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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

Already a superstar off the pitch, how is ex-Fulham RB Marlon Fossey getting on at Standard Liège?

By Alessandro Schiavone at Stade Maurice Dufrasne, Liège

Standard Liège 1-1 Hertha Berlin

Despite only joining Standard Liège less than a year ago, the fans have already fallen head over heels for Marlon Fossey and his famous curly hair. It's no exaggeration to claim that he's already one of their own. Their teacher's pet. A source of happiness. And that became evident after the 1-1 stalemate in a friendly against Hertha Berlin last Friday when fans from all walks of life and people from every age group circled him on his way out as he was exiting Stade Maurice Dufrasne through the main door. Not exactly the same door he left Fulham from. But that’s another story. Literally everyone, young or old, mobbed him and begged him for a selfie or a normal photo. It emerged that he even has a song dedicated to him. Who would have thought that this was possible of a player with a solitary appearance with Fulham’s first team under his belt? It sounds like a fictionalised version of events but it isn’t. The reality is that Marlon Fossey is living the dream on the other side of the English channel.

Yet for all his adulation and stardom off the pitch, his level of performance on it didn't quite live up to his popularity.

Against the German capital club, the Los Angeles-born right-back gave a good account of himself in defence and without the ball.

Yet whenever he had the ball, some imperfections in his game were easily exposed. Whether it was a sloppy pass forward which failed to reach his teammate or the inability to control an easy cross-field pass, he would not get away with mistakes like that in the Premier League.

Despite Standard taking the game to Hertha Berlin after the restart, Fossey was reluctant to head forward and was easily dispossessed on the rare occasions when he finally showed attacking purpose in the final ten minutes.

For an attacking full-back like him, who scored four goals in 28 appearances last term, his strength lies in surging forward and attacking the space. Yet he only did that sporadically towards the end of this dull encounter. However whenever he did charge upfield, he was barely useful to his team who were forced to rely on a majestic late curler by Denis Dragus to steer clear of defeat. And what a wasted opportunity. With Hertha Berlin leaving space in behind and holes to exploit Fossey should have taken the game by the scruff of the neck but clearly was not at the races.

From a defensive viewpoint he was alert and physical in the duels. But on a number of occasions, he should have pressed the Hertha players high up the field to put them under pressure only for his inclination towards staying deep and an adopted ‘no risk’ approach to spoil manager Carl Hoefkens’ plans. Was that done in a bid to prevent his side from being susceptible to counter-attacks? Probably, but it would certainly have been a calculated risk worth taking given that if he had pressed them high he could have won the ball back and been presented with an avenue to attack. That Friday wasn’t his day became clear when he made a hash of some promising Standard transitions, failing to pick out a teammate or swing in a good cross in the box. His passing and crossing were simply not good enough.

All things considered, at 24 Fossey still has time to convert his undisputed talent into something bigger. And he also has many strings in his bow such as his versatility. He can play as a right-back, wing-back and winger. Remarkably, how many right-backs are there out there who average a goal every seven games?

Yet could he have staked a claim to be at least a squad player for Fulham at the moment? No, because his overall game needs working on. Would he get ahead of Kenny Tete in Marco Silva’s starting XI? Absolutely no chance. For now, he’s definitely not fit for Premier League purpose but if he keeps making big strides and cuts those irregularities out of his game, he could go on to bigger things. Last year he was an angular piece in Standard Liege finisihing sixth, eight places higher up the table compared to the previous campaign.

Fossey, who never even played Championship football but only represented League One clubs Bolton Wanderers and Shrewsbury Town before joining the 10-time champions in September 2022, has the right platform and the love of his supporters to become the player some envisaged years ago when he stole the accolades in the Craven Cottage academy before a succession of injuries hampered his development.

As things stand, he’s not ready tactically and technically for the pressure cooker of the Premier League where mistakes like the ones he made on Sunday would not be forgiven so quickly.

Yet should he build on a solid first season for Les Rouches there’s a good chance some Pro League sides with loftier ambitions or even Championship beasts would go for him, accelerating a trend Vincent Kompany’s Burnley began last summer when raiding the Belgian market for SEVEN players.

Standard Liege

16 Arnaud Bodard- 4 Zinho VanHeusden- 8 Isaac Price-10 Noah Ohio- 11 Aron Donnum- 13 Marlon Fossey- 20 Merveille Bope Bokadi- 21 Romaine Mundle- 22 William Balikwisha- 24 Aiden O’Neill- 38 Barrett Laursen

Hertha BSC

1 Olivier Christensen- 7 Florian Niederlechner- 11 Fabian Reese- 19 Jeremy Dudziak- 20 Marc Kempf- 22 Marten Winkler- 23 Marco Richter- 31 Marton Dardai- 34 Deyo Zeefuik- 37 Toni Leistner-41 Pascal Klemens

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