Ahead of Saturday’s match between Everton and Fulham, we spoke to Cottagers’ supporter, podcaster and congressional reporter Max Cohen - current contributor to the Cottage Talk podcast:
RBM: Firstly, Fulham have been one of the season’s big stories I feel like; they have played relatively well all year - and then of course, the match against Manchester United in the cup tie occurred; can you walk us through out Cottagers are feeling at this point near the end of this campaign?
Max: This season has been a dream, vastly exceeding our expectations as a fan base. If you had told any Fulham fan that we would be in the top half of the table in April with 39 points, they would’ve thought you were joking. But of course, we are on a run of terrible form and supporters are feeling disappointed that our out-of-this-world start is being sullied by a dip in composure, confidence and form. But still, we aren’t in a relegation dogfight and that’s the bottom line.
RBM: Can we talk about that moment? The United moment where Mitrovic and Silva both lost their minds after Willian’s red card; what on earth happened there, and do supporters believe that that moment of madness has cost them a better season at all with how the team has looked since?
Max: If you insist... It definitely feels like a turning point. Up until that point we were the better side, taking the match to United and had one foot in Wembley. Mitrovic’s anger, which has for the most part been controlled while in SW6, erupted. Silva was also out of line in how he reacted to the officials. The ban for Mitro is way too long, however, compared to similar incidents. I think the loss of Mitro has harmed our attack, which has looked toothless since.
RBM: What is the difference between this team now under Marco Silva - when he’s available to coach of course - and this side under Scott Parker, who you were quite fond of I believe?
Max: Haha, my fondness of Parker definitely subsided at the end of the relegation season. I did respect him, but he didn’t make the best use of his squad at the end of the day. Marco Silva has an incredible knack of getting the absolute best of out of players. Look no further than the performance of Ream, who’s having his best season yet. Ream was benched under Parker. Silva simply seems to be more tactically astute and has Fulham playing on the front foot, whereas Parker adopted a needlessly negative approach in the top flight.
RBM: Other than Aleksandar Mitrovic, who are the dangermen on this side?
Max: Manor Solomon has the potential to conjure a goal out of nothing. Willian is dangerous on the counter, even in the twilight of his career. Andreas Pereira is excellent from dead ball situations. But we have struggled massively in recent matches at putting balls in the back of the net.
RBM: Since the side is assuredly remaining in the Premier League next season, where will the team look to improve come the summer transfer market?
Max: Without a doubt, we need more central forward options — Vinicius isn’t up to the level. We also would like another central midfielder to complement the excellent Joao Palhinha, and likely more central defensive cover to succeed Tim Ream when he eventually (but hopefully never) retires.
RBM: What will be the ambitions coming off of this surprisingly positive season?
Max: Even though it’s been an excellent year, ambitions for next year have to start with survival. We’ve seen too many sides suffer a second-season slump, and our end-of-year dip in form makes us wary of a similar fate. But if we can start strongly, then top-10 would be a goal of mine for 23/24.
RBM: How do you expect Fulham to set up on Saturday? How can the side cope without Mitrovic? Which of Fulham’s players do you think could cause Everton the most problems?
Max: I think we will have Vinicius up front in the absence of Mitro, and I hope Manor Solomon starts alongside Willian on the wings. We might also see Diop return to the lineup with Ream in defence. I think Solomon, Palhinha and Pereira will be the most dangerous Fulham players.
RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for the match?
Think Fulham pull out a 2-1 win. But it will be tight!
Our thanks to Max for his time.