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Fulham Season Preview Extravaganza

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Here is a smattering of thoughts on everything concerning Fulham football club. A key guide to acquaint yourself with the club before they begin their epic march from the Championship back into Premier League.

It's time to start our march back to the Premier League
It's time to start our march back to the Premier League
David Cannon

So let's talk Fulham and everything you probably didn't care to know. Sure, you probably want all the cool news about who is starting. But that's lame. Because we are pretty much going to have to wait to know anything for certain? Felix Magath is a hard nut to crack and almost impossible to predict when it comes to game day. Maybe he starts McCormack at striker, maybe he starts Patrick Roberts. It's a guessing game.

Instead of stating facts, which really we don't know, let's look over the roster that we have right now speculate a bit about what we may still need. Then we'll talk about who could be a regular selection and how formations play into that decision. Might we see this famed diamond formation every game or perhaps could there be other possible shapes and approaches Magath might take. I'll take a five year look back at our current manager and how it's shaped him now.

The Turnover from Last Year

Here is a short list of the players that we've lost since May via the trusty sourcing of Wikipedia. Don't get too caught up on the details. There may be one or two little misses here or there. One specifically that stands out to me is Ange-Freddy Plumain. But let's just focus on the fact that there has been a lot of movement in the last three months and the result of that has been mostly positive.

Date Pos. Name To
16 May 2014 ST Dimitar Berbatov AS Monaco Released
23 May 2014 GK Neil Etheridge None Released
23 May 2014 DF Matthew Briggs Millwall Released
23 May 2014 DF John Heitinga Hertha BSC Released
23 May 2014 DF John Arne Riise None Released
23 May 2014 MF Damien Duff Melbourne City Released
23 May 2014 MF Steve Sidwell Stoke City Released
23 May 2014 MF Giorgos Karagounis None Released
23 May 2014 MF Mahamadou Diarra None Released
23 May 2014 MF Derek Boateng Rayo Vallecano Released
23 May 2014 MF Charles Banya Crawley Town Released
23 May 2014 MF Dino Islamovic Groningen Released
23 May 2014 MF Ronny Minkwitz None Released
23 May 2014 GK Max Oberschmidt None Released
23 May 2014 MF Josh Pritchard Gillingham Released
3 June 2014 DF Brede Hangeland Crystal Palace Released
26 June 2014 DF Sascha Riether Freiburg Transfer
26 June 2014 FW Muamer Tanković AZ Alkmaar Released
9 July 2014 MF Pajtim Kasami Olympiakos Transfer
11 July 2014 MF Kieran Richardson Aston Villa Transfer
28 July 2014 GK David Stockdale Brighton & Hove Albion Transfer
29 July 2014 MF Ashkan Dejagah Al-Arabi Transfer

THE CURRENT ROSTER

First, to expand upon a few things here is a quasi glossary of terms or cipher for short handed referenced statistics. That way you know what the hell I'm trying to communicate to you, or at least attempting to.

Sh = Shots

ShC = Shots created

INT = Interceptions

DuelW = Duels Won

BlockedSH = Blocked Shots

/90 = Any specific stat on a ratio of 90 minutes played.

SucPass = Successful Passes made

TOTPass = Total Passes made

SQ90 = Squawka rating on a 90 minute played ratio

*WS Rating = Who Scored rating, this will include time spent with national teams and the World Cup

Forwards

The roster currently has 9 forwards associated with it at this point. At first glance it's one of the deepest particular areas of the roster. Unfortunately it comes with a bit of a asterisks. Bryan Ruiz probably will not be used in a striker role, if he's used at all. Though as pointed out on Cottage Talk he could fill in a roamer role.

Same with Patrick Roberts who could fill in some loose minutes as a sort of central attacking midfield/reserved center forward role. Roberts is only 17 and it's kind of an unknown how much his bright talents might play with the first team.

There is still a strong rumor that Kostas Mitroglou could be had by Hertha Berlin or Bordeaux or Besiktas or well, anyone of a few dozen other clubs that are being circulated. The bottom line is that we are listening and others are talking. I'm not taking a shot at anyone that thinks he'll be sold of very soon. Most supporters expect him to be gone before the window closes, yet he has recently been on show in Austria. All the details pertaining to him create a complicated picture of whether he could or will play into Felix Magath's squad this season.

