Half empty

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.

5 thoughts on “Half empty

  1. I think the Murphy issue is a very interesting one. It doesn’t seem to have been noted by any of the managers from Roy onwards. I can’t believe that Jol hasn’t thought about it so the only thing I can think of is that our formation might change in the future with an England/Bulgaria type formation forming. Two strong midfielders in front of the defence and a fluid attack centred around Zamora. So midfield on it could look like this:

    sidwell ethuhu

    Duff/Demb Ruiz Dempsey/Demb


    1. Could be. The chances of our ever replacing Murphy with another Murphy can’t be rated that high, since half our competitors don’t have one either, and any aspirant in a league elsewhere will have no shortage of suitors.

      More generally, I am in the half-empty camp like Rich — nearly as unusually for me as it is for him. Orlando Sa can only be a pleasant surprise, given his lack of attraction to clubs in his native country and his evident status as last resort for us. Otherwise Ruiz needs to deliver at once, or at least be the catalyst, for us not to be reliant on the usual too-few suspects for goals. No time for him to bed in, I fear.

  2. I think it was a fantastic window. Established players — especially young ones — are as a general matter not coming to us, especially as we were looking to strengthen the squad and make it younger, rather than particularly improving the first-team. I would’ve rather a player like Jerome (who to me is established and young) as back-up for Zamora, but I’m intrigued by Sa and am under the impression that Ruiz can play there as well. Dembele, Dempsey and Duff are the key three behind Zamora and adding Ruiz gives us much-needed depth in the most important area (Duff is no spring chicken and Davies is out for five months), as well as the distinct possibility of goals. Kasami and Gecov seem to be thought of long-term replacements for Murphy that we all know we need. The only one I don’t really understand is Grygera, though he was probably brought in because Jol doesn’t really rate Baird. All-in this is looking like a solid and younger squad and even if it takes until next season to see them gel and we have nothing more than a mediocre year, I’m really looking forward to watching them.

  3. I’m relatively pleased with the window — but perhaps more on who left and didn’t leave than with who came in.

    On another point, I think the “we need to find a replacement for Murphy” brigade may be fooling themselves. We can get another central midfielder, but we’re not going to get another Murphy. There aren’t many of those to be found and, when they are, they tend to be out of our league compensation wise. We have to recognize that we were very fortunate to have him and to enjoy the quality of his play. The Danny Murphys of this world are a dying breed. It is reasonable to expect that whoever replaces him in central midfield is NOT going to possess his skill set, his knowledge, his poise, and his ability to read the pitch.

  4. Cheer up guys!

    The squad is stronger now than it was at the end of last season and we have a large infusion of young blood in the team to help us cope with this long season.

    I understand the concerns over a back-up for Zamora/someone to play with him up top, but I think we should give Sa a chance. We look to be moving away from the static 4-4-2 of recent seasons to a more fluid 4-2-3-1, which requires only one star striker – we have that man in Zamora.

    As for Murphy, I agree with HatterDon above, but would add the caveat that we might get a similar player to Murphy, but he will be in his late 20’s early 30’s when we get him, as Murphy was when he arrived. Fulham changed Murphy as much as Murphy changed Fulham, he came here as more of an attacking midfielder on the wane and is going to retire a successful Pirlo-style regista who was the centre of the Hodgson team that did so well.

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