Slavisa Jokanovic vowed that Fulham will improve and adjust to the demands of the Premier League after watching them lose 2-0 on their return, at home to Crystal Palace.
After his team’s promising start was followed by numerous wasted goalscoring chances, Palace punished their brief lapses in intensity and concentration to secure all three points through finishes from Jeffrey Schlupp and Wilfried Zaha.
Their clinical performance demonstrated the qualities Fulham will have to develop if they are to preserve their Premier League status while continuing to play so expansively, but having handed full debuts to six summer signings Jokanovic was “confident” that that would come.
Jean Michael Seri, Joe Bryan, Fabri, Maxime le Marchand, Calum Chambers and Andre Schurrle started from kick-off and Luciano Vietto made his debut from the bench, and the Fulham manager said: “These new players have had two training sessions.
“Joe Bryan has only had one session with us, Vietta as well. I trust we will play better than we played today. We’ll work hard and adapt ourselves for the games ahead.
“I’m confident. It’s a tough job ahead of us. So we must be optimists and trust in ourselves. We showed we can be brave, but were a bit shy in the end. We had 15 shots to Palace’s 10. We did some interesting things in the game, too.
“(The £25million Seri) showed the quality on his first test at this level. Adapting to this competition is not easy. But he showed the quality he’s got and is comfortable with the ball.”
Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey excelled in consistently denying Fulham, having been preferred to summer signing Vicente Guaita.
Roy Hodgson also started James McArthur over Cheikhou Kouyate, after a transfer window in which they retained Wilfried Zaha, and the manager said: “We had no interest in selling Wilfried Zaha.
“We want him at the club as many years as we can have him. He’s a South London, Crystal Palace player and he knows we really appreciate what he can do for us.
“(Hennessey) finished the end of the season exceptionally well. Both goalkeepers have done well in pre-season; I had no reason to take the shirt from Wayne. That decision was justified today.
“We didn’t start well, but that was largely due to Fulham starting well. They won the ball quickly, were sharp and quick into tackles, making it difficult to play the ball through midfield. But we got better and better.
“Scoring a goal helps to put a team on the back foot and, second half, we were much better. Slavisa is probably not unhappy with the way his team played, but unhappy with the result. We scored two very good goals.”