Ben Pringle (Rotherham), Andy Lonergan (Bolton), Jamie O’Hara (Blackpool), Tom Cairney (Blackburn), Ashley Richards (Swansea), Luke Garbutt (Everton – loan), Sakari Mattila (Aalesunds)
Patrick Roberts (Manchester City), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting), Ryan Williams (Barnsley), Adil Chihi (released), Tim Hoogland (released, now VFL Bochum), Gabor Kiraly (released, now Szombathely), Josh Passley (released, now Dagenham & Redbridge), Hugo Rodallega (released, now Akhisarspor), Dino Fazlic (released), Mark Fotheringham (released), Lyle Della Verde (released, now Fleetwood Town), Elsad Zverotic (released, now FC Sion), Jonathan Buatu (released, Wassl-Beveren), Tom Richards (released, now Aldershot), Solomon Sambou (released), Kostas Safylidis (loan return), Michael Turner (loan return), James Husband (loan return), Danny Gurthrie (loan return, now Blackburn), Richard Lee (loan return, now retired), Maarten Stekelenburg (Southampton – loan), Stephen Arthurworry (Yeovil Town – loan), Liam Donnelly (loan – Crawley), Mesca (AEL Limassol), Kostas Mitroglou (Benfica – loan)
Players likely to leave before the window closes:
Fernando Amorebieta, Thomas Eisfeld
Signing of the Summer:
This is a tough one, as our transfer business has so far has been good across the board. The standout buy is probably Tom Cairney. The midfielder arrives at Fulham from Blackburn, where he was the creative force in a team that was not short of goals last season. He’s a central midfield playmaker by trade but is also able to operate on the right. As long as he’s played in the right position, Fulham’s new Number 10 has the chance to become one of Fulham’s key players week in week out. I’m also a big fan of the Ben Pringle signing as our lack of width was a significant problem last season. Pringle’s arrival fills a key need whilst taking a top player away from a division rival. Jamie O’Hara’s free transfer arrival also represents a low risk, high reward deal that could prove a masterstroke.
The Defence. Whilst our transfer business has been universally well received so far, the glaring omission is the lack of any new central defenders. For a team whose main weakness is its defence, the lack of reinforcements at centre back is a genuine concern. This doesn’t appear for the lack of trying, but Brighton have unsurprisingly so far been reluctant to sell us Lewis Dunk. With three days till opening day there are questions why Fulham haven’t moved onto other targets. It may also be a lot to expect of Dunk or another player to have an immediate midas touch. Fulham’s defence will be a work in progress for the first portion of the season, with no one guaranteed their place in the back five following Luke Garbutt’s ankle ligament injury picked up against Crystal Palace, which has re-exposed another glaring weakness with the left back out for six weeks. Uncertainty over Marcus Bettinelli’s future also means Andy Lonergan may be playing more than initially expected.
Not to have seen more of Patrick Roberts in a Fulham shirt before he left for Manchester City. Lots has been said and written on Roberts’ transfer to Man City which doesn’t need rehashing, but Roberts was an exciting talent and it’ll be a shame not to see him wear the white of Fulham again.
There is an air of positivity at Fulham at the moment, fuelled by Kit Symons and his players saying they are targeting promotion. Yet going into the summer there were significant question marks lingering over the future of Kit Symons. Seemingly only a minority of fans wanted him to stay on as manager. Given the circumstances in which he became manager, perhaps some of the criticism was unfair, but question marks over Symons managerial ability will resurface should Fulham not get off to a decent start. With his own squad now at his disposal and a full pre-season under the belt, the pressure is on Symons to get this squad firing. It’s worth remembering though, that with Mike Rigg controlling transfers the lack of a new central defence isn’t solely down to Symons.
Highlight of the Off-Season:
The vastly improved media output from the club. Albeit the bar was set reasonably low, but the video content this summer has been the best the club has put out in years. The three way interview with Kit Symons, Mike Rigg and Alastair Mackintosh set the tone early, with entertaining and informative interviews and features proving regular this summer. The club has provided extensive highlights of the pre-season friendlies and used GoPro cameras to provide unusual and additional films from the team’s summer training camps on their YouTube channel. On top of this, the club has launched a new match day preview radio show for fans not able to go to games. All in all, a tip of the cap in the club’s direction.
