Now, things slowly to light as Fulham might have a top-shelf keeper just two years removed from being heavily sought after by the likes of Champions League club Arsenal and Manchester United. The keeper has led his club to a World Cup final, and boasts a fair bit of Champions League experience. Admittedly his lack of progression in the famous European competition is what has led to him falling out of favor with his current club.
Really, in an moment of pure speculation my belief to why the club sold Stockdale is that he had value. His low weekly wage and experience makes him intriguing to other clubs. Fulham preyed on that and allowed him to leave gaining a good little fee on a player that had limited worth and using those funds to get better. Sure, that doesn't sound very nice; but business rarely is nice.
I don't mean to seem ugly. Stockdale was sincerely one of the nicest fellows the club has employed the last five seasons. He went out of his way to embrace the fans and make the club look good. He has earned more than a fair shake at the first team position. That never came. I'm sad for him and yet I'm personally okay with it. I'd like to think the club has higher aspirations than him. That isn't to say Stockdale is bad but I want great.
Stekelenburg is not great. He's a player that has limited value. He's basically Stockdale with higher wages. Sure, greater experience and a better pedigree. But that didn't help him save more shots or prevent more goals last season. Speaking strictly in terms of what we can analyze their very similar defensive keepers.
Realize that Stekelenburg is probably not in Fulham because he is determined to prove us, and our perception of him, wrong. And it's not because he 'bleeds for the badge'. It's more likely that he couldn't find that transfer that he desired. It's likely he would have been forced into taking a back-up job had he moved by to Ajax and that's probably something he's just not that interested in yet.
Shoe on the other foot; Fulham probably didn't intend to keep him. It's not as if he's still here because Alistair Mackintosh was trying to see if Magath could restore his value. He is here because the club likely couldn't find a good transfer partner. That's okay. There still exists the possibility that despite the circumstance that both could mutual benefit from his forced prolonged stay.
Maybe he regains some of that illustrious polish and he goes in the Winter transfer window or, more likely given the context and scenario, the Summer transfer window. Perhaps he could ride a feel good story about leading a club from the Championship back into the Premier League. It could happen.
The point is Fulham still--for the time being--retains a talented keeper. With an open mind maybe we can embrace a season of reclamation. Maybe.
Then, again, maybe he's gone by week's end with Fulham buying out the remaining contract years.