Sympathy for the board

I have some sympathy for the powers that be at Fulham.  Here are a few reasons why:


1)     We need a lot of improvements.  Like five good players.  You’re not going to find those players now at a price we can afford.  Good players cost at least 10m and if we spend that we expect them to play like Ronaldo. And we need a few of them.

2)     Finding the right player a bit down the scale isn’t easy.  I mean, everyone knows who the superstars are.  Everyone knows who the next big things are.  When you’re shopping at our level nobody’s perfect and while of course good players are bought at <10m, I think it’s probably a bit harder to find consensus internally, find money, get a bid accepted, then get the deal done.

3)     Because why’s this player going to come to Fulham?  We’re threatened by relegation.  The thing is money, of course, and I suspect that’s why we nearly landed Defour from Porto, who may have got a nice payrise despite leaving a Champions League club.

4)     But there aren’t that many players who are young, better than what we have, clearly good players (e.g. not risks), and who are available.  There just aren’t.

5)     This probably goes a long way to explaining why we always do what we do.  Low risk known quantities are available and cheaper so it’s what we end up with.

6)     I doubt very much that these are Plan A, ever.  But if we want a CM and have a list of 5, I bet often the option 5 is the safe, last resort player, and I bet we frequently get that player (over the years I mean).

7)     I suspect they’re trying to be more careful than ever now, given how previous recruitment has gone.

8)     This will probably be complicated by what appears to be a ‘several – not necessarily too many – cooks’ scenario.

9)     Wilkins, Curbs and Rene all probably have different ideas.  When you have committees it’s harder to please everyone.

10)  It might very well lead to inertia.

11)  Added to which, football is football.  In the real world we all think “if I have to get something done in January I start in December so that there’s no silly rush at the deadline” but the way agents, players and clubs are all tied to this silly window means you can’t very well just say “we want Steve Striker, pay them 5m in December and sign him January 1st” because if it was that simple teams would do it.  Contrary to the received wisdom our leadership team isn’t stupid – there’s a reason they spend hours on end working around the clock in January.  As Morrissey said: these things take time.

12)  Added to which, you’re not just trying to buy, you need to sell to clear wage money/squad places.

13)  I bet lots of teams are desperate for Fulham players at the moment, eh?

14)  So it’s tricky isn’t it?

15)  Our best resource is still probably the youth team.  Not just in terms of players but in terms of getting things done.  If we want a Tom Cleverly (to name a stupid made up rumour) we have more chance of getting this done if we send Manchester United a coveted young player.  We do have coveted young players at the moment and it’s arguable that they might be most useful to us in swap deals.  This is very American in outlook – it doesn’t really happen here, does it? – but might be the key to getting the kind of talent we’re so desperate for.  There is no tomorrow for a lot of Fulham’s staff: get 2014 wrong and they’re looking for a new job.

9 thoughts on “Sympathy for the board

  1. When a company is looking for a buyer, they slash spending on new hires and long-term projects in order to and make the profit and loss figures look better. Long contracts and high wages would have been the first thing to go – which means signing (or retaining) promising young players was not an option once Al-Fayed had decided he wanted to sell.

    I suspect that’s why we’ve ended up with a team of mediocre players on loan signings and one-year deals. And the result is exactly what you say – the hole has got deep enough that it’s become hard to attract anyone who can get us out of it. If we can manage to stagger through to the end of the season in 17th place, I expect things will improve pretty rapidly.

  2. No simpathy for the board at all.Most supporters knew the trouble we were in 12 months ago,and some of us 24 months.The board however had no plans at all,even at the opening of this window nothing was in place.Typical of FULHAM they were prepared to play on their fiddle hoping something would turn up.It doesnt in real life,only in ROY OF THE ROVERS,which as you know is a comic.Very apt if fear when talking of this board.

  3. Now now, this kind of reasonable thought has no place at a time like this. What we need is knee-jerk reactions and overpays for the sake of making something happen!

  4. This is a terrific piece. I think I agree with every word. If I were making decisions at Fulham (and you can thank God I’m not), I’d recognize this dilemma by recognizing that bringing in 4-5 players is impossible and an economic guarantee for failure. Moreover, breaking in 4 new players in less than half a season is too much for a team already lacking in cohesion and chemistry. I’d shoot for 1 player of virtually unquestioned quality and overpay for him. Hell – make it a her if we need to. If you believe Scott Parker is our best midfielder, leaving us far too weak there, a #1 quality CM makes Parker our 2nd and Sidwell our 3rd, and suddenly that doesn’t look so ridiculous. The risk of brining in multiple unproven players is that you take Sidwell/Parker out of the lineup for a player who proves to be worse. Spend for the player who won’t be and you maximize your funds and increase your cover. Between that and a kid or two, you energize the team and cohesion is easier, with an injury to the new player as the biggest risk. Flawed, sure. And I don’t know who the player is. But it follows the Whitey Herzog school of bullpen management – the more you try the more likely it is you are going to find a time bomb. Find a proven one and stick with him.

  5. You can lay the blame firmly at Al Fayeds door he asset stripped us and if believe anything else then you are a misguided..

  6. Your last line about everyone on the 2014 staff needing a new job if we get relegated seems like it could be a good or a bad thing. If avoiding relegation this year at all costs is what you prefer, then the decision makers will have the right incentive. If long term success and stability is your goal, then those incentives are worrying (e.g. the idea of swapping promising youth prospects for a player that adds incrementally to the chance of staying up).

    I’m in the latter camp, hoping that one day Fulham becomes an Everton of the south. My sense is that going down to the Championship for a season or two wouldn’t hurt and could even help the long arc of that development (giving younger players more opportunities, a chance for the club to shed overpriced ageing players of which we have many). I hope we don’t “sell the future” as it were. However, I wonder if maybe this path isn’t so rosy. Is it the case that for every Newcastle that bounces back up to the Premiership in better shape than they left there’s two teams that never come back?

    1. Exactly. The championship isn’t just a lower level, it’s an entirely different competition and I don’t know if we know how to play in it. That said you would hope the quality of our young players might eventually show as per Southampton.

  7. I’ve no time for the name the guilty men if we’d have done this instead of that tedium that dominates the message board. We are where we are and next season that will be the Championship.

    Khan can’t be to blame and we’ll discover soon enough how committed and savvy he is. On that I’m optimistic.

    I’d also stick with Muelensteen. Seems to me he’s tried everything and is gradually making us more organised and competitive. The goals we conceded last night were unlucky but we simply didn’t have the quality to take the game to Swansea. No movement up front, no creativity in midfield, poor final ball – not good enough but no magic wand to make it so sadly.

    Next season most of the deadwood will be gone because their contracts are up. We can be optimistic about the quality of the players coming through but I agree that we lack players used to succeeding in the Championship and there’s a tough rebuilding process to be undertaken.

    Don’t know how we’ll do – success, failure or mediocrity seem equally likely to me.

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