Tuesday, 29 July 2014
I did manage to draw myself away for long enough to get down to Crawley for the friendly outing but for the large part have been content with just sitting and watching as players seemingly come and go on a daily basis.
Up to a few days ago I must say that I had been rather impressed with the way in which Felix has overseen what was always going to be a difficult summer of transition. The vast majority of last seasons first team are already elsewhere and the few that remain are unlikely to be here for much longer. In my own mind I had already mentally prepared for the exodus and tried to seek solace in the few seasoned pro's who would definitely still be here forming the basis of a solid but unremarkable Championship outfit.
David Stockdale would certainly have been one of them and while I fully appreciate the difficult job both Magath and Alistair Mackintosh have in overhauling a whole squad, I can't help but feel that a little stability in one area could have gone a long way to providing a base for us to be ready for the first day of the season.
The fact that Maarten Stekelenburg has been given the Number 1 shirt suggests that there may yet be a future for him at the club although I suspect we are simply going to put him in the shop window for a few games in August and end up with A) Someone from the Bundesliga or B) Adam Bogdan.
It remains to be seen if this fabled move to River Plate will come about for Rodallega who is another I felt could do a job this season. Dejagah leaving was fairly inevitable with the only disappointing aspect being that I thought he would leave because he was too good for this level but instead he ended up taking early retirement in Qatar.
Based on the Crawley game and the reports throughout pre season it seems to me that despite all of the upheaval we are not to far away from having that solid base, albeit with far more new faces than I would have liked. Hutchinson looks a solid addition alongside Burn and in Stafylidis it seems for the first time since forever we actually have a left back. Voser and Hoogland both seem adequate at right back although who really cares when you still have Zverotic right?
The diamond midfield seems a decent idea based on the premise that Parker can stay fit and Chris David does what he has been doing consistently. Hyndman also look promising and the addition of Eisfeld could be inspired. It remains to be seen what the futures of Mitroglou and Ruiz hold but in McCormack, Woodrow and Taggart we still have options available. Despite the impressive hat-trick in the US I remain unconvinced that Dembele is quite ready for first team football week in week out.
I think as fans we need to set our expectations for what lye's ahead. Playing someone like Ipswich first game of the season, McCarthy will have them organised, relatively unchanged from last season and hard to beat. We are going to need at least 3/4 games to find our shape so expect a slow start. We have all been moaning for years about the retirement home we have been running under Martin Jol so now is the time to embrace the youth and show a degree of patience.
I'm not saying it is going to be a smooth ride but here's to the next step......... #COYW
As a side note I am sticking with my prediction of a late push for a play off place having sacked Felix in December despite being 11th and 6 points off the top 6. No idea who we will bring in before you ask but he will get results!
Friday, 27 June 2014
So its been a few weeks since I have written anything Fulham related and between you and me it's been a bit of a relief given the roller coaster that has been the last 12 months. I would like to extend a big thank you to the England national team for their efforts in topping off one of the worst footballing seasons of my life with an abject performance in Brazil. I had fully expected the World cup to be a welcome distraction for at least a few weeks but clearly 6 days was the best they could manage. The irony that it was a Bryan Ruiz goal which sealed our fate was probably not lost on those fellow Fulham fans watching on.
I can't help but feel in the case of Ruiz that some of the praise has been generated more with view to telling a story than being based on hard facts. Having Andy Townsend telling you that Ruiz had been “impressive” during his time at PSV seems a little far fetched especially having heard differing opinions on the same subject from PSV fans directly. The coverage I have seen of the Costa Rican seemed nothing different to the player of the last few seasons. Sprinklings of quality diluted by wayward passing and a tendency to be continually caught in possession in the middle of the park.
Naturally any player who is out in Brazil is likely to be attracting the attentions of scouts and it remains to be seen who if any will remain at the club for the season ahead. My heart tells me that Ruiz and Mitroglou will be off, if not for financial reasons then for the fact that we as a club need to make a clean start and build around those that want to play week in week out in the 2nd tier of English Football.
Dejagah on the other hand is an interesting one. I don't doubt that given the chance Ashkan would perform for us in the Championship but I would expect there to be interested parties at a higher level so it remains to be seen if we can hold on him.
There have already been a number of high profile exits and early reports show senior players at pre season training are few and far between.
The release of Karagounis, Diarra,Riise, Duff and co signals a dramatic shift in the make up of our squad. It is a process that would perhaps have been better implemented gradually over the last few years but at least now it is done. What actually happened with Brede Hangeland remains unclear although no one can deny he was a fantastic servant to the club and I wish him all the best for the future (Unless he ends up at QPR of course).
Felix has obviously been busy having already made 3 signings to bolster the squad. Hutchinson, Hoogland and Taggart are all fairly unknown quantities to me although it is refreshing to see players coming in who are at an age where they can still develop at the club. This season will be more about the squad than it has been for a while given the number of games and intensity of the Championship fixture list.
Yesterday we also saw Sacha Reither depart for Freiburg. The German didn't perhaps replicate his form of his first season with the club but was still in the bracket of players we could expect to leave the club upon relegation.
The most important thing for us as a club is to get to a stage fairly quickly where we can be confident the squad we have in hand is willing to stick it out for the season. Clearly Magath has been active and rumours of bids for the likes of Ross McCormack indicate that the German does have the backing of Shahid Khan to launch a quick return to the Premier League.
Of course it is hard to achieve any sort of “Feel good factor” during pre season but some sort of solidarity and team bonding will be needed for us to be ready for Portman road on the first day of the season. The appointment of Peter Grant as first team coach is an interesting one. As an individual he is certainly someone who knows his way around the Championship and at the very least will perhaps keep the dross from the press around Magath being out of his depth and lacking experience at this level to a minimum.
As supporters we are going to have to show a degree of patience with progress this summer and have faith in the younger players to make that step up. There is no doubt we can expect a number of re-enforcements and certainly some further exits in the coming weeks but hopefully the worst of it is over. We can focus on some positive thoughts and anticipate a league season where for the first time in a long long time we are expected to be towards the top of the table.
I apologise for the lack of any given structure to this particular posting as it has been more of a ramble around the past months activity. Can't say I am particularly enthused with the new home kit but I have promised to keep the negativity to a minimum.... for now.
At the end of the day who cares what colour we play in as long as we start winning again.... Of course I draw the line at wearing Blue, Or hoops for that matter.
Here is to another month of turmoil before the big kick off in August.