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Fan Focus: Thoughts From The Cottage

Another tricky away trip for O'Neill's men is on the agenda this weekend as we chat with Lorcan O'Connor to see how the Fulham fans are feeling before kickoff

Scott Heavey
A decent start for Fulham so far this season and from what I have seen the football on show has been great to watch too, how would you assess the start?

Lorcan O'Connor: It's been a good start, especially in context with our transfer window (losing our two star players on deadline day essentially, bringing in another two and after the window signing two out of contract midfielders!) but it could have been better. There is no doubt though that an entire pre season without disruption - last year we had Europe of course - has mean't Jol has been able to impose his style and philosophy on the side more dramatically

Goals haven't been a problem for Fulham the last couple of weeks, however there do seem to be a few flying in at the wrong end as well, is that a concern?

LO: Of course, especially considering those spectacular years under Roy were founded on a remarkable defence. However, while there are other factors the main responsibility lies with Jol's style of play, and if we have to concede a great defence for a great offence I won't complain so long as we keep scoring! What is clear though is we don't have the defensive confidence we used to. Against Southampton and Reading, for example, we conceded stupid fouls in the last minutes that lead to goals which would never have happened under Roy. It means we haven't been able to close out games as we should; we have dropped 14 points now from winning positions I believe, topping the league in that regard.

Happy with the job Martin Jol has done so far?

LO: Yes, although it is frustrating that we haven't been able to progress on the pitch since he came in; Ruiz, 2011's marquee signing, took far too long to adapt and of course this year Tottenham came and bought our two best players. However, the squad, in terms of age and signings, and our style of play has been remarkably progressive, all while making a profit or breaking even, so you can only be very satisfied with Jol's reign. Add a ground expansion and it's been a good 18 months.

I'm a huge Berbatov fan, a real joy to watch on his day, just how much of an impact has the Bulgarian made? He seems to be relishing being the "main man"

LO: Every game Berbatov plays in he turns in to a master class. He is on a level higher than almost everyone we have and demonstrates a frustration at times when players don't do what he expects or demands, reminiscent of the great Johnny Haynes of course. However, don't mistake that for a player out of touch or consider's himself among mortals. You can see him constantly conducting our play, talking to players, directing hem and celebrating our goals with a joy and passion we never really saw him do at united, surely indicative of a player enjoying a fresh start under a manger he respects. I don't need to talk much about him as player, his reputation does that for me, but my word what a first touch.

Former Black Cat Kieran Richardson's hamstring injury looks set to pave the way for Kacaniklic. The young Swede looks a talent, what have you made of him?

LO: Kaca's rise to prominence has been to Richardson's detriment, among Fulham fans at least because it seems Jol prefers Richardson when they are fit. When I saw him in the reserves Kaca demonstrated ability but I didn't see that special something that you normally see in premier league players. However, a loan spell with Watford seems to have been the making of him, and while he still has weaknesses - his defending is weak, crossing unremarkable unless they are low, driven balls and decision making inconsistent - he is a sparkling winger, intelligent with fantastic movement and dribbling ability and when he broke through last season became the first player in many years to provide genuine width at Fulham. Berbatov seems to have taken a shine to him, constantly talking to him to tell him about decisions or runs he should have made. It's rather sweet actually!

On to Sunderland, what have you made of our stuttering start to this term?

LO: O'Neill's sides have never been majestic, but you can normally expect energy, enthusiasm and a blistering counterattack so to see such a flat, insipid side is really a quite surprising. His signings, besides Fletcher's purple patch, haven't really come off.

Sunday's fixture, how/what do you think can win the game for the home side?

LO: Our football is not particularly tactical, and by that I mean we will try and impose our style on everyone we play, so as long as we are confident and play well I think we can get a result

Vice versa, where could the away side maybe get some joy?

LO: The issue with our game is that if teams don't let us play then we can do little about it: observe Everton against us a couple of weeks ago, who pressed us so high up the pitch which in conjunction with a fantastic aerial outlet in Fellini meant we couldn't get our of our half and I still have no idea how we get a point out of that. Traditionally O'Neil sides are very high octane so you could match up quite well if your game is on point.

Any Sunderland players give you reason for concern?

LO: Fletcher immediately springs to kind. With our centre halves not in the greatest of form I imagine he'll get a fair sniff at goal. We've been weak from wide areas this season so you look at Johnson too, if he decides to sparkle, and out set piece defending has been abysmal this far so Larsson will be a danger with his abilities. Sessegnon is the individual talent I'm afraid of most however, and thankfully Bardsley is out injured because I don't know if I could process another 20-yarder from him.

Finally a prediction?

LO: We are unbeaten in 5 or so and the performance on Saturday would have given us a bit of swagger I think. We've been good at keeping clean sheets at home, all but one game in fact, so I think well take it 2-0 with goals from Berba and Riise (because I always predict Riise to score. He will one day.)

Many thanks to Lorcan for taking part and answering our questions. You can follow Lorcan on Twitter here and the Fulham blog which he contributes to -

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