It’s that time of year again, the Christmas decorations have been taken down and football’s annual January sale has begun. The transfer window provides clubs with an opportunity to buy their saviour, to ship off their villain or to encumber themselves with an ageing veteran looking to tick the Premier League off their career bucket list.
Love it or hate it, though, it’s here to stay. I once tried to keep a list of players with whom Fulham were linked in a January window a few years back; I gave up after one week and 50 names. The invention of Twitter and the prevalence of Sky Sports News enables rumours to spread like wildfire. I think Mario Gomez from Stuttgart (at the time) may have been my all time favourite misrumour.
Anyway, all this got me thinking: what is my All Time Fulham January Transfer Window XI? As the window only came into existence a few years ago, the choice isn’t exactly huge but here’s my team:
GK – Antti Niemi (Southampton to Fulham, 2006 undisclosed)
There was a brief time when having the blonde-haired Finnish keeper felt like a welcome relief from the goalkeeping perils of Ricardo Batista and Mark Crossly. Unfortunately, his Fulham career was cut short by a neck injury sustained in a horrible collision against Watford. Beats out Tony Warner for this spot.
RB – Paul Stalteri (Tottenham to Fulham, loan)
We’re not exactly swimming in choices for defenders in this teambut,to my book, Stalteri earns his place. Signed by Uncle Woy in his first window and provided some solidity to the full back slots when it was otherwise lacking.
CB – Brede Hangeland (FC Copehagen to Fulham, 2008 £2.5m)
To my mind, the finest January signing in the history of January transfers in the Premier League. Club legend and the best defender the club has had in years. Brede’s partnership with Aaron Hughes turned the league’s worst defence into on of the league’s best.
CB – Leon Andreasen (Werder Bremen to Fulham, 2008 undisclosed)
Not really a defender but choice is lacking at the back. The third player in a row signed by Roy in his first window. The fearsome Dane is often forgotten, but contributed some strong performances and one memorable red card in the Great Escape season. Returned to the Bundesliga with Hannover suffering from homesickness after just one year.
LB – Nicky Shorey (Villa to Fulham, loan)
Signed on loan to provide cover for the injured Paul Konchesky. Only ever played domestically as he was Europa League cup-tied but contributed well when inter-changing with Konch at left back.
RM – Simon Davies (Everton to Fulham, 2007 £3m)
Player of the season in 08/09 and scorer of the equalisers against Hamburg and against Athletico Madrid in the Europa League Semi-Final and Final respectively. Simon’s career at Fulham has been plagued by injuries, but he has still amassed 162 appearances and 17 goals. Captained Wales on occasion, and remains loyal to the club when others around him (not naming names…Jimmy Bullard) have been quick to disappear.
CM – Alexei Smertin (Dynamo Moscow to Fulham, 2007 free)
In the days when we were still bereft of decent midfielders in the middle, Smertin gave us some steel and experience. The versatile Russian did well in his time at Fulham, even scoring the winner via the most deflected shot I can remember in an August monsoon against Bolton one year.
CM – Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution to Fulham, 2007 £2m)
Not a central midfielder but has to be in this team. Could argue that he’s our best ever January signing. Clint is the most senior player at the club with 207 appearances and 49 goals. Will be forever a club legend, whether it is for his first goal against Liverpool that kept us in the league back under Lawrie Sanchez, or for “that goal” against Juventus. As Diddy would say “Fulham’s goalscorer, Number 23…Clint Dempsey”.
LM – Gael Kakuta (Chelsea to Fulham, 2011 loan)
Mark Hughes’s only January signing to make this list, the exciting young Frenchmen did enough to impress me in his short stint at The Cottage to make this team. He was quick, direct and willing to shoot, skills that should never be undervalued as we’re all seeing with Kerim Frei’s emergence this season.
ST – Erik Nevland (FC Groningen to Fulham, 2008 £1.85m)
The Viking. Erik paid part of his own transfer fee, so desperate was he to play for Fulham. Despite only scoring 10 goals in our colours, he ranks as the best counter-attacking threat the club has seen in the years I’ve been in attendance. Hailed by all his teammates as the best finisher, he is a player we’ve never replaced. Put-away goals against Reading and Birmingham in the Great Escape are enough to let him live long in Fulham lore.
ST – Vincenzo Montella (AS Roma to Fulham, 2007 loan)
He comes from Italy, He f***ing hates Chelsea, Montella ooooh, Montella ooooh. Probably the classiest finisher we’ve had in the Premiership era barring Louis Saha (sorry David Healy). In the box he would always find the ball and it would find him. Signing L’Aeroplanino, or the Little Aeroplane as Diddy would call him, was a major coup for us. Despite his small stature, Vinny was fantastic and there was always something joyous about seeing his wings celebration.
So there you have it. What do you think ?
Who have I missed out? Who should be in? Who will be in a similar team of the future? These are always exciting times for Whites fans, and hopefully we’ll have a few more big names to come.