Is Jol just getting desperate?

Shaun Botterill - Getty Images

With Fulham's manager admitting that he is happy to delve back into the free agent market, after 2 signings in the past year, is it a sign that Fulham are getting desperate?

If you were on the outside looking in, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Fulham are in their own, self-imposed crisis. Steve Sidwell, over the past two fixtures, has been our only natural central midfielder in the starting eleven and with Mahamadou Diarra's knee injury still to be fully diagnosed, things could get far, far worse for Martin Jol and his selection headache.

And with that, comes the disguised desperation; Jol's unashamed hunt for some quick, free fix to add to the numbers and broaden the depth. The names of Nigel Reo-Coker, Thomas Hitzelsperger and, perhaps most worryingly, Owen Hargreaves, have all been linked with Fulham over previous days and Jol himself has suggested that he is certainly not afraid to dab into the unattached market and pull out a rare bargain.

After all, it has worked in the past. Diarra, the now unfortunate centre of this whole fiasco, was a free transfer just after the closure of the January window last year and has proven himself to be the solid, smart player of old. His Real Madrid days are far behind but he is still showing glimpses of that palpable ability.

Clearly, the fortune of Diarra's arrival and subsequent upturn in form has given our Dutch manager a certain confidence in the free transfer market - a confidence that defies the widely-held belief that, simply, if these players were any good, they'd already have a club.

Often, though, it's not quite as brazenly straightforward as that. Fallouts with managers, sordid injury records, being too old - they all lead to that place of footballing wilderness that no-one wants to be in and everyone wants to be out of. Michael Owen, Demba Ba, Sol Campbell and Brad Friedel have all been there.

So is there any harm in pursuing these potential saviours? Inevitably, you have to question the longevity of these deals. Will Giorgos Karagounis - someone else that we have already signed up this season - really be around at Craven Cottage for any extensive period of time? It seems severely unlikely.

And, also, with the lack of initial signing on fee comes the burden of inflated wages. Agents know that, without a price attached to their client's head already, they can push any given club for that little extra in salary.

But, even so, if one of these players can do the job sufficiently then there is no major downside. Of course, of the three mentioned, Hargreaves comes with a greater injury risk but, if one of the other two can, at the very least, hold fort until January, when spending can yet again begin to flourish, then the investment becomes increasingly worthwhile.

As it is, the squad is too bare to cope. Sidwell, Baird and Karagounis can all fill in but, beyond that, where is there any strength? Pajtim Kasami considers himself more naturally gifted when behind a striker and, even so, Jol has openly admitted that the best option for the youngster, for now, is to find first team football elsewhere on loan.

In a vain attempt to cover up our deadline day failings, our manager even tried to persuade fans that Kieran Richardson was, in fact, signed to add quality into the centre of the park. Who is he kidding? He's a winger and there's not much more to it.

So yes, maybe we are desperate. Yes, maybe we are clutching at some weary straws. But we've proven in the past that diamonds can be cut from this undervalued market and we may well prove so in the future.

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