Fulham take a squad of 17 up into the North Atlantic for their Europa League return, leading Runavik 3-0 from the first leg. It should have been more last week in London, as the side freely admitted, having enjoyed 70% of the possession. Jol used his press conference before flying off however to praise the part-timers for not caving in, and for their technical ability. Although our opponents don't appear to carry any goal threat Jol expects a professional approach from the Whites to ensure the job gets done.
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Alex Smith and Karim Frei are added to a bunch of seasoned pros, Simon Davies stays at home with a slightly sore knee, while Salcido and Dempsey are only just getting back to London after their respective duties in the Gold Cup - not much of a summer break for those two!
Once again, I expect to see us fielding plenty of star names, partly I suspect to give Martin an opportunity to learn more about the squad he's inherited. There's a world of difference between seeing a bunch of players at training compared to how they handle competitive matches.
As I write there remains some doubt as to what location may be used for the game, either Runavik's own little ground or a synthetic surface in the capital Torshavn. Weather conditions are a mix of sun and showers, temperatures around 10 degrees at kick off - that's high summer for you in these latitudes between Iceland and Norway.
With such a meaningless match the one thing you pray to avoid is anyone picking up a serious injury, which as we know can strike anytime even in the most gentlest of sessions at Motspur Park. After our three goals last week I'm finding it hard to work up any enthusiasm for tonight's game - call it jet lag after my week in the triple digit heat of the USA last week - plus there's not much of substance news wise coming out of the Cottage at present.
I make a determined effort to laugh off the hysteria of transfer activity reporting over the summer, for which Sky are far and away the worst offenders. Journos are clutching at every vague rumour out there, many storylines floated having no substance to them whatever. What we do know as fact from Fulham is that Jol already announced his desire to scout up to four or five players. And as the summer progresses and all clubs return to full training we should expect one or two of our own to be moved out, either permanently or on loan - Stockdale being an obvious candidate for the latter. Riise senior in from Roma at left-back should Carlos get his move back to Mexico? Hmm, Tigana thought he had this boy signed from Monaco a decade ago. His best years are behind him now, and at 30 isn't that going against Jol's aim of getting the average age of the team down?
With my own summer hols still pending sorry I can't get a head of steam up for the new season just yet. I have opened up a new source for gossip though since getting back from Dallas, hoping to share a few snippets of life under Mark with you in due course. With no obvious job offer on the horizon I'm of a mind to think Hughes sees himself increasingly as the natural successor to Sir Alex - he has the ego for it certainly - and rumours are growing that Fergie's losing his appetite for it. He's won it all domestically for Man U but must know Barcelona are going to reign supreme in Europe for a while yet. That footballing lesson from the Catalans at Wembley I reckon really stung the old curmudgeon.
Anyway, as a taster, I can tell you Hughes quickly got on the wrong side of a lot of people at FFC with his haughty manner. Demanding a bigger office suite at Motspur forced permanent staffers into relocating, while nobody was allowed along his corridor without an appointment. This all got a bit silly when the groundsman had a simple message for example that impacted on that day's routine. Fearing to approach the dragon's door, communication went up the chain of command thus rendering the exercise irrelevant by the time it reached the mighty Mark. In conclusion I'm heartened to see the club have released two of Sparky's gang of four while the remaining couple under contract find their roles greatly diminished.
So to finish on a plus point - well done Martin for quickly coming to the decision to appoint loyal club servant Ray Lewington as your number two. If he was good enough for Woy...
It may only be little Runavik, but as ever - COYW! Twitter @fulhamphil
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