Slaviša Jokanović is on the verge of completing his football revolution as Fulham prepare to face Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final on Saturday.
The Serb has introduced a philosophy based around high-tempo, possession football and trust in youth, with teenage sensation Ryan Sessegnon, 18, topping the charts for goals and appearances.
Jokanović guided his team to a 23-game unbeaten run and picked his team up from the disappointment of not securing automatic promotion this season by overcoming a determined Derby side in last week’s two-legged play-off semi-final.
On his manager’s influence, match-winner against Derby Dennis Odoi said: “He is important because even when things weren’t going well he said to stick to the way we are playing, that’s the way we are more dangerous.”
Odoi,is a perfect example of the influence the manager has had on the players. Having been second-choice right-back for much of his Fulham career, he was recently moved to centre-back because of his footballing brain and passing ability.
Along with his centre back partner, Tim Ream, they start the attack looking to spread the ball and push the team high up the field.
Odoi added: “I think since coming here I am definitely a better player. I look at the game a little bit differently because now I am playing from a central role. The manager has had an influence on my way of playing.”
A defeat on Saturday, however, will most likely spell the end to this exciting project in south west London.
Firstly, Jokanović is in demand with rumours he is a on a shortlist for the Chelsea job, should it become available. This alone is testament to what he has achieved and more importantly the manner in which he has achieved success on the pitch.
Secondly, a number of crucial players have been brought in on temporary loan deals, astute January signings that propelled Fulham up the league.
Fulham’s ability to convince current on-loan players Aleksandar Mitrovic and Matt Targett to stay will depend on Premier League football.
This all adds to what should be an enthralling spectacle of football, the rewards could not be greater. The result will be defined by how well Fulham execute their game plan and take their chances, a starring role for Sessegnon seems written in the stars.
In his press conference Jokanović said: “We are going to have an opportunity to play the most important game in the last few years for us.
We know how we are going to find it and at the end, what we want is to win.”