Martin Jol has told his players they are better off at Fulham as he bids to keep his squad intact this summer.
Tomorrow’s Barclays Premier League clash at Craven Cottage is a timely reminder for any Fulham player with designs on a move that life is not always better away from west London, with Pavel Pogrebnyak returning with relegated Reading.
Fulham have 11 players who are out of contract or at the end of their loan deals this summer and Jol is confident of retaining them, while respecting a professional desire to move on, if they make that choice.
“You can use that cliche the grass is always greener here, probably, and not at another place,” Jol said.
“There is a lot of evidence of players leaving this club and they had a better time here, maybe 80 or 90 per cent of the players.
“But that is quite arrogant to say, because other players go on to bigger clubs.
“Was there one player going to a top club or another club and did better than here? I don’t think so.
“But I won’t be that arrogant to say he (the player, Jol refused to name names) should have stayed because maybe they could get 100 per cent more (in wages).
“It’s about them, they have to make their mind up. The players who are here, like Dimitar (Berbatov), Sascha Riether, even Mladen Petric, they all like it here. And (Mark) Schwarzer. “I think they would like to stay.”
Despite departures of the likes of Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele, Jol believes Fulham’s record in retaining players is good.
“We want to keep our best players and we’ve been quite successful up until now,” he said. “I really thought we could end up with a problem with, for example Brede (Hangeland, the captain).
“I feel up until now we’re capable of keeping our best players.
“It’s only about two or three other players and we’re working hard on that front to keep them here.”
There is no update on contract talks with Australian goalkeeper Schwarzer, while there is still time to agree the option to keep on-loan Cologne right-back Riether.
“We’ve got another eight days so we will have to wait and see,” Jol said.
Jol also dismissed reports of Berbatov leaving Fulham as speculation.
“I don’t think that will happen,” he said.
“They have to come up with a lot of money for a 32-year-old to get him away from this club.”
Mahamadou Diarra has endured an injury-hit spell at Fulham, but will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness and earn a new deal despite his chronic knee injury.
The former Real Madrid midfielder is out of contract shortly.
“Diarra had an operation and he feels it could be two or three months (absence) but realistically it could be five, six or more,” Jol said.
“He is out of contract, but we will give him the opportunity to prove himself fitness-wise. “So we will still treat him and we will do that for the next six, seven or eight months. As long as it is necessary.”
Pogrebnyak had a half-season spell at Craven Cottage and Jol praised the forward, who may yet play in the npower Championship next season.
Jol said: “When he was here he was a very good professional. From the first training session he showed he wanted to play for us. He scored six goals in his first five matches and he helped us big time.”
Fulham last won against relegated QPR and Jol hopes to end the five-match winless streak to finish the season with a flourish.
“We want to end the season on a very good note and have another nine points,” Jol said.
“We have to start tomorrow and get back to winning ways for the last two matches of the season, against Liverpool and Swansea.”