FORGET BARCA WAY!

Ful­ham de­fender De­nis Odoi says they need to be more di­rect

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By James An­drew

DE­NIS Odoi has told his Ful­ham team-mates to stop think­ing they play for Barcelona and to quit try­ing to score the per­fect goal.

Ful­ham were la­belled the ‘en­ter­tain­ers’ of the Cham­pi­onship last sea­son as they waltzed into the play-offs with the joint-most goals in the di­vi­sion and play­ing a brand of at­trac­tive football.

Hav­ing missed out on the Wem­b­ley fi­nal, Slav­isa Jokanovic’s side were tipped to chal­lenge for au­to­matic pro­mo­tion this term.

But the goals are not pour­ing in like they did last sea­son and the style of play has suf­fered.

How­ever, the Bel­gian de­fender in­sists Ful­ham can still match or even sur­pass last sea­son’s achieve­ments – but they need to adapt their style of play.

“Ev­ery­body had very high ex­pec­ta­tions of us ahead of the new sea­son af­ter what we did last year,” said the 29-year-old.

“We had a very tough start and it has been dif­fi­cult for us to match last sea­son. But now we have had a cou­ple of good re­sults against Sh­effield United and Mill­wall and we need to build on that and try to get closer to the top six.

“We are a very at­tack-minded team and last sea­son we scored a lot of goals. We also con­ceded a lot, but, on the whole, we scored more than we let in.

Fin­ish­ers

“This sea­son, it has been hard for us to be as clin­i­cal as we were last sea­son. Also, our level of pass­ing in key po­si­tions is not as good as it was last year. “Some­times, our for­ward play­ers want to keep on pass­ing the ball, but we are not Barcelona and some­times we need to shoot more of­ten. “We have some good fin­ish­ers in the team – play­ers like Tom Cair­ney, Ste­fan Jo­hansen and Oliver Nor­wood, who can all shoot from out­side the box. “So, we need to shoot and re­alise we don’t al­ways need to pass the ball un­til it is over the line. “Also, a de­flected goal is also a goal, so if you have a shot then you can get lucky.”

Ful­ham did find the back of the net – five times – against high fly­ing Sh­effield United a cou­ple of weeks ago, with 17year-old Ryan Sesseg­non bag­ging his first pro­fes­sional hat-trick in the 5-4 win.

While Sesseg­non broke into the team as a left-back, he has moved fur­ther up the pitch, with Odoi fill­ing the void be­hind him. And he be­lieves the Eng­land U19 in­ter­na­tional has the world at his feet.

“I have so much re­spect for Ryan,” he added. “I ad­mire the way he copes with all the hype.

“I don’t think there are many play­ers that out­work me in train­ing.But, if there was one, then it would be him.

Outruns

“He is so level-headed and there is no doubt he has a fan­tas­tic fu­ture ahead of him.

“I hope he stays the same as he is now be­cause he is such a great guy.

“I think his best po­si­tion would be as a left wing-back with three cen­tral de­fend­ers be­side him.

“He times his runs well, so he is a mas­sive threat go­ing for­wards. But he outruns ev­ery­one on the pitch, so he is ex­cel­lent at the back as well.”

If Ful­ham are to chal­lenge at the top of the ta­ble come the end of the cam­paign, then the likes of Sesseg­non, Cair­ney and Co will have to match their per­for­mances of last term – and Odoi is adamant this sea­son is far from a write­off.

He added: “Some peo­ple were talk­ing about au­to­matic pro­mo­tion, but I think that is too far away now. It’s get­ting ahead of our­selves by say­ing that’s still pos­si­ble.

“Ob­vi­ously, we have not been liv­ing up to the same level as last sea­son and we need to take it week by week and aim for the top six.

“If we get some good re­sults over the next few weeks, then hope­fully we will grow in con­fi­dence and our game will im­prove. Then we can talk about other things. But, for now, the aim is to get into the top six first.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

SLIP, SLIDE: Ful­ham’s De­nis Odoi tack­les Bris­tol City’s Jamie Pat­ter­son Inset above, Ryan Sesseg­non cel­e­brates his hat-trick

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