Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has revealed he convinced chairman Mohamed Al Fayed to invest in Fulham’s new strikeforce by promising a long-term return.
England forward Andy Johnson made his eagerly-awaited Cottagers debut in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Bolton and proved a handful despite his lack of match fitness.
Starting alongside the £10.5million signing from Everton was Bobby Zamora, who paid back another chunk of his £4.8million fee with a brilliant solo goal that gave Fulham a two-goal cushion.
After the disastrous reign of Hodgson’s predecessor Lawrie Sanchez, who wasted £25million on a selection of Football League players, Al Fayed was reluctant to dip into his personal fortune once again.
But Hodgson’s assurances that the arrival of Johnson and Zamora would help end the harrowing annual battle for survival prompted the Harrods owner to produce his cheque book.
“The chairman has had his fingers burnt because in the past he spent quite a lot of money on players who left without giving a great return,” said the Fulham boss
“One of the things I’ve tried to persuade him is that we do need to invest in certain key players. Unfortunately those key players don’t come cheaply.
“You don’t buy strikers of the quality of Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson without spending money – that’s the bottom line.
“I’ve tried to persuade the chairman that this investment now could see the club in good stead over the next couple of years.
“I didn’t want to be going to him every year and saying ‘You know that £15million to £20million we spent last year, well that was a waste of money. Can I have some more to start again?’
“I wanted a team that will last more than one season and that might need topping up in certain areas every now and again.”
Fulham, showing no rustiness despite their three-week break from Premier League action, blew Bolton away with a breathtaking display.
Zoltan Gera buried a mis-hit clearance to start the afternoon’s entertainment before Zamora produced magical footwork to evade Danny Shittu and Gavin McCann and fire the second.
Bolton were torn to pieces as Fulham, who also dispatched Arsenal in their last Premier League match, created a host of chances with their dynamic passing game.
Kevin Davies reduced the deficit with nine minutes to go but had the limited Trotters salvaged a late point it would have been an injustice of epic proportions.
Two wins in three games has cranked up the expectation at Craven Cottage but Hodgson is refusing to look beyond Premier League safety.
“My job is to keep everyone’s feet on the ground, just like it’s my job to point out the positives when everyone is saying we’re in crisis,” he said.
“You have to be grateful when people are writing good things about you but you don’t get carried away by it.
“We know our job in this league is to survive and hopefully survive in a much better way than we did last year.
“That’s how we’ll set our stall out and we’ll be grateful for every point we take. If we reach 40 points then maybe we’ll press ahead.”