The random thoughts of a Fulham Man.

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by Andersons11, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. Andersons11

    Andersons11 Member

    Jul 6, 2012
    The random thoughts of a Fulham man:

    The following are a collection of random thoughts by myself, and while I do not like to use the first person medium when I write, it will be used this time because these are my own somewhat biased feelings about Fulham at the current time (12 August at the time of writing)
    As I have stated before, this summer and now this season is huge for the progress of Fulham Football Club on multiple different levels.
    First, this is Martin’s last year under contract. Along with this it is a big year for him and the entire back room staff, for this season they will not only be under the microscope of the fans, but that of the new owner as well. As witnessed in Jacksonville Mr. Khan is not afraid to pull the trigger so to speak and relive many key members of the staff after a bad season.

    Financial prudence will continue with the arrival of Mr. Khan. Our mustachioed new chairman has mentioned this in many interviews. What does this mean for Fulham? It really is too early to tell at this current time. What it means to me is that Fulham will continue on the path it currently has. That means funding the new stand and only purchasing the right player at the right time (sound familiar?) This could mean a loan like Taarabt or the splashing of a 5-10 million player that only just came available. I feel that the money we received for Dembele and Dempsey went to write off our debt and to the Riverside development. It was never ours to spend.

    The takeover will increase the American contingent at least by a few due to the Jacksonville connection as the same will occur the other way. However I don’t think it will have a profound increase in our numbers as most will just watch out for scores or highlights. This isn’t to say we won’t gain a few more passionate supporters who just needed a quality club to follow

    Jol has said the budget is good and he has demonstrated that he can get a good player in Berbatov. (Whatever faults people think he has, you cannot doubt his skill) This also means the supporters will be frustrated for the rest of the summer because Fulham likes to keep its cards to the chest. While this is not the most exciting for the supporters, it is very good business practice for a Club of Fulham’ s stature. This ensures that we get the player we want for a decent price.

    Jol has to improve his man management. He is a good manager; you can see that he has done well at previous Clubs. However, this is arguably the best squad that has collectively pulled on the Fulham shirt for a long time. Recognize the squad’s strengths and its weaknesses and accommodate the formation to suit it. Too many times last season a squad was announced and a supporter pessimistically watched the match, knowing that this was the same line up that struggled to get a point or lost the previous match. A change was made often too late, usually in the last 5-10 minutes, not enough time to effectively change the outcome. When the squad fires on all cylinders it is a beautiful site, however to continue the auto reference when not all cylinders are firing it is a cringe worthy experience that you can’t help but morbidly watch.

    Jol has mentioned for almost a full year now the loss of Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele. Has this gotten annoying? Yes it has frankly. However this may be a public plea to those that work above him. I can only provide a theory as I do not know the inner workings of the club, but it seems to me that this is what it is. It may just be him saying “Look, we lost these players, we haven’t replaced them and we need to and it’s not happening, please let me sign who we need” I really can’t see any other reason behind it than this. I don’t know any other manager that consistently mentions former players at this rate without a reason. Maybe I am wrong though and it’s just that.

    We need a fighter in the squad, someone who will not only give his all but someone who will get in the squad’s faces for not giving an effort. Currently our squad consists of a brilliant footballer whose means of voicing displeasure is to raise his hands, a player while gifted in midfield acts as if he is hit by a sniper’s bullet and any contact, a very solid defender in the role of Captain who is not the ideal on field leader (Trust me I don’t like talking bad about Hangeland, he is my current favorite first teamer)We also have some solid engines in Reither, Sidwell and Boateng. We have really missed Murphy and never replaced the quality he brought to the squad as Captain. I do not think he would have helped our squad in ability if he had stayed to play, but his mentality on the field was great. What would be ideal would be a local lad to come in and provide that to our team, however that is years off and the next best thing is an academy graduate to come in and fill that role. While I am not saying that it is wise for that graduate to come in and start bossing everyone around, he should learn, gain his respect from the first team and gradually assume this mantel.

    The kits this year are decent to say the least. The sponsor and crest seem to be in the proper place and the fit is better this year as opposed to Kappa. I look forward to not having to have my wife peel me out of my shirt after 5 a side. While I did not like the home shirt at first, it is growing on me and I may consider purchasing it at some point. I figured it would be a template kit and I was correct in this regard as it was unveiled. The away shirt looks class and it was based off a kit that has some very good memories attached to it so I give a plus one to that. They aren’t bad but they aren’t stellar. The good thing though is they do not look anything like the experiment Warrior did with Liverpool’s kit.

