Friday, August 01, 2008

Fulham's Hodgson--Dealmaker as Well as Escape Artist

The Independent's (UK) Glenn Jones notes taht Fulham have been active on the transfer market while other clubs at the top of the table suffer through more drama than a prom night.

Fulham have made eight transfers and a ninth (Andy Johnson from Everton) is in the offing. If Johnson signs, Hodgson will have made the nine deal on just £21.65 million, with Johnson being the biggest signing at £13 million. Four of the players came on a free transfer (very good shopping Roy) and Fulham's most recent signing, Fredrik Stoor filling the critical missing right back position.

Here is the current list of comings and goings:
Bobby Zamora (West Ham, £6.3m joint fee, age 27)

Striker who suffered an injury-hit season at Upton Park. Came to prominence at Brighton, moving to West Ham in 2004 via a brief spell at Tottenham.

John Pantsil (West Ham, £6.3m joint fee, 27)

All-action Ghanaian full-back who can also play in midfield. Joined the Hammers after appearing in the 2006 World Cup, but failed to nail down a regular place.

Mark Schwarzer (Middlesbrough, free, 35)

Australian goalkeeper, who spent 11 years at The Riverside, usually as No 1 keeper. Commanding presence but needed a fresh challenge.

Zoltan Gera (West Bromwich Albion, free, 29)

The Hungarian was a key figure in Albion's promotion last season. Creative wide player capable of scoring goals with feet and head.

Andranik Teymourian (Bolton Wanderers, free, 25) Defensive midfielder who had two mixed seasons at Bolton before being released. Was in the Iran squad at the 2006 World Cup, starting in all three games.

David Stockdale (Darlington, £350,000, 22)

Young goalkeeper. Began last season as reserve after leaving Conference club York, but seized his chance and impressed as Darlington reached the League Two play-offs.

Toni Kallio (Young Boys, free, 29)

Finland international who can play at centre-back or left-back. Thirty next month, he initially signed from the Swiss club on loan in January. Also played in Norway.

Fredrik Stoor (Rosenborg, £2m, 24)

Swedish right-back who forced his way into the national side at Euro 2008 after Erik Edman's injury. Began at Hammersby.

Possible signing:

Andrew Johnson (Everton, £13m, 27)

Occasional England striker who, after a good start, failed to repeat at Everton the form he showed at Crystal Palace. Tireless runner with a penchant for winning penalties.


Brian McBride (Chicago), Nathan Ashton (Wycombe), Dejan Stefanovic (Norwich), Michael Timlin (Swindon), Bradley Hudson-Odoi (Hereford), Carlos Bocanegra (Stade Rennes), Tony Warner (Hull City), Bjorn Runstrom (OB), Elliot Omozusi (Norwich, season loan), Ian Pearce, Jari Litmanen (both released), Paul Stalteri (Tottenham, loan return).
If Andy Johnson comes on board, Hodgson would like be done unless he can get a couple of other free transfers. But with a squad now number 30 or 31, competition will be tight to make the first team, but with enough depth in the squad to handle injuries, etc.

Preseason has been quality for the Cottagers with a friendly against Birmingham City this weekend and against Torino next weekend. The new signings have played vital parts and I must admit to a certain mid-table optimisim, but will of course be satisified with a top 15 finish.

The Premiership opens on August 16 here are the first six matches for Fulham

Aug. 16 Hull City (A)
Aug. 23 Arsenel (H)
Aug. 30 Man. United (A)
Sep. 13 Bolton (H)
Sep. 20 Blackburn (A)
Sep. 27 West Ham (H)

Of course Arsenel and Man U. will be tests (particularly at Old Trafford), but like all with the performances in friendlies to show some progress over last year, I think Fulham can walk out of the first six matches with 9-12 points and be 1/4 of the way to safety right there. Last year, 40 points put a team in the top 15, so a good early start is key to making the end of the season a little less cardiac in nature.

No comments: