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.