Fulham have been in the news a lot lately surrounding the apparent departures of Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey, and the speculated arrival of Andy Carroll. In recent years, Fulham have been a team who have almost reached big things, but have fallen short on several occasions. Could this season bring some success after an impressive 9th place finish last year?
Earlier I posed several questions to Russ Goldman, an American Fulham fan who runs his own weekly Fulham FC podcast called ‘Cottage Talk’. He spoke about Dembele and Dempsey, his thoughts on how next season would go Fulham and the influence of the younger players coming through the ranks. Here is what he had to say:
Question 1) With a very respectable 9th place finish last season, can you see Fulham improving on that in the 2012/13 season?
I can see Fulham improving on 9th this season, but it won’t be easy because the League continues to get more balanced. Martin Jol stated when he came to Fulham that he wants them eventually to be a top six club someday.
I am not going to shoot that high, but I feel it is realistic to contend for a Europa League spot, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the club end seventh. This will be the second season under Jol, and Fulham have not had a returning manager in a few seasons.
This season they don’t have to deal with an adjustment of a new manager, and also will not be playing in the Europa League. Those two factors I feel will be huge for the club this season.
If they can get off to a faster start than they have the last two seasons, seventh could be a realistic goal. I have high hopes for this season for Fulham.
Question 2) If Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele depart Craven Cottage, can Martin Jol fill these big holes that have been left? Who would you like Jol to bring to Fulham?
Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele are two important players for Fulham. Many fans actually expect Dempsey to leave because of his desire to play Champions League Football. It would be difficult to replace a player like Dempsey, but I will tell you that Fulham have two youngsters at left wing that could make an impact. Kerim Frei and Alex Kacaniklic both were able to show glimpses of their ability during last season. They wouldn’t be Dempsey, but they have huge potential to make a difference this season.
Mousa Dembele I feel is more important to Fulham right now, as he has the ability to see a good amount of the ball from central midfield, and get the ball to the players up front. He is still a developing player that I feel needs one more season under Jol to fully develop his ability to score. He would be more difficult to replace, but I have confidence that Jol will find someone to get the job done.
Fulham I feel need a central midfielder, and I would love to see a player like Mark Davies from Bolton come to the club. They have recently been linked with the player. They also need two strikers up front. Hugo Rodallega is a striker that they have been linked with as well that could be a good fit. This player is not a striker but I would love to see FC Twente winger Nacer Chadli head to Craven Cottage. He has been linked with the club often, but nothing lately.
Question 3) With some of the core players ageing, younger players are starting to come through the ranks. Is it crucial that Fulham highlight this?
They have already started the process of highlighting young players. It is extremely important for the future of Fulham that these young players continue to come through. That is one of the reasons I am so high on Martin Jol, because he is committed to get Fulham younger with players that already shown potential to be dynamic.
Fulham’s Under 18’s were crowned Academy League Champions last season, and that shows the improvement and commitment for Fulham to get younger. There is some serious talent down there, and it is possible that we could see some of these players start to get some work with the First Team.
I have already mentioned Kerim Frei and Alex Kacaniklic as rising stars with Fulham, but they have other players that could get some playing time this season. Marcello Trotta is a young Italian Striker who will only be turning 20 years old in September. He went on loan to Wycombe and went on to score many goals. He might get the opportunity this season with the first team.
Pajtim Kasami is a young player that many feel could take Danny Murphy’s role in central midfield. Marcel Gecov is another player that could contend for that position as well.
Also. Matthew Briggs I feel is ready to be a full time left back, but he has John Arne Riise in front of him. Briggs is ready now, and someday hopefully will feature at Fulham.
Jol is not afraid to play some of these youngsters unlike the two managers before him. The future is bright at Fulham, and the young players are a huge reason I feel so confident about Fulham’s future.
Russ provided some great views ahead of Fulhams 2012/13 campaign, and believes they can do even better than last season. The rumours surrounding Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele are changing everyday, but it will be very interesting to see what shirts these two will be wearing come August.
I would like to thank Russ for giving up his time to answer the questions
Follow him on twitter – @Russ_Goldman
Listen to ‘Cottage Talk’ – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cottagetalk