Saturday, 11 August 2012

Middle of the pack for Jol and Fulham

Inconsistency was the real problem for Fulham last year, one week they were superb, whilst the next they were awful. With strength in depth in the attacking midfield department, when their flair players came to the party season, not many sides could contain the free flowing Fulham, especially at Craven Cottage. Despite alternating between a 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 formation last year, their real goal scoring threat came via the midfielder Clint Dempsey, who scored an impressive 17 Premier League goals.

Dempsey was Fulham's top scorer with 23 goals in all competitions.

Fulham will have a new look forward line about them this season, having lost three centre forwards in the space of six months, with Pavel Pogrebnyak's decision to join newly promoted Reading a real kick in the teeth for the Cottagers; however two freebie additions in Mladen Petric and Hugo Rodallega are more then capable replacements.

Both Dickson Etuhu and the inspirational Danny Murphy joined relegated Blackburn Rovers over the summer and despite the latter coming to the end of his career, it came as a surprise to see the former captain leave, given the fact he featured in 35 of the 38 league games last season. Mahamadou Diarra was a free transfer in the January transfer window last season, and the former Real Madrid man will have to go some way to fill the void left by Murphy.

Key player - Moussa Dembele. Since his arrival from AZ two summers ago, Dembele, when fit has been one of the first names of the Fulham team sheet. Whether playing off the striker or in the centre of midfield the Belgian international oozes quality and his form has attracted interest from the likes of Manchester United and Spurs. If Dempsey is too leave, then it'll be his biggest season in a Fulham shirt given the fact more onus will be placed on him to produce goals from midfield.

Prediction - 10th. Fulham will one again be in and around the middle of the table. Under Jol they'll always be entertaining and a Europa League push isn't outside their capabilities, even if Dempsey does complete his move to Liverpool.

View from a fan - Matt Baldwin @MattRhys63

What would be a perfect season?
Qualifying for Europe via any means necessary, though ideally via winning a cup. As well as remaining undefeated against QPR and Reading, although that's just a personal thing.

What would be a nightmare season?
Getting relegated, which is a distinct possibility if some of our best players are lost either in the Summer or January. A nightmare for all Fulham fans would also be QPR finishing above us.

Do you have the right manager?
Yes, Martin proved last season he knows what he wants and what he doesn't, which is why we shifted Zamora out in January. He didn't suit the formation, so Jol brought in players that did I.e Ruiz initially as well as Pogrebnyak for five months. He also managed to maintain discipline through out the team with very few suspensions which is key for a small squad.

What Premier League player would you sign given the choice?
Realistically I would go for a defensive midfielder to replace Danny Murphy. Of the players out there, though I don't really rate him, I would take Charlie Adam.

Do Petric and Rodallega have the goals in them to replace Zamora, Johnson and Pogrebnyak?
Yes, Petric has been banging them in during pre-season (only pre-season I know, but at least he knows where the net is), I can see him playing on the left side of our attack in a 4-2-3-1, which is where Dempsey played and got all his goals. I'm concerned that he's only here for a season but hopefully he can tutor some of the younger players in our squad. Rodallega will fit in well sitting as the main striker up top. He had a bad season last year, but I think this year he'll come good.

How key is it to keep ahold of Clint Dempsey?
I don't think it is all that important. If we sell him for £15million for example, we can use that to invest in our youth system, which is one of the best in the country, (Trotta, Kacaniklic and Frei are all examples and there are plenty more coming) as we are not a team that'll go and buy £20million players so we need to look to the future. I would much rather sell Dempsey now and get good money, then let him go next season for free.

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