    In regards to actual transfers this window will show us what to expect in the long run for Fulham Football Club. We have already secured some very good players. We have already seen our new signings in action and they look good. Some have indeed had some moments where you cringe but that is to be somewhat expected during preseason. In my opinion we need another striker, if not to compliment Berbatov, to be back up in case of injury. With Trotta and Hugo the only other recognized forwards in the squad, it would be mental to let the window close without another on the books. We also need another central midfielder, while this player will not be the sole answer to our midfield issues a creative player in the center of the park, it will go a long way in helping the forwards stay forward. At left back your guess is as good as mine. Recent comments from Riise indicate a departure leaving us with Richardson and Briggs. If Richardson can stay fit it will not be an issue that is a big if though. This is Briggs do or dies year in my opinion as well. At right back Hughes is decent cover, it would be nice to bring in another, though this seems to be a low priority.

    As in every year we need to get behind the team, no matter what. Yes it may be hard if the squad is having a slow start and things look like nothing has changed over the close season, however the so called 12th man can have an impact. Here is to hoping The Cottage Fortress returns this season. Also it blows my mind that some can automatically judge a player from where they used to play. If you came to work from another company and you were judged just because you used to work somewhere else, you would think it’s a bit unfair wouldn’t you? A good reception could mean the difference from the player staying or leaving at the end of the season. I’m not just mentioning Taarabt in this sense as we have had many players past and present make the move from rival clubs. They wear the White and that is good enough reason for me to support them, my judgment of a player comes from their performance, not their history.

    I think once again we will be close to the top of the fair play charts. This is even with Boateng and Amorebieta coming with a history of cards. It seems that there is something in the water at the Cottage that allows players with said history to stop being as critical in the tackle, though it could be the coaching. It’s probably the coaching.

    My players to watch this season:

    Steve Sidwell: While his reputation was tarnished at the red cards at the end of the season he was arguably our best central midfielder last term. This could be due to the fact that Diarra was out injured, however he seems to be the only player we have at the moment to put the ball in the net from midfield.

    Brede Hangeland: Will one part of our center half pairing continue to be a rock in the back or will he continue his post Sunderland form. It was quite obvious that he wasn’t the same after the Sunderland red, however his form returned towards the end of last season and that was a good sign. It is a new slate and I think it will be a good season for him.

    ReJagah or Deither: depending on how you look at it. These two players were crucial to our attacking phase of play during the bulk of last campaign. When Dejagah went down at QPR we seemed to be deflated.

    Whoever plays on the left: I say this because it seems to be our week side. There were many different combinations during last year and I hope it begins to be as productive as our right. Kacaniklic is still learning and he needs solid cover behind him. This could be Briggs, Riise or Richardson. The same goes for our other wide players. Taarabt, Ruiz (also on the right) and Duff could all be rotated into this position, and while I am all for squad competition it is nice to know you have a solid pairing instead of wondering who it will be this week.

    Our central midfield pairing: This also was a combination that was played around with, multiple players filled in disrupting our flow of play. If a creative player can be teamed up with Boateng, this could be very promising news.

    Stekelenburg: Simple really, it is his first season in the Premiership. How will he cope after limited playing time after last season. I am not too worried though, you don’t start a World Cup final for the Netherlands if you aren’t good. With David Stockdale vowing to give him competition for the number one shirt, it could be very exciting times for our Keeper department.

    Berbatov: As usual we will rely on him for goals, hopefully we can give him the service he needs. If that can be provided he will do well.
    Gentleman Jim: With my current location being Afghanistan I am going to rely on his oratory genius to bring the matches to life as only he can. Some may consider him plan B if their stream does not work, but he is always preferred in my view to a jumpy Spanish commentary.
    Preseason while good for fitness and testing different combinations, not too much store should be taken. Hopefully we perform like we did in Costa Rica, rather than the last 3 matches.

    Opening day is going to be a good barometer, at least for how we may play away. Di Canio has brought in a lot of players of various qualities which could be good or bad for them. Yes they are playing at home on opening day, with both manager and squad having something to prove, however as QPR fatally demonstrated, if the squad does not gel it will be a long season. If we are to go there and pressure them we can come away with at least a point. The key is to not sit on a lead if we take one and let them into the game, or just go there aiming for a point. The previous was a good strategy for Roy’s squad, I have nothing against it either. Roy provided me and the rest of the supporters with many, many happy memories. However with the quality of player we have, this should not be our strategy, especially with another club of a similar stature.

    The first five matches or so will also be a good gauge, this a time where we can still bring in players and while I won’t be happy if our style of play has not improved in the league since last term during this time, if it brings about a change in the playing staff I will accept it in the long run. After all I would rather have an Everton style slow start than the Fulham collapse of last year.
    Relegation has been brought up this year by supporters and pundits alike, and while I realize that no club is too big for relegation I don’t see it likely this year. The quality of the clubs that came up this year in my opinion won’t be enough to stay up. While the teams around us have brought in some quality I just don’t see the promoted clubs making a huge impact like those who have come up in previous years I.e. Southampton and Swansea.

