Welcome back to part three of my Fulham Youth series. If you missed the last posts, you can find them here.
With the only pool of potential players being the ones that formerly have been trained at the club, we can’t pick from the top shelf, and there is a very limited selection of players. I tried to bring back Moritz Jenz to add to the quality or lack of quality at central defence, but he instead chose to go home to Germany and Union Berlin. We have defenders that will be better than him in the future, but for now, we could’ve needed him at the club.
Sunderland released Patrick Roberts, and I decided to hand him a four-week trial with us. I then offered him a contract as a fringe player for two years, but in the end, he ended up signing with Coventry. He will play a more significant part there, and the Championship is probably a better level for him.
Sylvester Jasper, Marlon Fossey and Steven Sessegnon back from loan are like getting three new players in.
Fossey has been highly rated for many years, but serious injuries have haltered his development and got in the way of him making his debut. After two good loans in League One, I’m willing to give him a chance as backup on the right wing-back.
Sylvester Jasper was on loan at Hibernian last season without making a single appearance. Regardless he will get a chance to prove himself here. He made his debut for the first team in the 2019/20 seasons and made two appearances in total.
Steven Sessegnon has lived in the shadow of his twin brother all his career and is yet to live up to his potential. He made 14 appearances in the 2019/20 season and has been out on two loans since that. The peak of his career so far is probably the U17 World Cup in 2017, where he was a significant contributor when England won the title.
He can play in several positions, and for some reason, I would like to see him in the middle of the park in a box-to-box role.
We managed to get some new(old) faces in when Djed Spence arrived from Middlesbrough and Mika Biereth moved back across London from Arsenal.
Spence is one of the most exciting young full-backs in England, and it’s a massive signing to get him back to the club. His great pace and technical ability will be a force for us in years to come.
Biereth left the club for Arsenal after an impressing season and captaining the U23s. After one appearance for Arsenal in the prem and a loan to Morecambe in League One, he’s back at Craven Cottage to show us what he’s good for, hopefully. A future partnership with Jay Stansfield up front should be a decent one for the coming seasons. We paid a huge price for him, and probably more than he’s worth now. The upfront fee is not that bad, while the options are based on performances.
- Djed Spence – Middlesbrough – £9.25M
- Mika Biereth – Arsenal -£6.75M(£19M)
- Total: £16M
As this type of series demands, several players went out the doors of this window as well. There are a few I’m reluctant to sell because that could end all hopes of being competitive. I, therefore, decided to keep Harry Wilson, Tosin Adarabioyo, Rodrigo Muniz and Antonee Robinson for the first part of the season. Tom Cairney and Nathaniel Chalobah are good players as well, and will stay at the club for the simple reason that no other club wanted to sign them.
- Bobby Dercodova-Reid – Burnley – £15.75M
- Kenny Tete – Crystal Palace – £17.75M
- Alfie Mawson – Crystal Palace – £190K
- Josh Onomah – Dinamo Moscow – £6.25M
- Andrè-Franck Zambo Anguissa – Monaco – £21.5M
- Jean Michael Seri – Dinamo Moscow – Free
- Ziyad Larkeche – Toulon – Free
- Taye Ashby-Hammond – Lewes – Free
- Jerome Opoku – Sint-Truiden – Free
- Total: £61.44M
Several academy players also went out on loan to gain first-team experience. Luca Ashby-Hammond will play the season for Stevenage in League Two. Xavier Benjamin and Tyler Caton will also get a season in League Two with Barrow and Sutton. Luciano D’Auria-Henry and Sonny Hilton will play in the National League for Grimsby and Dag&Red, while Jay Williams and Engwau Oduka will play a season in the National League South.
The new life in Premier League started great with a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford in the first game. We were up 3-1 at one point, and inexperience together with lower-quality players is probably what made us throw away the lead. After the first game, we had a tough time competing against over competition and lost three in a row with a 3-10 goal difference. On a positive note, the two goals against Man Utd were enough to win Jay Stansfield the Young Player of the Month award for August.
After the three catastrophic games and the international break, I decided to change up the tactics a bit. We needed another man in the defence, so I pulled the defensive midfielder back. This will probably affect us going forward, but it will hopefully tighten up the defence as well.
With the new formation, we turned the form around with a 2-1 win away to Leicester. Mika Biereth scored his first league goal, and Marek Rodak had a man-of-the-match performance. The latter probably says something about the momentum of the game. We still got our first win in the Premier League, and it’s nothing wrong with having a good keeper.
