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And that leaves us for the second summer running scouting the horizon for a new management team. A quote from the chairman will be interesting when it comes. You can't stand in the way of any individual's ambition, but Hughes departure inside a year after a fine first season is sure to leave a sour taste. There's no escaping the impression that Fulham have just been used as a stepping stone.
The early quotes coming from the Hughes corner that his decision has 'not been influenced by any third party' should be taken as mere window dressing for the benefit of lawyers. Who leaves a highly paid job on a whim, without knowing where they're headed next? Sky's been working themselves into a lather ever since Lerner caught sight of Houllier's cardiogram and called him a cab pronto, but I've had a hunch for weeks that Sparky was stalling on another contract in the hope Chelsea came calling. I blogged it in fact. Let's see if the packed bags indeed make just a short hop across the borough, rather than being put on the train up to Birmingham.
Aston Villa fer chrissakes??!!! Airheads keep popping up to say Villa are a big club with tradition. During the time of the Kaiser maybe. Get real. They fluked a European Cup win in 82, and came 2nd behind Man U in the inaugural Prem season of '92. They've not threatened since, despite huge support in Britain's 2nd city and a revenue stream lesser clubs can only dream of. Is Hughes really destined for a club that wound up below Fulham in the league, are about to lose their outstanding talent in Ashley Young, and have a number of old men in the side? Oh, and don't mention the Europa League.
But let's concern ourselves with what matters. The future of our great over-achieving club. By luck or design Hughes leaves us in pretty good shape on the playing front. There will be no shortage of quality candidates eager to inherit what's been built up over the past 3 seasons. Fulham represents a great challenge to tempt even the most illustrious of names from world football. By my reckoning the club should be raising £10 mill in the market from deadwood to be cleared out over the summer, and with the placement money for coming 8th plus the additional revenues arriving with another European campaign, it's feasible to see the new gaffer wrangling the same amount again from the chairman to strengthen the squad.
OK, a £20 million pound transfer kitty barely raises a ripple in the Prem pool of bigger fish. Man City I believe have earmarked a similar amount to account for Balotelli's parking fines and silly hats, but if invested shrewdly, could well see Fulham marching on to even greater heights. My estimation? We need a proven goalscorer to supplement BZ. Take a chance on Shane Long or Craig M-S (the P'boro lad)? We must plan now for the midfield playmaker to fill Danny's boots. If Adam is out of our league go for O'Hara. Probably gonna need another left-back.
What nationality our new manager has will have a bearing on where we find our fresh blood. It's inevitable, should it be Jol, expect a few Dutchmen. But I don't think Jol will be asked a 2nd time. We'll see, and feel free to let me hear your suggestions. No votes for Avram Grant please!
Hughes only has to look towards Hodgson's embattled time at Liverpool in the run up to Christmas to realise how quickly all his dreams could turn to dust. Regular Fulham commentator Tony Gale has already flagged this up on Sky Sports. We've learnt more about Hughes today with this decision than we did throughout his 10 months at the helm. Enigmatic and often downbeat, there was indeed passion and a heart beating beneath the red tracksuit. But it was the desire to see Mr. Mark Hughes make the bigtime in management, rather than the quixotic dream of lifting a European trophy on behalf of Fulham that motivated Roy.
And to think I was planning a blog today on the shenanigans at Fifa. That can wait. After all, what have we learnt from the past week? As events unfolded it reminded me of the Great Train Robbery in 1963. No sooner had the gang got the loot back to their farmhouse hideout, than they started falling out with each other. As Fifa itself is such a den of thieves, it was inevitable once someone started blowing the whistle, the game would be up. If Blatter thinks he got away with it with his unopposed re-election, he's wrong. The world media who witnessed his erratic press conference will hound him from here on. Having the 88-year-old Henry Kissinger along will help him not one bit - unless Sepp opts for the nuclear option...
Keep the faith Fulham fans. Have trust in the board to make the right appointment, and let's go into the new season with confidence. To finish - here's hoping we see the majestic Zamora in action this Saturday. If so, I shall be blogging again (this is supposed to be my off-season too)!
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