On the topic of rumors, there was one last week where Hugo Rodallega could be headed out to Argentina and League Champions, River Plate. As quickly as it sparked it has some what died down. Though I think I did see more about the possibility of finalizing details this week. Maybe it was all rubbish.

Finally, Marcello Trotta is back with the club. Last I heard he was going to be loaned or transferred to a club in Italy. And then while compiling this roster I see he is still listed. I did not realize he was even still under contract. I haven't seen him in pre-season and I hadn't heard him even mentioned. I'm starting to wonder if he was one of the unnamed trialist simply because know one knows who the hell he is after three plus years with the club and if he's even still with the club. If someone would clear that I would appreciate it.

# Name Age Nationality Minutes Shots Sh/90 Goals Assists Key Passes ShC ShC/90 Turnovers SucPass TOTPasses pass% SQ p90 WS Rating*
10 Bryan Ruiz 28 Costa Rican 1899 40 1.90 6 5 24 75 3.55 31 724 911 79.47% 18.20 6.94
17 Adam Taggart 21 Australian 1309 68 4.68 10 0 10 88 6.05 N/A 68 275 24.73% 24.96 5.83
20 Hugo Rodallega 29 Colombian 450 17 3.40 3 1 5 26 5.20 20 87 116 75.00% 23.20 6.47
44 Ross McCormack 27 Scottish 4126 143 3.12 28 8 99 278 6.06 N/A 867 1129 76.79% 28.95 N/A
16 Cauley Woodrow 19 English 410 10 2.20 1 0 4 15 3.29 10 134 163 82.21% 8.78 6.59
18 Konstantinos Mitroglou 26 Greek 603 17 2.54 3 1 5 26 3.88 4 87 116 75.00% 16.87 6.2
29 Marcello Trotta 21 Italian N/A N/A N/A 13 N/A N/A 13 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
25 Moussa Dembele 18 French 88 3 3.07 0 0 1 4 4.09 1 14 19 73.68% 3.07 6.26
14 Patrick Roberts 17 English 46 0 0.00 0 0 0 0 0.00 1 15 18 83.33% -45.00 5.77

Bryan Ruiz

First he was good, then he was bad, and then really bad which triggered a loan. Now he's back...for now.

Ruiz_medium

Adam Taggart

Probably a bigger deal in my own headed than any other striker on this club. He is able to create his own shots, takes them in high leverage locations and has age on his side. This was one of the best moves the club made and no one is talking about it. Probably due to the reason of his injury keeping him our of most pre-season activities. Still very excited for him.

Hugo Rodallega

He scored lots of goals last time he was in the Championship and should be fine, right? Wellll... we'll see. Ben Pugsley just wrote a very candidate report on aging curves in the Premier League and I don't see any reason why it wouldn't apply to other leagues. The fact he turns 29 this year scares me a bit in that Rodallega should begin his decline this year. Now, playing in a lesser league probably mitigates that to some degree, or at least that's what I'll assume. I love me some Rody. He's the type that wears his emotion on his sleeve; and as someone who watches games emotional players are my favorite to watch for multiple reasons, so he's someone I plan on watching closely this season.

Rodallega_medium

Patrick Roberts

He's young, good looking and full of energy. Rumor has it a bunch of teenage girls freaked out when he threw them his t-shirt in Jacksonville. He's a bloody big deal. Oh, and he's got a good deal of talent to follow all of that up.

Ross McCormack

A good question was asked by Billy Hawkins, why has he sat most of the pre-season? I don't know that answer. Maybe it's an injury like Taggart? I just wanted to reiterate that question here. Also, he scored a lot of goals last year from outside the 18-yard box. I wouldn't count on him doing that again which should see his goal tally regress. However he's in excellent passer with 99 key passes delivered last season. He might not be the goal scoring machine most think he is but I think he's going to form an amazing partnership with... someone.

Mccormack_medium

Cauley Woodrow - I largely thought Woodrow was overrated. He's also young. He runs. He also didn't take a lot of shots and lost possession in the attacking third too often. Maybe I'm just over critical.

