If the definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing again and expecting a different result then it is probably fair to say that Fulham’s recruiting procedure bordered on the insane ahead of the season.
But while nightclubs up and down the country draw criticism for unambitious signings and funding buys, the contrary is true at Craven Cottage — and that is precisely why the Whites’ misguided priorities in the transport market are such a source of frustration.
Under the ownership of Shahid Khan, Fulham have not been afraid to invest money and have attracted an unbelievable armoury of attacking talent to south west London this summer as they look to bounce back into the Premier League at the first time of asking.
While Bobby Decordova-Reid, Harry Arter, Harrison Reed, and Josh Onomah have bolstered a midfield that appeared short on numbers after a set of big-name departures.
A poorly thought out managerial change from Slaviša Jokanović to Claudio Ranieri and an inordinate amount of new signings contributed to this calamitous effort, but a key factor was a lack of recruitment in the appropriate areas.
In spite of this, too little emphasis was placed on bringing in reinforcements in right-back and centre-back, where the injury-prone Alfie Mawson was the sole signing of sufficient calibre.
Fast-forward annually and the very same positions remain a problem for the Cottagers — despite spending a small fortune throughout the off-season both weakest regions of the staff are continuing to hamper Fulham’s progress.
The Whites find themselves with very little depth beyond gifted kid Steven Sessegnon in right-back, as Cyrus Christie’s weak performances continue to keep him from the first team.
That lack of defensive direction is an integral part of why Scott Parker’s side find themselves in 12th place, after four games without a win and three successive draws.
Late equalisers inside the last ten minutes have price Fulham four points in their last two games, and it is a habit that they will need to stamp out if they would like to shut a five-point gap on the top two.
A lack of cutting edge has played a role in the Whites not killing off games (they have just scored two goals or more on three occasions), but the statistics from their games this year definitely point to significant defensive problems that require urgent care.
Fulham have dropped an average of 53.63 defensive duels per game, that is the fifth-worst of any team in the Championship. Their lack of power in the atmosphere is very likely to have played a part in this, and just four sides have won fewer aerial duels during the year’s opening eight fittings (17.75 per 90).
The Cottagers are also within the bottom five, in regards to interceptions (6.88 per 90) and tackles completed (9.38 per 90), painting a pretty bleak picture of the performances in the back during Parker’s debut effort.
By comparison, Fulham’s numbers while in possession are exceptional, with the most passes completed per 90 from the branch (562.5) and the second-most shots on goal each 90 (4.88).
A whole slew of statistics including large chances created per 90 and finished dribbles per 90 are within the league’s top five, suggesting that the Whites’ outrageous attacking talent could once more be sufficient to see them enjoy a successful year despite a questionable defence.
But there is the frustration for Fulham fans — this squad is so close to being the complete package the absence of defensive signings in the summer is an infuriating quirk of the club’s recruiting policy and one which has reared its head for the second consecutive season.
However, it’s tough to ignore the feeling that this place should have been a priority at the start of the transfer window, such is its importance.
Fulham have got so much right on the market this summer, and might well have sufficient firepower to facilitate a direct return to the Premier League.
But defensive issues are holding back a side who must be carrying the next tier by storm, and it would be criminal if this oversight cost the promotion at the end of the season.