    With NBC buying the rights to show the Premier League this is good news for American supporters such as myself, however they were a bit gimmicky in regards to how to get new followers. I can understand the reasoning behind it, they could have done better. Our segment included the usual comment about the Michael Jackson Statue and some story about a boat. It wouldn’t have taken much to ask the club or even a supporter for a brief synopsis that describes the club and what makes it unique. I just feel for the other clubs that got less time than us. I really can’t see our American numbers swelling due to this coverage, the Jacksonville takeover had more of an impact in regards to that. Most Americans that pick a club due to NBC will more than likely gravitate towards a top four side.
    In conclusion, if you have continued to read over 2,566 words in to this, I salute you. You must be pretty bored to trudge on reading four pages. As always I am cautiously optimistic about the upcoming season. Come on you Whites.
  2. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Alamo City, Texas
    Firstly, I presume if you're an American in Afghanistan, you're there serving our country. If so, thank you for your service and best wishes for your safety. And thanks for putting in the time and effort to pen such a lengthy, wide-ranging collection of thoughts on the coming season. I did read all the way through and it wasn't bad.

    That said, I see a lot of the usual parroted tripe you see in Fulham circles in your piece. What the heck does "only purchasing the right player at the right time" mean? Like any club, some players work out, others don't. We don't have any higher success rate than anyone else on this front and we're certainly not immune from some real stinkers. This notion that the only reason we haven't filled a need is b/c there wasn't an available option at the right price is silly. There are plenty of reasons for missing out on players from failing to identify available options, to being too cheap, to not being an attractive enough destination, etc.

    "Fulham likes to keep its cards to the chest". Who doesn't? From a media coverage perspective, I'd suggest it has much less to do with any secrecy or agenda on the club's part, but rather b/c not enough people care so no one puts much effort into covering it. Without looking it up, who's Southampton targeting? Or WBA? The big clubs and big names get the coverage. It's no different here. Turn on ESPN and you'll hear all about the Yankees and Redsox maneuverings....and you'll hear very little if anything about the Royals or Padres.

    "...While this is not the most exciting for the supporters, it is very good business practice for a Club of Fulham’ s stature. This ensures that we get the player we want for a decent price." Actually, it doesn't. Supply and demand drives prices and that's about it. Once you express an interest to a team/player/agent, the horse has left the barn from any secrecy perspective. We've overpaid for players and recently at that.

    I think the whole cards close to chest bit is so popular b/c it's like faith. It gives fans the hope that we're actually doing something when there's little to no evidence to support that. Then if a need goes unfilled at the window everyone goes ballistic for a couple of weeks, until the next window when we repeat the whole process again. Or we go with some of the other favorite standbys about "not paying over the odds" or "panic-buying" or what have you. Afterall, we don't want to be like QPR and there's clearly no middle ground between spending zero and overpaying massively. :roll: Sorry, I've been catching up on Fulham's summer activities this week and these silly phrases have become a massive pet peeve of mine in short order.

    The only other area I'd take issue with is the part about Jol being a good manager. For me, a good manager isn't wed to one system, but rather builds a strategy/style around the talent he has. In 3 years at Fulham, Jol hasn't done that. If you look at his record, he's done well with front running clubs for the most part. As such, he's had not only more talent than most of his competitors, but more money with which to get the type of players he wants/needs to implement his system. In my opinion, he was a poor hire and a terrible fit for a club like Fulham b/c we didn't/don't have the budget to overhaul the personnel in the manner required to be successful the way Jol wants us to play. I'd had hopes that he could evolve his system around our players but that's looking less and less likely. The really sad thing, imo, is that Roy left us with a very strong foundation to build upon and one that could be continued on a budget, and we let Jol pretty much blow it up for no apparent gain. Makes you wonder how much of his hire was MAF. Or whether the board botched it...or if Jol was promised more backing than he's rec'd. Who knows.

    I agree with a lot of the rest of your piece. I too have a hard time seeing us relegated simply due to the talent we do have, however misused it may be. But I think we'll spend more time closer to the fray at the bottom than we will to the top half. Unless some significant signings come in between now and the close of the window. I hope I'm wrong.

    Again, appreciate your taking the time to put that together and look forward to reading more of your stuff.
  3. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
  4. Andersons11

    Andersons11 Member

    Jul 6, 2012
    For your first assumption, this is correct. I am with the Marines out here.
    Second, thank you for replying in a lengthy manner, I tend to write something such as this and most do not bother with such a well written and lengthy reply.

