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Why we should use Tom Cairney more

Written by Malcolm Eisenhardt on 17th October 2023

Malcolm Eisenhardt believes we’re wasting an influential weapon in our battle to create more chances.  

Tom Cairney, TC, our captain, our number 10. The Nottingham-born midfielder joined the club from Blackburn in 2015 and has since established himself as a Fulham legend. With 259 Fulham appearances and numerous accolades – including multiple Team and Player of The Year awards, lifting two trophies at Wembley, and of course the winning goal against Aston Villa – he will be celebrated by fans for years to come.

Worthy of more minutes

Despite his legendary status, I’m not eulogising TC’s time at the club. Far from it. I believe that the Nottingham Zidane still has a lot to offer and, unlike Marco Silva, would allow him far more game time. Cairney made 33 Premier League appearances last season – 27 from the bench, averaging only 29 minutes.

Despite this, he received five Man of The Match awards – the most out of any Fulham player. Cairney also made 10 progressive passes per 90 minutes. This was the fourth highest in the league, bettered only by Jorginho, Enzo Fernández, and Oleksander Zinchenko. With our current goal creation struggles in mind, I trust TC to create more opportunities for our front three and would opt to bring him on earlier.

New style, old hero

Aleksander Mitrovic’s exit has changed the way we play. We no longer have the confidence to use our number nine as an outlet if we can’t play out from the back, and our attacking patterns of play have lost some fluidity. TC’s control is crucial when playing out and his vision can be crucial – especially late on in games. His passing accuracy of 87% certainly gives us confidence. We should afford him more minutes to do this.

But, similarly to last season, TC isn’t playing a huge amount of football. He has made six Premier League appearances. Four of these were from the bench, averaging 26 minutes per appearance. While TC doesn’t have the same speed or stamina as the most-used midfield three of Harrison Reed, João Palhinha, and Andreas Pereira, he can offer things that they cannot. Such minimal game time doesn’t not allow TC to properly influence the game.

Tom’s presence is powerful at the Cottage whether he’s playing or not, but he can only influence events on the pitch if he’s on it. I’d love to him to be given more minutes throughout the rest of the season to do that.

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