Player Reviews: The Midfielders

Fulhamish 9th June 2019

In the latest installment of this mini-series, the Fulhamish Writing Clan take a look at the performances of our midfielders across the season. Having played for 3 managers, and countless systems, can any of the midfielders go into their Summer holidays with their heads held high? Armed with your player ratings scores, we take a look!

Calum Chambers

Player Grade: B+

Average Player Rating: 6.09

Writer: George Singer

Let’s be honest, at the start of the season, who would have picked Calum Chambers to be the standout performer? Yet here we are, with the Arsenal loanee being the official player of the season, and the (clearly more prestigious!) fulhamish player rating’s champion.

Signed initially to shore up the defence (a previous partnership with Alfie Mawson in England youth setup likely in the mind of TK) Chambers initially struggled to hit the ground running. A continual casualty of Slav bingo, Chambers was shifted around the back four week after week, and a disastrous 45 minutes at right back in Cardiff being the loanee’s clear low point of the season.

However, Slav’s parting gift to the side was to move Chambers up the pitch to pair with Anguissa in midfield at Anfield. Calum took to the role like a duck to water, and the Englishman never looked back. Playing the role of ball winning midfielder, alongside a more creative partner, Chamber’s hard-working attitude gave bite to our midfield. Thanks to Wenger’s coaching, he’s also comfortable on the ball, and was a useful outlet for defenders during transitional play. Showing more passion for the club than most permanent players, Chambers never gave anything less than 110%, and provided consistent solid performances for the rest of the season.

I’m sure I won’t be alone in wishing him all the luck in his quest to break into the Arsenal first XI, and look forward to seeing him grace the Cottage pitch again soon.

Tom Cairney

Player Grade: B

Average Player Rating: 5.89

Writer: Tim Clarke

When it comes to Tom Cairney, it’s difficult to separate sense from sensibility, fact from feelings (I’m doing my best to avoid ending this with a tacky ‘Oh captain, my captain!’).

But the reality is, Tom’s impact is hard to quantify. On one hand, he finished with one goal, and one assist. He also only contributed the fourth most passes for Fulham, a poor return for an attacking midfielder. Perhaps the most frustrating point of the season, were the half a dozen games he played on the right wing, where he had very minimal impact (thanks Claudio).

On the other hand, his passing accuracy was 90.2%. This made him the ninth most accurate passer in the league in a team who finished nineteenth highest. He finished up 5th in Fulhamish’s player rating system, behind only Babel, Mitro, Rico and Chambers, and was only .2 off claiming the top spot. He was rarely awful, unlike some of those aforementioned, and even though he doesn’t have ‘a stoppage time goal against Leeds’ moment to his name this season, it seems that this Fulham side are better with Tom Cairney pulling the strings. It may not be reflected in his official stats, but most Fulham fans will know it to be true. Perhaps his biggest win of the season was the safe arrival of little Aubrey. From all of us here at Fulhamish, congrats Tom and Abbie! We hope to see him lighting up the Cottage someday.

With KMac getting less exposure this season, TC firmly established himself as the club captain. The interview he gave after relegation was confirmed showed that Fulham means something to him. It wasn’t business, it was personal. As for him saying he wants to finish his playing career at Fulham, you can inject that straight into my veins. There truly ain’t nobody…

Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa

Player Grade: C+

Average Player Rating: 5.63

Writer: Jack Collins

Ah, big Frank. Signed on Deadline Day from Marseille for a club record fee, there were split opinions from the start about the Cameroonian midfielder. Those fearing a flop were not reassured by Slavisa’s apparent reluctance to play Anguissa, as part of a continual rotation to try and find his best midfield; although Big Frank did have a decent showing in his first full 90, against Spurs at Wembley.

Low points would follow, however, culminating in that desperate 1-0 loss at the John Smiths Stadium, where absolutely no Fulham player could get a foot on the ball. Whilst he did OK at Anfield, injuries and suspensions would rule him out for the best part of the next three months, meaning he only ever played three games under the rule of Ranieri.

Parker’s accession to the managerial throne coincided with a return to fitness, and Frank was almost ever-present under the new gaffer, showing a turn up in performances that showed just why Fulham wanted to take a punt on him in the first place. Excellent in the three games that Parker won and a bright light even in many that we lost, Anguissa’s end of season form suggests that if we can hang on to him, he’d light up the Championship next year – especially with a manager that now seems to trust him. It’s been a mixed opening campaign for the big man, but one that shows a positive light at the end of the tunnel.

Jean Michel Seri

Player Grade: C

Average Player Rating: 5.44

Writer: George Singer

For a plucky little club in West London, Fulham have developed a knack recently of defying logic to punch above their weight in the transfer window. Bryan Ruiz, Van Der Sar, Dimitar Berbatov, and now Jean Michel Seri create a list of genuinely stunning acquisitions. Previously linked with Barcelona, the Ivorian came to the Cottage with serious pedigree. In the end, his performances left a lot to be desired – switching seamlessly between a world-beater and a flop every other week, and left us all feeling a bit flat.

Before jumping onto his back too much, there are two main caveats I’d like to call out. Firstly, when playing at Nice, Seri would often be paired with two limited defensive-minded midfielders. This freed Mika’s shackles, allowing him to become one of the world’s most feared playmakers. Often paired with Tom Cairney in Fulham’s midfield, we never gave him the defensive protection he needed, and his skillset didn’t suit the all-rounder needed to play this role.

Secondly, the nature of his transfer to Fulham. Brought in as a pair with Maxime Le Marchand, there is more than a sniff of something fishy going on with the purchase. If reports are to be believed, the nature of the structure of the deal has given Fulham the luxury of not paying contracted sell-on bonuses to other parties. Whilst this is clearly a complex matter, the legal proceedings are never a nice distraction for a player who’s looking to prove himself in a new country.

In all, if Seri does leave in the Summer, I’ll look forever look back with a sense of ‘what if?’. I maintain that he’s probably one of the most talented footballers to ever pull on a Fulham shirt, however with the club have failing to support him fully on and off the field he’s also been one of the most disappointing.

Kevin McDonald

Player Grade: D

Average Player Rating: 4.96

Writer: Drew Heatley

What must KMac be thinking after this season? Like many others in our promotion squad, he was an integral cog at the base of our midfield, racking up a shade fewer than 50 appearances in all competitions. However, he struggled to replicate that form under the bright lights of the Premier League. Despite the arrival of Anguissa, McDonald held his own during Slav’s 11 games in charge, appearing in every single one. A sending off against Bournemouth at home preceded a forgettable 20-minute cameo in the nadir of our season at Huddersfield. Despite that, it was still a surprise that he featured so sparingly under Ranieri, making just two appearances.

The fiery Scot was outspoken when Ranieri departed SW6, lamenting his treatment:

“When I spoke with him, he never really gave me an answer. He just said I wasn’t his type of player but at the end of the day we were losing week in, week out”

But after a few appearances in Scott Parker’s first few games, Kevin found himself out of the squad again, with his future looking uncertain. It’s hard to judge him after such a stop-start campaign – he looked out of his depth in many of his appearances, but managed to retain the loyalty of the Fulham faithful thanks to his sheer determination and willingness to graft. We know what he’s capable of in the second tier, but if Parker wants to stamp his own mark on the Whites, we may well see Scott dumping the Scot.