Next on Fulham’s rather whirlwind pre-season schedule are Peterborough. The friendly at London Road will be our last warm up opportunity before our European campaign gets underway in earnest next Thursday.
The Posh should provide a real test ahead of our trip to Lithuania. They will undoubtedly be the strongest side we’ve faced in pre-season so far. For the outsiders, Darren Ferguson has been instigating something of a quiet revolution in Cambridgeshire. Yes, he’s the son of the famous Manchester United manager but the younger Ferguson is doing things his way.
He has certainly worked his magic at the Posh, having replaced Keith Alexander after the club had lost six straight matches. He lifted the side to a creditable tenth place finish and, the following season, took them all the way to promotion, finishing second in the league. Now widely regarded as one of the game’s brightest young managerial prospect, Ferguson and his side are expected to go pretty well in the Championship this season.
Peterborough have plenty of players visiting fans should keep an eye on tomorrow afternoon. First, there’s promising goalkeeper Joe Lewis, the club’s record signing, who was included in one of Fabio Capello’s early England squads and is an under-21 international. Forwards Aaron McLean and Craig Mackail-Smith have been known to terrorise opposite defences and should keep our centre backs occupied throughout.
Perhaps the most familiar face to Fulham fans, though, will be our former centre back Gabriel Zakuani. Signed on the back of an imperious performance for Leyton Orient as they sent us crashing out of the FA Cup back in January 2006, Zakuani never really made the breakthrough that many were hoping for but has been a revelation at the heart of the Posh defence. He told tonight’s Peterborough Evening Telegraph that he owed Roy Hodgson for helping him move his career forward:
I had become frustrated by my lack of chances at Fulham so it was me rather than Roy who instigated the move. I don’t think he necessarily wanted me to leave the club but he listened to me and agreed with what I was saying about getting first team football.
He could have made it hard for me and not let me have a move but he was excellent and pretty soon I was on my way to Peterborough and I have not looked back since. But I don’t regret my time at Fulham, working with Roy and his assistant Ray Lewington, who both helped me a lot with my game and helped me improve as a player.
Turning his attentions to the game, ‘the Zak’ is excited by the chance to show his former side what they missed out on.
Like the other Premier League sides we have played, Fulham are packed with quality and it will be another excellent warm-up for us and a good warm-up fitness-wise with the season just a few weeks away.