    In regards to the right player comment, for me it is very situational. For example if lets say Barcelona were to go mental and list Messi, would we be interested? Yes there is no denying that, however there is no way that we as a club would be able to release the funds to sanction a transfer. The right player to me is one who fills all of the checks in the box, a reasonable price, fills a need and has reasonable wages. I dont see us signing another central defender because we already have a good set. This is what I meant by the right player at the right time, I suppose I should have been more clear in this regard. You are very correct that we may miss out on a player due to those you have brought up.

    I dont think that media coverage is everything in regards to the whole "cards" deal. Some clubs are very public in there dealings whether or no the coverage is there. Some clubs have publicly stated that they have interest in a player and are pursing them, where as Fulham will not say yes or no regardless. No names are brought into a press conference.

    Once a club expresses interest about a player, you are absolutely correct the price does go up in terms of supply and demand. However if we stay quiet about the interest then it lessens the chance of another club hijacking the bid and driving the price up. I believe it was Arsne Wenger who when asked about Berbatov, stated that he was unaware that Berbatov was even available.

    You are absolutely correct about the fact that is like faith. After all these people get paid to locate and bring in players, you would hope with the staff being that of a premiership club that something is going on behind the scenes, though we have been shown in the past that this isnt always the case.

    I do agree with you on the comments that a good manger shouldnt be wed to one system and should be able to adapt his squad to fit there strengths. Though in my opinion there are a few cases of manager. The Bad, the Ok, The Good and the Great. The bad manager is one who you wonder how they are even in management. The ok is one who can get results and even a promotion. A good manager is one who can manage a squad and though they have a set style or method of play it can achieve a constant in the league. A great manager is one who can adapt, make rapid changes and generally win things.

    As Jol has never gotten a squad relegated and though he needs certain players to make a method of play work, he has kept us in the league. I do believe that if Roy had stayed and we had the current crop of players, we would get a better production out of them. However when Jol's system actually is played to its purpose, it is a site to take in. On that note I am not defending his late substitutions or refusal to change system or drop players.

    As i stated, i usually dont like to write in the first person medium. When I write I try to include facts instead of personal opinion, this however was a one off piece in which I decided to forgo that usual procedure. Once again, thank you for you input, it has helped me as a writer and will remind me to read my piece from another perspective and close up holes that might be there.
  5. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Alamo City, Texas
    Cool. Well thanks again for your service and take care over there.

    On the "right" player deal, it implies that we're somehow better in transfer dealings than other teams. I don't buy it. We rarely fill needs promptly and I think that's more down to a failure on the part of Mackintosh and those involved in transfer activities than by some patient design. We can agree to disagree, obviously. I'm of the belief that there are plenty of "right" players out there, we're just not doing an adequate job identifying them and getting them.

    Back to the "cards" statement. Most teams that air their transfer ambitions publicly do so by design to put pressure on the selling club. We're seeing that now with Chelsea and Rooney. We're not usually in for big names or trying to pry established players out of a side (b/c we frankly just don't have the wherewithal to do so) so you don't see that much from Fulham. My point though is that you don't see that much from any midtable side.

    To the other half of that argument, we're at the mercy of the agents and players. Once you express interest, there's nothing stopping a players agent from trying to use that to gin up a bidding war. We almost lost Ruiz to Newcastle that way. While I don't recall specifics on other windows, I'm pretty sure we've had attempted signings hijacked in previous years as well. And we've hijacked a few ourselves. Again though, this isn't anything unique to Fulham.

    My criticism wasn't at your piece or you in particular, just these trite "badges of honor" we bestow upon a staff that, imo, aren't nearly as worthy of the plaudits our fanbase lavish upon them. Since I've followed the club, there have always been glaring holes that have gone unfilled for multiple windows. First it was lm and lb. Then striker and rb. Now it's a goalscorer and creative cm. It's always something, and we usually go into transfer windows thinking, surely we'll address this issue this time...only to come out of it wondering how in the heck we didn't.

    Still disagree on Jol, but again, that goes back to my point about fit. I just don't think you'll see Jol's system played to it's purpose at Fulham b/c it requires a level of talent across that board that we seem unwilling or unable to pay for. That said, it is still too early to read into what Khan will or won't do, so I may ultimately be proven wrong. So far though, it looks like business as usual, and if that's the case, we'll continue to underperform as opposed to enjoying the overachievement of several years ago. I just hope we don't get relegated in the process. That and I'd like to enjoy watching us play a bit more as well.

    Bring on Sunderland...COYW's!!!
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