It feels like the season’s about to start again. We had the early season, that time when the players weren’t any good and the matches were dull. Now we have a sort of unspoken season two, in which we have new and exciting players and midweek games against teams we’ve never seen before. It’s like a second life: “okay, sorry about the first few weeks. That wasn’t great was it? But now we have an expensive Costa Rican aboard and we’re sure this’ll do the trick!” as if Bryan Ruiz can single handedly join a new league and instantly inject the whole eleven with extra cohesion, banish the disjointed displays of the late summer and bring in a new dawn of thrillingness.
Part of the transfer window is propaganda, drumming up enthusiasm. Newcastle felt moved to issue a statement to reiterate their ambitions, a weird move that makes sense when you consider the quality they’ve let go, but which also slightly overlooks the quality of the players they’ve brought in. Sure the new players are less famous, and arguably less good, but the team is arguably in a better situation than it was before the summer, with only Colocini and Smith remaining among the high earners, and players like Tiote and Cabaye looking like the kind who will positively influence games for some time.
Fulham at one point looked in danger of coming up empty handed (or so we outsiders all thought), which would have been dire and caused many among us to ponder relegation. But it turned out okay, and now we all have hope: Bryan Ruiz and Orlando Sa, completing a new and curious 9-10-11 run with Pajtim Kasami. We must hope they live up to their billings.
The eeyore in me looks at this and thinks “okay, fine, but is this what we needed?”. Is Orlando Sa a decent backup for Zamora? He seems to be a bit enigmatic, as yet not established. How did we find him? Turns out he has the same agent as Papiss Demba Cisse, a very real target, which may be instructive based on what we’re learning about the way football works. He might work or he might not, but he’s big and young and so we must be hopeful. Ruiz himself is raved over by many, although a respected scout on Twitter has his doubts and believes Fulham overpaid considerably. Then there’s the matter of need: while there’s always room for a star player, it does mean that at least one and probably two of Ruiz, Duff, Dembele and Dempsey won’t be playing on any given day. These are four of our best players – is this efficient allocation of resources? Grygera was a really good player but it’s not clear why we need him at this point given his age and our squad strengths.
Going into the window we needed depth up front, which we sort of have, and anything after that would be a bonus. The biggest issue the team faces – how to replace Danny Murphy – is still no nearer to being resolved. It will take time to overhaul an ageing squad, and Fulham’s grabbing of young talent from all over the country is surely a step in the right direction, but I’m not entirely convinced that the activity we have seen will change too much. And if that’s the case, we could still be in for a long season.