Woodrow_medium

Konstantinos Mitroglou - IF he stays I think he could destroy the Championship. But that's a huge 'if'.

Marcello Trotta - Is he even a member of this team?

Moussa Dembele - Okay, three things. First, his goals weren't all gifted against DC United, but the tandem of both Bobby Boswell and Conor Shanosky was largely terribad. Not trying to take anything away, but no team in the Championship allows a hat trick based on those attempts. However, that finish for the first goal was beautiful. That brings me to my Second point, there is a debate that the thing we know as a "finishing skill" really even exists (see: 11tegen11 for his article as well as statsbomb for their theory). Maybe when you're a 17 year-old playing against other 17 year-olds, talents that are of a certain quality stand out more; but moving into a league where players in that position are of that quality not so much. I'm not sure saying Demeble is a 'pure finisher of shots' is an accurate portrayal of his skill-set, and it probably diminishes other particular skills of note. Third, and last people overate "being at the right spot at the right time". It's a skill but not necessarily a dependable one. I like him better than Woodrow but he's the 4th striker on this depth chart behind Rodallega for me.

Midfielders

Depth is a real question here. And not because there are obvious holes but because there are a lot of question marks associated with the formation and how players are going to be used. In a diamond formation, there is a lot less of a need to have wingers available; but you need efficient passers and players that work well in the middle part of the field. With Ashkan Dejagah gone, it leaves the winger pool rather thin. Alexander Kačaniklić and Adil Chihi are the pure wingers left, though you could throw Ryan Williams and Mesca into the discussion depending on their expected involvement with the first team. If the youngsters do end up playing into the equation as wide midfielders with speed, how does that affect the central mid's? Does Chris David still start in that situation? Where does Eisfeld fit? Can anyone play a legit backup to Parker?

Question marks abound.

# Name Age Nationality Minutes Shots Sh/90 Assists Key Passes ShC ShC/90 Turnovers Int Int/90 DuelsW DW/90 SucPass TOTPasses pass% SQ p90 WS Rating*
7 Thomas Eisfeld 21 German N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
8 Scott Parker 33 English 2313 17 0.66 1 17 35 1.36 4 51 1.9844357977 143 5.5642023346 1161 1350 86.00% 19.57 6.83
11 Alexander Kačaniklić 22 Swedish 1299 19 1.32 0 22 41 2.84 4 11 0.7621247113 60 4.1570438799 279 335 83.28% 8.04 6.43
19 Ryan Tunnicliffe 19 English 166 1 0.54 0 2 3 1.63 4 0 0 4 2.1686746988 27 40 67.50% -0.54 6.33
21 Lasse Vigen Christiensen 19 Danish N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
28 Emerson Hyndman 18 American N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
30 Chris David 21 Dutch 68 3 3.97 0 2 5 6.62 4 1 1.3235294118 4 5.2941176471 37 41 90.24% 68.82 8.1
34 Adil Chihi 26 Moroccan 10 N/A N/A N/A N/A 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
36 Buomesca Tue Na Bangna 21 Portuguese N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
39 Ryan Williams 20 Australian N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Thomas Eisfeld

Supposedly a remarkable talent. Had yet to see first team minutes while with Arsenal. This despite successful appearances with the club in each of their past two pre-season trips to Asia. We also have the wonderful article of Arsène Wenger comparing Eisfeld to Robert Pires. This is all well and good. I still tempering my enthusiasm. There are plenty of former starlets of Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea floating around, as cruel as that sounds, and this is his chance to prove them wrong for letting him go.

Scott Parker

I've kind of supported the idea that Parker won't last a full 46 games. I don't imagine that's a huge leap of faith to take. But the problem I have is the limited depth behind him. We'll talk more about that shortly. The big thing right now is the quality of the performance with the defense will start and last with him.

Parker_medium

Alexander Kačaniklić

Love his speed. I enjoy some of his technical ability. He has to learn to create more shots from out wide. Whether it's working in tandem with McCormack and David or someone else. He has to do more than loose position in the attack third during key opportunities. Oh, and some defensive appearances as well would be nice. Not asking for much but an attempt would be cool.

