So, the summer window has come to an end, and there are differing views flying around the Fulham fanbase as a whole.
It’s not all singing off the same hymn sheet in the Fulhamish camp either, although there remains a strong positive vibe around the window as a whole. Here’s what each of the Fulhamish squad had to offer about Fulham’s wheeling and dealing this summer.
Transfer windows evoke funny emotions in people. Watching people imploring our board to whack £15 million on perennial-non-settler Fernando Forestieri was a potential highlight, especially considered in the light that when at Watford together, Jokanovic had a tumultuous relationship with the diminutive playmaker.
It’s also pertinent to muse on the notion that the order of how players come in or out of the club has so much of an effect on how people view the window on Deadline Day. Imagine if you will, that the transfers of Ojo and Rui Fonte were switched with the late signings of Mollo and Graham.
Instead of complaints about how the club hadn’t spent the Aluko money, fans would be praising the board for getting a long-term target over the line on the final day. When put into this perspective, it makes sense to look at things only in the light of what we’ve lost and what we’ve gained.
So, from the first team and fringe squad that ended last season, Fulham have ceded Scott Malone, Sone Aluko, Chris Martin, Scott Parker, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Cyriac and Thanos Petsos.
We’ve gained Rafa Soares, Sheyi Ojo, Jordan Graham, Yohan Mollo, Rui Fonte, Oliver Norwood, Marcelo Djalo, Aboubakar Kamara and Ibrahima Cisse.
That’s only a two player swing, but it’s an important one when you consider that there is a production line of talent being piped through the Academy. Without an opportunity at left back last season, would we have been denied the emergence of a certain Ryan Sessegnon?
Potential backup holes at RB or CF could lead to the full inductions for hotly tipped players such as Steven ‘The Realest’ Sessegnon, Tayo ‘Did You See What’ Edun or Stevie ‘Yer Da’s Fave’ Humphrys to seize their own opportunity this year.
Early signs suggest that our other signings may well be upgrades in a number of areas. Rui Fonte’s performance against Ipswich was quite a sight to behold and if he offers the link up play of Chris Martin with the ability to get in behind then he could be the missing piece of the jigsaw.
Whilst Scott Malone provided energy and goals down the left, his defensive positioning and crossing left something to be desired. I’m hoping that the combination of Sessegnon and Soares will be able to plug that gap effectively and with more accuracy in their centring of the ball.
The departure of Sone Aluko has left a bitter taste in the mouth of many fans and I can understand that, but financially the fee was too good to be sniffed at and we’ve got three replacements with rave reviews to fill that gap, in Ojo, Graham and Mollo. Only time will tell if any or all will be able to emulate Sone, and potentially eclipse him.
In Norwood and Cisse, we’ve added legs, poise and power in the middle, as well as much needed depth, and although I think Kamara is not yet ready for this level, there can be no doubt that he offers something different – a raw pace and power that will unsettle defenders.
The balance of the squad looks about right, and the financials add up so that if we need to bring in another big player in January, that is now possible. I don’t know how, aside from potentially at centre back, where the additions would need to come, and in that sense, I would deem this an excellent transfer window for the Whites.
Let’s get behind the boys we’ve not seen yet and get this promotion show on the road.
When we went into the window I’d say that the main priorities for the majority of fans were as follows:
– Sign a striker
– Re-sign Kalas
– Keep Sess
– Keep Cairney
– Sign a GK
– More squad depth
In my eyes, all but one of those issues have been addressed, and the only one that hasn’t, a new GK, has been eased with the early form of David Button. By that reckoning, the window has to be considered a success.
The new contracts for Sess and TC at the beginning of the window were a huge statement of intent, and it meant that speculation could be ceased early doors. It’s brilliant to have Kalas back in a Fulham shirt, and Fonte looks like an excellent signing, as long as we can keep him fit.
I definitely don’t think it’s been perfect though. I’m not 100% sure that the over reliance on loans is a great long-term strategy. For instance what if Ojo, Soares, Graham and Kalas become the bedrock of the team and then next season we need to replace 4-5 first XI players? As much as I rate Graham and Ojo, I’m also not convinced that they are a real upgrade on the tireless industry of Sone Aluko.
Also, Aboubakar Kamara doesn’t look ready for this level and that is hugely disappointing – there surely must have been better ways to spend £5 million? As for Marcelo Djalo… actually, let’s not even go there.
Overall, I think that a 7/10 is fair. The board has done everything required, but a few of the decisions have left me a little bit baffled by their execution.
Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding and judgement can only be made once the results on the pitch begin to take shape. On paper, the transfer window was a really strong one for Fulham – we secured our brightest talents, in the form of Sessegnon, Cairney (and not forgetting Bettinelli) for the long-term, and bolstered the squad in the areas where lack of depth hurt us the most, last season.
Statements that we have not shown appropriate ambition in the transfer window seem misplaced, especially with the signings of Fonte and Kamara for a combined fee of £14m. It’s important to remember that this pairing is our first permanent deals for forwards since 2014.
Additionally, our midfield is now arguably the strongest in the Championship. Cisse and Norwood, in particular, look to have improved our strength in depth there and the prospect of injuries doesn’t strike fear into me as it did last season.
