The smashing return to form of Raul Jimenez has been fantastic to see, for he’s proving he well and truly still has it after suffering so much adversity stemming from his nasty head injury back in 2020.
Having scored four goals in his last six matches, it’s been a pleasure to watch him back playing at a level resembling his best. Cutting a rejuvenated and confident figure, Fulham coach Marco Silva was rightfully full of praise for the Mexican forward after Fulham’s victory over Nottingham Forest, which was the first of two consecutive 5-0 triumphs.
“It wasn’t easy to be the top player from the big injury he had. He was playing with a weight on his back, we never lost trust in him. He has got his confidence back,” Silva insisted. “The first four or five games of the season, he was giving much more for the team than we were giving for him in terms of providing chances.”
Rediscovering his finishing touch in front of goal after going roughly 20 months and 33 games without finding the back of the net, it’s a credit to his mental fortitude and desire that he’s now back operating at an elite level following such a massive, career-threatening ordeal.
While the return of his crafty, instinctive finishing skills has really caught the eye, the 32-year-old’s offering far more than goals to the Cottagers, as he’s leading the line with aplomb.
Serving as a fantastic reference point and target man for Fulham, there’s been much to like about how the 190 cm striker has shrewdly chosen when to drop deep with his back to goal to connect play and been a quality aerial outlet when his team need or want to go long, where he can help his team win second balls high up to get on the attack immediately.
Reading the play intelligently, picking up the ball’s trajectory sharply and comfortably dealing with pressure, how he allows Fulham to relieve pressure or inject a spark into attacks with his fleet foot and heading ability has been a huge asset.
So good at bringing others into play through his crisp interplay in close quarters and due to his movement to draw markers, the likes of Andreas Pereira, Alex Iwobi, Harry Wilson and Willian have enjoyed dovetailing with the former Wolverhampton Wanderers star.
Further positives have arisen from his crafty runs in behind, down the channels and into the area to elevate his threat and place doubt in the minds of defenders. Indeed, this has regularly ensured he gets into excellent positions to fire off his shots. It’s equally promising that he’s now rewarding himself in the currency of goals for his polished approach play and movement.
Multifaceted and able to not only score and get into advantageous zones, his capacity to dribble away from danger and create chances for others with his ingenuity has heightened his impact.
Boasting a neat first touch and handy ball control, these elements of his armoury help provide the platform for him to get through so much great work.
Adapting to Silva’s demands smoothly and enjoying working under the Portuguese tactician, Jimenez’s comments on the keys to success made for interesting reading. “I like to play like this. I’m not a striker that only stays in the box or is there at the top of the pitch, waiting for the ball. I like to drop deeper. It was easy to adapt. It’s a new style and I’m going to keep fighting,” he asserted.
The hard working Mexican international, who’s also been a massive contributor on the defensive end, refuses to rest on his laurels, for the man who sits third in the top Mexican scorers list in Europe behind only Hugo Sanchez and Javier Hernandez is determined to build on his purple patch. “There is not pressure, but there is always going to be something on me. Because I’m the striker. I need to score, to produce for the team. I need to keep going like this and keep pushing hard to achieve more,” he said.
Everyone in the football world certainly wishes him all the best given all he’s gone through, as he’s undoubtedly endured more than his fair share of dark times.
Fulham deserve credit for taking the chance on the experienced veteran too, as the £5 million capture of Jimenez has been one of the bargains of the season.
Stepping up impressively to fill the void left by departing star forward Aleksandar Mitrovic and repaying the club’s faith wonderfully, all associated with the club will be hoping this is the catalyst for him to keep going from strength to strength in the Whites’ quest to continue rising up the table.
With his goal drought over and his confidence back, the ultra-committed Jimenez is unquestionably looking like the ideal man to spearhead their attack.
After going to hell and back in his recovery and return to action, it’s just phenomenal to see him back out there flexing his muscles on the big stage.