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Richardson can prove a point at Sunderland

Kieran Richardson is ready to prove a point on his return to Sunderland with Fulham, according to his current manager Martin Jol.

The 28 year-old has struggled for form and fitness since leaving the Stadium of Light to return to London in August but Jol believes the versatile Richardson can recapture the displays that made him a Manchester United regular and won him six England caps. The Fulham manager will have a decision to make over the composition of his side this afternoon with Richardson available for selection again after spending a month on the sidelines – and it remains to be seen whether the former Sunderland man will be preferred to John Arne Riise at left back.

Jol has previously been quoted as saying that Richardson wasn’t sharp enough in the early stages of his Fulham career but he has supreme confidence in the versatile left-sided player – judging by the quotes from his pre-match press conference:

Kieran has been injured a bit but he is back now and will be involved in the squad. He is a versatile player who can play on the left, in midfield and left-back. He is a good player and has all the qualities. He had a good season with Steve Bruce at Sunderland when he was left-back, and should be terrific here. You can give him the licence there to express himself and he will be good, I have no doubt about that.

Richardson made 149 appearances – scoring fifteen goals – in his five years at Sunderland and is expected to be given a warm reception at the Stadium of Light. He has already made an impact with Fulham, scoring twice – his first goal coming as a substitute at Southampton and a long-range strike helping the Whites avoid FA Cup embarrassment at Blackpool.

The Morning After

Well that was…exhausting. Happy Day After Deadline Day everyone. It sort of feels like Boxing Day doesn’t it, the festivities are over and you now get to play with your new toys. After the drama of last night though, it kind of feels like that time you got given a playstation but without the games you specifically wanted and asked for.

That’s enough of the metaphor’s for now, but in truth, the passing of last night’s transfer deadline has left something of a disappointed feeling in the pit of the stomach of most connected with Fulham Football Club.

That is not to say yesterday was a bad day. Quite far from it. The signing of Manchester United’s former Premier League Golden Boot winner and seven time Bulgarian Footballer of the Year, Dimitar Berbatov, marked yesterday as one of the finest in our clubs transfer history. Alongside George Best and Edwin van der Sar, this could well be one of the highest profile signings ever at Craven Cottage.

Fulham's New Number 9

That overall feeling of being somewhat underwhelmed comes from the fact that on deadline day, minutes seem like hours and hours seem like weeks. The announcement of Berbatov was made at 3.30pm. That left seven and a half hours to do something about our depleted midfield corps.

At that stage there was a huge sense of optimism about the day. We’d already signed former Premier League winner Kieran Richardson from Sunderland reportedly for around the £2m mark. A bargain for such a useful and versatile left footed squad player in my book.

Alongside Richardson though, there were many names being mentioned as potential midfield targets. With Danny Murphy having left back in June, Dickson Etuhu earlier this month and Moussa Dembele earlier this week, surely the club had a plethora of central midfielders ready to sign on the dotted line?

And so the press thought and we were led to believe. Over the course of the day, Wolfsburg’s Iranian/German Ashkan Dejagah, Dutch youth international Chris David, Belgian international Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, Spurs’ Tom Huddlestone, Stoke’s Wilson Palacios and at one stage Lyon’s Brazil international Michel Bastos were all supposedly on their way to Motspur Park. It will be interesting to see if rumours of FC Twente’s Nacer Chadli arriving on a chartered jet only to be sent home prove true.

Wow, two or three of these and we’ve done all right was the general feeling. Heck, Bastos or Chadli would have given us a star, something I think we all felt justified in wanting given the circumstances.

There was the other elephant in the room all day, well, all transfer window in truth. Clint Dempsey was leaving, wasn’t he? Where to? How Much For? And When? Unfortunately, and this might me the key to explaining our final tally, it wasn’t until late in the evening that his summer-long will he wont he saga with Liverpool was ended, by his signing for Tottenham at 10.30pm.

All of a sudden seven of those seven and a half hours had gone and we hadn’t done a single thing. Still though, there was a sense of optimism. Listen back to CottageTalk, the podcast which excellently broadcasted the last two hours of the transfer window, and you’ll here mostly jubilant Fulham fans discussing our merry future.

Iranian international Ashkan Dejagah

Then, with mere minutes of the transfer window remaining, we got word that we’d sign Dejagah, the right winger from Wolfsburg who’d been at Motspur Park all day, but that was it. Surely that had to be incorrect? Not one central midfielder? Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe had supposedly been at Motspur Park as well, so what went wrong? Maybe his club pulled out, like the Andre-Pierre Gignac scenario from last summer when Marseille pulled out at the 59th minute of the 11th hour. But know, at sometime after midnight, Everton announced his signing on loan for the season. Someone has questions to answer on this one, especially if he turns out to be just what we needed.

Chris David, a promising Dutch attacking midfielder from FC Twente was supposedly in the bag though, Sky Sports had been reporting it as done all day. The Dutch club even posted the story on their website. Again however, it seems that we were to be left frustrated, another one that just slipped away at the very end.

So while, in the emerging light of the morning after, we are left slightly unhinged at the lack of a single central midfielder or genuine midfield superstar arriving, it is important to see the overall picture. It wasn’t a bad day at all. We knew Dempsey was going, so to bolster the ranks with two midfielders (Richardson and Dejagah) and a proven goalscorer (Berbatov) is excellent business. It’s just that there is a sense that it all feels a tad unfinished.

After outlays approaching £20m last summer, Fulham made a net profit into eight figures this year. In a time when we are all aghast at QPR’s seeming financially drunk spending spree this summer, perhaps a prudent and frugal transfer window shows truly how far we’ve come as a stable top-flight club.

Never mind eh, we must be due a fun summer next year? We can spend the next 10 months dreaming how we’ll spend that Dempsey and Dembele money. Oh right, that’s not exactly how it works is it.

I think, however, in the end, it may have come down to this. Sign a new player who isn’t our number one target, or use the next four months until the January window opens to give some of our own young talent a chance to shine. The phrase, Take The Stage was used a lot in London this summer, never has it been more appropriate here too.

Alex Kacaniklic has so far taken his first team chance with both hands in Clint Dempsey’s position. Kerim Frei, Dempsey’s understudy in that position since January could well be moved to central midfield, a position that suits his skill set with a bit of physical development or they’ll both rotate on the wings to the peril of right backs up and down the land. Then there’s Pajtim Kasami, a player many fans have been clamouring for to get his big chance in his preferred central role. Well here it is. I for one think with some nurturing, Pajtim could be as good a central midfielder as anyone we were thinking of singing last night.

So it might not have been everything we wanted, but if yesterday was Christmas, we were still on Santa’s good list. Now let’s go and beat West Ham.

COYWs