Jack Stroudley looks back on Fulham’s pre-season tour of America to see what we can learn ahead of the upcoming campaign.
The dust has settled on Fulham’s pre-season ventures across the pond. During the last week Fulham have beaten Brentford 3-2 and suffered 2-0 defeats at the hands of Aston Villa and Chelsea. The results in pre-season are irrelevant, of course, with team performances and fitness levels the priority. But despite this, there are certainly some things to discuss about the Summer Series as we head back to SW6 with less than two weeks until the Premier League starts.
1. Reinforcements needed
I’ll start with a pretty obvious one: we need more signings. Fulham’s paper-thin squad was painfully apparent in America, with options off the bench being very limited. Willian was the only senior outfield player to be brought on in the Aston Villa game, while Bassey and Jimenez came in and played the final 45 against Chelsea, but we’re in desperate need of more names. Callum Hudson-Odoi’s name has been floating around in recent days and Marco Silva said pre-Chelsea that he’s looking for at least another five more players to come through the door, so hopefully we see a few more in soon.
2. A lack of Joao factor
Awful pun aside, Palhinha’s injury against Brentford was the worst possible start to our Summer Series with a reported separated shoulder. His injury makes him a doubt for our Premier League opener at Goodison Park and while I think Lukic has impressed over the last week, the need to bring in depth for Palhinha was apparent at the end of last season and is even more so now.
3. Fulhamerica in Ful-force
The main thing that’s stood out to me on Twitter (or X) over the past week is the love that Fulham has Stateside. The number of videos, photos and tailgates I have seen during this Summer Series has reminded me what a fantastic and inclusive club we have (with even Shahid Khan making himself known at the Chelsea game!) and how privileged I feel to be able to go and watch Fulham on a regular basis. UK-based fans get 38 league games, cup fixtures and European based pre-season fixtures every season, so it feels nice to give our US fans a chance to follow the team for a week.
4. De future-rolles?
If you hated the pun before, you’d have hated that one even more! Jokes aside, I don’t want to put too much pressure on this young lad. Luc De Fougerolles played a part in all three games at centre-back and looked good for a 17-year-old. Fulham’s Scholar of the Year was composed on the ball and while he usually plays as a full-back, you’d never have noticed. He did have some sloppy moments (as did everyone in fairness) but that’s fine, it’s pre-season after all. I don’t expect him to play a huge part in the upcoming season but he’s certainly made an impression.
5. The Serbian saga
Another week flies by and the Mitrovic, Fulham, and Saudi Arabia situation still hasn’t reached a conclusion. The talks between Mitrovic and Saudi Arabia have gone very quiet over the last few days and Mitrovic has gone from training on his own, to back with the squad… so maybe he’ll stay?
That being said, he didn’t feature at all against Chelsea and there are still murmurings of his agent pushing Mitrovic for a deal anywhere (the latest club being Inter Milan). Raul Jimenez looked quite good in the second half against Chelsea and while Vinicius scored against Brentford, Fulham do need another striker to bulk out the goals. Whether that’s Mitrovic or not, for the good of the club this situation needs sorting out quickly.