
Slavisa Jokanovic, Fulham

Adrian Clarke says there are similarities between the Cottagers and Premier League champions Man City

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Adrian Clarke looks at what style of play we can expect to see from the three promoted clubs in 2018/19.


In terms of style, Fulham look well suited to Premier League football. 

Their head coach Slavisa Jokanovic has turned them into a possession-based team.

Playing in a fluid 4-3-3 formation, the Cottagers pass and move with confidence.

Four experienced players down the centre of the pitch are at the heart of Jokanovic's philosophy. 

Central defender Tim Ream, holding midfielder Kevin McDonald and box-to-box specialists Stefan Johansen and Tom Cairney helped Fulham control the majority of their 2017/18 matches. 

All aged between 27 and 30, they were each ranked in the top 10 for most passes per match in the Championship last season.

Most passes per match 2017/18
Player Passes/match Championship rank
Cairney 81.1 1
McDonald 65.0 2
Ream 59.5 8
Johansen 57.3 10
Playing the pressure game

As soon as Fulham lose the ball they look to win it back as quickly as possible, by pressing ferociously in packs.

But when they do win it back they show patience on the ball.

They boasted the largest average share of possession of the 24 Championship teams last season, with 57.8 per cent.

That determination to dominate possession forces opponents to do a lot of chasing, which wears them down and forces mistakes.

This also helped them get the most goals from open play last term, scoring 68 times.

Fulham's short game
2017/18  Fulham Championship rank
Short passes/90 492 1
Long passes/90 58 24

While pundits questioned whether Jokanovic had a plan B, their main tactical approach was hugely productive. 

This was especially the case from January onwards, after they had signed centre-forward Aleksandar Mitrovic on loan from Newcastle United.

The Serb scored 12 times in his 20 appearances, averaging a shot every 20.16 minutes.

In that period Fulham won 14 times and lost only twice.

Pace on the flanks

To ensure their passing is productive, Fulham have pace out wide to stretch teams. 

Ryan Sessegnon was integral to their promotion campaign. Just turned 18, he produced 16 goals and eight assists.

The influence of Fulham's full-backs is also important.

Their wide defenders are encouraged to push on, especially when the man in front drifts inside to play as a second centre-forward.

During the latter stages of the season Matt Targett, the left-back, and Ryan Fredericks, on the right, were extremely creative.

With Targett being on loan from Southampton and Fredericks since having signed for West Ham United, whoever starts in these positions for Fulham in 2018/19 are sure to be attack-minded. 

'A Guardiola team'

Fulham remind me of a Pep Guardiola team. They play attractive football based on movement and domination of the ball.

Led by a quality midfield trio, they like to dictate matches and wear rivals down. 

It will be tougher to repeat this in the Premier League but I do not expect a shift in policy from Jokanovic. 

Fulham are set to be a delight to watch.

Also in this series 

Part 1: The promoted: Fast Wolves can take their big chance
Part 2: Wolves: Three players to watch
Part 3: The promoted: Cardiff can shake things up
Part 4: Cardiff: Three players to watch
Part 6: Fulham: Three players to watch

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