This morning’s Times says that Mark Schwarzer is probably going to Arsenal as soon as we get a manager, and that West Ham’s Robert Green may be the man to replace him. No issues with this, but what it did make me realise is that there are probably other dominoes waiting to fall, we just don’t know it yet.
Paul Konchesky may, for all we know, be making that move to Birmingham. He has only one year left on his contract, so may be able to turn that into a big final payday. It made me wonder who else is due to expire, as it were, and in fact there are a few players in this situation.
As best I can tell, the squad breaks down as:
One more season:
Chris Baird, Dickson Etuhu, Simon Davies (?), Eddie Johnson, Diomansy Kamara, Konchesky, Danny Murphy, Schwarzer, John Paintsil.
More than that:
This is a bummer for the likes of Baird, Etuhu and Paintsil, whose stock under Hodgson has risen to previously unimaginable heights, but who might be good bets to regress if their roles/instructions/etc change. Eddie Johnson clearly needs to show some progress (Premier League football doesn’t reward potential indefinitely), Kamara’s bridges always seem to be damaged, if not yet burned (a new, ambitious kind of mixed metaphor, that), Danny Murphy is in decline but still important, and as noted above Schwarzer’s likely to be elsewhere anyway. I can’t find anything about Simon Davies’ contract, which I had thought to be up but which clearly is not.
Key players like Zamora, Dempsey, Hughes, Duff and Hangeland have at least two years left; Zoltan Gera has one more plus a (club?) option for two.
The point here, I suppose, is that all of these things would be resolved, or in the process of being resolved, if we had a manager. The ‘one more year’ crew aren’t players we cannot do without, but all would probably want some reassurance at this point, as the final year is typically ‘extension or move’ for players with something left to offer (the club gets a fee rather than allowing the player to leave for nothing, the player gets security).
I don’t know that there’s necessarily a point to all this, besides the obvious fact that, as is the way of these things, change is again upon us. It makes me realise how lucky Manchester United have been to see the likes of Ryan Giggs play for them for a long time, to have the same man in charge for this period. Look back at the last few years at Fulham, the troughs, peaks, troughs, troughs, peaks, and then now, when anything might reasonably happen.
The common thread has been Mr Al Fayed and his commitment to splurging, with varying returns on these splurges. Now a new man will come in, will use the Chairman’s money, and once more we’ll have a new team. There is much to be said for continuity, and some managers would bring more of this than others (although it’s got to be evolution rather than revolution this near to the start of the season), so we must hope that whoever does come in can build on what we have, rather than try to turn the whole setup on its head. As others have mentioned, if the new man is wise enough to restrict tinkering to any great extent, while perhaps opening things up a bit away from home, then we ought to be happy enough. This is a likeable and effective group of players, and for the most part they still have much to give. I’m looking forward to watching them again next season, whoever’s in charge.