Craven Cottage

The Opposition Preview: Fulham

Wolves face Fulham on Saturday in what will be the first game at Molineux this season. We spoke with Cameron Ramsey from the Fulhamish podcast who gave us the low down on Fulham.

How has preseason gone for Fulham?

Pre-season was fairly tough as we travelled to the Algarve to take on OGC Nice, Benfica and Estoril. We beat Nice 2-0, and then also in a bizarre penalty shoot-out, but then we were spanked 5-1 by Benfica. We rounded the tour off with a 3-1 win against Estoril and a week before the season’s start, we drew 1-1 with Villarreal, which was unexpected. So, a mixed pre-season for sure and we’ve learnt a lot about what we have at our disposal.


Are you happy with the transfer business that’s been conducted by your club?

Unlike previous seasons, our business so far has been considered and those we’ve acquired have definitely bettered the squad. Joao Palhinha is a ridiculously solid addition, as is Andreas Pereira, and we’ve also strengthened out wide with Manor Solomon and Kevin Mbabu. We’re still fairly light defensively, although with Shane Duffy coming in on loan from Brighton and Bernd Leno joining from Arsenal, I’d say I’m thrilled.


What is your opinion on your manager?

Marco Silva’s worked wonders. After 18-months out of the game he’s evidently refined his philosophy and Fulham won’t change their approach for any team. He’s gotten the very best out of Mitrovic, there’s a tangible unity within the squad and on the pitch, we’re fearless. That’s all down to the gaffer, he trusts his troops and hopefully the positive results will continue to materialise.


What is your team’s typical formation and style of play?

We play with a flat back four opposed to a three with wingbacks, a midfield double pivot with a ten just in front, your typical wingers on each flank and big Mitro up top. So, 4-2-1-3, or however you want to categorise it, I suppose.


Which player do you tip to have a big season for your team?

Mitrovic. It’s an obvious choice but he has his doubters to silence and he’s did a remarkable job of hushing his critics against Liverpool. I think he’s going to smash the Premier League and he’ll bag a minimum of 15 goals.


How do you think you will do this season?

I think it’ll be a tough slog, of course, but I think we’ll stand up to the task. Who knows, I’d like us to finish 15th but let’s face it, abutting above the bottom three will be a success. 15/16th final position.


What are your thoughts on Wolves?

Bruno Lage’s spell has been patchy, but he’s definitely the right man to steady Wolves and truthfully, Wolves are a club Fulham should want to emulate. They’ve bedded themselves into the Premier League and are always striving to develop and improve. In short, I like Wolves and wish them well – just not on Saturday.


Who from Wolves are you worried about playing against?

Pedro Neto’s a baller, a scary one. Full-flight, getting at defenders, he’s terrifying. If he can stay fit, he’ll carry Wolves on the charge and if he shows up against us, we have to be completely switched on. He and Neves are quality.


Score prediction for our game?

I think it’ll be closer than people think. If we can grab another draw, 1-1 perhaps, I’ll be more than pleased. Mitro to equalise in the 85th minute after a Neves banger.

craven cottage

Fulham 0-1 Wolves : The Debrief

Typical Wolves. Just as you’re ready to pen a withering diatribe about system failures or thump out a tweet listing the names of players you’d gladly flog in the summer, up pops Traore with a screamer. Grimacing, you accept the three points.

Nuno and his coaching staff merged in to a familiar celebratory huddle as Alphonse Areola committed the ultimate goalkeeping crime of being beaten at his near post. In the opposite corner, Scott Parker looked like a man who could do with an arm around the shoulder himself.


Fulham’s tears on the Thames


As anyone with a pair of eyes will attest, it was far from perfect, but Wolves got the win, smashed and grabbed three points and left Fulham wallowing in literal tears of misery. It was harsh on the home team.

In fact, making a case that either side deserved maximum points would be a stretch. Silva’s through ball was divine, Traore’s thumping finish ruthless and the previous hour-and-a-half of tedium almost forgotten.


Conor Coady won his battle with Mitrovic


There were personal battles raging all over the pitch. Kongolo, Tete and Andersen toiled hard to keep Podence, Neto (briefly) and Traore honest. Back in the side to torment his old defensive foe, Conor Coady, Serbian international Aleksandar Mitrovic had spent a lot of the season warming the bench.

Enjoying good international form, when Mitrovic scored against Aston Villa on Sunday, Fulham were half an hour away from closing the gap even more on a Wolves side that lost to West Ham shortly after. Fulham opted for capitulation, Villa came back to win 3-1 and the gap remained.


Jose’s first Wolves goal disallowed


Back at Craven Cottage, in first half injury time Daniel Podence teased a dainty cross into the box and Willian Jose did what he was supposed to do. Powering a header past Areola, the Brazilian wheeled away in delight having finally broken his duck. Or so he thought.

Instead, VAR crashed the Wolves party room, flicking on the light like an angry parent. Jose and company had been cruelly foiled. This new-fangled technology, designed to remove discussion and debate over contentious decisions, once again attempted to suck away any last vestige of goal scoring enjoyment. 


Cavaleiro missed his opportunity for revenge


The sign of Ivan Cavaleiro leisurely jogging on to the turf may have filled some observers with dread. Old player coming back to bite Wolves, just as former favourite Diogo Jota had done for Liverpool. It was written. Or maybe not. As reliable as a Duncan Castles scoop, ‘Cav’ dutifully drifted into obscurity.

Time and again Adama was outnumbered and ruthlessly dumped to the ground. Time and again Daniel Podence, still sluggishly recovering from injury, found his usually reliable touch and tidy ball control strangely absent.

Despite Fulham’s apparent tooth lessness going forward, still the Wolves handbrake remained intact. Scott Parker’s urgency increased. His substitutions became more offensive. Fulham fancied it.

With 15 minutes remaining Wolves suddenly looked a little fingernail ragged, clinging on with a touch more desperation as each minute passed. The end-to-end frivolity of Monday night’s defeat to West Ham garnered little fruit while providing sporadic moments of entertainment. This was just dire.


Portuguese wonderkid drops an assist


The away side’s kit may have strongly resembled the free-flowing pleasures of a prime Portugal, but that was where the similarities ended. Wolves’ approach was stale. It lacked imagination. Nobody would’ve batted an eyelid had the camera panned pitch side to find Jose Mourinho sitting in the away dugout, pulling the tactical strings.

Bounding around the field with all the enthusiasm of a new-born puppy, snapping at the heels of the Fulham players, Fabio Silva’s endeavour was never beyond question. Even an unfortunate collision with an advertising hoarding failed to dampen his zeal. 

Unlike his impressive cameo against West Ham, Silva was unable to hit the net. No matter, VAR probably would’ve ruled it out anyway. Fabio made do with a silky slide rule assist to release the beast that is Traore and help push the Cottagers further into the relegation mire.


Wolves meander into mid table


Even the slithering killjoys at Stockley Park were unable to prevent the marauding Spaniard from ending his goal drought. Adama’s powerful strike successfully killed off any lingering doubts around Premier League survival.

The muscled Adonis had engineered a reward for months of fruitless labour and for another night the wider cracks remain glued with a few sheets of A4. 

As bubbling frustrations across Wolverhampton and beyond quickly simmered, Nuno will not sit comfortably. Those withering tweets are merely postponed. Consigned to drafts until we return.


Steve Wellings is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here