In the next match, we again stood our ground against Liverpool and our first clean sheet of the season was a fact. Rodak was voted man of the match again and is proving his Premier League quality.
Against Tottenham, Biereth gave us the lead after 16 seconds and tied the game in the second half after Spurs had turned it around. An excellent month for us with five points against three top sides!
Biereth won the Young Player of the Month award after an impressing spell this month. 2/2 on our behalf there.
We took our good form into October and won the first match against Everton when Fabio Carvalho opened his account for the season. Against Burnley and Sheffield United, we didn’t just lose the games. We also got serious hits to our key players when Antonee Robinson and Harry Wilson got injured. The latter won’t play again before the World Cup break. Oliver Sanderson got a rare chance from the bench due to injures and scored his first goal for us against Sheff Utd. Carvalho scored again against Southampton, and this time a late one to win us the game. He’s the best player in the squad in terms of ability now and it’s great to see that he’s also putting points on the board and winning crucial points for us. Harvey Araujo started his second game in the Premier League and was voted man of the match at just 17 years old. I think we have Adarabioyos successor in him.
In the third game in a seven days we lost against Bournemouth with lots of tired legs and heavy rotation in the starting eleven.
With almost a weeks rest we played Wolves out of the park for the first 45 minutes. 3-0 at half time and both wing-backs scoring their first goals for us. The game slowed down a bit in the second half and other than a long range shot from Ruben Neves we had full control.
Arsenal at the Emirates is always a special game with a special atmosphere. Biereth scored the opener after 41 minutes. Scoring for us against his old club was a great moment for the young striker.
In the second half it exploded for a while with three goals in three minutes. Suddenly it was 2-2 and the game looked to end with a draw when Thomas Partey sent away a missile from outside the box. Utter heartbreak for us, but it is fully deserved for Arsenal when you look at the stats.
For October Carvalho won the Young Player of the Month award after scoring four in seven games. We’ve now won three out of three awards so far. It’s also great that three different players have won the award.
In the last game before the World Cup, we met Watford, who was dead last before the game. We did our job with a 2-0 win and a clean sheet to end the first part of the season. Marlon Fossey and Adrion Pajaziti scored their first goals for the first team. Similar to Spence, Fossey is a significant threat when going forward on the right-hand side.
After a tough start, we’ve established ourselves at a higher level and are starting to grab the points we need. With four points down to the relegation zone, I’m pleased to say that we have done our job so far.
In the EFL Cup, we suffered a terrible beating against Coventry. Six players made their game debut, and other reserves also got a chance. I don’t have any expectations for the EFL Cup this season, but it would, of course, be nice with a win so the young lads could get more valuable playing time. When Luke Harris replaced Tom Cairney at halftime, we played the second half with an all-academy eleven for the first time.
Six players made their debut in the EFL Cup against Coventry. Mika Biereth got an introduction earlier in the post after his transfer from Arsenal.
George Wickens is another highly-rated keeper that has gone through the academy since he was a kid. On loan at Wealdstone, last season to gain first-team experience and will be a backup for Rodak this season when Ashby-Hammond is out on loan. He’s a well-rounded keeper with great determination and loves to get out of his line to sweep. Seem to be close with Ashby-Hammond in terms of potential, and it will be exciting to see which of them develops the best over the following seasons.
Marlon Fossey has been highly rated for years after coming from the United States to the academy as a 15-year-old. He has suffered some severe injuries, which is why he never made his debut before. After two good seasons in League One, he’s back to compete with Djed Spence and will get his chances through the season. With the excellent pace, he’s a threat going forward.
Luke Harris is still very young and needs time to develop. He’s doing great for the academy teams as a central midfielder going forward. He’s got excellent finishing and long-shot ability, and this guy will contribute with goals. Due to injuries, he’s yet to get his league debut, but that will probably come in the second half of the season.
Connor McAvoy is a decent prospect for a ball-playing defender, but probably never at this level. However, due to the lack of other central defenders, he’s bound to get more chances. I do hope that he proves me wrong!
Charlie Robinson is a big lad and a big talent at centre back. He’s not ready for the Premier League yet, but his time will come if he continues to develop as he had since last season. He’s good in the air and a fantastic tackler. Still, he needs to improve every aspect of his game.
With a first-team squad almost full of academy graduates, we are currently the club that has produced most players at top-flight clubs. So it’s an honour to be noticed for our work, but at the same time, half of those players wouldn’t get into any other first team in the Premier League.
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/ FM Veteran