Fulham and the 25 man squad

Richard is away and I feel a little like the neighbour who has promised to take the milk in and feed the fish but then decided to use the oven to bake a cake. Hopefully the cakes worth eating and I’ve not made too much mess in the kitchen.

This season sees the introduction of the new 25 man squad rule implemented as a first step towards reducing squad sizes and increasing the number of home grown players at the top level. This excellent article on TwoHundredPercent examines what this means for the Premier League and got me thinking about how the rule would affect Fulham in the coming season.

TwoHundredPercent suggest that the rule will have little impact. Initially this certainly seems to be true and very few teams will have to make serious changes to ensure their squads conform to the new regulations. Looking at our current team we have exactly 25 players over 21 of which 13 can be considered home grown. This is consistent with most of the Premier League. Only three teams (Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City & Wolverhampton Wanderers) have squads bigger than 25 and only one team (Liverpool) have more that 17 players not considered home grown.

This is no accident. You can be sure the Premier League studied the existing team squads very closely before ratifying any changes to the rules. A home grown player is considered any player who spends three seasons, up to and including the season when they turn 21, registered to an English or Welsh club, regardless of their nationality. For Fulham this means Nigerian international Dickson Etuhu qualifies alongside his English, Irish and Welsh teammates.

Clubs will also be allowed to supplement their squad with an unlimited number of players under the age of 21. The Premier League’s definition of “Under 21” is a player born on or after 1st January 1989. This is of more value to the big teams and means the richest clubs can continue to stockpile the very best youngsters.

The squads won’t even take effect from the beginning of the season. The first deadline for naming 25 man squads is 1700 BST on 1st September (24 hours after end of August transfer window). This is good news for Fulham as, thanks to the delays in sorting out our manager, we’re likely to be conducting our business right up to the very last minute.

Changes can be made only during transfer windows, although in exceptional circumstances (e.g. goalkeeping injury crisis) moves could be allowed. Players named in the squad who are subsequently loaned to Football League clubs cannot be replaced, but can regain their spot on return to parent club. Finally the rules apply only to Premier League matches, so any non-registered squad members who we retain would be eligible to feature in the FA Cup or League Cup.

There’s plenty of room for manoeuvre then with our current squad. The table below shows our existing 25 senior pros and highlights those who are home grown (HG) or not. I’ve also listed the current contract periods (thanks to White Noise at Friends of Fulham for a lot of this information). NB: I’ve seen no confirmation of either but Gera must surely have had a 2 year extension activated to take him through to 2012, and Simon Davies was hopeful of agreeing his own extension prior to the Europa League semi-final.

No.	Nation	Pos	Name					Contract
1 	Australia 	GK 	Mark Schwarzer		Not	Final Year
2 	R.Ireland 	DF 	Stephen Kelly		HG	2012
3 	England 	DF 	Paul Konchesky		HG	Final Year
4 	Ghana 	DF 	John Pantsil			Not	Final Year
5 	Norway 	DF 	Brede Hangeland		Not	2013
6 	N.Ireland 	DF 	Chris Baird			HG	Final Year
8 	England 	FW 	Andy Johnson		HG	2012
11 	Hungary 	MF 	Zoltán Gera			Not	Final Year/2012
12 	England 	GK 	David Stockdale		HG	2013
13 	England 	MF 	Danny Murphy		HG	Final Year
15 	Senegal 	FW 	Diomansy Kamara		Not	Final Year
16 	R.O.I		MF 	Damien Duff			HG	2012
17 	Norway 	MF 	Bjørn Helge Riise		Not	2012
18 	N.Ireland 	DF 	Aaron Hughes		HG	2013
19 	Switz. 	GK 	Pascal Zuberbühler	Not	2011
20 	Nigeria 	MF 	Dickson Etuhu		HG	Final Year
21 	U.S.A 	FW 	Eddie Johnson		Not	Final Year
22 	Sweden 	DF 	Fredrik Stoor		Not	2012
23 	U.S.A	 	MF 	Clint Dempsey		Not	2013
25 	England 	FW 	Bobby Zamora		HG	2012
27 	England 	MF 	Jonathan Greening	HG 	2012
29 	Wales 	MF 	Simon Davies		HG 	2010 ?
34 	SouthAfrica MF 	Kagisho Dikgacoi		Not	Final Year
35 	Sweden 	FW 	David Elm			Not	2012
— 	Switzerland DF 	Philippe Senderos		Not	2013

Of the players with reasonable contract periods Hangeland and Dempsey seem the most likely to attract bidders. Having shown ambition in our choice of manager it would be a shame to lose any of our best performers now. Hangeland seems to be a man who knows his own mind and has been quoted as saying he would like to stay. If Roy comes knocking though I wonder if he could turn down the chance to play for Liverpool. Dempsey may also consider that this is his best chance to move up a level. If nothing else his agent is looking to capitalise on his current status. Should either go we would undoubtedly miss them but should at least recieve a decent transfer fee.

Mark Schwarzer has been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal. £2.5 Million is a good return on a 37 year old who we signed for free but we’d need to spend a lot more than that to find someone genuinely capable of replacing him. The arrival of Hughes may be enough to convince big Mark to stay but if he does leave we must hope to attract a quality replacement. The talk has been of Robert Green or Joe Hart which says a lot about our clubs current standing in the top flight.

Frederik Stoor has another two seasons on his contract but seems a prime candidate to depart. No doubt he sees Hughes arrival as a second chance but he may not have much time to impress. John Paintsil has rather wonderfully dismissed reports linking him with a move to West Brom and I would expect Hughes to be keen to tie down our Ghanaian hero to a extended contract.

