What is the road forward for Fulham?

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by Hard_Drinkin'_Lincoln, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. Hard_Drinkin'_Lincoln

    Hard_Drinkin'_Lincoln New Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    Brooksville, Florida
    After another year watching Fulham struggle to escape the bottom three, I think there are many of us out there wondering how we can avoid a yearly future of such "great escapes." We know we can't be Big Four.
    Champion's League football probably isn't on the horizon on an annual basis. But surely we can be a club that can compete with everyone else. We can find a level that puts us in contention for a UEFA slot. If Everton, dirt poor and struggling to get a new ground built, can fight for those slots, then how can we do the same?

    Is there an approach to take to consolidate and improve our place in football? There are a few clubs out there who've built strong foundations in other ways. Everton have used a great scouting network to find and develop players from the Football League. You can't argue with their success: Lescott, Cahill, and Johnson were all players bought from The Championship. Bolton under Allardyce employed an Al Davis Raider-like approach: bring in the head case no one else could deal with and give him room to develop. Then you have academy-oriented clubs like Man City and West Ham. Although a strong academy hasn't saved them from
    relegation struggles in recent years, it is a good insurance policy to have if you ever do find yourself spending Saturdays at The New Den or Loftus Road.

    Down in The Championship. Sheffield United look like they're beginning on a road similar to the one Branch Rickey and the Cardinals took when they created the farm system in baseball. They've bought first division clubs in Hungary and China and are working to develop players through those operations. It'll be interesting to see how this works for the Blades.

    I think Fulham should take a holistic approach. We have little hope of attracting a player like a Ronaldo or a Henry. But we should invest in a scouting network that could identify talents like Santa Cruz and Alves flying just under the radar of the giants. The same goes for scouting the lower levels domestically. Sanchez brought in Healy and Baird, but why weren't we looking at someone like Ashley Young at Watford or Lescott at Wolves? What are we missing out on down there?

    There is a part of me thinking I'd like to see Fulham follow Sheffield United and buy a club in a place like the Eircomm League. If we can find a Keane--Roy or Robbie--over in Ireland, then we would more than make up the expense.

    This may be an effort for another Chairman at another time at Fulham. But I think we could do much more than what we're doing now in a developmental sense to achieve stability and build strength as a Premier League club.
  2. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    HDL, have a look at my article "What Next for Fulham?" It offers a couple of suggestions for non-exclusive methods. Much of what you're speculating is in that article also.
  3. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    Link for the Lazy

    {Yeah, I had to look twice, too}

    I think the way forward is to win more games, have less churn in the roster.

    In Woy, I trust... have to.
  4. Hard_Drinkin'_Lincoln

    Hard_Drinkin'_Lincoln New Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    Brooksville, Florida
    Great article HatterDon. You hit the mark in all the key areas.

    I know we have a Director of Football at Fulham in Les Reed. But I think we need to give that position a bit more strength than it seems it has right now. The manager is given a great level of latitude. This is fine if you have someone like Dario Gradi with a good eye for talent and a long-range mindset towards club development to match. But it doesn't work so well if your manager is run-of-the-mill or lesser in his abilities.

    I'm of mixed opinion on this issue. Part of me says the manager should have this level of latitude on player personnel. But after Sanchez, I'm thinking maybe some or most of that power should be handed to a Director of Football who can devote most of his time to scouting/development as the manager handles player training/tactics on the pitch.
  5. richardhkirkando

    richardhkirkando New Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Madison, WI
    Very good post. I too was thinking about Sheffield United, and it seems that it would be a great path to follow. We have a feeder club in Belgium with a couple of Ghanaian players on loan until they gain EU status. I'd really like to see Fulham start scouting that West African region a bit more, and utilizing this sort of relationship to the fullest extent.
  6. Hard_Drinkin'_Lincoln

    Hard_Drinkin'_Lincoln New Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    Brooksville, Florida
  7. Bradical

    Bradical Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Denver, CO
    Great article Hatter, thanks. I agree that it is absolutely feasible to join the second tier of the Prem in the course of only a few years. I think that MAF will need to pour in some cash, or another investor or owner can come in to do the same (once I win Powerball, I'm buying the club FYI). The key change is to have a feeder system of younger players, either European or academy developed, to nuture or to sell. That way you dictate the transfer market, instead of it owning you.

    I would say that the greatest advantage that Fulham has over any other European club is the gesture that it has made to US players to play in the Prem en masse. I think Fulham should continue this tradition in hope and expectation of landing the next great US player(s) (apologies to those judging the quality of the USMNT's future by the U21 results)
  8. Lyle

    Lyle New Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Fulham is participating in a program in Ghana in partnership with the U.S. State Department. That's how the two Ghanaian players got picked up by Fulham and are now in Antwerp. Others have been brought in to trial.

    You might already know this though.
  9. Clevelandmo

    Clevelandmo Active Member

    Sep 13, 2007
    Didnt know that Lyle. Thanks. Do you know why the US State Dept. is involved?
  10. americanmike

    americanmike Administrator

    Dec 30, 2004
    The new Managing Director will hopefully be a 'football' person as well as a 'commercial/businessman', thus lending his/her experience to getting some great young talent.
  11. BC

    BC New Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    Decatur, IL
    Let me indulge in a bit of hapless cynicism here. Of course we could be a top 4 club! All we need is a billionaire Russian owner to buy us a roster full of world superstars, a top European coach and a new stadium. We'll be in the Champions League final in no time!

    Seriously though, all of the above are good points. We're in the position where we have to find the bargains and mining the US talent pool is a great start. Looking to other leagues like Holland, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, etc might bear some fruit as well. I really think the key is to have an experienced manager and administrative staff with strong connections in Europe. Sanchez didn't have the connections and went with what he knew, to our disadvantage. Roy is much better equipped in that respect. I think we're on the upswing now. We'll finish much better this coming season.
  12. Hard_Drinkin'_Lincoln

    Hard_Drinkin'_Lincoln New Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    Brooksville, Florida
    Thought about this over the last day or two. Down in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Southern Miss has a strong program in sports coaching that has churned out graduates, who now work with kids coaching American football in high schools throughout the Southeast. These graduates serve as an in-place scouting network for their alma mater, identifying quality players who have fallen below the radar of the elite-level programs. This has played a key role in keeping the USM football squad fairly strong and stable for a smaller University team with limited resources to compete against larger programs from major conferences.

    Would there be a way for Fulham to establish a "Centre of Excellence in Coaching Youth Football" for former Fulham players or even supporters who are interested in coaching at the youth level? This would provide additional training on top of the level one and two licenses youth coaches traditionally acquire in the U.K. I have an image of our professional coaches, current and former, providing seminars. But I also would like to see both coaches and scouts involved in teaching these potential coaches on evaluation methods for players.

    If the Centre could establish itself, then the potential would exist to have "graduates" of this Centre throughout Great Britain teaching youth football and serving as an added adjunct layer to our scouting network in finding those talents our rivals have ignored or failed to uncover.
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