Jokanovic hits out at Fulham's summer transfer dealings
Written by Simon Austin — July 31, 2017
FULHAM manager Slavisa Jokanovic has hit out at the club's transfer strategy this summer and suggested there were plans to sell striker Sone Aluko.
Following the 3-0 friendly defeat by Wolfsburg at Craven Cottage on Saturday, Jokanovic said: "My [transfer] list is completely ignored. In this moment, we decide to follow one way [in which] I didn't find so much sense. If we want to be better, we need to bring quality people into our squad.
"At this moment, I don't observe my team as at the highest level, as we were last season. In the future, we are going to need some quality players in different positions - at centre-back and striker - and we didn't replace Scott Malone, who was a really important player for us. I don't feel any responsibility for the recruitment process.
"But I am going to show my ambition for working with the team on the pitch and show respect to my players, to supporters, and my family to push hard to do everything to be successful."
The Serb also claimed the club had considered selling Aluko - something they quickly moved to clarify, saying they had received offers for the forward, only to turn them down.
"I have to fight for Sone Aluko, because around me is some news that we are thinking about selling him," Jokanovic said. "If we do this, it will be a big mistake for my team."
There has been mounting tension between the manager and Craig Kline, the friend and assistant of Director of Football Operations Tony Khan.
Despite the fact Khan has stepped up his involvement with the Cottagers since the turn of the year, Kline has taken a key role in recruitment. TGG understands Jokanovic gave Khan a list of 15 transfer targets at the end of last season, including Southampton striker Sam Gallagher, who had been on loan at Blackburn.
These were passed over in favour of other options, including Spanish centre-back Marcela Djalo, who Jokanovic had insisted he did not want. There have undoubtedly been positives, with Tom Cairney, widely regarded as the best midfielder in the Championship, signing a new four-year contract, and Ryan Sessegnon, the teenaged prodigy, penning a new three-year deal.
But signings have been a matter of some contention. Under Khan, the club has famously operated a 'two boxes ticked' transfer policy, in which targets must be endorsed by both the scouting and statistics departments within the club. This made sense to most at the club, but since the exits of Chief Football Officer Mike Rigg and scout Miguel Rios last season data science has held sway.
Jokanovic had been eager to sign experienced Middlesbrough striker David Nugent in the January transfer window, only for Kline to veto a move. The former England international ended up moving to Derby County instead.
On his relationship with Kline, Jokanovic has previously stated: "It generally depends on this guy [Kline] who is going to sign for us or not. The last decision is in the hands of this man. It is not my business. I'm a little bit disappointed because no one knows who this guy [Kline] is. Instead, he's sitting in the directors' box."
This public airing of grievances has put Jokanovic's position in some doubt. Roy Hodgson and Chris Coleman were both in the directors' box for home games towards the end of the season, while the Serb was considered by both Crystal Palace and Sunderland for their previously vacant manager's positions.