Zamora's loss will damage us but we can turn a corner

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 21: Bobby Zamora of Fulham smiles during the UEFA Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round 2nd Leg match between Fulham and Crusaders at Craven Cottage on July 21, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

It's all well and good to curse at him when he turns and walks through the door, but perhaps the ramifications of losing Bobby Zamora to Queens Park Rangers are more serious than we could at all pre-empt last night. And maybe, just maybe, we should be grateful to Zamora for the truly prodigious shift he put in at Craven Cottage over the years.

Of course, none of this hides the betrayal of his act. He can paint over the departure all he likes, with talks of disputes and disagreements, but choosing QPR, in much the same fashion as Mark Hughes did earlier in the year, is a blow of great sentimental value to Fulham fans.

Hughes' departure undoubtedly had a more prominent sour taste to it. He had walked out, amidst ludicrous diatribe in the form of 'lacking ambition' and wanting 'bigger things'. The former Manchester United man left us cut and dry. We were manager-less and, worst of all, we hadn't even come close to expecting it. His departure came out of nowhere, off the back of what was a notably successful campaign for Fulham Football Club.

With Hughes, though, we all found solace in his failures. He didn't find a better club - in fact, he didn't find a club at all until half a year had passed. We also had a ready-made, and arguably harmonising, replacement in our current manager, Martin Jol. That eased the pain somewhat, but with Zamora, the cut penetrates that little bit deeper under the surface.

He was a player of immense value to the club, who offered something that very few players in the Premier League did in that he held up the ball with inordinate ease and fused such a talent with an eye for goal. Zamora brought others into play, he waited for support and kept ahold of possession when it was most vital. All the while, as his Europa League showings in 2010 proved, he could score goals of baffling beauty and, even though his shooting boots appeared somewhat temperamental at times, he could always be relied on when most necessary.

What's more damning than his departure, though, is the lack of proven replacement. It would seem that Pavel Pogrebnyak will be his direct stand in, with his similar build and stature. He's even left footed, too, but maybe the similarities end there. The Russian international doesn't seem to have nearly the same skill set as Zamora with regards to hold up play and work off the ball - all under rated attributes in any player. It seems Pogrebnyak can score goals, but there's nothing prolific to his past statistics and I can't see that changing in the English leagues, where defences are eminently more difficult to break down.

You can't help but feel that there should have been someone else coming to SW6 on the 31st, but it wasn't to be. As it stands, if you ignore our strong threesome of midfielders-cum-strikers (Dembele, Ruiz and Dempsey) we only have Andy Johnson, Orlando Sa and Pavel Pogrebnyak to step up to the plate. This most assuredly means that Marcello Trotta will find himself in or around the squad with a warming regularity, perhaps a sign that Jol's policy on youth really is coming to fruition. But you have to ask the question, is this by design or by accident?

Either way, Zamora's loss is still a hurtful one. He provided something different, and his talks of 'ambition' at his new club up the road will resonate in the ears of all Fulham fans for a long time.

Still, Hughes and Zamora are damages we can probably take at this football club, even if their departures are under particularly bitter circumstances. The England striker only featured with sporadic success this year, but we have easily managed a reputable league standing without much of his guidance while the loss of Hughes never really hit us hard. Trotta may well get his chance to shine and Jol may get his chance to be proved right, not only with the sale but with Pogrebnyak's signing too. There is definitely talent in the Russian, but we will have to wait to see it come to the fore.

Who knew that transfer deadline day would have us turning such a sharp corner so briskly? Life without Zamora starts on Wednesday evening with a visit from yesteryear in the shape of his true founder, Roy Hodgson. How splendidly ironic.

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