At the end of every day, I have the same conversation with my father.
“Any Fulham news today? No, not really.”
With each passing conversation, the level is disappointment conveyed in this routine rises just another notch. This is not to say we should be disappointed, far from it in fact, but human nature is such that we crave news. The excitement that a new signing brings satiates this palate for the unexpected, if only momentarily.
If those at the top of the club’s hierarchy obeyed this human nature and indulged our inner desires for new blood, we’d have signed about ten strikers already this summer. As it is, we’ve signed one, and a very good one at that. Mladen Petric’s arrival on a free transfer has served as the warning shot for our summer intentions.
Simply put, our expectations, as fans, and as a club are rising, almost beyond our wildest dreams. In this respect, we all need to be careful, and just a tiny bit realistic. We are not Man City, but we are also not QPR. Consistent top 10 finishes makes for a genuine aspiration, not pie in the sky fantasy, as it would be for our skittish neighbours from Shepherds Bush.
At Fulham, we have two superstars, a guy who cost superstar money, a superstar (or two) in the making and someone who’d be a bona fide superstar were it not for him being Norwegian, a centre back and playing for Fulham. In reality, before the Hodgson reign began, we’d have all bitten our arms off for just one player we could count as a superstar.
The fact that we now have several Champions League quality players at the club is just one of a number of factors raising expectations. After three top 10 finishes in four years and a European final, it is both natural and right that expectations begin to climb beyond mere survival.
This summer has got off to an intriguing start if nothing else, a game of chess yet to move beyond the opening gambits. Information is escaping the tightly guarded Craven Cottage confines with the indifferent nonchalance of a teacher not looking to give reports for a class of expectant pupils.
Unlike previous summers however, this one is different. Desicisions are deliberate and calculated. In 2010, Roy Hodgson waited until after the World Cup to depart for Liverpool, while last year Mark Hughes walked out on a day’s notice, throwing any and all transfer and contract planning straight out the window. This year, it all makes sense. Martin Jol has been in the job a year and is clearly being able to put his stamp on the squad.
After Jol’s first season and a full calendar year in the job, we can safely assume the club’s network of scouts have been doing their master’s bidding for some time now. Plans will have been made, and targets drawn up. Players have been let go, and I suspect there will be a few more names yet to pack their bags.
In short, we all need to be patient. I know, its not very fun is it. I want signings, and big ones at that, or at least my transfer obsessed inner child does.
The club know expectations are rising, but they also know, and value, the notion of reining them in. With Karim Fayed now firmly entrenched on the board, there are two generations of Al-Fayed’s with vested interests in this club’s fortunes. That can be no bad thing.
Youth development and promotion, targeted first team signings, a new roof on the Johnny Haynes Stand and the yet to be determined Riverside Stand planning application – these are just a few of the pressing topics on the desks of the powers that be. That’s not to mention keeping the two superstars, Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey, or I suspect in Dempsey’s case, getting the best price possible.
With all this to do, perhaps its no wonder news has been a little slow. If there’s ever been a time for one of those “keep calm and carry on” posters, now is the time. News will come, and with a year’s worth of planning, perhaps, just maybe, it’ll be worth the wait.