Zoltan Gera and John Pantsil are among the prominent names to have been released by Fulham at the end of their contracts.
Hungarian international Gera has been heavily linked with a return to West Bromwich Albion, who are now managed by former Fulham boss Roy Hodgson. Hodgson brought Gera to Craven Cottage in June 2008 and the classy midfielder thrived under his management, helping the Whites reach the 2010 Europa League final. Gera made 120 appearances for Fulham, scoring seventeen goals.
Pantsil will leave Fulham at the end of the month after the club opted not to extend his current deal. The Ghanaian defender fell well down Mark Hughes’ pecking order after a succession of early season errors. The right back, signed in a double deal from West Ham with Bobby Zamora, made 92 appearances at Craven Cottage and was a firm favourite with the Fulham fans.
Diomansy Kamara, who has seen first-team opportunities limited in recent months, has also been released. The Senegalese striker scored 18 goals in 68 appearances for Fulham but was largely used as a substitute last season once Bobby Zamora and Mousa Dembele returned to full fitness. Kamara had spent time on loan at Celtic and Leicester City in the last two campaigns.
American striker Eddie Johnson has also been released – having made only ten appearances since signing from the Kansas City Wizards in January 2008 – alongside young midfielder Matt Saunders.
Fulham manager Mark Hughes has confirmed John Pantsil will leave Fulham when his contract expires in the summer.
The Ghanaian has fallen out of favour at Craven Cottage since Hughes took over last year, with utility man Chris Baird preferred at right-back.
“It’s likely he will leave this summer,” said the Whites boss. “We’re trying to freshen up the squad and looking at different alternatives. His situation has been affected by that.”
Pantsil has made 91 appearances for Fulham since his switch from West Ham three years ago, establishing him as a fans’ favourite in SW6. But a series of mistakes earlier this season saw him dropped from the first team and he has not managed to regain favour under Hughes.
John Pantsil’s been speaking to the official site. It’s good stuff, particularly on Roy Hodgson.
I’m very proud and happy about our performance last season. The team and players as individuals played very well and we’re now looking towards Europe. The season before last, the club was looking like it was going down but people always learn from their mistakes.
When I joined Fulham I wanted to be part of the club’s history. I’m very pleased for the club, the fans and everyone around the place – we have worked together and have come a long way.
I was confident that we would do better than the season before. The manager made us play with discipline. And any team that plays with discipline will always go far – you cannot be a team without it. We always went out to do our best and always listened to the manager’s instructions.
The manager is a big believer in discipline. He doesn’t believe in players getting yellow and red cards, he always wants his players to stay on their feet and play according to the referee’s whistle.
He doesn’t want his players to challenge the referee, when the referee calls a foul, we have to leave the ball and no one challenges the referee – we must do everything according to the referee’s instructions.
We must also respect our opponents. I don’t think every manager gives these instructions to his players, some can tell you to go and kick legs. But I’ve never heard him telling us to fight our opponents or the referee.
Missing from the interesting discussion about discipline is any mention of Pantsil’s disgraceful play-acting at Stoke. I, for one, was pleased that Hodgson apparently took Pantsil aside and rebuked him for his behaviour. Thankfully, we haven’t seen any more of it since.
Optimism seems plentiful ahead of next season, but Pantsil himself sounds a timely warning.
Next season is going to be tough for us. Teams will look at us now and will think they need to be careful against us. The other clubs will know that we are a good team so they will be aggressive and strong. We will have a big task in front of us.
Pantsil was probably the biggest surprise of the season. He wasn’t a particularly heralded arrival and plenty of people expressed concern that we signing another West Ham cast-off. Hodgson’s obviously worked on the defensive side of his game on the training ground and the hard graft has paid off. Most impressive of all – and particularly important to the way we play with our narrow midfield – was how comfortable he was in possession and was eager to get forward.
Let’s hope he can kick on again next season.
Fulham have concluded a double deal to sign West Ham pair Bobby Zamora and John Pantsil for £6.8m.
Zamora, who scored 39 goals in all competitions last season for the Hammers, leaves Upton Park after four and a half years. Hodgson hailed the acquisition of the 27 year-old as significant since he was seeking striking reinforcement following Brian McBride’s decision to leave Craven Cottage and return to America. Bobby is a talented striker who not only has a desire to score goals but always looks to involve the rest of the team with his intelligent play,” said Hodgson. “His quality has allowed us to strengthen our attacking options.”
Ghanaian defender Pantsil has opted to join Fulham after two frustrating years at West Ham. He made just nine starts across two seasons having played in all of Ghana’s games at the 2006 World Cup.