Date: 18th May 2010 at 4:32pm
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Given our recent success, it’s difficult to make the argument that Fulham are in need of a major overhaul.

There is no reason to believe that the squad, as it’s currently constructed, would have any trouble competing on the same level for a third consecutive season. However, I believe this approach would be inviting disaster in the long-term.

Fulham have one of the older squads in the Premier League. Experience and professionalism have their advantages, particularly in Hodgson’s highly-organized brand of football, but age eventually takes its toll on squad performance. The club needs to take advantage of our recent success, and hopefully the appeal of playing for a manager like Roy Hodgson, to recruit youthful talent that can sustain success in the long-term.

With our financial structure in mind, here’s my case for improving the squad.

Jamie O’Hara (23) £4-6m – Finding a long-term replacement for Danny Murphy (33) is the most important task Fulham face. We’ve seen how poorly the club performs without Murphy directing traffic in midfield. O’Hara was outstanding during his loan at Portsmouth this season. He’s ready for first team football and would be a perfect replacement for Murphy.

Some might argue for Stephen Ireland, who seems to be on the way out at Man City. My opinion of Ireland has dropped in recent months as I’ve seen a decided lack of motivation since he fell out of the first team. I’m not convinced he has the work ethic Fulham need. I have no doubts about O’Hara’s effort.

Steven Fletcher (23) £4-5m – My high opinion of Fletcher is not shared by all, but I’m convinced he’s destined to be a solid forward in the Premier League. His hold-up play is not as accomplished as Zamora’s, but solid and should get better as he matures. He has a very good shot and did very well setting up others to score this season. His goal in the 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Man City and his work in the Claret’s final match versus Spurs standout in my memory. I believe he has a bright future at the right club. I’m not suggesting that he’ll immediately displace Zamora (29) or Johnson (29), but he’s a great long-term prospect and a short-term replacement for Nevland, Kamara and Elm, who are confirmed and/or poised to make their exits.

Darren Ambrose (26) £1-2m – This is a bit of a punt. I’m not sure about Ambrose overall ability. What I am certain about is his free kick ability – it’s exceptional. Our inability to score from free kick situations has been a source of irritation for me. Danny Murphy has been the designated taker, but he’s hardly threatening in that role. Clint Dempsey and Paul Konchesky have shown some aptitude, but rarely put anything on frame. His ability to score from open play in the Premier League is a question, but I suspect he’ll be at least as effective as Zoltan Gera (31), who despite his Europa League exploits, only bagged two goals in the Premier League. With Crystal Palace in administration, Ambrose may be a cheap solution to augment our attack. I doubt he’ll start, but he’d be a great option to bring on late in close matches.

Nathaniel Clyne (19) £1-2m – As with Ambrose, I’d love to take advantage of the financial situation at Crystal Palace to add cover at right back. John Pantsil has one year left on his contract (not that he’s going anywhere) and Stephen Kelly has failed to impress. Clyne is very highly-regarded and the possibility of he and Christopher Buchtmann forming a great fullback partnership for the future is quite appealing.

Anthony Gardner (28) £1-2m – Relegation has brought financial chaos to Hull City. They’ll be looking to offload salary. At 6’5′, Gardner has the physical tools to be a successful central defender. He’s had some fitness issues over the past few seasons, which could be a concern, but that could be minimized by his role as substitute. I think working with a manager like Hodgson would improve his organizational play and make him a solid backup for Hughes or Hangeland.

Your thoughts please!

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11 Replies to “Fulham – Making My Case”

  • those all sound like viable options to me… i agree with the need for a younger playmaker in midfield, and cover at centerback… i agree that fletcher could have a positive future in front of him at the right club, although i’m a little hesitant about his attitude… he looked like a player that needed to be handled delicately… we don’t have anyone like that on the team really now, and i like that… also i think ireland is already tagged to go to liverpool… what do you think of sidwell teddy? he blossomed at reading before stagnating at chelsea and doing nothing really at villa…

  • Gardner, Clyne and O’Hara tick all boxes in my books. Steven Fletcher is a good shout too, but I’d recommend him only if Zamora does depart, which, I pray he doesn’t.

    Ambrose, as you said, is a slight punt. I’d personally leave him be at Palace as I feel he’d purely be backup at best. We can easily find decent backup within our reserve/youth system and I believe we have a couple of foreigners returning from loan in Belgium in an attempt to gain EU nationality.

    Very British line up Teddy. Nice to see!

  • Well actually, that was a little inadvertent KB, but that’s a good point. We’ll need to be mindful of the new ‘home grown’ rules. I’d almost forgotten about that.

  • They are very good suggestions indeed though, especially taking into account the home-grown rules. Wanna take over after Roy?

  • Woody, regarding Sidwell, it’s tough to say. He hasn’t seemed the same since he left Reading. Oddly, he’s just one of a number of former Reading players whose careers have tanked since their departure – Kitson, Harper, Shorey, Sonko. Doyle and Hunt are the only two that have managed any success. Probably says a lot about Steve Coppell’s role in their success.

  • Yeh. Something tells me Roy’s not listening to any of us. I’ve asked for O’Hara, Fletcher, Ambrose, Clyne and Gardner. Roy will sign Piquionne, Koren, some bloke from sub-Saharan Africa, a 7-foot tall Norwegian and a 5-year-old who plays in Bishops Park. I’ll complain that we haven’t improved the squad. We’ll have another great season. And, I’ll write another article next summer talking about how we’re too old. In Roy we trust, right?

  • Al Billy makes a good point about how Roy gets the best out of seemingly ‘past-it’ players like Duff for example. That does make Ireland and incredibly good prospect…but would he see it as quite a big step down?

  • O’hara all day. He needs to be back in london and settled. he will always be a fringe player at spurs. west ham will be another relegation battle as they will lose cole etc. Fulham would be a safe bet and he would become play maker, true replacement for danny.

  • O’Hara would be a good buy going on his form for Pompy this season, my only concern with him is that currently he has a couple of stress fractures in his lower back, that may put MAF off handing over the cash. Don’t think Ireland would come to us and as you say he seems to sulk if he isn’t in the first team and I don’t see Roy standing for that sort of thing. I would like to see Shorey’s loan made permanent as we need cover at left back and Konch could do with some compertition.

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