Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Hughes: a clever boy?

I've put off doing a season preview for a while now as it's hard to discern what state Fulham are going to be in for most of the season. Mark Hughes has been in charge for one competitive game and the 0-0 draw at Bolton seemed very much business as usual. Hodgson players in a Hodgson style getting a Hodgson goalless away draw. Sparky just hasn't had the time yet so big changes could be ahead - making predictions extremely difficult to make.
Received wisdom suggests that Hughes will continue Hodgson's style of play, but be a bit more adventurous going forward. That all sounds good to me, but could see the team's defensive capabilities flounder.
Similar to last year, there hasn't been a whole lot of transfer activity ahead of the closing of the window, Man City aside, and I anticipate another mad rush from most teams over the next fortnight as both managers and players panic over the new 25-man squad rule.
Fulham are likely to be involved too if Hughes' comments today are anything to go by with the unveiling of Moussa Dembele (pictured). But where? Every season I seem to say Fulham need more competition at left back and it is again a weak position with only Konchesky filling the position naturally. And he is still linked with an unlikely  move to Liverpool. Stephen Kelly filled in at LB against Bolton, but he's hardly a long term prospect. Even Chris Baird can't play there.
Goalkeeper is another key spot with Schwarzer seemingly wanting away. I'm a big advocate of giving youth a chance in goal so I reckon Stockdale should be given a chance, but if Shay Given was interested in coming to the Cottage then he should be snapped up. Strange that two signings strongly linked to Fulham - David James and Craig Bellamy - both find themselves in the Championship this season. Hopefully the whites will not be following them.
Dembele seems to have strengthened the attacking line, but assuming Johnson E isn't going to get a look in and Johnson A remains injured, another striker will be very useful. Hughes pulled out the stops to get Roque Santa Cruz to join him at Man City which ironically probably makes him too expensive for Fulham unless Sheik Mansour agrees to cover most of his wages. Santa Cruz needs to re-establish himself anyway after a  couple of underwhelming and injury wracked seasons.

Most Anticipated Player: Well it will have to be the new arrival Dembele, as I find it hard to get excited about Senderos and he is injured anyway for six months. From what I have seen on YouTube he appears to be a more physical Kamara, but has been likened to both Theo Walcott and (preposterously) Zidane. A winger who might be converted to striker? Worked for Thierry Henry I suppose, if not for David Bellion.

Least Favourite Player: After last season's heroics, this section will have to remain empty again I think. I realise some people dislike Greening, but I don't really think he has been given a chance other than as Murphy's deputy.

Season Prediction: Without the strain of Europe, if Hughes can continue where Roy left off then the upper echelons of the table are not unreachable. Turmoil at Villa could see an opportunity for other teams to press on. 8th or 9th. Only Ashley Cole has won the FA Cup more than Mark Hughes as a player so he has a special affinity to the cups. In fact as a manager he has reached several semi-finals. Maybe another one this year is possible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Early days by Dembele looks like a fantastic signing lets hope he continues on as he has begun.

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