Two more hot candidates to move on are Diomansy Kamara and Eddie Johnson. Both are in their final year and have not been involved in regular first team football at Fulham for some time. I suspect our attack to be the main focus for Hughes in the next few weeks. With Andy Johnson looking like a long term injury concern it will be a priority to find someone to support Bobby Zamora. AJ may even find himself out of the initial 25.

Assuming Hughes brings in 4 or 5 new players there may well be a couple of last seasons key contributors missing out. There are a number of players in their final year and not all of them will be highly sort after, however well they performed under Hodgson. I’ve stared at that list for so long now an image is burnt into my eyes. It’s not easy picking who else to leave out. Kelly, Greening, Dikachoi or Elm? Maybe (super utility man) Baird, (captain) Murphy or (heaven forbid) Simon Davies?

A lot will depend on who we bring in of course. Whilst the 25 man squad may not radically change English football it will certainly introduce a new set of problems for a manager to come to terms with.

13 thoughts on “Fulham and the 25 man squad

  1. Great article. It shows that there isn’t a lot of wriggle room for Mr Hughes. I would suggest that Davies will retain his place due to playing under Sparky for Wales. However what’s going to give if Santa Cruz, Bellamy and Ireland are supposedly on their way?
    I would suggest those that might be sacrificed even if they were not sold would be:
    Zub (with an U21 third keeper)
    Johnson, E
    Possibly Johnson, A if he’s injured until Christmas
    With Kamara sold if poss, if not loaned out

    I reckon Hughes would almost welcome bids for Hangeland and Dempsey to give him space to breathe. It’s gonna be interesting.

    1. Thanks Andy.

      I’d be surprised if Zuby was left out. For relatively low cost we have a third keeper who could do a job if we needed him. I don’t know how easily we could claim a “goalkeeping crisis” if we’ve only retained two senior keepers.

  2. I’d prefer to see us dump, The Aussie, Danny Murphy, Elm, and Kamara but only if we can sell him otherwise keep him in the fold. AJ is never going to come back into the starting eleven and Eddie Johnson is just a speedy player with lacking skills around it, I could see him and Bobby working well together if you have Gera and Dempsey to get the knock downs and put Eddie through but otherwise he is about useless. Joe Hart would be such an amazing pick up just the thought puts a huge smile on my face, I HATE Bellamy and can’t find a way I could root for him even in white………

    1. I think when a player joins your club and you see them week in week out you often find they’re not the same player you thought they were. Bellamy isn’t as bad as the media like to claim and I think he’d be a very exciting signing. We’ll see though, think he might find it hard to turn down European football if Spurs interest is genuine.

      1. I’d also be excited to see Bellamy join FFC. I think he’s the kind of player that can inspire others to always do their best. The only problem with him is that his knees keep him from playing from time to time, so you can’t always count on him to be in your starting eleven. Even so, he gives amazing post-game interviews that are always good for a laugh. He and MAF should get along swimmingly!

  3. We became high profile last season and Mark Hughes will know all about us. He’d have been interested long before he ever thought of becoming manager.

    Who he does or does not rate will become evident soon but I can see him being strong enough to refuse a move for a player if he wants him to stay. On that basis I expect Schwartzer to go ONLY if it suits Hughes and that would mean us signing a strong replacement. That incidently begs the question of why Arsenal wouldn’t prefer such a player who will certainly be younger than Schwartzer. I suspect the Arsenal link may not be that certain.

    Hangeland and Dempsey, I’m sure, won’t be sold because of the money they’ll bring in.

    It’s also possible that MAF will have loosened the purse strings when it comes to player contracts not only to bring a top manager on board but to give us a reasonable chance of at least matching the last two seasons.

    I’m torn between a desire for success and fear of financial meltdown but I do think it possible that we may be about to sign players that previously would have been out of the question.

    The last thing that will be of concern to Hughes would be the new squad rules. Any surplus players will simply be loaned out to League clubs or abroad.

    1. I think you’re right about the squad rules. In the end all it will mean is a player who is out of the squad knows where they stand much earlier in the season.

  4. Great work! Rob Milsom will need to be on the 25 man squad too, unless we send him on loan again (very good possibility IMO). Right now, I’d guess that both Johnsons and Stoor would be the first names bumped from the current roster to make room for Milsom and/or new signings.

    By position, it looks like we currently have 3 GK, 5 FB, 4 CB, 5 wide MF, 5 central MF, and 6 FW. This is double-counting multi-position players like Baird and Gera. That’s a lot of forwards, so Eddie and Andrew might be the first to go. After that, I think it would make the most sense to have new signings replace an existing player at the same position.

    1. Hughes hinted at the press conference today that he would be looking at increasing our attacking options. He also talked about giving youth a chance – though admitted he had no idea what sort of talent we had. I suspect after City he might be a little disappointed.

  5. We lack pace. We never really replaced Boa. Kamara is very dangerous as super sub but not a 90 minute man and presumably not a good squad player as defined by Roy and Captain Murphy.
    Bellamy has pace and can cross the ball but his wages are surely beyond our means.

    I like Elm as a steady cover fwd but can he play alongside BZ?
    The loan deal with Okaka from Rome was well worth the attempt but was not the answer

    Let us hope that Mr Hughes has contacts in the Tafia. Another Ivor would be good.

  6. hi im len lacey i run 2 semi pro 5 a side teams u havit lost in 40.games.ive got 2 great young players called charlie gee n tyron .i wud love if u cud come n c them play

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