The 14th of November signaled the end of a two-and-a-half year reign for Slavisa Jokanovic as Fulham manager after a run of six consecutive Premier League defeats. The Serbian turned Fulham from Championship no-hopers in to formidable force that achieved Premier League promotion at Wembley. The Fulhamish team give their thoughts on the departure of Slavisa below:
I’m gutted that it’s ended this way for Slavisa. He will always be one of my favourite Fulham managers for how he transformed our club from Championship strugglers to Championship supremacy in such a short space of time. Some of the football we played under his stewardship last season was breathtaking, and the 23 match unbeaten run is an achievement that I don’t think will ever be matched. What tops it off was the day at Wembley, probably my favourite ever Fulham memory.
The Premier League is cut-throat, and ultimately you are always under pressure when you lose six in a row. However, none of that will taint my admiration for Slavisa Jokanovic, and I truly wish him every success in whatever job he takes on next.
I was deeply saddened when hearing the news of Jokanvic’s departure. Despite a tremulous start to this Premier League season, Slavisa had single-handedly changed the fortunes of the club in two and a half years and it meant to much to so many of us. Slavisa is the first manager brave enough to challenge the club to exceed the ambitions that they had set for themselves. The first manager to impose a style on the club since Roy Hodgson. And what a style it was – swashbuckling, imposing, front-foot football that propelled Fulham from Championship wilderness in to a Premier League outfit, drawing admirers from all over Europe.
When we come to look back on the club in 5 years time, potentially even longer, then Jokanovic’s name will almost certainly be mentioned as the catalyst for change at the very least. Whilst I believe that Slavisa had the pedigree to drag Fulham out of the mire, the Premier League waits for no club or man. It felt inevitable after picking up six straight defeats that Slavia would unfortunately be shown the door. Slavisa gave me the best times I’ve ever had as a Fulham fan, and a day that I will never forget for the rest of my life – 26th of May 2018, when Fulham turned Wembley white and ascended back to the promised land. I sincerely wish him all the best and know he will be a success elsewhere.
Decisions like this are never easy, and like most, my emotions are hugely mixed today. The back half of last season was up there with my favourite experiences following Fulham, and Wembley the nadir of just how special it was. Europa aside, there has been nothing quite akin to the breathtaking nature of that run and the way we just blew teams apart at times; and for that, we should be eternally grateful to Slavisa. He instilled an identity and a style at the club, turning things around from the absolute disaster-laden previous two Championship seasons, and forging us into one of the country’s most exciting sides to watch. He should be remembered forever as the man who reinstilled faith on the banks of the Thames when all looked bleakest.
That said, his dismissal has come as a shock in terms of speed of decision, but not in terms of results or timing. Fulham have slowly and surely drifted away from that possession-heavy sensibility. This culminated in long-ball football against Huddersfield’s seismic back three which abandoned all Slavisa’s Cruyffian principles in a senseless ‘try anything’ fit which screamed ‘end of an era’. The attacking promise has dwindled, the defence is still leaking goals and the identity has ebbed away. Yes, there was the hope that, like last season, things would improve in the second half of the season, but with some of the tactical decisions and substitutions confusing even the most ardent Jokanovic-defender, there could be no guarantee.
It’s a sad day to lose anyone associated with the successes of last year, especially the manager; and ultimately it was always going to sting, but perhaps this was for the best. I’d have liked nothing more than to see Slavisa have turned it round in the Premier League, but if the decision was going to be made to part ways, it was best to make it now, with an international break to get to know a new manager, and six-pointer games in the near future; than to be playing catch up in March. Our thanks should always be there for Slavisa, and he should always have a special place in the heart of Fulham, but now we must look forward to a new, azure, dawn.
The news has come to me like many others who bleed black & white as a massive shock. A hugely popular figure and with good reason. Fulham were headed for Championship or even League One obscurity like so many other teams before us that struggle after departing the ‘promised land’, losing a purpose and drive thinking that our glory days are gone. Yet, Slavisa came in and proclaimed that Fulham are not to be that club and should look up and not sideways. The talk had to backed up and slowly but surely an identity emerged that we yearned for. Honest football to match the club that it represents.
