ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Fulham
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Posted by Phil Mison on 08/09/2012

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



Posted by Terry Hare on 08/09/2012

Talking of cul-de-sacs, I think Clint has put himself up one by making it clear that he no longer wants to play for Fulham and no other clubs prepared to pay a reasonable price for him. I don't know how this will pan out but if I had my way I would make him honour the last year of his contract and let him go on a free next summer.

Posted by Brendan on 08/10/2012

Great to hear from you Phil! I've been checking in here frequently and was delighted to see a post. I hope your holiday is going well...I'm sure it beats sitting here in the dustbowl of the midwest US.

It'll be interesting to see how the league goes .

I'm very excited with the Rodellega signing. Good business. He can be a bit inconsistent but he's always been an exciting player to me. Haven't heard much about Mesca before now but the fan's reaction to him is quite positive from what I've seen. I do think we need to spend a bit more and reinforce the midfield and the forward line. Hopefully Jol can pull something off before the end of the month. I'm sure there's some more Dutch talent out there he can tap into..

Looking forward to more of your posts and whatever else the Soccernet folks have lined up for you.


Posted by Drago on 08/10/2012

Hey, Phil, welcome back! Really looking forward to another great season of blogs.

I give Jol a lot credit for some good signings and smart decisions this summer...both additions and subtractions. On paper, it's probably the deepest team Fulham has had. Every position now has a capable back-up, and there figures to be a ton of competition for a starting spot.

For me, the big question is -- will Jol find the right combinations? The Senderos-over-Hughes selection to start last year was idiotic, and this year there are more tough choices. Riether or Kelly? Duff or Ruiz (or both)? Kaca or Frei (or Dempsey)? I'm looking forward to your thoughts on what our starting eleven should be, because I'm really not sure yet.

Here's hoping Jol keeps Dempsey til January...I want to see how we do with all guns blazing.

Posted by Howard on 08/10/2012

I want to have faith in Martin Jol and the Fulham Management, but I admit I'm worried. Yes, the addition of Rodallega and Petric are promising, but I don't think they will give us the cutting edge up front to get those all important away wins we have singularly failed to achieve in the last few seasons.
Danny will be sorely missed in midfield. Martin Jol has said that he wants to strengthen in the midfield and up front and I agree with him, and for the sake of my nerves, the sooner the better!

Posted by Justin on 08/10/2012

Glad to see a post! I don't know what to make of Rodallega really. Wigan hit their stride with him on the bench, right? And it seems he'll go long stretches without finding the back of the net. But maybe a change of scenery and teammates will help him find his best form. I'm certainly hoping so.

Posted by 5815dan on 08/10/2012

Awwwww yeah! With no early Europa play, how much longer did this summer seem compared to last? The anticipation of the new season is killing me.

Sad to see some of the old boys go but it was clearly their time. I haven't disliked a single move made all summer.

I expect the play to be a bit more forward this season as Jol's "vision" comes into focus. I just hope for a fast start so there's no reverting to parking the bus in the away matches. Ahh, the joy of being a Fulham fan...

Glad to have you back, Phil. Can't wait to enjoy the next nine rollercoaster months together!

Posted by Rob on 08/10/2012

Welcome back Phil. Minus the Dempsey saga the off season seems to have gone very well for FFC. Jol brought in a few quality players for free. The expansion to the Cottage was given the green light. The academy getting tier 1 status. Some quality preseason performances to date. I don't think anyone is missing the Europa qualifier on Faroe Island.

As you rightly point out any additional success this year hinges on the away form. I'm not expecting 3 points, but a few more draws would be nice. I expect this season to be much more competative from top to bottom. I will take a top half finish.

I must say nothing has made me happier than seeing Sir Alex fume at the transfer market. I'm not sure how he can do it with a straight face after years of out spending everyone else. The transfer window does seem to become more theatrical with each passing year. I say cut it down to a month. Here is hoping MAF has another 10 million in his mattress for a striker and midfielder.

Posted by Danny on 08/11/2012

Good article as always, Phil. I have one question for you, how many further signings do you see fulham making? I honestly think one at most. I have no idea for the life of me why players keep turning down fulham to go elsewhere, especially reo coker, who seems serie a bound, I cannot think why he would want a move there, probably playing for a team like Cagliari or Atalanta, when he could be playing for our mighty whites! Let's hope this isn't a recurring theme among players we have made contract offers to.

Posted by THomas on 08/13/2012

Glad to see you're back...hope you're in Nice. Made my first trip there this summer for my honeymoon and loved it!

I'm hopeful we can break into the top 6 as you mentioned and Dempsey can push us for a Europa or Champions League spot to fulfill his dream at the club he means so much to!

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