Marek Rodak has been a revelation at Fulham this season.
If the season is ended before it resumes, then Scott Parker’s introduction and the subsequent revelation of Rodak will go down as one of his biggest successes.
His Fulham tenure so far has been as expected – Fulham are in the mix for automatic promotion, if a little behind, and Parker could well deliver an immediate return to the Premier League after seeing them to relegation last time around.
Rodak though has been a saving grace for Fulham this season. Parker’s side have been no strangers to criticism this year, from fans and the football world alike, but Rodak has drawn a lot of praise.
Fulham’s main critique has been that, given the squad of players that they assembled going into the season – the summer additions of Ivan Cavaleiro, Anthony Knockaert, Bobby Reid and so on – they should really be storming this league.
Little influence has been placed on youth promotion and development this season, but rather in throwing everything they have at an immediate return to the top-flight.
That’s made Rodak’s emergence all the more special. The Slovakian has been with the club since 2013 but has had to wait until now to make his league debut.
He’d spent the past few seasons on-loan, most notably spending the last two seasons with Rotherham United, winning promotion to the Championship in 2018 and playing all but one of their league games last year.
It was Marcus Bettinelli who began the season at Fulham’s no.1. As expected, Bettinelli was a steady-choice in goal but sprung up nothing out of the ordinary.
It prompted Parker to take a gamble on Rodak, and a huge gamble it was – replacing a proven, Championship-level goalkeeper in Bettinelli for a much younger, much more inexperienced Rodak.
The change excited fans, who saw Rodak in action for the first-time against Luton Town back in October. He gave a good account of himself on his debut, and it looked like an incisive decision by Parker.
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But after seeing red in his next game, Rodak’s competence was called into question – it didn’t look great on Rodak who’s since picked up three yellow cards for Fulham, but he bounced back, and proved his worth.
Ever since, Rodak has been one of Fulham’s best performers. He’s kept them in countless games and has kept 10 clean sheets in 26 appearances so far.
With the level of performances that Rodak has been putting in, it’s easy to forget how young he is – he turned 23 in December last year. Two days after his 23rd birthday though, he had his worst showing to date in a Fulham shirt, being at the heart of the blame for Fulham’s 3-0 defeat at home to Barnsley.
That game was a turning point in his season – it’d prove to be the making or breaking of him and so far, it’s been the making.
He’s bounced back with some top-performances, notably in the game immediately after where he claimed the Man of the match award in the 1-0 win at Blackburn.
A fine prospect, and Parker needs to be accredited with his development.