Why the International Break Came at the Right Time for Slavisa Jokanovic's Resurgent Fulham
Before the international break, Fulham were enduring what was more than an adverse start to the 2017-18 Championship season, an opening segment which harboured three draws for the Whites, along with one loss and one solitary victory - but, let's face it, you'd rather the cobwebs be blown away now than later on in the schedule when form really becomes pivotal, and it appears that it's finally and vitally starting to gel down by the Thames.
Slavisa Jokanovic's men travelled to Portman Road to take on Mick McCarthy's barnstorming Ipswich Town before the underwhelming international intermission, and a triumph was almost imperative. Marching away from the tie against the Tractor Boys with an assured 2-0 victory was the perfect tonic for success, and now that domestic affairs have been given the time to simmer down somewhat, perhaps the Cottagers can kick-on from their impressive scalp in Suffolk.
Cardiff City stand in Fulham's way on the 9th of September at Craven Cottage, and though a home win is very much desired and indeed needed, the Bluebirds are perched at the top of the table, and if Fulham are to rattle their cage and knock them off their pedestal, they'll need to dig deep, knuckle down and remain calm and composed on the pitch to conquer the formidable Welsh outfit, who have sensationally won all five of their opening fixtures.
Fulham, however, recruited marvellously over the transfer window, and with the deadline day additions of both Yohan Mollo and Jordan Graham from Zenit St. Petersburg and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively, the south west Londoners have more than enough fire-power in their armoury to leave Neil Warnock's men shell-shocked. Although as we all know, it needs to be a joint effort from all departments, if Jokanovic's men are to claim their second three points of the campaign against the league leaders.
Oliver Norwood, Tomas Kalas, Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson, Tayo Edun and Matt O'Riley were the only members of the Fulham contingent which were absent over the break, so the vast majority of the fold were able to resume training at Motspur Park as per in order to buff-out the blemishes in their game before they return to the turf for domestic duties.
Building relations between old and new members of the set-up will also benefit the squad if they're to devise a winning formula, and with football halting temporarily, the latest acquisitions have had an invaluable, prolonged period to adapt to their surroundings.
Some clubs, however, do remain caught in a lull once proceedings continue with all the relevant comings and goings from their squads taken into account, a conundrum which can hamper a club's progression towards the New Year - Fulham have stuttered of late, but Cardiff, despite their recipe for success, are due a defeat to send them crashing back down to earth from orbit, and what better time to catch them napping than after the international break when their jets have presumably cooled, albeit slightly, at least.
Against Ipswich, Fulham finally found their attacking flair and though they only managed to find the back of the net twice, they were carving out clear-cut opportunities for the sheer hell of it, and could have had a catalogue of goals tallied on the scoreboard. Hitting the target on a frequent basis is ultimately a priority, but nevertheless, along with the win came a clean sheet, a rare compliment which the defensive ranks will need to become familiar with if they're to prosper in the imminent encounters.
As it's known by many a Fulham supporter and fanatic of the sport alike, the Cottagers were by far the most potent, influential collective in the league. Notching 85 goals was a measure of their ruthless, sculpted football, and now that 'Slav's' men are starting to rekindle their trigger-happy, free-flowing form of last term, perhaps all will continue to click down by the river on Saturday, now that the lads have had time to reflect on their recent shortcomings, and how to iron them out of their lauded approach to the game, which had been dormant for the opening weeks of the current campaign.