Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fulham Makes a Change

Yesterday, Fulham FC fired manager Lawrie Sanchez after a disappointing first half of the season and the January transfer window fast approaching. Sanchez spent a whooping $50 million U.S. during the summer transfer window and the club's performance is not significantly better than last year when the team barely managed to avoid relegation. Now the team sits in the relegation zone again and ownership finds that unacceptable.

The big question to ask though is whether or not the owners will be willing to part with more money in the January transfer window to improve the Club's prospects. So let's assume that they are prepared to part with say another $20 million or so, where should the new manager spend the money.

The biggest problem that I see is that Fulham has been very, very lax in the last 15 minutes of a match. That the team has more draws than any other team in the Premier League, with seven, does not help. Most of those draws have come in the last 15 minutes of the match and the question is whether there is a breakdown in the defense allowing opposing teams to score. Earlier in the season, Sanchez allowed defender Zat Knight to go to Aston Villa. While I love Carlos Bocanegra, I wonder if he is capable of leading the backline against some of the better teams. There does not seem to be anyone else in the defense who is prepared and capable of leading a defense and solidifying the back line.

But what about more scoring? So far the team is suffering a minus 10 goal differential (and seven draws). American Clint Dempsey has 4 goals in 14 games to lead the team. Target man Brian McBride has been out for the last four months with a knee injury and is not likely to return to full match fitness for at least another month (if ever). Sanchez favorite and fellow Northern Ireland national David Healy and Welsh international Simon Davies each have three goals. The scoring performance is weak and that is not helping to cover the goal surrendering back line. One thing the Whites could do would be to consider recalling Collins John, currently out on loan to bolster the attack.

And of course, the big question is who will take the reins of the club. One name that has been mentioned is recently fired England national team manager Steve McLaren. But I am wondering who will take over. That will make a big difference in the direction of the club during the transfer window. But make no mistake, Fulham has to turn around their performance and the Holiday matches, under the leadership of Ray Lewington as interim manager, will provide the opportunity to make that happen.

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