Transfer rumours, apparent player sightings in the local train station and football fans suddenly becoming experts of the Dutch 2nd Division can only mean one thing; we are smack, bang in the middle of silly season. With no weekly football fix, we can’t help but get caught up in the rumours and debates about certain players and hopelessly getting caught up in what players have on their Instagram stories as possible signs of them coming or going.
As a Fulham fan, the summer break can seem painfully slow at times. The past few seasons have seen us leave the kit launch incredibly late which adds to the frustration of the club being so tight lipped on their transfer activity. Personally speaking, I’d rather that the club didn’t comment on transfer activity until a deal is done, but I know that a lot of fans want to know who we are after and if we are close to bringing them in. And when other clubs are bolstering their squads, it can sometimes cast doubt on whether or not we are making any progress. With just three weeks to go before we kick off against Norwich City at home in the league, some fans have already begun to panic about how we are shaping up.
However, let’s just take a breath before the pessimism sets in. When Fulham missed out on a play-off final spot to Reading back at the end of last season, most of us thought that the club would struggle to keep their most prized assets. I was among those who thought that we would lose at least one of manager Slavisa Jokanovic, captain Tom Cairney or up-and-coming talent Ryan Sessegnon. To be honest, there was a time when I even thought we might lose all three! The fact that we have managed to keep all three in the midst of interest from a host of Premier League clubs is a real statement of intent from owners Shahid and Tony Khan. It is all well and good saying that they have the ambition of getting promoted but the most important thing is how you show that ambition. Empty words get you nowhere. With that in mind, I think that we can safely say that these guys are acting on their ambition and t’s very exciting to see.
In terms of the playing squad, there were plenty of wish lists going around. Despite Fulham finishing as top goal scorers last season, the majority of people would agree that we need to bring in a striker. With the debacle surrounding Chris Martins loan deal and the fact that neither Ross McCormack or Moussa Dembele have actually been replaced since last season, it is a fact that we are still very light in that department. While Cauley Woodrow had a very successful loan spell at Burton Albion, I’m not sure that he is the player to fire us into the Premier League. We have a lot of ‘nippy’ players who will continue to cause defensive many a headache in Floyd Ayite, Sone Aluko and the returnee Lucas Piazon but it is still important that the club bring in a front man. It looks as though the club is now very confident of getting the Diego Rolan deal over the line so that should help ease the pressures up front.
However, for me it is our defence that is the greatest area of concern. With Scott Malone heading to Huddersfield and Tomas Kalas heading back to parent club Chelsea, it is fair to say that we will need some reinforcements here. The signing of defender Marcelo Djalo may have split opinion but only time will tell how he fits into the squad. The club were far better defensively last season than they had been in years. Yes, there is still room for improvement, but with Jokanovic time and time again showing that he is a master tactician, it is important that as fans we trust him.
Overall, I think that fans sometimes misinterpret not signing players left, right and centre as a lack of progress. It is important that we remember that Jokanovic will have targets, and that there is no point bringing in players just for the sake of it. I would rather a handful of solid signings along with the renewal of contracts than a heap of players coming in who aren’t really going to make a difference. With Jokanovic and Tony Khan we are in safe hands and I honestly believe that this season is going to be even better than the last.