There are just a couple of days left before all the waiting is over and the PL finally kicks off again. It has been a strange summer for Fulham fans as we made a couple of good signings right at the very beginning then we had to wait a while before the next major piece of club news came through. The sale of the club to Pakistani business man Shahid Khan was done in classic Fulham style- under the radar. We don’t hear very much of Fulham’s business, it’s always been like that but I think fans still get frustrated at not knowing what is going on. To be fair, I’d rather it was done like this. It means that we don’t generally have knowledge of a long-drawn out transfer process ( look at the Bale, Rooney and Suarez sagas) that tend to be far more trouble than they are worth. We only here news from the club when it’s official so we know what’s real and what’s not.
Nevertheless, enough of the confusing transfer gossip, what about the season ahead? Fulham needed to do some business in order to match the clubs around us. Look at West Ham, Norwich and Cardiff for example. All have spent money to improve their squads. Time will tell whether it will pull off but I feel that many fans are concerned that Fulham haven’t spent the money that they thought the club would after the Khan takeover. However, we have made some astute signings with Stekelenburg, Boeteng, Amorebieta and Taarabt. We also made Riether an official Fulham player and it looks like we are about to sign Darren Bent. OK, we haven’t spent a lot of money as our dealings seem to yet again be free transfers or loans but, although it doesn’t look like we have long term answers, they certainly aren’t bad players that we have brought in.
However, I can’t say that I wasn’t worried for a while. I still believed that we need another goal-scorer and a play maker. It now looks like we have our goal scorer in Darren bent but we are still missing someone in CM to pull the strings and control the game. We lost Murphy, Dembele and Dempsey in the same window and I don’t believe we have recovered from that yet. There has been talk about us ruining QPR’s Scott Parker deal and I honestly believe this would be a good piece of business at this stage in the window. He is good player but wouldn’t be a long-term fix unfortunately. For now though, it looks like some of our youngsters are going to have the chance to show their worth in the centre of the park. People are raving about Chris David and we are still waiting for Kasami to be given his shot. If these players step up then we might have some ready made replacements already in our squad. I still think we need an experienced head in there though but we shall just have to see what happens there.
In terms of a goal-scorer it looks like we have Darren Bent. This is a good signing as he is a very different player to Berbatov who likes to drop back a bit. Bent should stretch defences and he is a quality finisher! I feel he has been let down a bit at Villa so should be very keen to have a new start and show his worth. If we get the ball to his feet in the box, he should score goals for us.
I think that if Jol can get Taarabt, Ruiz and Berbatov to play together we could have a very exciting team on our hands. The other thing to sort is the defence but I think with Amorebieta there with Hangeland and with Dutch international Stekelenburg between the sticks, our problems at the back shouldn’t be as bad as last year. The key is consistency. If the players can gel and play well together then a top 10 finish can be reached. However if that hole in midfield isn’t filled and our fancy players can’t learn how to work together then we will finish lower than that. I think we have the players to ensure that we won’t be in danger by the end of the season but there certainly might be rocky moments along the way!
Anyway, I’m going to put myself out there with some predictions, feel free to agree or disagree!
Where we will finish – 10th, dead centre.
Top goal-scorer – Berbatov…with 15 goals.
Player of the season- I’m going to go with Dejagah. I think he will pick up from where he left off before his injury last season
How will Bent get on? – Solid season with the club getting 11goals
Will Taarabt rediscover his form? I think he will have a slow start but will come good around October. He needs a little bit of time to adjust to not being the most talented player in a squad! This should hopefully improve his attitude.
Cup Run?- If we use some of the talented youngsters we have then I think their desire to show their talent will get us through the first few rounds of the cups we are involved in. If the league run is going well then I think the team will really want to have a real go at the FA cup in particular. Quarter finals are possible in both cups but it really depends on how early we get a top 4 team.
Will Jol still be our manager at the end of the season? YES.