By Kieran Cobley
On Wednesday this week, Claudio Ranieri was appointed as the new Fulham boss just hours after now former manager Slavisa Jokanovic was sacked.
Fulham have had a disappointing start to the season, with Ranieri being brought in to ensure the club, who are currently at the bottom of the Premier League table with just one win and nine losses, can escape relegation.
Ranieri’s first big issue that he needs to fix is the club’s leaky defence.
The Cottagers have conceded 31 goals in just 12 games so far, conceding 2.58 goals per game on average, and in a division where teams such as Manchester City and Liverpool are more than capable of scoring three or more goals per game, this could only get worse over time if not addressed urgently.
Given their current performance in defence, Fulham are predicted to concede just over 98 goals, which would be a Premier League record in the modern area, beating Derby County’s 2007/2008 season by nine goals.
Their relegation rivals Cardiff and Huddersfield meanwhile have only conceded 25 and 22 goals respectively this season.
A solution to this issue may be to select a permanent number one keeper, as the club currently have no set number one, and have used three keepers in just 12 games, the most in the league so far this season.
Ranieri’s next issue has to be figuring out where Ryan Sessegnon fits in his squad.
The 18 year old had broke out last season, netting 16 goals in 52 appearances, starting off as a left back before being put into a left wing role later in the season, where he flourished.
However, after Fulham’s busy transfer window, which saw the club bring in experienced German winger Andre Schurrle, he has been forced into playing at left back in a 4-3-3 formation.
Schurrle has featured in all 12 of Fulham’s Premier League matches so far, notching four goals and no assists, while Sessegnon has scored one and assisted one from his left back position.
This issue could be resolved if Ranieri decides to adopt a three-at-the-back system like England’s, which would allow for three centre backs to firm up the defence, while Sessegnon plays at left wing back, allowing him to go forward more, and Schurrle to be played alongside Mitrovic in a ball carrying forward role.
Without a doubt, Ranieri has a tough job on his hands to keep Fulham up.