Smith says Fulham ‘have more nous’

4 Aug

Matt Smith

Matt Smith (left) scored two goals in 21 games for Fulham last season

Fulham striker Matt Smith says the club have underachieved in their two seasons in the Championship but believes they are now better placed to compete.

The Whites have been involved in two relegation battles since suffering the drop from the top flight in 2014.

“It has been a difficult transition from the Premier League,” he said.

“We have grown a bit wiser to the rigour of the Championship. Hopefully we have more nous, in terms of knowing what is required to get back up.”

Fulham lost seven of their first eight Championship games in 2014-15 but Kit Symons guided the west London club to safety after replacing Felix Magath as boss.

However, Symons was sacked last November despite the Craven Cottage side being in mid-table and, after Peter Grant and Stuart Gray had short spells in charge, Slavisa Jokanovic helped Fulham finish 20th, 11 points above the bottom three.

Felix Magath, Kit Symons, Peter Grant, Stuart Gray and Slavisa Jokanovic<!–

Fulham have had five different men in charge of the side in two seasons in the Championship (l-r Felix Magath, Kit Symons, Peter Grant, Stuart Gray and Slavisa Jokanovic)

“To have that number of managerial changes has been difficult but ultimately as a group of players we have underachieved,” Smith, 27, added.

“We’ve finished in the bottom half of the table and made life difficult for ourselves at times.

“If results are that poor then the one who is going to suffer is the manager. We have got to take it upon ourselves to turn it around.”

Whites have ‘a greater knowledge’

Having had a full pre-season under Serb Jokanovic, who led Watford to second place in the Championship in 2014-15, Smith is optimistic about the new campaign.

“It is difficult when you join mid-season because, whilst you are tying to adapt to new ideas you need to make sure the results are okay as well,” he added.

“There is always that transitional period and it is important you get to take on all his ideas and his philosophies.

“We have had a productive pre-season and have a greater knowledge of our roles and responsibilities.”

Smith looks to make a mark

Moussa Dembele and Ross McCormack<!–

Moussa Dembele and Ross McCormack, who scored 40 goals between them last season, have both left Fulham this summer

Fulham have made eight signings this summer but strikers Moussa Dembele and Ross McCormack have both departed – the latter to Aston Villa for a fee of £12m.

That could open the door for Smith, who has only started 13 league games in two seasons at Craven Cottage,

“It has been a very stop-start period for me. I have been used to 40 to 45 games a season up until my time here,” the former Leeds man said.

“It has been tough. There have been managerial changes and injury has hindered me a little bit.

“I have scored goals in this division before and feel I can add goals to the side, as well as contributing a physical presence defensively. I know it is a big season for me.”

Fulham begin the new EFL campaign at home to Newcastle United on Friday (19:45 BST).


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