ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Fulham
soccernet blog
Fulham
Posted by Phil Mison on 02/01/2012

A singularly underwhelming transfer window ends with a bombshell for the fans. The ramifications demand a real test of faith for the remainder of this turbulent season

© Getty Images
How I would love to be starting this blog after the West Brom game...

In the aftermath of our limp elimination from the FA Cup I sensed a hardening of opinion regarding our manager's ability to get the best from the team. My appreciation to White Noise and his crew for raising the profile of the last piece 'Chinese Puzzle' on the Friends of Fulham website over the weekend. For the comments of praise directed at this humble scribe I give thanks. Any forum is of course that most imperfect of straw polls. Those with axes to grind will always rush to spray paint the walls, while who knows what the silent majority are thinking?

I'm not looking for converts to my point of view or to launching a crusade. These blogs are just my ramblings with nose pressed up to the frosted glass at Motspur Park. I love my football club but nothing on these blogs will ever change a thing. Let's start by being frank. Selling Zamora makes no sense to me on any level. Sacrificing Bobby to Jol's personal agenda puts our very status in the Premier League at risk and makes the run-in fraught with peril. We have put unncecessary pressure on the club to clamber away from the basement - because recent history clearly shows Fulham when BZ is missing come up short. Heaven help the guy, if Pogrebnyak turns out to fires blanks, we are in big trouble. See what I mean by added pressure? However, it's the circumstances of BZ's last minute transfer that depress me the most. Jol's proboscis this morning should be a mile long, because we supporters have been led a merry dance by our Dutch uncle.

Do you recall the summer headlines when the board got their man and Jol trumpteted, "I have unfinished business in the Premier League." Indeed Jol does, but Fulham Footbal Club, our very fabric and ethos, it seems to me are bit part players in Martin's slash and burn quest to remind Spurs fans - and the rest of football - of his own massive 'talent' as a top manager. The stark evidence to date, in results, team morale, organisation, transfer dealings and tactics suggest anything but. Driving Zamora from the fold, your one current England international and the focal point of your attack, is for me the last straw. This is the man who more than any other got the club to the final of the Europa League, the finest achievement in our entire history.

Don't take my word for it. Shortly after 11 Tuesday night I listened to Five Live's forum rounding up the day's dealings. One guy who talks a lot of common sense is Steve Claridge. He was full of praise for Zamora, felt the fee was a steal, and could not understand why we should want to sell to our nearest rivals. Steve described Fulham teams as being well-drilled, with good organisation and a reliable home record that kept them well clear of the relegation scrap. He intimated Jol had arrived with a desire to play more cavalier attacking football, and was being frustrated by the players inability to adapt. Hence, he saw the transfer as being purely done on personal terms - as close as he dare go to calling it a clash of egos, and that it only served to strengthen QPR while undermining Fulham. He ended by saying he genuinely feared for our chances of staying up if we go on a poor run. A view endorsed by the rest of the panel. People who criticise Zamora's goal return do not appreciate his role and value to any team. David Pleat was glowing in his praise on the same show. First rule of transfers - replace key players only with those of better quality. Have we done that? Seeing Zamora on the scoresheet in those blue and white hoops is going to be excrutiating to behold!

It is four short weeks since Zamo's stoppage time winner over Arsenal. Amidst the euphoria of that and the Newcastle win Martin has been very vocal in telling the world, "Bobby loves this club...we don't want to lose any of our strikers...Bobby makes things happen. "There's no rift between me and Bobby!" To my mind undermining and unsettling our England international goes right back to the start of the campaign, when he was inexplicably left out at Wolves (recall how awful we were that day, yes at the mighty Wolves, now staring relegation in the face). There's no evidence Bob ever requested a transfer, so the obvious conclusion has to be Jol shoved him out the door. And with no time to alert other clubs to drive up the price, Fulham concluded a hasty, ill-conceived piece of business that leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth.