Certainly, there are criticisms that we can aim in the direction of the club. The lack of quality in depth at centre-back could haunt us over the course of the season, and the general feeling is that four quality players in that position over the course of the season, is a requirement.
The signing of Marcelo Djalo feels utterly inexplicable at this stage, however, the emergence of a certain Denis ‘Puyol’ Odoi as a covering centre-half is a surprising, yet positive one. Keeping hold of him is a huge boost to the squad. Signing a new GK must have been high up the priority list but Gianluigi Button’s early season form seems to have bought him at least 6 months grace from the gaffer.
More importantly, there is certainly an over-reliance on loans and in the long-term could certainly come back to bite Fulham, especially in a financial sense. The club have already seen this to a certain extent as Chelsea demanded big fees for Kalas and Piazon after both had storming seasons – this scenario could certainly happen next summer if Fulham wanted to sign Norwood, Rafa Soares or Ojo permanently.
It is a shame that the club hasn’t shown a little more ambition in signing players permanently, although a reliance on the loan market has paid off for Huddersfield.
The club should certainly be applauded for two reasons. Firstly, as the main body of the squad are on long-term contracts – most until the summer of 2019, some until 2020, meaning that finally the club can make profit on players, and also aids the club in adhering to FFP rules. Longer contracts + long payment terms = no transfer embargo – happy days.
Secondly, they have identified and signed players who are clearly going to improve the squad – the prime example being Rui Fonte, who has already in his short cameo with the club, shown a chasm in calibre compared to Woodrow, Kamara and Chris Martin in differing aspects.
Rafa Soares also looks to be a really exciting prospect. The scouting and analysis team needs to be given credit here as this has been apparent since last summer.
Overall, the board has done some good business and have done what was required: keep the core, sign a striker and add quality in depth. 7/10
After such a successful season, the key was to hang onto our best players. Fulham were hugely successful in tying down Cairney and Sessegnon to long term deals, and bringing back Kalas and Pizaon too.
The blemish came on Tuesday evening when it was announced that Fulham’s joint top starting appearance maker from last season, Sone Aluko, had departed for one of our closest promotion rivals.
This blow is softened by the obviously talented Rui Fonte and Ojo, and to top the list of, we haven’t even seen Soares yet. Speculative transfers of Jota and Gayle, as usual, turned out to be just that, speculative.
Considering Fulham were brilliant without getting promoted, the fans should be ever so thankful that the raiders of this not-so-lost ark have largely come away empty handed.
Overall a very positive summer.
Overall I’d say we’ve had a good (7.5/10) transfer window this summer, and have succeeded in bringing in good experienced players. Our starting XI didn’t necessarily need improving massively if you look at our form for the final quarter of last season (bar the play offs).
Bringing in players such as Norwood, Ojo & Graham with Championship experience will undoubtedly help the side. I know that there were a number of people who wanted us to bring in some marquee signings towards the end of the window, but considering last season was the first season which used statistical analysis and, I’d argue, nearly every signing worked out; I’m willing to buy into and put my confidence in the new system.
Also, in a financial sense, I think it’s absolutely great business that we’ve made £12.5 million on two players that we brought in on free transfers just one summer ago.
If he keeps up the form he showed against Ipswich, Fonte could end up being one of the signings of the season, and I have confidence that he will become a key player for us over the course of the campaign.
The way I view our transfer window is very simple: we’ve kept the bedrock of last season’s team and have improved squad depth.
As simple as that sounds, there was actually a lot of uncertainty regarding the futures of Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon which was resolved very early on; we went on to sign strikers on permanent deals for the first time since Matt Smith in 2014; and although we lost a good quality player in Aluko, he’s been replaced by 3 new players in Mollo, Ojo and Graham.
The one criticism I’ve seen is that we didn’t sign a centre back but personally, I’m not sure if we need one. If we had spent big, on Engels, for example, who would’ve been dropped out of Ream and Kalas?
Ream was arguably one of our best players in the second half of last season and we have already kept two clean sheets this season, one with Denis Odoi at CB! This, combined with the fact that Michael Madl didn’t leave, makes me think that we have all the cover we need for CB.
Hindsight might change this opinion, but for me, this is one of the best transfer windows we’ve had in recent memory. Key players have signed new contracts, Rui Fonte looks quality, and we now have about 27 wingers; on with the promotion push!
I’d say it’s been a successful window. Even with some great additions like Fonte, Norwood and Soares, I still think our best bit of business was keeping TC and Sess.
When you consider that we were having to fend off bids for Sessegnon, it looks like a serious coup to keep him when you consider what he could be worth in the future. TC and Sess also seem delighted to stay, which is a huge positive for the club, and one of the things that makes me the most pleased about the window.
Last season, there was too much pressure on players like TC to pull one out the top draw in the dying moments of games, and as such, we needed another match winner this window – I think we’ve got just that in Fonte.
There were some ups and downs with reports of Slavisa getting frustrated, but things seemed to all come together in the last two weeks with a string of experienced players coming in and even recouping some cash and breaking all but even for the window through Aluko’s departure.
All in all, a decent window, especially if you consider how desperate things looked from a transfer standpoint just before the first league game against Norwich.