A lot of noise has been made regarding Fulham’s perceived squad depth, or lack thereof, both during and after the transfer window.
There can be no doubting that Fulham lost some solid performers, either on free transfer or for a nominal fee, over the summer months. However, I would argue that not only is the current Fulham squad stronger than the one that ended last season, but one of the strongest that I have seen at Fulham. Lets match up the outgoings with the incoming players:
Diomansy Kamara – Bryan Ruiz
I don’t think you can doubt that this is a massive upgrade. Diomansy Kamara may have saved Fulham from relegation, but his time here was incredibly frustrating and his form inconsistant. He never was the 10-15 goal a season striker that Sanchez thought he was brining to the cottage. The verdict is still out on Ruiz, but I would wager that he would not have to do much to have a better record than mr.Kamara.
Zoltan Gera – Pajtim Kasami
Zoltan Gera became a cult figure at Fulham following his heroics in the Europa League. There is no doubt he was like a player born-again playing behind Bobby Zamora in the 4-4-1-1 formation that brought Fulham so much success in Europe. However, in the cold light of day, he was relatively ineffective in the premier league, often shunted out onto the wing. Without his Europa League heroics, I doubt many would have been overly upset at him leaving. In his place we have Pajtim Kasami, a young Swiss footballer. Whilst it would be foolish to call this an immediate upgrade as Kasami has no premier league experience, I really think his addition has made the squad stronger. He has huge upside, and has impressed me in the few games he has played for Fulham this season. A real one to watch.
Kagisho Dikgacoi/Jonathan Greening – Marcel Gecov
We never really got to see much of Dikgacoi during his time at Fulham. Although he impressed at the World Cup last summer, the fact he saw so little game time would indicate that he was not really premiership standard. Gecov cannot be called an improvement yet, but his age means that he has more chance of having an impact. Touted as a potential replacement for Murphy, he is probably a scratch with Dikgacoi, although if he has a positive impact this season he has to been seen as an improvement.
John Pantsil – Zdenek Grygera
Pantsil was an ever-reliable right back until the arrival of Mark Hughes. Last seasons more attacking mentality left him more exposed than under the Hodgson regime and his confidence fell to pieces along with his performances. In his place arrives Grygera who has had relatively indifferent form for the last few years. Not really an upgrade, but seeing as the way Pantsil deteriorated last season Grygera may be more like for like and having played for clubs such as Ajax and Juventus, certainly adds squad depth.
Carlos Salcido – John Arne Riise
Definitely an upgrade. Salcido had a decent first season for Fulham but is being replaced by a top class left back with premier league experience.
Eddie Johnson – Orlando Sa
I liked Eddie Johnson, but there is not escaping the fact that he really was not up to standard for Fulham. The step up from the MLS to the Premier League was too much for him and he had three very uneventful years at Fulham. On the back of this Sa looks like an upgrade. If he can ably back up Zamora and chip in a few goals he will have been a success. Highly tipped at U21 level, he could be the real deal.
Pascal Zuberbuhler – Csaba Somogyi
Ah, to be a third choice keeper. Both have strange names, both recruited purely for back-up and likely never to see a game. Call this one a scratch.
Overall, Fulham have definitely improved as a squad. Many of these players have not had PL experience but the players they are replacing were mainly benchwarmers and secondteamers. Fulham have got younger and more athletic too, which is a huge bonus.