More related to Zamora's departure perturbs me. Jol clearly wanted him gone, hence the place on the bench at Everton to wrap him in cotton wool. Again another example should you need it of Jol putting himself ahead of the greater good of the club (how do the 400 saps who spent hard cash to make the trip feel about that now?). But Jol has not been having much luck in the transfer market has he? We'll draw a veil over each of his summer signings, not one of whom is yet to make an impact. And what I wonder is really behind Kasami's sudden wish to jump ship and head back to Italy? We'll come back to that another time. As the days ticked down in January the need to replace BZ became critical. But first Maxi Lopez said no, then Barrios, until Stuttgart's benchwarmer (one solitary goal this season) became the Prodigal Son at the last minute. Very much a third choice option of little interest to any other top club it seems.

I do feel for the Russian. He's being pitched into a relegation battle with all the odds against him. Once again, lack of foresight and organisation will prove Jol's achilles heel. Gert Muller in his prime could lead the Whites attack at Man City this week and find the problems are all across the park behind him. Gert would be lucky to get a pass. Regular attendees at games this season see shortcomings in every area. Weak full backs, slow midfield, no width, no strikers...no passion. Fixated on his battle of wills with Bobby none of these issues have been addressed by our manager. Despite rumours linking us with plenty of names, nobody ready to step straight into the first team is signed. Rodallega may have happened had AJ been prepared to go up there. He wasn't, and with Wigan going down, who can blame him?

There are serious questions too to be asked of the board in sanctioning Jol's action. Having pushed forward with the new Riverside plans, they must have assumed demotion to the Championship was not an issue. A win over WBA (five trips in the Prem to Craven Cottage and five defeats) would leave us with 29 points. Even were we to go on the slide, just three more wins after tonight would get us over the line. That's why I began this piece by saying another 24 hours may put a whole new slant on things. It's a home matchday at the Cottage against Roy's boys - a side we normally stuff. I feel as relaxed about tonight's trip to the Cottage as I would with a summons to Torquemada's chamber...

Keep the faith twitter@fulhamphil

Follow ESPNsoccernetFC on Twitter

Comments

Posted by Michael in Laramie on 02/01/2012

Now I am reliving the Inquisition song by Mel Brooks... (Talkemouta)

But more to the point, BZ could be a big blow indeed. But I think its possible that a more apt analogy is found in another ex-Fulham player: Jimmy Bullard, who jumped ship to Hull. Granted, I do think QPR is better than was Hull, but QPR is not lighting much up right now. JB thought Hull were on the ascendancy and liked their chances. They now rest in the Championship.

Zamora, for all his attributes, never seemingly fit in under Jol. Is that Jol's fault? Perhaps, but if there was a rift of any sort, maybe it is best to part ways.

We'll have to see how things play out... For now-- let's hope the boys take care of business today.

Posted by Lynch on 02/01/2012

are you kidding me with this move? What a travesty. As you say Phil, this is in excplicable on every level.

Jol needs to go. What an a$$. I'm in shock right now.

Posted by Thomas on 02/01/2012

Zamora leaving was terrible news. Even worse are the rumors that a Andy Johnson for Rodallega swap didn't go through. If Fulham had to lose a striker, Johnson was the one to go not Zamora. In my mind the rest of the season will depend on Bryan Ruiz, Dembele, and Dempsey.

Posted by Old Cottager on 02/01/2012

Is it just me or is it right to expect better than 8 goals a season from a featured striker or to want more than 15 appearances. Bobby has been totally underwhelming for Fulham. Glad he's gone. The new Russian however untried he may be has tiny shoes to fill so take heart, Phil. I just wish we could have off-loaded our other feckless striker, AJ, as well.

Blog Central: On AJ I second that. Season 1 BZ awful - season 2 terrific - 3 broken leg - 4 alienated by Jol yet good enough for England

Posted by Vital_Teddy_KGB on 02/01/2012

From the interviews I saw with Zamora, I'm convinced he wanted to leave. Whether that stems from his relationship with Jol, I don't know, but I think Zamora was behind this. Jol's no fool (stubborn egomaniac, but no fool). He knows Pogrebnyak is no substitute.