The issue of him and his status will be addressed in a further post. His role is a rather complicated issue at this juncture by my own judgment and I think it deserves it's own forum.

Kacaniklic_medium

Ryan Tunnicliffe

The forgotten man of René Meulensteen's tenure. Which is a little sad because talking with some United fans they seemed to favor him a bit. I'm not sure if it's just sentimental attachment to a name or because of genuine talent. I'm also confused as to his skill set, he didn't do anything of real note in his few minutes and he doesn't have any standout trait. I would imagine he'll be featured some what on the right side of the diamond tucked in and apt to support Parker. But that's a complete assumption.

Tunnicliffe_medium

Lasse Vigen Christiensen

I honestly missed out on LVC. He hasn't on my radar but when he was mentioned on Cottage Talk last Friday there was talk that he could start. I kind of thought he was a bit green and wasn't sure how much he plays into the equation at the moment. Previously I thought he'd be hard pressed for minutes. However, the Viva El Fulham guys (Mike and Will) have a much better beat on him than I do. Judging from their articles and discussion on the podcast it's possible he could grow into a central figure this season. Or aliens from outer space could come and suck out our brains. It's kind of a crap shoot with younger players, as anything goes.

Emerson Hyndman

AN AMERICAN! EVERYONE GET EXCITED!

Okay, did we get that out of our system? Yes, he's talented and he show cased some of his talents in Jacksonville, but that said I wasn't completely enamored. I thought he stuck out at moments as trying too hard,and overall seemed to have the propensity for either bad decisions or over estimation of how plays would progress, which resulted in some awkward turnovers. That said, his talent is obvious and I wouldn't be surprised to see him become a key piece of this system in a year. In a year. Give him time to develop. I'm not sure I expect him to go on loan but I'd be surprised if he saw more than 300 minutes of first team action this year.

Chris David

David may just be Martin Jol's most redeeming maneuver. Signed just over two years ago he's been brought a long slow. But this year should be given plenty of opportunity. His play through pre-season has been borderline spectacular. Magath's systems all have the commonality of a very technical, central attacking midfield with vision and the ability to provide top notch passes through a variety of means. This would seemingly be David's M.O.

Adil Chihi

It's rather hard to speculate about Chihi. His Wikipedia page is rather slim and finding any data on him is difficult. Basically what we know is he's been in 2. Bundesliga for the better part of a decade while seeing the club relegated twice and promoted twice. During which, according to Wikipedia, he's scored 20 goals through 130 matches.

If you like FIFA you can see they rate him with about average to below average ball skills with a bit of pace. That's about it. Is he good? I don't know. Is he bad? I don't know. He's basically Ashkan Dejagah 2.0 without the previous injury and from a worse team. My guess at this stage is that he may retain the token Dejagah late sub go in and run all over the place spot off the bench.

Buomesca 'Mesca' Tue Na Bangna

He's young-ish. He's got some pace. It'll be interesting to see how or if he's used.

Ryan Williams

Basically, see above. Now add to the fact that he's Australian.

Okay, he's more than just speed. He's got some nice technical ability and is more than just a wide player. He's shown the ability to play inside and tucked in on the right of the diamond during the pre-season. The question that most of us have is whether or not he'll continue to have the opportunities out there. Again, questions marks.

Defenders

The defensive backline is one of the few things that seems a source of strength. Amorebieta and Hutchinson look like solid pieces to build around. Stafylidis and Voser are both swift and exciting young full backs. And the young infusion of talent could be useful.

