"The manager recently told Fulham’s official magazine that there would “probably having six or seven players coming in”"
The big-spending days under Mohamed Al-Fayed are long gone so, despite being promised “significant funds”, Lawrie Sanchez is going to have his work cut out in trying to build a squad capable of improving Fulham’s fortunes and keeping them clear of the drop-zone.
The manager recently told Fulham’s official magazine that there would “probably having six or seven players coming in”. That seems a fair assessment in terms of numbers, especially with Claus Jensen, Tomasz Radzinski, Mark Crossley and Mark Pembridge all being released at the end of last season and Vincenzo Montella, Jan Lastuvka and Wayne Routledge all returning to their parent clubs after loan spells at the Cottage. Whether Al-Fayed will provide the funds required to secure players of the requisite quality is another matter. It could also prove difficult for Sanchez to recruit the players he would ideally want, given the spending power of so many of his Premiership rivals these days.
It already seems that where the squad under Jean Tigana had a distinctly French feel to it and Chris Coleman’s team had a strong American influence, Sanchez’s Fulham could well be heavily reliant on players from Northern Ireland, with David Healy (Leeds United), Southampton defender Chris Baird and the Aston Villa pair of Aaron Hughes and Steve Davis all strongly linked with moves to Craven Cottage.
Lee Cook, the Queens Park Rangers winger, is another who has long been mentioned as a potential target. With the QPR board recently announcing that their financial predicament will necessitate the sale of Cook, Fulham will be among the front-runners for his signature.
Further additions seem likely in attack, even if the proposed signing of Healy goes through, with Marlon Harewood, Diomansy Kamara, Mido and Walter Pandiani all being put forward as possible recruits. The Cottagers have already had a double bid (believed to be in the region of £7 million) rejected by West Bromwich Albion for Kamara and his midfield colleague, Jason Koumas, but a fresh bid for Kamara alone appears to be on the verge of going through according to reports. There has also been speculation surrounding a loan move for Lee Chun-soo, the South Korean international winger currently plying his trade with Ulsan Hyundai.
A new goalkeeper is also on the agenda, although talk of moves for Craig Gordon or Scott Carson seem a tad unlikely, particularly with Antti Niemi seemingly set to stay. A long-term loan deal would probably suffice as competition and cover for the Finnish international.
In addition to those that have already left, there has also been reported interest in Michael Brown, Zat Knight, Collins John and Heidar Helguson. Further departures are likely although, given the squad’s current lack of depth, it would seem sensible to start recruiting before any more players are allowed to leave.
The return of Jimmy Bullard after a long-term injury absence will be a major plus point, but key for Fulham is likely to be whom Sanchez brings in to bolster his defence and to provide more firepower. Should they fail to bring in players of the requisite quality, Fulham will be serious contenders for relegation. Much is going to depend on just how much “significant funds” equates to in Al-Fayed’s book.