Shame. Gera has that lovely ability to find space in the penalty area. His winner against Hamburg in the semi-final was a great example: what looked like a simple tap-in came about because Gera legged it across the six yard box as the corner came over. As the ball dropped there he was to score, but these tap-ins don’t fall to everyone, and Gera deserved all the credit for being in the right place.
All this goes to underscore how important Europe was to us last season. Gera’s Fulham record:
League: 79 games, 5 goals
Europe: 18 games, 6 goals
Had we not made it into Europe he’d be just another wide man who hadn’t quite met expectations.
(Bobby Zamora: 66 league games, 11 league goals; 17 European games, 8 goals)
So I don’t know. He’s a good player and one who it’s good to have around, but hasn’t really had a look in this season. Must be hard for him, going from Player of the Year to substitute, but that’s football I guess.
Mark Hughes has to tweak the squad a bit, make it younger and perhaps more physical. He has a core of players: Schwarzer, Hughes, Hangeland, Murphy, Dempsey, Duff, Dembele and Zamora who will remain untouchable if in form, and a few more like Davies, Baird, Paintsil, Etuhu and perhaps Salcido, Sidwell and Johnson who are good to have around, but ideally you’d want some younger, more vibrant talent to supplement the core. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with in the next two weeks.