“Time to, win again” Andrea Bocelli altered his famous song to serenade Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City team after their miracle title win but now may be the time to revert back to the original “Time to say goodbye.”
Seemingly not even the Tinkerman could keep Fulham in the Premier League this season and it may be time to down tools and think about rebuilding in the Championship.
The entire fanbase respects Ranieri and he has been put into an impossible position but it is unlikely that he will stick around in the Championship once relegation is confirmed for the Whites.
So why waste any time? If Ranieri’s departure is as inevitable as Fulham’s return to the second tier the Khan’s should begin the rebuilding process as soon as possible. Get a manager in who is prepared for life in the Championship, get transfer targets sorted now and embed the new philosophy within the squad.
It’s too late to bring in a survival expert, Big Sam, Alan Pardew and Mark Hughes (again) would all be futile appointments at this point so Fulham should be looking towards managers who have proven they have what it takes to get a team out of the Championship.
After Monaco re-appointed Leonardo Jardim in the same season he was sacked it gives hope that Slavisa Jokanovic could return to the club where he was so successful and finish top of the Championship next season. David Wagner is another candidate well suited to life in the second tier. Aitor Karanka and Carlos Carvalhal are two other managers who could be well suited to the job should it become available.
There should be one name the Khan’s consider above anyone else though, that is Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder. It may be tough to convince the Blades’ manager to leave his current post but if Fulham could convince him there may not be anyone more suitable for the job.
Wilder has Sheffield United playing some of the best football in the division whilst utilising a 5-2-1-2 formation. He has wing backs working up and down the pitch whilst his centre-backs also push forward. Jack O’Connell and Chris Basham have become two of the best ball-playing defenders in the league whilst Fulham already have the personnel to make this system incredibly effective.
Dennis Odoi and Tim Ream can be incredible in the Championship as ball carrying defenders whilst Alfie Mawson would immediately become the best defender in the division as the third centre back. The wing-back pairing of Cyrus Christie and Joe Bryan would work well in that league, especially if they were working under Chris Wilder.
The former Northampton manager has also transformed Ollie Norwood into one of the best playmakers outside the top flight and he could convince him to return to Craven Cottage to replace Tom Cairney if he does indeed leave.
With the sales of Cairney, Ryan Sessegnon, Aleksandar Mitrovic, and Jean Seri likely to bring in north of £50 million Wilder would have an immense budget to construct a front-line that is ready to tear the Championship apart, something he has not had at Sheffield United who’s recent net spend is nowhere near Fulham’s.
Things are certainly looking grim at Fulham at the moment but if they are to go down there may not be a better manager to bring them back up than Chris Wilder.