This image from the first home game is truly poetic. Mitro and TC, goalscorers and spine of this Fulham team, framed perfectly in the centre. Behind them, Blackburn goalkeeper and defender are slumped in resignation. Beyond, Fulham FC are building something…
However, it’s the periphery which has caught my eye. Anthony Knockaert frozen in mid-leap, like he was born on the halfway line at Craven Cottage, and Bobby Reid thrilled to be finally allowed to celebrate a Fulham goal. Both players are on loan. As is Arter. As is Reed. As is Cavaleiro.
If you haven’t seen Tony Khan talk about the transfer window on the club website yet, it’s 23 minutes well spent. He makes a fairly compelling case that this window has been an overwhelming success in our pursuit of promotion. Strong defensive showings against Blackburn and Huddersfield certainly added to his case that we are not dire straits along the back. Whilst I don’t understand the ins and outs of Financial Fair Play, from the sounds of it TK has prudently added firepower without tipping us over the line. Honestly, I’m thrilled.
I do have one concern, however.
Not wishing to look a gift horse in the mouth, I wonder how the loaning system affects the formation of a team identity. Consider the fact that we bemoaned a lack of identity when we languished in the Prem, and consider the fact that a commentator could have called a Fulham match last season thusly;
“Rico rolls it out. Chambers picks it up, passes it on to Seri… to Anguissa, lays it to Babel. Hits it wide to Schurrle… shoots from 40 yards! … Out for a throw.”
In 2019, that has become;
“Reed, to Arter, passes it to Bobby Deca-… Decador-… Bobby Reid. Lays it wide to Cavaliero. Long ball to Knockaert… Shoots from 40 yards! … top bins!”
Who knows what August of 2020 might look like. Our saving grace is the ‘loan to buy’ option we seem to have written into these contracts, where Fulham are able to trigger a purchase at a pre-agreed price. However, we need to be promoted to be able to buy them and still comply with FFP. It’s a roll of the dice. If we don’t get promoted, we won’t be able to buy them, and will have to drop in another batch of players. Start the process of building an identity all over again.
I am borderline financially illiterate, and so I am content to trust TK on that front. But in the modern game, wise economic decisions often trump wise footballing decisions. Let’s hope that Scotty Parker’s Loan-ly Whites Clubs isn’t a flash in the pan, where the short term is prioritised over the long term goal of a club with consistency and a strong sense of identity.
Neither of which are quantifiable on a spreadsheet…