Lydia’s already written something this morning about Arsenal’s approach for Mark Schwarzer. To my mind (and I’m fully aware I might be speaking too soon), it’s impressive to see Fulham telling one of the big boys to back off when they come calling for one of our players.
All too often in recent history, we’ve seemed to be on the verge of assembling a side capable of competing at a higher level and had to sell one of our established stars. When you think of the departures of Steed Malbranque, Louis Saha, Sean Davis and Edwin van der Sar – to name just four – you do wonder how things might have turned out had we been able to keep the nucleus of that Tigana side together for a couple more seasons.
Holding onto Schwarzer, now 37, is important precisely because of his qualities as a goalkeeper. While Hodgson’s system and the ability of the understanding that Hangeland and Hughes are developed in the centre of defence have contributed greatly to Fulham’s success over the last year or so, you do feel that much more confident with Schwarzer in goal. His experience means he’s not fazed by a big ocassion and his positioning his first-class. Just as importantly, he’s a good communicator and our back five have a reassuring solidity about them – which is a marked change after the Sanchez and Coleman years, when Fulham seemed alarmingly fragile in defence.
You can help but think whether Fulham will be just as tough in their efforts to keep Hodgson at the helm. Of course, the situation’s different when dealing with your manager rather than a player. But Roy clearly does value the relationship he has with the Fulham chairman and chief executive, something he wouldn’t enjoy at many other English clubs, and especially not at Liverpool, where boardroom uncertainty seems the order of the day. He might, as I wrote earlier in the week, feel there’s still a job to done by the Thames. You can only hope for two things at this stage – firstly, that he opts to stay in the event of any approach from Liverpool and, secondly, that the speculation doesn’t drag on for a the whole summer.