While your correspondent remains wedded to the beach culture that is the South of France in August, and the temperature remains a balmy 30 degrees C. yes, I know the clock is counting down. So here it is, your first update of the NEW season.
First up, a big welcome back to all buddies old and new. You and I both know by now this FFC blog has grown into one of the most vibrant - and widely disseminated global football blogs over the past two seasons. I'm delighted to say this fact has been recognised by our ESPN hosts, and you will be hearing more from me over the coming months. Furrther news on that front once I get back from my hols.
Long before I left the miserable UK summer behind I predicted to friends Clint would be lining up with the team on day one v Norwich and that Jol would keep his powder try in the transfer market until the season was well underway. Evaluating the transfer dealings to date there is but one player we have passed on I would have seen as a genuine asset. That he's gone to QPR hurts me even more. I've been an admirer of Junior Hoilett for two seasons. The guy had something from the moment I first saw him play.
However, if Jol believes both Frei and Kacaniklic can now step up to the plate and match the best full-backs in the Premiership I will not be despondent for too long. The addition of Rodallega is a real coup, and Mladan comes with enough pedigree to compensate for the loss of Pogrebnyak. What has kept Fulham apart from the top six in recent campaigns has been our fragile away form, allied to a frustratingly timid approach even when visiting the most ordinary of teams. I still have nightmares about last winter's display at Aston Villa...what is that awful team doing in the top flight? And anyone able to explain the early season 'effort' at Wolves last August?
Can we hit the ground running this time with a nice juicy meeting with the Canaries setting us up for a trip to Old Trafford - where we simply must not turn up with an inferiority complex. Pray also for a robust referee who is not afraid to put whistle to mouth when Fulham men are hacked down in the box. Pre-season the boys have turned in results and done what's been expected of them. The current squad is good to go with cover for every position. Those released are all in the over-30's club and their passing had long been predicted. Our thanks to Danny and Dickson for their services in midfield, and er, Andy...yeh, on your bike mate!
Let me say right from the start I'm a fan of Hugo - and I don't mean that turgid movie. If our wide boys can cut it, and with Rodallega's turn of pace, I can see Fulham picking up goals - and thus points - on the break away from home that, should our home form remain solid, should make for a compelling season. But now for the caveats to keep our feet on the ground. Neither of our boy wing wonders are yet in the Ronaldo league. Both may find themselves too easily shunted up cul-de-sacs by the better full-backs in the division.
I have great confidence in Dembele and Diarra to pull the strings from midfield, but do we need additional bodies here? How good can Sidwell be with a run of games? And of course, is Clint going to be part of the picture for the whole season? Nobody knows...
As for the does-he-stay-or will-he go saga that is the boy Dempsey, let's consider that over the next blog.
Over to you guys, so let's hear what's on your minds as we prepare for another thrilling season following the BEST team in London