# Name Age Nationality Minutes Shots Assists Key Passes ShC ShC/90 Int Int/90 DuelsW DW/90 BlockedSh BSh/90 SucPass TOTPasses pass% SQ p90 WS Rating*
2 Tim Hoogland 29 German 1353 7 0 11 18 1.20 50 3.33 84 5.5875831486 1 0.066518847 456 610 74.75% 5.39 6.93
3 Konstantinos Stafylidis 20 Greek 8 2 0 0 2 22.50 0 0.00 1 11.25 0 0 4 4 100.00% 22.50 6.24
4 Shaun Hutchinson 23 English N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
5 Fernando Amorebieta 29 Venezuelan 1846 11 0 4 15 0.73 44 2.15 103 5.0216684724 17 0.8288190683 502 661 75.95% 7.36 6.88
6 Nikolay Bodurov 28 Bulgarian N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
13 Elsad Zverotifc 27 Montegerin 404 4 0 3 7 1.56 4 0.89 22 4.900990099 0 0 134 172 77.91% -13.37 6.23
15 Kay Voser 27 Swiss N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
20 Sean Kavanagh 20 Irish N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
22 Dan Burn 22 English 607 4 0 1 5 0.74 7 1.04 27 4.0032948929 6 0.8896210873 141 205 68.78% -12.31 6.5
37 Jack Grimmer 20 Scottish N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
38 Cameron Burgess 18 Scottish N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A



Tim Hoogland

I've been a fan of this low key move. Another former player of Magath's; Hoogland returned to his old manager and a new club, leaving famed Schalke of the Bundesliga. It'll be interesting to see how he'll be used because as it stands, he's a guy that has moved around positions in the pre-season. Despite the fact that he may be the best rounded defensive player on the roster.

In Jacksonville he was featured on the backend of the diamond in the quasi Scott Parker role--in which I thought he fared well. Getting back and assisting with the counter while helping facilitate passes and the build up as necessary. He's also been on the back line featured in both a central and full back roles.

Hoogland_medium

Konstantinos Stafylidis

SINGLE HANDEDLY MY FAVORITE ADDITION.

I was excited about the video highlights from Crawley Town but watching live and in person did things to excite me. His pace in the attack and in providing width was exactly what is needed from a club that is going to be implementing the diamond formation. He was quick to get back and on the multiple times helped deter counter attacks. His positioning wasn't great but that obviously was part of the plan as Hoogland played deeper as a result.

The thing I realized after the match was that he's only 20 years old. He's on a loan deal with an option to buy. This is a moment where I realized there finally seemed like some resolution to an on going problem.

Shaun Hutchinson

The Scotsman coming in from Motherwell stands 6'2" and is a solid deterrent of aerial attacks. I'm interested to see how he adapts to the English game but really the Scottish League and the Championship is closer in talent levels than most (on both sides) would care to admit. He's got the physical edge about him and while that's always talked about in connection with a promotion push, he's also smart by all accounts. He kind of feels like a British Matt Besler. Though that's probably not even close. I would imagine he gets the lion share of nods to begin the season at right half.

Fernando Amorebieta

Amorebieta is a man that took a few blunt strokes by fans. He out and out deserved them with some very poor decision making early in the season, but seemed to get his sea--or rather Premier League--legs to him as the season progressed. He is most likely the immediate left center back option going out, though he has had little real game time experience with Hutch.

Amorebieta_medium

Nikolay Bodurov

I know next to nothing about Burdov outside of the nice little letter sent by a listener to the Cottage Talk folks. Yet, I'm kind of excited about him. Maybe because I generally view Bulgarians all the same. As guys that smoke, have wizard ball skills and can give/take a punch. I want to make special emphasis on that last little bit.

Personally if we just brought Bodurov to take a red from time to time I'm fine with it. You need a guy on your team that says we aren't to be messed with. Like a hockey enforcer or Rafa Marquez. Every club needs someone like that from time to time just to do crazy shit on the pitch. All that is unfairly stated because I think that it's probably obvious he is here for more than that. I say that for two reasons. One, he has 24 caps with Bulgaria. He was likely one of the better defensive players in his league and this is him getting a chance to test his skill outside the domestic league. This is all very much conjecture on my behalf but it's how I have it in my head. Two, he has scored 8 goals from 4 years of playing. That's moderately interesting and points inconclusively to his assumed skill with headers.

Elsad Zverotifc

I realize that my general disappointment with him and his play is heavily associated with how I think a right back is suppose to play. He's not fast. His crosses are mediocre and generally he's not a very sexy player. Pretty much the exact opposite of how I view the position.

Kay Voser

As for Voser, take what I said for Zverotifc and turn it around. Much like Hoogland, Voser surprised and excited me in Jacksonville. He was a little defensive gnat that jetted up and inserted himself in the attack, often sitting at the corner of the 18 yard box working off David, Eisfeld and Rodallega creating opportunities. Yet, he isn't afraid to take a shot and he's constantly moving and did an amazing job at creating width. He is solid with both feet and is quickly already one of my favorites.

