Before I start my article, I would like to dedicate this to Finn Christensen. Finn was a regular poster on the Friends of Fulham forum, and he died last Saturday from a heart attack. His passion for Fulham was remarkable, and his views were always interesting and engaging to read. I did not agree with him on some topics, but I always found him a fantastic man to argue with- he would never see it on a personal level, he would never be patronising. Above all, he was a man I respected, and a man who’s views where ones that were full of reason and sense. A man taken too soon- this article is for you Finn. RIP.
In the recent days Fulham’s entire strike force has simply disappeared. Andrew Johnson has previously gone against his comments on loyalty, money and stating that he was impressed that Fulham stood by him by signing for QPR (and to make this clear, I don’t blame him. If I was crooked and a club that would give me some game time offered me 40k a week, I would take it). Pavel Pogrebnyak has reportedly rejected Fulham’s contract offer and signed for Reading, again on a large, in this case 65k large, contract. Again, another player who I don’t blame. Let’s be honest, footballers are mercenaries. True loyalty, shown by the likes of Johnny Haynes and Paul Scholes, is rarely shown today. Think of Samir Nasri, Eden Hazard- they go where the money is best. So, firstly, I would like to thank both players for their contribution- AJ for his tireless running and goals during the season that started the evolution of Fulham into a stable, top 10 club and Pogrebnyak for his electric six months, during which he not only completed the double over QPR (and for which I will forever hold him in high esteem) but for gaining us a number of points during that time, and giving us a sense of belief when the first half of the season hadn’t go so well. Thanks.
What this article is actually addressing is the belief in Jol. As soon as both the AJ (less so) and the Pogrebnyak news was announced I saw a number of people asking to know why not only Jol had not tried harder, but what he was planning to do about it.
What I want to ask you is, would you pay AJ 40k or the Pog 65k? Ask yourself that honestly. Would you pay it? Because I know I certainly wouldn’t. What both Jol and Fulham have shown in these transfers is a reassuring sense of sensibility- a sense that we will not overpay for our player. We will go for the player that the manager wants, but we won’t overpay for him. We know that they were both offered contracts, AJ with presumably reduced terms and mostly based on appearances and Pogrebnyak on not as much money as Reading, with Russian owners keen for a Russian marquee signing, could offer. We were not stupid and we wouldn’t be pushed by agent or player demands. We also knew when we were beaten and we wouldn’t offer stupid money. That, for me, is fantastic news. We know our boundaries and Jol does too. A stable foundation is built through sensibility in player contracts and the transfer market, and these transfers have demonstrated that. So on these transfers, trust Jol that he let them go.
We have known for a long time now, since perhaps Saha left, that we need a young, goal scoring striker. Johnson provided glimpses that perhaps he was the one in his goal scoring season, but even then 8 goals is not what we need. Zamora provided a season of being a complete forward;,the one that we needed, until a Karl Henry slice ended any chance of him being a long term forward. Let’s be honest- Zamora never regained any of the class or guile that he had before the injury and he was rightfully sold in January after a season of lacklustre performances and manager complaining. Pogrebnyak offered goals, but not the all round play that we needed. One comment I read compared his first touch to “playing a one-two off a wonky brick wall”. So, we’ve needed a forward for a season and a bit now, perhaps two, relying on the brilliance of Dempsey to see us through. That is another reason why I trust Jol-he made the right call on selling Zamora, and the right call on bringing Pogrebnyak in. Nobody thought that he would make the impact that he did. We have the money to spend (110k of wages have been freed up by the departures of Zamora, AJ and the Pog) and I trust Jol to spend it on the right players.
So please, let the club and the manager do what they’re paid to do. We know Jol’s track record, and it is extremely good. This man took Tottenham to within one lasagne of Champions League football, and produced some very good players within his time. He sold a few too, some that at the time were slated as bad moves but turned out to be good ones. The transfer window has not even opened yet. He will bring in those players that we need, and he will bring in the right players, without overpaying for them.
I trust in Martin Jol.
I’m Will and if you want to hear more Fulham facts, stories and the latest transfer rumours you can follow me on twitter ( @willpaul25).