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The pros and cons of our striking trio

Written by Stephen Sheldrake on 15th March 2024

Licenced via Imago Images. Copyright: Grant Winter 39970082

With a full complement of striking talent available for Spurs, Stephen Sheldrake looks at our options.

Rewind to the start of the campaign. With the closure of the summer transfer window looming, and the usual lack of business taking place, an air of uncertainty clouded Fulham fans minds as the new season began. A certain number nine sets up the match winner for Everton away and suddenly the woes seem like they may just have been short-term concerns.

Moments later, fans were left in disarray as the Saudi Pro League’s calls for Mitrovic were finally successful, the window slammed shut, and fans were left bewildered, wondering what the game plan was for this Fulham squad. It seemed after the club fought so hard to keep Marco Silva, the same ambition wasn’t re-invested into the squad.

Frustration crept in as inevitably the whites struggled in front of goal. After a poor pre-season Carlos Vinicius could barely break into the team, leading to half appearances with rash moments of aggression to opposition players, causing fans to fear the worst. New signing Raul Jimenez hadn’t found the back of the net in two years; his form took a major dip after suffering that head injury against Arsenal. In the 2022/23 campaign Rodrigo Muniz found himself struggling to find match time in the Championship, as he was demoted to the bench in his loan placement at Middlesbrough. Things weren’t looking pretty to say the least.

Marco Silva’s faith in Raul finally paid off as he bagged his first goal for us against Aston Villa away, and from there he really found his feet. An unfortunate injury laid the path for Muniz while Carlos was sent out on loan to Galatasaray. The club’s striking options seemed to be wearing thin. That was until the very last moments of the winter transfer window when a loan deal for Chelsea centre-forward Armando Broja was announced across Sky Sports in the dying embers of the night. 

It should have been a walk in the park for a player of his calibre to come into the Fulham front line and make it his own, however Rodrigo Muniz had other ideas and was fired up as he grasped the opportunity to play Premier League football with both hands with goals to match his terrific work rate and hold up play.

Ahead of Tottenham’s visit to the Cottage the weekend, Fulham now find themselves with three fully fit strikers. So, who gets the nod? Let’s take a look at our options.

Rodrigo Muniz: the man on fire

In an unexpected turn of events, Rodrigo Muniz has established himself as an almost undroppable force leading the Fulham line up top. He always had the relentless work ethic and determination that fans admired, but the hold-up play was never quite on point and the goals never came. His goal and display against Burnley well and truly broke the chain and set the tone; since the outing to Turf Moor he has found the back of the net five times in six outings with an assist to add, earning him the February nomination for Premier League player of the month and adding a rumoured £20m to his transfer market valuation. His English has vastly improved alongside his overall footballing intelligence, the future’s looking very bright for the club and the man who truly deserves this success.

Pro: He’s the man in form. Consistency could be what Rodrigo needs now to kick on as his power, speed and athleticism could prove vital for the remainder of our campaign – if it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it.

Con: Keeping Broja out of the team means we have to fork £4m over to our rivals in blue and he hasn’t had the chance to prove his worth with a start yet. Raul was in strong form before his recent injury and at the key latter stage of his career. Do both of them deserve to remain sidelined?

Rating: 8/10

Armando Broja: the man we’re yet to see

It was shrewd business to bring the Albanian in for the rest of the season. Nevertheless in a world of harsher financial fair play, there’s nothing I would enjoy more than to not pay a penny over to Chelsea, even if £4m is a small price to pay for Muniz’s coincidental rise in form.

Regardless, with a footballing brain on, Broja has produced some solid hold-up play from his appearances off the bench, never quite threatening the goal in the way we would hope. But it’s a tough job scoring as a centre forward and his physical attributes add value to this team, that coupled with the fact he hasn’t had the opportunity to start would perhaps raise the point that maybe now is the time to let him have his place in the side to prove his worth. It’s a tough game regardless where we are not expecting three points, so perhaps it’s worth throwing him in the deep end to see if there is any substance to the potential that is highlighted around this young player – he is only 22 after all.

Pro: A start means an opportunity to prove himself, he would provide strong physical attributes up top, and there’s still a chance to not hand any pennies over to Chelsea. He did provide an assist in a solid cameo off the bench at Molineux.

Con: He hasn’t set the world alight yet, and without a goal to his name, with his struggles to score in a blue shirt seemingly continuing in the white of Fulham, perhaps changing things up isn’t a great idea at this crucial part of the season.

Rating: 6/10

Raul Jimenez: the man who was king – and could be once more

When Raul arrived, I felt there was a real air of excitement around him. Fulham fans knew of his history with Wolves and with an excellent workrate across the entire pitch, good footballing intellect and an eye for goal, this was a risk that seemed to fall into the hands of the perfect manager in Marco Silva. After a shaky start, Raul showed that he is a very skillful player that when switched on can prove to be a threat in front of goal with an air of excitement and flair. Though sometimes he tries a little too hard to pull off certain skills, and some decision-making left a bit to be desired (rewind to Longstaff red card). Overall I trust there is still a feeling of positivity around him and I’m glad he’s part of the team. At the age of 33 now, game time will be really key for him, and personally he has proved to me that he is good enough to earn a start in this Fulham team, it’s just a question of whether this is the right time.

Pro: A start gives Raul key match time after returning from his recent injury, was in strong form before and provides a lot of experience and good link up play to keep our attacks flowing and threatening.

Con: Having been out of the squad for a few weeks, we need our strikers to hit the ground running and dropping him in the deep end may not be the best choice in this tough fixture. With Rodrigo in fine form it seems hard to prioritise Raul over Muniz, however if his name is announced I’ll be ready to see what he’s made of in his return to the squad. Probably an appearance off the bench is best.

Rating: 7/10

Who would you like to see start up top? Share your thoughts with us and let’s hope this strong striking force can deliver the goods against Spurs this Saturday.

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