Of course there are the downside. He's not going to deliver many crosses near target and his actual technical ability isn't something to really rave about. His forward attacking skills are going to hamper the defense at times and I'm already calling the four or five times people are yelling for him to get bench because he didn't get back on defense quick enough and the team got burned on the counter. It's going to happen.

But he's got some keen physical attributes and those are always fun. Sometimes ascetically it's better to have a guy that's super fast and can run around than can put a pass on or at least near a dime. This is the case with Voser. He's a roller-coaster ride put into a nice 5 and a half foot package.

Sean Kavanagh

Kavanagh is a guy that may get some minutes but could get a loan spell. At 20 it's not yet a sink or swim situation. Considering the log jam of other candidates and the lack of him really distinguish himself for me. There is Except that he's Irish. And I come from deeply rooted Irish family. My wife is Irish on both sides too and is only a third generation removed from immigration. So with all that I do root for him. a bit.

Dan Burn

Okay--I'm going to make this as less harsh as possible. I think Burn is generally overrated by the fan base. You can't see it but as I type this I'm making a face that shows I'm not terribly excited about making that statement. Really he didn't play all together terrible. But he made a few mistakes and generally speaking needs to polish his game a bit. That sounds kind of picky. The problem is Burn is turning 22 and the expectations for him are and should increase. Last year, albeit unfairly, he was being compared to Brede Hangeland. Those are huge shoes to fill.

Burn_medium

Jack Grimmer

I guess this guy exists and is a thing. He's got a picture wearing the team uniform. That's cool and it seems like he's been around for a while it seems though he's only 20 years old. I kind of half expect the club to announce a loan deal some where a long the lines. Though there is always fan talk that he could step up in a few opportunities. These are my few thoughts on Jack Grimmer.

Cameron Burgess

Burgess is a kind of a hard nut to crack. Others that have seen him more than me like him a lot. He's had quite a showing with Hutchinson in the pre-season and all the supporter talk generally has him higher on the food chain than that of Dan Burn. I don't know really how he's rated by Magath and to be honest without seeing him featured in real games I don't have a very formulated opinion.

He seemed to deal with the counter attack against DC United well enough. Crawley Town didn't show any specific weaknesses in the video highlights that I can recall. Altogether he seems like a professional and I think for someone that is 18, that's quite a compliment to give. Also, he's got an amazing beard which is stunning for his age and he makes the third Aussie on the squad. Combine those two comments and I feel like its the makings of a great nickname.

Goalkeepers

Maarten Stekelenburg

I've said enough on the topic of Stekelenburg. The latest rumor has him gone before the window is closed. Whateves.

Marcus Bettinelli

Maybe unfairly I've viewed Bettinelli as the quasi-token backup but the reality is he could very well push Joronen for the starting job. Or he could be the reason that Felix feels he needs a more veteran keeper. I'm not sure. I think the fact that no "real experienced" keeper outside of Steke is in camp speaks plenty to the talent depth of all three of our young keepers. He very well could be the back-up or starter and maybe, at a certain point this season, he'll be both.

Jesse Joronen

I feel like I think Joronen is younger than he really is. He's like that cousin that you perpetually think is like 4-5 years younger than you and, in reality, is less than 2 years. It's weird. At 21, he's got the majority of time between the pipes this pre-season. That fact leads much credence to the thought that he is the clubs first team keeper--at least in the short term. No one has connected the Whites with another keeper even by erroneous random rumor. Which is weird and interesting.

Marek Rodák

Rodák is 17. He very much looks all of 16. That's not a slight. If someone told me I looked 16 I would take it as a compliment because at 30 I certainly do not look like I did at 16. If he starts in the Championship this should be a great indicator that things probably aren't going the way we would have thought they would go. That statement isn't inherently bad or good. Which pretty much sums up my knowledge of him.

