Interested in your views on how replaceable players are. I remember a few years ago, getting to White Hart Lane and finding that Hangeland was out and the much maligned Chris Baird was playing instead. The result: comfortable enough 0-0 draw.
If Hangeland were to break his leg tomorrow I would be reasonably happy that a combination of Hughes, Baird and Senderos would be more than adequate to keep us broadly where we’d have been with Hangeland. We wouldn’t be quite as good, but all of these players can play as part of a functioning back four well enough; I don’t think the drop-off over a season would be *that* great.
Similarly, if we lose Dembele then Steve Sidwell plays more. How much of a difference is that really going to make over a season? Again, we’ll be a bit less good, but not by that much because Sidwell’s a good player who brings extra things to the team.
Dempsey is the big concern, having scored so many goals, but even he can’t be worth that many points a season can he? We managed 16 more points than the team that finished 17th last year. Put another way, that means that our entire team contributed 16 more points than Bolton’s entire team. How many of those can you attribute to one man? If you think Dempsey’s worth 15 points a season you’re effectively saying that the rest of our team is about as good as Bolton’s (aren’t you?), and it isn’t. If Dempsey hadn’t played, someone else would have, and that person would presumably have contributed *something*. The drop-off won’t be that big, even from the best players.
I think this is why teams routinely soldier on after losing their star men. To really get into trouble Fulham will have to lose more than a couple of good players – I simply think we’ve done too much right in the last few seasons to be at risk.