August 7, 2013
Whenever a side does the majority of its transfer business earlier in the Summer, there’s a tendency for a fanbase to become restless while they watch the flurry of activity at other clubs during July and August.
Quite obviously, by the time 2012/13 finished, Martin Jol knew full-well what his side’s principal issues where and very quickly set out to remedy them. Fernando Amorebieta arrived to mercifully end any need for Philippe Senderos’ consistent involvement, the long chase for powerful-yet-technical midfielder Derek Boateng was concluded, and Sascha Riether was secured on a permanent basis. Added to which, Maarten Stekelenburg arrived from Roma to provide an upgrade on the ageing Mark Schwarzer.
Had Fulham’s business stopped there, then that would have been a significant improvement to a side whose league position last season probably didn’t reflect what they were capable of achieving.
Fulham fans have had long-standing concerns over the level of creativity in their side, and – additionally – with the sometimes haphazard attacking shape that can develop as a result of the ad hoc playing styles of Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz. That’s a problem, and it still is – this side lacks an outright forward, a pivot who stays on the last defender and prevents the attacking phases from occurring too far away from an opponent’s penalty-box.
What impact Shahid Khan’s wealth will have on the club is unknown, and whether the spending patterns will differ greatly from those under the previous ownership is anybody’s guess. But with the resources that Martin Jol has had this Summer, he has made a series of very smart moves.
Here’s an alarming statistic: Fulham conceded as many goals as the defensively-hopeless QPR last season.
When you consider also that Fulham, with 50 goals, outscored every side below West Bromwich Albion, that puts the offensive concerns into perspective: Jol’s transfer policy has been predicated on priorities, and on making this side harder to beat and more defensively resilient – and he’s done that.
Fans don’t generally care about solidity, because most want signings who are going to capture the imagination and provide highlight moments, but the Craven Cottage faithful might just be pleasantly surprised with their side their season. Forgetting Adel Taarabt and the potential capture of Darren Bent for the moment, Jol’s back-to-front approach to team-building has left Fulham looking extremely durable ahead of the new season, and with the additional quality they have in key defensive areas, as well as the addition of general depth to the squad, there’s no way they’ll repeat their second-half of the season surrender from 2012/13 this time around.
They’re not going to give anybody a battering, but Fulham will be much, much harder to break-down this year.