From what I've read, it really could've been a great day for us, but a convergence of events conspired to leave us in worse circumstance than we started in. Had AJ not rejected the Wigan move, we'd have Rodallega now. Of course, the whole reason we have AJ is because he wanted to get back to London, so I don't know why they thought that would work. Had Zidan not gone to Mainz, Dortmund would've probably entertained the idea of selling Barrios. Had it not been for the possibility of Arshavin heading back to Russia, Arsenal may have considered letting us have Park Chu-Young on loan.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not crazy about Zamora leaving and I'm not expecting much from Pogrebnyak, but this is a business & these things happen.

Posted by 5815dan on 02/01/2012

I think the most important point you made Phil is about the hasty nature of this deal. If Bobby absolutely had to go it would have been best to put word out and drive up the bidding. We all could have come to grips with it better had we seen a decent return and also gotten a good replacement in house.

Who knows, though. When we zig, this club zags. Maybe this will all work out beautifully somehow, someway in the long run that we're all not seeing now.

Posted by 5815dan on 02/01/2012

Sorry to break it up into two posts, I meant to add that I see Ruiz and Dempsey playing up front for a large part of the remaining matches. They have clicked up front and Ruiz is desperately out of position at midfield so this would make the most sense to me.

Posted by Drago on 02/01/2012

Even a casual observer could see the difference in Fulham with Zamora and without. He was the focal point of our attack, and goal-scoring was just icing. The substance of Zamora was bringing others into play. Dempsey's 3rd goal against Newcastle, his feather soft lay-offs to Duff and others...that was Zamora's game.

I fully expect to lose to WBA today. How can the players not be demoralized?

Blog Central: Whatever happened to MAF's declaration we would not deal with QPR after the 'insult' of our perceived lack of ambition from Hughes?

Posted by Nate on 02/01/2012

I just cannot come to terms with the price that was settled on. We bought Zamora for £4.8 mil, and sell him for 4 and change? After he becomes an England international?

And I don't buy the "8 goals a season, we're glad to see him go" argument. Any fan worth their salt knows quality when they see it--we're a different team with Bobby. He holds up play as well as any striker in England, and my boy Clint's goal tally would not be nearly what it is without Zamora's ability to hold up play and let Deuce run off him.

I'm sad. When we sold Bullard, it seemed like the right move at the right price at the right time. This seems too soon, too cheap, and too personal.

Bobby may have wanted out, but it was because Jol didn't value his style of play. Jol wants to create a free-flowing, continental style of attack. I just hope his "vision" doesn't land us in the Championship.

Posted by Derek on 02/01/2012

Given both BZ and JBs attitude after getting picked for the England squad We'd better hope that no one else gets the call up. Remember JB wanted to play in London oh so badly. Big heads and $$$$$ rule.... Part of Britains love of celebrity culture i'm afraid. Don't like Jol don't know what caused the rift but don't trust English players self discipline either.

Posted by Mikey on 02/01/2012

I'm genuinely worried about relegation now. BZ's tenure at Fulham may not have been a smashing success, but I always considered him to be a player we could rely on... someone who knows how to play successful premier league football. Of the starting 11 Jol currently puts out, I can count only 3 players that fit that bill: Hangeland, Duff, Dempsey. Sure, Danny knows how to play, but his elite days are well well in the past. As for the rest of the starting squad, players fall into two categories: those who simply are not good enough (Senderos,Riise,AJ,possibly Kelly) and those who haven't yet figured out how to consistently impose themselves into epl matches (Ruiz,Dembele,Frei,Kasami,etc...)

Jol was tasked with reforming an aging squad, but my god, I think he's gotten a bit carried away. How many of his signings have any premier league experience? I think this young lot will have great difficulty competing in the gritty matches that typify the lower half of the table.

