On paper, Martin Jol's Fulham are potentially one of the most aesthetically pleasing sides in the Premier League. Realistically, they aren't going to challenge for the domestic title or in Europe, so Jol has put together an easy-on-the-eye side packed with attacking talent to entertain supporters.
In Costa Rican international creator Bryan Ruiz, the on-loan Adel Taarabt and the languid Dimitar Berbatov—as well as poacher Darren Bent—the Cottagers have one of the most mercurially talented attacking quartets in the English top-flight this season.
However, things haven't exactly gone to plan for Jol: A scarcely-deserved win at Sunderland on the opening day has been followed with defeats by Arsenal and Newcastle and a 1-1 draw with West Brom where some sections of the Fulham support started calling for the Dutchman's head.
Four points from four games is by no means disastrous, but there appears to be something of a malaise setting in typified by the early season wonderings of their oft-brilliant Bulgarian forward Berbatov.
Possessing a luxurious touch, wonderful vision and technique on the highest order, the 32-year-old is a real Rolls Royce of a player. However, when he's not on his game (for whatever reason), he's a luxury that offers little, a label you could use for any of Jol's front four. And thus far this season, apart from glimpses, Berbatov has been nowhere near his best.
Without a goal or an assist in any of Fulham's first four outings and a WhoScored rating of just 6.46, Berbatov's forward play has accounted for very little so far this season. Moreover, his body language throughout has spoken of a player frustrated by teammates who simply don't operate on a plain similar to himself.
In itself, it's a problem, but the longer it continues, the greater said problem will become, particularly given the erratic nature of this Fulham squad—let us not forget they lost five of their last six league games last season.
Berbatov is the player with the ability to make or break the Cottagers season. If he's at it, Jol's men could well look for a top-10 finish. If not, it isn't beyond the realm of possibility that they are sucked into a relegation battle.