"To his credit, Sanchez hasn’t spent a single penny speculatively on players who might look good on video but who either turn up to be far from as good as expected or else never manage to get to grips with English football."
Hopes and Fears
A record on one win in five games might not be the best calling card present but, with his excellent record with Northern Ireland backing him up, Lawrie Sanchez starts his first full season in charge of a Fulham squad that is much more up-beat than the one that Chris Coleman oversaw last season.
The same could be said about the fans who are genuinely excited by the prospect of seeing the team that Sanchez has built thanks to an outlay of over ₤20 million. To his credit, Sanchez hasn’t spent a single penny speculatively on players who might look good on video but who either turn up to be far from as good as expected or else never manage to get to grips with English football.
Instead, he has gone for players who have played domestically. Which does not mean that all his transfers are free from skepticism: paying ₤6 million on Diomansy Kamara seems excessive.
In all, the squad has the talent not only to avoid another relegation scrap but also to push for a place in the top half. If Sanchez can motivate them half as well as he did with the Northern Irish players, that could be the minimum target.
Some fifteen months back, Aston Villa were so afraid of losing Steven Davis – in whom Sir Alex Ferguson had apparently identified the replacement to Roy Keane – that they extended his contract making him one of the highest paid players at the club. But, after a season of being virtually ignored by Martin O’Neill, his stock wasn’t valued as highly to the extent that they were practically eager to get rid of him to invest the money in other targets. Sanchez, fully aware of the player’s potential from his time with the national squad was more than happy to pay the asking price.
Something to Prove
Few players his age have as much talent, yet fewer still are those who appear as unwilling to use it. Striker Collins John remains the single most talented forward on Fulham’s books yet he will be one of the least to get games.
One to Watch
David Healy was destined to take the Premiership by storm when he was a teenager at Manchester United, especially when he made his debut for Northern Ireland before he had even one his first senior call-up. Since then, moves to Preston North End and, particularly, to Leeds United have promised to take him back to the top flight but neither ultimately delivered. His big chance comes at Fulham who need him to prove that he is worth the bet they are taking on him.