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Fan Focus: Fulham fan Steve hopes that Patrick Roberts can fulfill his potential at Sunderland!

Ahead of Sunderland’s fourth round FA Cup tie, Matty spoke to Fulham fan and Freelance Journalist, Steve Lillis, to discuss their fantastic form this season!

Photo by Barrington Coombs/PA Images via Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: Fulham sit 7th in the Premier League after a fantastic start to the season, what has been so different this time around from your last spell in the top tier?

Steve Lillis: For once Fulham have done it right in the transfer market. Bernd Leno has been fantastic in goal, Andreas Pereira is now proving himself in English football after a long stop-start Manchester United career, Willian is showing his Chelsea form, but Palhinha has been one of the best signings in the Premier League.

The biggest difference is Silva backing Alexander Mitrovic. Scott Parker never fancied him at all the last time we were in top flight, and even preferred Josh Maja when he came in.

MC: After a difficult spell in charge at Everton, Marco Silva has won over half his games in charge of Fulham - what are the factors behind his success?

SL: He has had a better relationship with the owners than previous managers, had a lot more say in the transfer market and his signings have been top drawer.

He was seen as damaged goods after Everton so came here with a lot to prove after 18 months out. If he failed at Craven Cottage he was finished as top flight manager.

Fulham FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Marco Silva won the Championship with Fulham last season, winning 90 points.
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

MC: With survival almost certain, do you think the club should be really going for the FA Cup given your great form and the fact the club has never won it?

SL: Absolutely, we should. Three wins should be enough for Premier League survival, but despite our form Europa League qualification is unlikely so a FA Cup run is a must although in recent seasons we have failed miserably in the competition.

I think it’s the fifth round once in 12 years. The last three seasons have been fourth round exits losing 4-0, 3-0 and 4-1, although two of those losses were at Manchester City and the other against bogey club Burnley.

MC: While 10 goals in 13 games for Ross Stewart is impressive, it’s nothing compared to Aleksandar Mitrović’s 43 in 44 games last season - do you think he will be rested for this match?

SL: He injured the same ankle that has been giving him problems for months against Tottenham on Monday and it’s highly unlikely he will be risked with a big derby against Chelsea six days later even if fit.

He missed the win at Craven Cottage recently and won’t want to be in the stands at Stamford Bridge.

Fulham FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Aleksandar Mitrović has scored 11 Premier League goals so far this season, but is set to miss out against Sunderland.
Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images

MC: Even Fulham’s second string eleven is packed with vast talent should Silva decide to make changes - which Fulham players should Sunderland be most wary of?

SL: If Palhinha plays, Sunderland players will be shocked how good his tackling and all-round play is. Tom Cairney has been outstanding when he has come off the bench and ran the show at Sunderland in round three.

Most of all, watch for Manor Solomon who will play and is returning to fitness. He is a top winger and big things were expected when he signed from Shakhtar Donetsk, but we’re only starting to see him now following a training injury in August.

MC: Aged just 18, Patrick Roberts left Fulham to join Manchester City for around £11m, looking back do you think it would have been better for his development to stay?

SL: He should have stayed for another season and developed. Fulham fans were upset when he left. Saying that if Manchester City come in with a five-year contract that will secure your financial future while you’re a teenager it’s hard to say no.

Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Sky Bet Championship
Patrick Roberts made 22 appearances for Fulham before joining Manchester City in 2015.
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

MC: Following loans at six different clubs, Roberts appears to have settled at Sunderland and is playing brilliantly of late - do you think Sunderland fans can expect more to come?

SL: I hope there is more to come and he becomes a Mackem great and plays in the Premier League for Sunderland. If he does, Patrick will have fulfilled his potential and not been a waste of talent.

MC: Fulham have an excellent record at Craven Cottage this season, what style of play can Tony Mowbray’s team expect to encounter?

SL: Fulham play out from the back, move the ball quick, press and get crosses into the box as often as possible.

Sunderland’s central defenders need to be on it. Fulham have been superb from corners and until a couple of weeks were the Premier League’s top scorers from them.

Hull City v Fulham: Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Fulham beat Hull 2-0 in the third round, courtesy of goals from Laywin Kurzawa and Dan James.
Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

MC: Which eleven players do you think Silva will select?

SL: People expected 11 changes from the win at Leicester when we played Hull in the third round, but Fulham started with five regulars.

Players who are usually on the bench like goalkeeper Marek Rodak, Tom Cairney, Tosin Adarabioyo, Carlos Vinicius will all start. Marco Silva knows there is hope that this could be the year we have a FA Cup run and won’t rest an entire team.

MC: Sunderland won 3-1 when the two sides last met in the FA Cup back in 2015 - what is your prediction for the final score?

SL: It will be nervy for Fulham who will have to be patient. I expect Sunderland to put men behind the ball and frustrate the home side.

If you’re a Fulham fan, we have to expect a win against a good Championship side and I’m going 1-0 in a tight match that will sound like a home game for Sunderland with 5-6,000 fans behind them at the Putney End.

I’m sure if the roles were reversed Sunderland fans wouldn’t accept anything more than a win.


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