Posted by Scott in VA on 02/01/2012

I hope that we don't look back at this last-minute deal as the start of our slide to the Championship! The only way I can understand this transfer is if Big Bobby walked into Jol's office yesterday and demanded to be moved. Otherwise, as you noted Phil, this deal makes little sense. Bobby is now playing the remainder of the season with something to prove, he's on a team that has their sights set on FFC, and they're local neighbors. The 2/25 match at Loftus Road should be pretty damn entertaining... lots of subplots to that one. The window has now closed we've lost our most consistent striker the past 3 seasons, added no pace or creativity to the midfield, and remain slow and overweight in the back. Let's hope AJ catches fire these next 3 months!

Posted by stephen on 02/02/2012

Jol hasn't got a clue, bottom line. Selling BZ is tantamount to accepting championship football next year. And that's not good enough.

I have no time at all for this manager - his post match comments show zero conviction in his side.

Posted by chris in NC on 02/02/2012

in response to nate's comments about dempsey: clint scored 12 prem. league goals last year when zammora was hurt. Clint will be fine scoring and distributing the ball. This is obliviously good news for ruiz and maybe even demebele or even orlando sa will score some goals. The player who is most hurt by zammora's departure will be AJ, although the whole attack will miss bobby's quality. I'm just trying to stay positive i will miss big Z badly, but i will root for his success at QPR.(him and helguson) What really infuriates me is the meager transfer fee and the fact that i thought he'd be here at least through to the summer.

Posted by Jonathan on 02/02/2012

Zamora is 32, let's face it he hasn't got many good years left. Now hopefully we can replace Murphy in the next transfer window.

Blog Central: For my money FFC have wasted the last THREE transfer windows to trigger this crisis

Posted by Rob on 02/02/2012

We are witnessing something that goes on all the time in sports. New manager comes in pushing X when he has the players to do Y. This tends to lead to situations like what just occured with Bobby. A hand is forced that leaves the club worse off. Never underestimate the ego of professional owners, coaches, and players.

Jol appears to have the full backing of MAF so I see no deveation from the current course. Short of relegation Jol will be allowed to run out his contract. For better or worse FFC is in Jol's hands. Next summer's transfer window could set this club up for a decade of success or failure. All we have left to do is cheer on our team especially at home as an away point is fools gold this season.

Posted by Justin on 02/02/2012

Johnson stays and Zamora goes, this is like a nightmare. It would be one thing if Ruiz had panned out and the free-flowing passing game was actually free-flowing. But that hasn't really been the case. Fulham were better with Zamora than without and I am worried for top-flight status if Pogrebnyak doesn't hit the ground running.

Blog Central: Players banned from talking to media after dropped points v WBA. Jol's interview to local press makes interesting reading : search under Fulham Chronicle

Posted by Vital_Teddy_KGB on 02/02/2012

If the faithful are despairing now over Zamora, wait until the summer when a certain Clint Dempsey is almost certain to leave. He's made it clear he wants Champions League and that's not going to happen with us. He's at the peak of his career. His form has been sublime. He's gone!

We'll collect a handsome fee, of course, but Jol and MAF had better be preparing for serious investment this summer!

Blog Central: Jol will be the emperor without clothes if his Fulham experiment fails. Will the likes of Deuce, Brede, Dembele want to hang around even if we escape the drop by the skin of our teeth?

Posted by 'Sota Dan on 02/02/2012

If the owner endorses Jol's anticipated "total football" style of play (which I would love to see), then Jol must walk a fine line: bring in/along the players who can play that style (Ruiz, Kasami, Frei, Briggs etc.) and slowly move those other older players out (AJ, Murphy, Duff, etc) who likely don't fit that style. All the while, he must maintain premiership status for obvious income reasons.

The team is old. The team needs to get a bit younger. The trick is to be successful while developing the younger players without a rich Russian uncle to foot the bill. That means keeping some of the old guard in while mixing in the new folks.

Am I just stating the obvious, or am I totally off here?

Posted by kmcollin on 02/02/2012

Get over it you wimps. Fulham are on the up and up, Zamora was never meant to be a keystone player and never was! Unless hitting the side of a barn is your thing. Sure he had energy but regardless, Fulham this season are playing the best footie I've seen since Coleman!!!

  Post your comment
Name:
Email Address:
Comments:
characters left