Manchester City’s defence of the FA Cup continues as they welcome Fulham to the Etihad on Sunday afternoon. The Cottagers sit 3rd in the Championship table but won’t necessarily put out a weakened side against Pep Guardiola’s team.
Speaking of Guardiola, the Catalan surely knows now that his only hope of lifting silverware this season lies in cup competitions, and is likely to take this game seriously.
Thanks for joining us, Farrell. Let’s start with star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who’s reportedly out for up to three weeks. Manchester City fans know how dangerous he can be, so how do you think Fulham will do without him?
Two games without the Serbian powerhouse has shown mixed results. The first game we hardly even noticed he wasn’t there, however Wednesday evening showed how blunt Fulham can be with out him.
There is more at play though – Fulham have a considerable amount of injuries which has really hampered the team more than Mitrović. Knockaert, Kebano, Kamara and the brilliant Harrison Reed all missing from the 0-0 draw at Charlton highlighted how thin we are on the ground, considering by the end of the game Scott Parker had to resort to putting our left-back at right-wing.
Mitrović, fantastic as he may be, (18 goals in 26 games), he’s not absolutely integral to how good Fulham are. If anything, it suits our dynamic play *not* to have him in the side, especially since it would leave a front three of Cavaliero, Knockaert and Decordova-Reid, winning the ball higher up the pitch therefore creating better chances, like against Aston Villa in the cup and more recently versus Middlesbrough.
One player who’s worn both a Fulham and Manchester City shirt is Patrick Roberts, who recently joined Middlesbrough on loan after a quiet spell at Norwich. What do you think of his career since leaving London?
I was immediately pleased that Manchester City recognised that Roberts needed regular first team football to flourish and Celtic was probably the right place for him. The football is obviously not the highest standard every week, however, it helped him handle the pressure of shining under the shadow of the huge pressure that can come with playing at vociferous Celtic Park atmosphere. Once he broke into the team, he certainly showed his quality alongside another successful Fulham academy graduate in Moussa Dembélé and earned the extra one year extension, although injury hampered his final season and his time north of the border.
His time at Girona was obviously a massive disappointment as the Catalans were relegated. He was only really a bit part player so I think he needs some time to rebuild his reputation, even just at 22. He played against us for Middlesbrough last weekend and I have to say that I don’t think I have seen much development from him since he left Craven Cottage, he still appears to be a winger than can beat a player or two, but not much in the way of end product and decision making.
If he can be a smarter player I think he certainly has all the other attributes of a Premier League forward, but at the moment I see very little chance in him breaking into the Citizens first team. I do hope he proves me wrong, I get an irrational sense of pride from a Fulham graduate going onto doing good things and perhaps playing internationally, so fingers crossed I see him lifting the world cup alongside captain Ryan Sessegnon in 2026.
Scott Parker has been manager at Craven Cottage for almost a year now. How do you rate his spell in charge so far and do you think he can get Fulham promoted this season?
I think Scott Parker has been given a massive opportunity but also one that could have been one big poisoned chalice. Expectation amongst the fan-base is abnormally high for a small club probably due to the recent success at this level coupled with the financial backing and therefore the opinion is split. He has done a good job, nothing spectacular, but much further from disaster. Brilliant wins mixed in with puzzling and drab defeats seem to be the order of Fulham’s season.
However, much of the the inconsistency should be down to the aforementioned injury crisis the club has had to endure, (In the defeat to Reading on New Year’s Day, Scott Parker had to call upon his 7th and 8th choice centre midfielders due to ill fortune). Considering going into Sunday, sitting third and within a win of the top two should be commended.
Over the years, we’ve been linked with Fulham players including Ryan Sessegnon and Alfie Mawson – but which Manchester City player would you love to see playing in a Fulham shirt and why?
To try and narrow it down is a toughest ask I have had all week. It’s a personal (unrequited of course) love triangle between Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero. Each one is brilliant in their own right but I think I will pomp for the Belgian purely on a versatility perspective. His quality never falls below world-class regardless if it’s the 1st minute or at the end of a gruelling ninety minutes, unlocking defences at will with his incisive passing or movement, all coupled with a footballing brain the size of the Etihad.
Fulham haven’t lost an away game in over a month and are battling for an automatic promotion spot. Who have been the key players in a good season so far?
The biggest item in the past month is the arrival of Michael Hector, who is a classic Chelsea loanee making zero appearances for his parents club before being moved on. Difference being, he was 23 when he signed for the tiny blue proportion of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The introduction of the centre-back reaped instant dividends with one goal conceded in four games played, forging an instant partnership with Tim Ream. He is keeping former City target Alfie Mawson out the team as an indication.
Over the course of the season it’s difficult to look past the famous Mitrović. Beside him though there is a dearth of attacking talent, especially Bobby Decordova-Reid and Ivan Cavaliero. Beyond that, although has been off the boil recently, the Scottish David Silva, Tom Cairney, a footballer of obvious quality that for some reason has been overlooked by his national team for far too long, because you know, they have a squad rich with talent.
Finally, what’s your predicted Fulham XI for Sunday’s tie?
Rodak, Christie, Kongolo, Hector, Bryan, McDonald, Arter, Onomah, Cairney, Cavaliero, Decordova-Reid.