Results didn’t happen straight away and many around would have succumbed to pressures to change, but Slavisa did not budge. And suddenly, it clicked. Honest football became ruthless football, and arguably the most successful period in the clubs history soon followed. In such a short period of time, the club had gone from football league also rans to one of the most popular and well-known teams outside the Premier League and it wasn’t due to luck or by accident like other teams may have benefited from during the same period, this was special. We thank Slavisa for everything, even for this season to date. We all know the potential in the current squad is huge and if the season is to turn in our favour, the plaudits should go to as Joka as well as Ranieri (Or whomever is in charge in May!).
Sentimentality has its place in the beautiful game. That much is evident following the outpouring of grief online following Slavisa’s dismissal. The reasons why he struggled to translate the magic of last season to this will be carefully pored over by those in charge – but ultimately, six consecutive league defeats – and only three scored in that time – is enough to seal any manager’s fate. Now, Slav’s problems are Claudio Ranieri’s.
For me, Slavisa was in charge during probably my favourite period as a Fulham fan. I was 13 during our promotion season with Tigana – so while I was a season ticket holder at every home game, you’re missing the social side of the experience. During our Europa League run I was a poor student in Nottingham, only able to make it to the home games (and driving home at full-time!) But last season, as a 31-year-old living in London, I had an absolute blast. Home and away games, podcast recordings, Sky Sports News interviews, all culminating in an incredible day at Wembley with my family that I’ll never forget. And I thank Slav for that.
I wasn’t expecting the headline today announcing that Jokanovic was being replaced with Ranieri so it has taken me most of the day to really get my head around it. While Fulham’s seasons has been a really tough one so far, I wasn’t quite at the ‘Slav out’ stage yet. The Khan’s invested heavily in the summer but unfortunately this was at the detriment of the squad, with too many new faces making the team unbalanced. This left Slav with an even harder task than normal for a newly promoted side because he had to get a team to gel whilst facing tough opponents.
I am gutted that it hasn’t worked out as I feel that we owe so much to the man who brought us back to the Premier League, but IF he was going to be sacked, it’s better now than in March. I’m gutted, but can understand the decision. Time to get behind Ranieri #COYW
First thing I’d like to say is that we have to all appreciate what Slavisa Jokanovic did for our club. He took us from relegation fodder in the Championship to Premier League quality. He provided us with some of the best away days in recent memory. Without obviously forgetting that he provided us with the greatest day of all our lives. However I feel if the club we’re to make a change this was the best time to do so, with it being the last international break until March. We also now have four home games before the New Year against lower-half sides, which are vital for us to win. People may say that the club went behind his back but it’s just part and parcel of the business nowadays, and we didn’t have time to mess about.
Ranieri now has ten days or so to work with the players to get them up for the huge Southampton game. We must recognise what Slav did for the club, but we must also not let it cloud our opinion & judgement on Ranieri, he needs our full backing, as do with the players. It’s the next chapter in Fulham’s story. So thanks for the memories Slavisa, it’s been some of my best days following the club around the country, but now it’s time for the Tinkerman’s era. We’re London’s Oldest & England’s Finest. Up The Fulham.
I’ve been vocal before that I was in the Slav in camp, however if there was a right ‘time’ to do this, this was it. I maintain that improvement was visible during the first half of the Liverpool game, however that second half just wasn’t good enough. There wasn’t enough consistent pressing or desire to not warrant a change. We need our players to fight for the team, and I remember seeing the Leicester players passion and hunger to perform during the majority of his reign.
Given the bookies list of potential replacements, Ranieri wasn’t the one I was worried about, and for that I’ll be grateful. If someone had offered a Premier League winning manager at Fulham two season’s ago, we’d have snapped their hand off. So it’s time we get behind Claudio and see what the rest of the season has to bring.
A special podcast discussing Slavisa’s departure will be released tonight (14th November) via the usual channels.
Fulhamish would like to thank Slavisa for his incredible contribution to Fulham over the past years and wish him all the very best in his next venture.