A poster on TIFF this morning muses over whether Fulham’s participation in the Europa League has made us a more attractive proposition to players from around Europe. I’d say the answer is a definite yes. Bringing in the likes of Damien Duff, who despite his age possesses undoubted quality, and Stefano Okaka (touch wood as it’s still not confirmed) on loan suggests that Roy can now shop a higher level to when he was battling to simply save our top flight status.
Arguably, going further than the group stage in Europe can only help the club further. You might have noticed that a few more links have sprung up on the right hand side of this page. When I first started going to the Cottage as a child, it was difficult to get 4,500 Fulham fans together in the same place. Now, we’ve got supporters following us from far flung places like Poland, Bulgaria, Russia, Sweden, Norway, America and Australia. It’s nowhere close to the international fanbase of the top four but it is pretty impressive given our relatively recent ascent.
The arrival of Okaka, who is apparently flying into London on Tuesday to conclude the loan deal, will give Hodgson a few more options up front. Without Bobby Zamora for a while, Roy will have felt that he needed to bring in a new striker. Okaka’s not a conventional target man, but as Rich and Nick both point out, he’s an upgrade on what was available already, even if that might be a bit harsh on the lesser-spotted David Elm, whose Fulham career seems destined to be a short run.
I fancy he’s got the versatility to be both a threat in the air – he climbed really well to score the winner in Rome that we all cursed at the time – and he’s obviously got the pace to hurt defences that may try and push up against us. He will probably complement our other strikers too. Both Johnson and Kamara are poachers, though Joe’s got the ability to produce something unexpected and AJ’s more of a worker, who sometimes infuriates you by drifting into the channels too often. There’s the possibility that Erik Nevland could get some more playing time too, particularly if Kamara and Zamora remain injured for any length of time, and that would fit in with his new contract talks.
Going back to Okaka, here’s a look at what we might be getting on loan:
Let’s hope he can have a greater long-term impact than our last loan signing from Roma. Vincenzo Montella quickly won a place in the Fulham fans hearts for his clever vision and effortless running, but was sent packing by Sanchez, who felt he didn’t fancy the physical stuff. Perhaps Okaka can do enough to justify a permanent move.