FORGET BARCA WAY!
Fulham defender Denis Odoi says they need to be more direct
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.
“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.
“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.”
SLIP, SLIDE: Fulham’s Denis Odoi tackles Bristol City’s Jamie Patterson Inset above, Ryan Sessegnon celebrates his hat-trick