Alexey Smertin has left Fulham after the club agreed to mutually terminate his contract.
The Russian midfielder had been thought to be close to joining Cardiff City on loan, but the 33 year-old rejected the chance to join up with Eddie Johnson in Wales. Smertin, who has formerly played for Chelsea and Portsmouth in this country, made 22 appearances for Fulham after signing on a free transfer last January having been released by Dynamo Moscow. He struggled for game time under Roy Hodgson and is thought to be considering a return to Russia.
Cardiff City are hoping to beat the transfer deadline and conclude a loan move for Fulham midfielder Alexey Smertin.
The Bluebirds are in London today for a work permit hearing for the Russian midfielder, with Dave Jones prepared to speak to the Home Office tribunal this afternoon in order to get the go-ahead to sign the tough tackling midfielder. Smertin, who has won 55 caps for his country, is keen to stay in England after fading from Roy Hodgson’s first team when the Cottagers’ head coach succeeded Lawrie Sanchez and kept Fulham up against all the odds.
Smertin would be the second Fulham player to make the move to Wales in this transfer window – with Cardiff having already signed Eddie Johnson on loan until the end of the season.
Alexey Smertin has admitted he is loving life with Fulham and would be more than happy to finish his career at Craven Cottage.
The Russian midfielder moved to West London in January and now under Lawrie Sanchez has become a mainstay of Fulham’s engine room.
The former Chelsea and Charlton man says he could not be happier with how things are going for him at Fulham.
“I’m very happy,” he told the club’s website.
“After playing for Charlton I decided to go back to Russia to settle down with my family but I was disappointed with the level in the Russian Premiership. Compared to English football it’s not the same – even though there are many good Russian players.
“I would love to finish my career at Fulham. It’s a good team and I feel very comfortable here and I’m very happy.
“I would love to get into Europe but I know it’s difficult because the Premier League is getting better and better every season and it’s less predictable.”
The heavens opened at Craven Cottage tonight and it must have felt a world away from the sunshine of the Emirates on Sunday for poor old Tony Warner. His string of fine saves kept Fulham in contention for a win – and then a share of the spoils snatched from their grasp by a late Arsenal revival – on Sunday but in the teaming rain his glaring howler transformed a game that Lawrie Sanchez’s side were controlling into one where they had to battle to avoid defeat.
Battle they did, stirred into taking their chances by an extraordinary error at the heart of the Fulham defence. The danger looked to have passed when Warner collected Nicky Hunt’s long throw but, as he bowled the ball away to get a Fulham attack moving, it bounced off Zat Knight and into the path of Heidar Helguson. The former Fulham forward, shamefully booed by the younger elements of the Craven Cottage crowd, tucked away as straightforward a chance as David Healy converted at the weekend to score his first goal for Bolton.
Fortunately for Fulham, Healy was in predatory mood at the other end. The home side had dominated proceedings without carving Sammy Lee’s open too often. Pressed into more adventurous mode after Bolton’s goal, Fulham put the Bolton goal under a sustained assault. They buckled from a Simon Davies corner as Healy punished a poor clearance by firing home from six yards out.
Just three minutes later and the game had turned round completely. Another far from convincing clearance was hammered optimistically towards goal by Alexei Smertin, whose shot flew into the net via a massive deflection off the unfortunate Gerald Cid. It was just reward for Smertin’s splendid start to the season – the Russian was excellent at Arsenal – and had the energy and tenacity that Fulham needed against a Bolton side that mixed their usual uncompromising style with some more cultured passing.
Thankfully, the rain did subside somewhat after half-time to allow the game to be a little more of a spectacle. Bolton did their best to restore parity. Kevin Nolan missed a glorious headed chance at the far post after brilliant play from El-Hadj Diouf before Warner made one excellent excellent stop from Nicolas Anelka and Diouf drove just wide, but Fulham still carried plenty of purpose themselves. Substitute Diomansy Kamara, who was furious not to have been awarded a penalty shortly after replacing Healy, should have made sure of the points late on but the Senegalese forward spurned a glorious chance late on as he didn’t get a touch to a dangerous cross.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Warner; Baird, Konchesky, Knight, Bocanegra; Smertin, Davis, Davies, Bouazza (Dempsey 80); McBride, Healy (Kamara 79). Subs (not used): Batista, Volz, Diop.
BOOKED: Konchesky, Bocanegra.
GOALS: Healy (23), Smertin (26).
BOLTON WANDERERS (4-3-3): Jaaskelainen; Hunt, Samuel (Michalik 90), Cid, Meite; McCann (Mikel Alonso 76), Speed, Nolan; Anelka, Helguson (Braaten 72), Diouf. Subs (not used): Al-Habsi, Sinclair.
GOAL: Helguson (12).
REFEREE: Lee Probert (Gloucestershire).
A second half strike from Alexei Smertin secured another pre-season win for Lawrie Sanchez as Fulham triumphed 2-1 at Brighton and Hove Albion tonight.
The Whites had to come from behind after some slack defending at a corner allowed Jake Robinson to give Brighton the lead in the third minute when the Fulham defence had failed to react to Guy Butters’ flick on. The former Portsmouth defender might have made it two during a torrid start for the visitors, but Aaron Hughes got his body in the way of a goalbound shot.
Brian McBride rattled the base of the post with a firm drive as Fulham finally threatened the Albion goal, but that was a rare excursion into the final third for the Londoners with Antti Niemi having to save smartly from Alex Revell after a lightning fast break. Michel Kuipers then made an excellent save to claw away a downward header from Clint Dempsey after the American midfielder had climbed highest to meet a cross from Simon Davies.
Fulham were forced into a change in goal with Niemi in obvious discomfort after claiming a high ball and the Finnish keeper was replaced by Tony Warner. The away side knitted together some more progressive moves into the final five minutes. Davies robbed Joel Lynch of possession and fed McBride, whose low shot was tame, before Papa Bouba Diop was denied from 25 yards by another excellent Kuipers save.
Sanchez’s side drew level on the stroke of half time. Kuipers was helpless this time after Dempsey raced through on goal and rounded the Brighton goalkeeper to equalise after being sent clear by a fine pass from Diop. There were definite suspicions of offside but the equaliser was allowed to stand.
Fulham made several changes at the break and they were far stronger in attack in the second period. Diomansy Kamara’s pace fashioned an early chance for Moritz Volz but the German’s venomous drive was charged down. Former Brentford forward Nicky Forster dragged a shot across the face of goal before Zat Knight headed a dangerous Albion cross over the bar.
The visitors were beginning to play better passing football with substitute Smertin to the fore. The Russian midfielder, excellent in anchoring the engine room, grabbed the decisive goal with a firm low shot from the edge of the box with twenty minutes remaining after he followed up a blocked effort from Kamara. Bas Savage posed a few problems for Fulham late on and Dean Hammond squandered a glorious chance in the last minute, heading over at the far post after good approach play from the Brighton substitute.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION (4-4-2): Kuipers; Whing, Rents, Butters, Lynch; El-Abd, Hammond, Robinson, Cox; Forster, Revell.
GOAL: Robinson (3).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Niemi (Warner 25); Baird, Koncheksy (Bocanegra 45), Hughes (Quedrue 45), Pearce (Knight 45); Diop (Smertin 45), Davis (Timlin 45), Davies (Rosenior 45), Dempsey; McBride (Kamara 45), Healy (Ehui 45).
GOALS: Dempsey (44), Smertin (71).