Doing nothing in January

Saturday’s win did many things but most of all it reminded us that, while the current Fulham squad does need a bit of tweaking, it contains a number of good players and making moves in January for the sake of making moves in January is probably not something we need to get too involved with.

Take the AJ situation.  For a long time I have been of the view that taking £2m for a player at this stage of his career and contract cycle would probably be a good thing. But my thinking overlooked the crucial fact that Johnson is a known quantity within the club, and while he may not be able to usefully start every week, there will be games where he can be very important indeed.  Had we shifted Johnson to Blackburn we’d have money in the bank but probably would not have managed that epic comeback.  Nobody else in the squad plays like he plays so we’d have had to find another plan B, and that Plan B would surely not have worked as well as Jol’s actual Plan B.  A hopeless defeat on the back of that Blackburn hopeless defeat could have been devastating to the team. 

Now I don’t know how many situations are AJ situations anymore, but his role in the team’s two biggest wins this season is surely something to ponder (there’s a challenge: what did these games have in common?).  So, based on all this, it seems unlikely that Jol will sell Johnson.  Jol’s said as much for some time but it’s always felt like managerspeak.  Johnson, I suspect, has played his way back into a Fulham future.

Ditto Zamora.  There was an interesting thing in the Guardian’s Secret Footballer column about how sometimes a new manager will deliberately make life difficult for a key player as a way to impose himself on his new squad: if I can do this to x, imagine what’ll happen to you if you step out of line, being the presumed thinking. From our lofty position as innocent bystanders we can’t really know what happens behind those Motspur Park hedges, but it’s not too great a leap to imagine that this is exactly what has been happening.  Zamora, though, has again proved himself to be a unique and valuable contributor.  Unless someone offers silly money for him it’s hard to see him leaving now, and the only team with money and desperation is QPR, and you can imagine how likely MAF is to sanction a sale to them at this point.

So where is the weakness we need to urgently fix?  Defence? Hardly.  Midfield?  Chris Baird has shown us again how useful he can be in there.  Up front we have Zamora and Johnson and Dempsey to deputise, so while it’d be nice to take a punt on a Rhodes or a Maynard, it seems unlikely that the deal would suit either the buying or the selling club at this moment in time – far better to take a considered view of things in the summer.

I don’t think we’ll do anything at all.

14 thoughts on “Doing nothing in January

  1. It seems to me these last 6 months have been AJs best spell with the club. Is it coincidental that this ties in with the point when he’s trying to renew his contract?

    I suspect it probably is. He has been unlucky with injuries and then when he has been fit he’s had to cope with a new manager. But it is remarkable that all of a sudden he’s making a difference.

  2. Like you I don’t think we need to do any business and certainly not spend silly money but come deadline day final choices will be made and players on our radar will become available almost on a must move basis and I can imagine us getting one or two in on loan.

    Maynard’s a good example. Bristol City want to sell but he may well prefer to negotiate on a Bosman in the summer. A loan deal is a compromise as City get a loan fee perhaps with an agreed top up if the player signs a contract later whilst the club gets the player on trial.

  3. If the ‘Secret Footballer’ is our Danny as many suspect, his last column was more Fulham specific than football general. Player ‘x’ = BZ.

    1. It almost certainly isn’t murphy though. Who it is I don’t know, but not Murph. Someone who’s currently having to learn a new position and isn’t in the team, apparently.

  4. Just because we don’t need to do anything, doesn’t mean that we wont. You mention Chris Baird for example, but I’d be interested to see if his performance on Saturday has changed the managers mind about him.

    Just don’t think we’ve factored in Jol’s need to make his own impact on the squad and the way that we play – but maybe that’s a summer project in any case.

  5. I think the AJ situation is kind of in AJ’s court. This is where the business of football takes over from the watching/playing of football. It’s going to be a game of chicken. The club don’t want an ageing player on a long term contract and high wages, the player wants security for the next 2-3 years. However the club knows that for another season he is probably a safe bet. I think a good old fashioned compromise will be found for him to stay. He seems to really like Fulham. The interesting one for me is going to be how Ruiz is handled in forthcoming games. He must have been distraught at being hauled off at half time. Will he be on the bench, will Jol give him another chance, how will his confidence be affected? I hope he come through this period, he has a lot of potential.

  6. As others have said, We are in a good position in that we don’t desperately need any players, but if we can add some quality it would be good. I personally think we might try to wrangle a few deals next week, but wont pay over the odds. I definitely think we might go in for a Champ player (Sordell or Sharp is my guess). Also, whilst it is unlikely Lopez will come to Fulham, the Tevez to Milan deal is not dead, so he may find himself needing another club at the last minute.

    As for AJ, I dont know. Personally I fully back the clubs decision to only give him a 1 year extension. It is a good business decision. He obviously adds a lot in certain situations, but we have to be wary of overpaying. IMO, the club is playing it exactly right. I still think we could have a young pacy striker in the position of AJ (i.e. on the bench) and we would be no worse off.

  7. Now things can obviously change and we say this every year, but honestly, is this not the slowest January window of recent memory?

    Outside of the various loans, what deals have occurred? Anelka to Shanghai, that Icelander to Wolves, Cisse to Toon…is that it?!?

  8. I like the look of the team and squad except for at fullback. We have consistently lacked pace and width as a team and I think fullback is where that should be provided. I’m not all that impressed by Riise, but he could be getting better, and besides is a nice stopgap until the pacey and attacking Briggs is fit and ready.

    Right-back is slightly different. Kelly is doing a very good job, but he’s not pacey or attacking enough for me. Ditto Grygera and Baird. In the past I’ve been a big advocate of Baird at right-back as he seems able to step into midfield and dictate play from there. But the way Jol’s setting up the team (at least when he has Dempsey, Dembele and Ruiz behind a lone striker) I think we’re be better served by an overlapping fullback of the wing back variety.

    Really quite happy absolutely everywhere else. Though a Jordan Rhodes type signing would be great, of course.

  9. Four years of BZ and AJ for, what, 14 million has been good value by today’s standards, and if we did offload both this month we’d get more than half of it back. We’ll be fortunate to obtain similar bang for buck next time around, for which there is accordingly no hurry, as Rich correctly says.

    On the other hand the last 40% of a dead season — in league terms– is the ideal time to blood a new forward, so they can hit the ground running in August, when it really matters. I absolutely have no idea who, though.

    1. I think the point you make about the rest of the season being dead is excellent. We are almost safe from relegation with favourable home games remaining. It really is the perfect time to start experimenting with some new players.

  10. Ruiz has the potential to become a real nuisance-type player to opposition defenses, provided he gets more physical and Fulham become more consistently fluid in the passing game. As much as I like the idea of Riise in our defense, I don’t think he’s been worth the transfer fee. I fear that Jol will go Dr. Caligari on the team over the summer however.

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