Lowlight of the Off-Season
All the above being said, the club have rather botched the revealing of this season’s playing strips. No it’s not a big deal in the scheme of things, and in truth, the new home kit actually looks excellent, but with less than a week to go before the start of the new season there is still some uncertainty over what we’ll be playing in at Cardiff. The “deliberate” leaking to Channel 5 for the advert for their new highlights show was actually a clever idea if it was indeed deliberate, however, the whole thing just feels a bit slapdash. Especially given that the “leak” wasn’t followed up with a marketing reveal.
Summer signings have all been revealed in polo shirts and even now, after the team actually played in a sponsor-less version of the new kit against Crystal Palace, there is still no sign of the final version. After last year’s garish monstrosity there will be many a fan who would like to get to the shop before the Brighton game on the 15th. The delay is undoubtedly due to a lack of confirmed sponsor and hopefully the good looking new kit won’t be ruined by a hideous logo when one is announced and as long as the sponsor isn’t heinous, this is a lowlight that can easily become a highlight.
Similarly, the club cut it fine to start delivering new season ticket cards, but with them now on the way all will be forgotten with the first 3 points of the season.
Ross McCormack. It is hard to overstate Ross’ importance to Fulham. He was the landslide player of last season and as club Vice-Captain carries an important leadership role. With a better supporting cast meaning he should play the entire season up front, hopefully his goals can fire us up the table and not just away from the bottom.
Under the Radar Key Player:
Shaun Hutchinson. Fulham fans can’t seem to decide on which of the existing centre backs at the club are any good. There is a vast swathe of fans who believe it is none. However, I fall in the camp that believes Shaun Hutchinson is the best of what we have. What he hasn’t had in his Fulham career so far is an experienced and regular partner to help him. He doesn’t yet have one, but it is hard to believe Fulham will end the transfer window without signing another centre back. Either way, Hutchinson figures to play a key role this season and how he copes will be a big determining factor in how we do.
Unanswered Question #1: Who Partners McCormack Up Front?
Pre-season hasn’t shed much light on how Symons intends to line up come Cardiff on Saturday. It looked as though Matt Smith would start the season in the team, but his demotion to the side that played at Colchester last Saturday raises more questions than answers. Cauley Woodrow partnered McCormack against Crystal Palace but the young striker has looked inconsistent in front of goal. The wild card is Moussa Dembele, who’s bulked up and looks ready for regular first team football. Adam Taggart is also on the books but is likely in need of a loan spell to regain sharpness after a year out injured. Rumours that we’re in for Crystal Palace forward Dwight Gayle suggest Symons and Rigg may not be happy with the current options and there is also a chance Symons opens the season with a 5 man midfield leaving McCormack on his own.
Unanswered Question #2: Will Dembele, Hyndman and Bettinelli be at the club in September?
Aside from Lasse Vigen Christensen, who seems firmly embedded in the first team, there are persistent rumours that Dembele and Emerson Hyndman, both with only a year left to run, won’t sign new contracts. With Marcus Bettinelli, who’s also yet to sign a new contract, still rumoured to be the subject of interest from Chelsea, there are doubts over the long term future of some of the club’s brightest young stars. Dembele and Hyndman need game time and while you feel both could help the first team it is hard to see either starting regularly, but should they sign new deals, loan moves may follow in order to guarantee game time.
Quick Fire Season Preview:
Between 7th and 10th – good enough for top half but not making the playoffs with this defence.
Lasse Vigen Christensen to captain the side at some point
Most Looking Forward To:
Having a corner taker beat the first man
Least Looking Forward To:
Losing the debate with my wife every Saturday about putting the highlights on now they are on at the prime time of 9pm on a Saturday night meaning I’ll still watch them on sky+ on a Saturday morning.
All I want For Transfer Deadline Day Is:
To have not left signing a centre back to the last minute
Two words to sum up my feelings towards the new season: