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The old boys

I’m bored of the ongoing, and seemingly annual, goalkeeper saga at Motspur Park. If it’s not tales of Schwarzer possibly departing for north London it’s the “Will he, won’t he” confusion surrounding David Stockdale going out on loan. So instead I’m going to concentrate on what ex-Fulham players are up to. That’s much less depressing.

Chris Smalling who left last summer in a big money move to Manchester United has obviously impressed Sir Alex Ferguson as he’s just signed a new five year contract. Crikey. If you were Chris Smalling, you’d be pinching yourself wouldn’t you? In just a few years he’s gone from non-league football to playing in the best league in the world, receiving a call up to the senior England squad and receiving runners-up medals in two European competitions. Not bad going for a young lad.

Previous captain Michael Brown has been snapped up by Leeds United (let’s hope that’s it for their transfer activity). I had a quick look on Wikipedia for an interesting titbit about him. I found one which jogged my memory a little. Remember the tackles on Ryan Giggs and Ashley Cole? Perhaps Michael knew something back then that the News of the World (RIP) hadn’t quite latched on to…. Anyway, good luck to him as he moves up north from Portsmouth.

It seems Jimmy Bullard might be looking at a return to the Premier League as Hull have confirmed interest from our lovable neighbours QPR. Many may see that as a good fit. I’m keeping my opinions on the matter to myself. For once.

In a slight reversal of fortunes, Paul Konchesky looks to be slipping down the football league pyramid, with Leicester City reportedly interested in recruiting him for their next Championship campaign. Given that Ol’ Blue Eyes was on the fringes of Liverpool’s squad following Dalgleish’s appointment last season and sent out on loan, it’s probably a reasonably safe bet that he’ll be leaving Merseyside if an agreement can be reached. If you believe some reports it’s already a done deal.

Good luck to them all and here’s to success in their future careers. Yes, even Jimmy.

Danny’s Not Right For Us. Yet.

It is pretty common knowledge that Danny Murphy wants to be a manager one day. With a vacancy at the club that he captains and has a great deal of affection for, combined with his ambition to manage and inevitable retirement in the near future it is no suprise that speculation about his future here is pretty highly debated; the Bookies have him as one of the favourites. And while this would be a sweet ending to his playing career, I can’t see it happening, not now anyway.

Firstly from Fulham’s point of view it would be a risk to employ a complete rookie as manager. The league now is so competitive that a few points slip up for club like us who finished comfortably mid table will mean a certain relegation battle. Rarely will a player who goes straight into management instantly pick up the subleties and demands of management to a high standard (in lower divisions it is more common to see success in this way since the more talented young managers will be able to hold their own against the less talented and experienced ones, but off the top of my head I can’t even remember a player going straight from playing to management in the Premier League). It is a learning curve which induces risk, one that we can’t afford to take., even with a guiding hand like Ray Lewington as his assistant. The last two ‘experiments’ with similarly inexperienced managers Sanchez and Coleman almost ended in disaster despite having many years coaching experience, and in Sanchez’ case it was a spectacular failure. No doubt that Murphy is more suitable for top flight management than those two, at least from the characteristics he displays as player and captain, but it demonstrates how hard it is to hit the ground running. I know we had a good couple of years under Coleman but from his career path after them they seem to have been one offs. Whether it was down to good fortune or if he just ran out of ideas, I’m not sure.

Secondly, Murphy himself probably knows that it is not the time for him. While I am sure that he will have been tempted to submit an application for the job, he is sensible enough I think to recognise that he himself is not the right man for the job. He will also feel that he has at least a year, if not two, left in him to play and prove himself as a player in his mid thirties at the ‘top level’. The career of a professional football is not long and he won’t want to reduce it any further than he has to. Going off the Talksport article earlier, it doesn’t sound like he is interested.

However there is no doubt in my or Murphy’s mind that he will be a manager. I expect that as soon as he retires he will either coach with us or become assistant at a lower league club. The attributes he has, such as level-headedness, intelligence, determination and being able to motivate lend themselves well to being a good manager, and already he displays a fairly deep understanding of the game. His experiences with previous managers will no doubt rub off on him too. Dario Gradi from his time at Crewe will have, from a young age, instilled a passing philosophy even with the lesser talented players in the lower leagues. The success he had at Liverpool and time at England means he knows first hand what you need in a team, both in terms of mentality and player quality, to win trophies and accolades. Murphy’s experienced the opposite side of the game with us too, having score the goal to keep us up in ’08, and considering the glowing terms that he talks about Roy in it will be interesting to see how much of his management style is influenced by what he learnt under Roy; I’m sure it’ll be fairly substantial.

So, give it 5 or 6 years of coaching and managerial experience and I will gladly accept Danny Murphy as Fulham manager because I’m certain that he is destined to be one of the better English managers of his generation, having had experiences that will have taught him alot and the brain to take advantage of what he knows. But, right now, we can’t afford the risk, and neither can Danny.

In, out, in, out…

First off I, like Cody, would like to make an apology for the lack of posts. I hope my Twitter insights at each game have been enough but hopefully Real Life will let up a bit and I can get on with Hammy Ending.

Now that that’s taken care of…. It must be coming up to transfer window time again. Why do I say that? Because the rumours have already started. If the papers are to be believed Sparky’s going to be busy – the man himself even says as much. So who might we be seeing grace the hallowed turf of Craven Cottage next year? There’s a few obvious names being thrown into the ring;

Roque Santa Cruz for one. A previous signing for Hughes in his former life at Manchester City, and apparently not very happy there. Journalistic mathematics calculate that he’s a shoe-in but Roque’s not so sure, preferring the sunnier climes of Spain and La Liga.

John Carew – we’ve been linked with Carew before and a change of manager at Villa Park mean those rumours can be dragged up again. Following Emile Heskey’s injury we may get a good look at Carew this Saturday.

Mustapha Bangura – who, I must confess, I know absolutely nothing about. A Sierra Leon international currently playing in Cyprus. Predominantly a forward but can also play in midfield, meeting the variety of positions criteria that Hughes is after.

Jay Bothroyd – currently at Cardiff (although on suspension following 5 yellow cards last time I saw his name in the papers) although his contract is due to come to an end in the summer. He might be cheap but can he make the move from Championship to Premier League? Let’s hope Jermain Beckford’s move to Everton in the summer is no indication of the likely success of that…

It’s probably no coincidence that we’re mostly being linked with strikers but do we need another one? We’ve got bionic Andy Johnson working his way back, Dembélé who, despite looking a bit cautious against Wigan, still looks to have a gift, and great goal-scoring midfielders in Dempsey and Gera that I wonder if an additional striker is really necessary.

No, if we get new players in I think I’d like to see our midfield bolstered. We looked dreadfully out of sorts at West Brom and it can’t simply be coincidence that we were without our entire first choice midfield. Murphy and Davies are fantastic but not getting any younger so we need to make sure we’ve adequate replacements for them. Greening has looked good but can he keep it up? And what happens if, God forbid, he should be injured?

Defensively I think we could do with a bit of a boost. Do we have any natural understudies to Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland? I’m not so sure so perhaps that needs adding on the shopping list. Right back has plenty of cover with Chris Baird, Stephen Kelly and John Pantsil happy to jump in and do an adequate job. Left back is clearly Salcido’s birthright and there’s always Matthew Briggs who I think did an admirable job against Port Vale and who I’d like to see more of.

That just leaves the goalkeepers. What to say? Schwarzer wants to go. It strikes me as odd that there is an industry in which employees aren’t free to choose where they work. I’d be interested in what the human rights lawyers think about it…. But I digress. Regardless of his ambitions, Super Mark is also the wrong side of 30 so we should thinking about a replacement. We’ve got one in David Stockdale who I think has the potential to be a great. So we need an understudy for him. That should be easy. We’ve a couple in the Development Squad and we’ve got Zuberbuhler. I’m not sure we need to go splashing the cash in this area. Let’s give it a go and review in the summer.

What do you think Sparky’s planning for the January sales? What would you like him to do? Answers on a postcard (or the comments box below).

Lazy rumours

A well-researched post at TOOFIF seems to have rubbished the last transfer rumours.

Quite where we’d put Walter Pandiani is anyone’s guess. The striker, who spent some time on loan at Birmingham, would surely be behind our new signings Zamora and Andy Johnson – as well as Erik Nevland and, perhaps, even David Healy. In any case, the Osasuna president has confirmed the club haven’t received any offers for Pandiani.

All summer long we’ve been linked with Jarosliv Plasil, who played for the Czech Republic at Euro 2008 earlier in the summer. Once again, the Osasuna president has claimed that the reports in the English press are untrue.

Seemingly, its just another slow news day enlivened by the rumour mongers.