This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more
Rodrigo Muniz netted on his home debut against Reading on Saturday, but his 86th minute strike did not spark a late comeback for The Cottagers.
The 20-year-old, who joined the West London club from Brazilian club Flamengo this summer, came on with 35 minutes to play against The Royals, adding to the 11 minutes on the pitch he received away to Blackpool.
Scoring three times and assisting once for Flamengo this season, Muniz played nine times during this campaign, before swapping South American for England.
Are these 22 Fulham stats real or fake?
Muniz put pen-to-paper on a contract with The Cottagers in late August, and whilst he is yet to start in the league, he has opened up his Fulham account in just 46 minutes of football.
We have asked three of our writers here at FLW to share their thoughts on whether or not Muniz can emerge as a regular starter at Fulham…
He won’t get in the starting lineup ahead of Aleksandar Mitrovic or Harry Wilson barring injuries, suspensions or a drastic loss in form, but he could sneak his way into the starting lineup if Ivan Cavaleiro and Bobby Decordova-Reid continue to put in performances like they did on Saturday.
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Cavaleiro was just poor all round and Decordova-Reid missed a golden opportunity at the end of the first half against Reading – and you have to say both were completely ineffective. Wilson and Mitrovic won’t be able to step up every game – they’re only human after all – so that’s when you need someone like Muniz to come in and shake things up.
Muniz did that with his consolation goal at the weekend, although he will either need to be in a central role with Mitrovic or start out wide if he wants to break into the first 11.
The Cottagers also spent a considerable amount of money on him this summer – and he will only prove with more minutes on the pitch – so you would think Silva sees him as a regular starter.
But his place isn’t guaranteed and he will continue needing to perform well in training and match or improve his scoring record at previous side Flamengo.
It depends on whether or not Marco Silva is going to tactically flexible this season or if he’s going to consider playing two strikers together.
Aleksandar Mitrovic seems un-droppable having scored six goals in his first eight Championship games of the season, and you can add three assists to that tally as well so in a lone striker system, Muniz is going to have to bide his time.
But if Fulham keep dropping points like they have done the last two weekends with defeats to Blackpool and Reading, then Silva may have to switch things up and play Muniz and Mitrovic alongside each other which is what they’ve done when the Brazilian has come off the bench.
I think the next few months will be a learning curve for Muniz and it will all boil down to how quick he adapts to the demands of English football, but I see no reason why he can’t end up being a strike partner for Mitrovic in a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2.
A 4-2-3-1 is the preferred system right now though so if Muniz is going to become a regular he’s going to have to bide his time or perhaps become an option cutting in from the left flank, where he could be quite useful.
There’s certainly a chance Muniz could get a run in the side but it’s hard to see him becoming first choice in Aleksandar Mitrovic keeps up his current form.
The 27-year-old may have struggled to make an impact in the top flight but his quality as a Championship goalscorer is beyond doubt.
He’s bagged six goals and provided three assists in eight games this term, so he’s shown no sign of slowing down yet.
Mitrovic dominates opposition defences at this level and it’s hard to see his form dropping given the quality of the other attacking players alongside him at Craven Cottage.
That said, it’s not out of question that he could pick up an injury or will be used as a rotation option.
Depth is important in the Championship and Muniz gives Fulham just that.