The news that both Larnell Cole and Ryan Tunnicliffe had been shipped out on loan yesterday was greeted with relative scepticism amongst the Fulham faithful particularly in Tunnicliffe’s case as he had already shown signs of breaking in to the first team and providing some much needed younger legs to an aging side. There is no doubt that both can still have promising future’s with the club and it is important to remember that these are only loan deals and have no option of becoming permanent. Clearly Felix Magath just feels at this stage that neither is in his eyes going to start on a regular basis this season and it would be beneficial for all parties if they can get football elsewhere.
Felix has mentioned a number of times now that he feels the current squad is too big and we may well still see a few more departing on loan in the next week. The fact is our current squad is a hybrid of players brought in across a number of managerial spells so in turn is not only on the large side but also rather fractured. Of course I have no concrete insight in to the daily goings on within our squad and my ramblings are purely speculative but it would’t surprise me in the slightest if our players have numerous cliques and groups which in the situation we find ourselves in does little to encourage a team bond or spirit as a whole.
One factor that I felt was particularly overlooked when considering the the sacking of Rene Meulensteen was the significance of dropping 2 senior players in Hangeland and Parker for the Man Utd and Liverpool games. In fairness to Rene both Kvist and Burn performed amicably in their absence but I can’t help but feel if the club captain and Parker were disgruntled at all then they, if any player at the club, would have been able to communicate that to various stakeholders and only add to applying pressure on the Manager. I would of course like to believe that both are professional enough to get on with it without any complaints although we all know about well documented player power in recent years. At the end of the day it was results that were the major factor in bringing yet another change in management although I am sure there were other reasons which contributed.
In addition to the players that Jol brought including the likes of Stekelenburg, Riise, Karagounis, Richardson, Dejagah and Reither we now have a group of players within the squad from Rene’s time like Heitinga, Holtby, Mitroglou, Kvist, Cole and Tunnicliffe. There are still a few Hodgson players kicking about like Hangeland, Duff and Stockdale as well as Sidwell and Kacaniklic from the Mark Hughes era. Each set of players was likely brought in to the club under the impression of a certain football philosophy, a promise of game time and an affiliation with the particular manager is it so hard to believe that certain divides may exist within our squad?
Much has been reported about the methods Magath is seemingly infamous for and what strikes me is that this ways of going about things is always going to be far more effective in a tight knit group than in a large one and by reducing the squad size the German is attempting to build some camaraderie and fuse together a group of individuals for the battle that lies ahead. The one thing that we as a team need more than anything at the moment is some consistency both in terms of team selection and performance so Felix needs to identify the 18 or so players he sees as being involved in the run in and get them to bond.
Again just to reiterate , I have no solid evidence of these divides within the squad but was just a thought as to the reason why Felix is looking to reduce the squad now for the remainder of the season. Less players in a training session will hopefully mean a more hands on approach and allow us to improve in areas that have perhaps been neglected in recent seasons. I always got the impression that Rene ran the club with one hand tied behind his back in accommodating Wilkins and Curbishley but at the very least we need to let Felix Magath be held accountable for his own choices and just hope that another great escape is still on the cards.