The Manager - Felix Magath

The German boss came to save Fulham. I know most fans hold that billing against him but just having fallen short with a terrible defense and an defunct attack. I felt there was promise should Shad Khan show his monetary support of the new hire. Falling just short as a key loss followed by a draw the last two weeks sealed our fate to the Championship. The token line that everyone spouted was that Magath had never allowed a team to be relegated now seemed like an empty promise and just another unfulfilled goal.

A brief history:

Magath saved a couple of teams (1. FC Nürnberg and Werder Bremen) from the drop off early on in his coaching career in Germany and became known as the guy that can help instill turn around in an organization. However, that persona is a little bit of a half truth as he was fired from Eintracht Frankfurt in January, 2001 after falling into the relegation zone. A feat which the club could not over come and doomed them into relegation. VfB Stuttgart, however, hired him shortly after his Frankfurt dismissal and he led them to avoid it.

While he earned the reputation from saving clubs from the 90's, he went on to be a really successful coach after saving Stuttgart . Leading Stuttgart to international play through UEFA Intertoto Cup which is basically the equivalent to the Europa League. This was followed by leading both FC Bayern Munich and VfL Wolfsburg to first place finishes in the Bundesliga.

He would later move to Schalke, but after having disappointing results and growing player discontent he was removed from his positioned and subsequently returned to Wolfsburg two years removed from his departure to help them stave off relegation.

He would end up leaving Wolfsburg under mutual terms in 2012.

Going forward & Season expectations:


It probably isn't fair but I place a lot of weight for the development of players under his term as manager while in the Bundesliga. I very much expect that here in SW6. Promotion is a must as the target gets smaller the longer you are stuck in the second division. Beyond that I fully expect youth players such as Roberts, Dembele, LVC, Hyndman and Burgess to progress and become tools for down the road. I expect he helps David, Eisfeld and Stafylidis to become top talents.

This season for me is more than how many points the club ends the season with.It's not about automatic promotion or a playoff spot. Those are extremely important to me. It's about the future of the club and building the team through a process that has been cultivated through years of hard work for Huw Jennings. It's now time to see a manager take all of that and start to build from it and put pieces together.


The Expected Formations

Magath has been known to flaunt some different formations. While the diamond has been in vogue through out the pre-season. I would suspect that it's not the whole one used and I don't think I'm alone in that sentiment. I would imagine the added presence of a few wingers also complicates matters and the fact that I don't think any one club should just have a single manner in which they present themselves. Flexibility is important. I'm not big on tactics and generally I think they are a touch over emphasized by fans and supporters alike. However, it does help you to appreciate the skill and awareness players can display on the pitch.

For a little added bonus here are the last three seasons of Felix Magath Coaching career and the formations he or the team he was bossed deployed. You can see he obviously leaned a bit on the diamond in 2009-10 but kind of drifted away from that and then found safety in the 4-4-2 during a relegation battle.

Please note that these numbers are mostly just niceties and don't really add anything other than nuance and maybe context to the discussion. Goals Scored or Conceded are not good indicators to judge the performance of a squad or formation with especially given the sample size of the example.

2009–10 FC Schalke 04

2009-10 Appearences Scored Conceded W D L Points
442 4 6 2 3 1 0 10
4231 5 9 2 4 1 0 13
433 8 11 10 3 3 2 12
41212 13 22 10 8 3 2 27
4141 1 1 2 0 0 1 0
343 2 3 3 1 0 1 3
4321 1 1 2 0 0 1 0
Total
34 53 31 19 8 7 42

2010–11 FC Schalke 04

2010-11 Appearences Scored Conceded W D L Points
442 19 20 20 8 2 9 26
4231 7 5 12 0 2 5 2
41212 6 10 7 2 3 1 9
433 1 1 4 0 0 1 0
4411 1 2 1 1 0 0 3
Total
34 38 44 11 7 16 40

2011–12 Vlf Wolfsburg

2011-12 Appearences Scored Conceded W D L Points
442 23 34 38 10 2 11 32
4231 6 5 8 2 2 2 8
433 2 4 3 1 0 1 3
41212 2 2 9 0 0 2 0
4141 1 2 2 0 1 0 1
Total
34 47 60 13 5 16 44




The Transfer Shopping list

Goal Keeper?

Okay, this is on here as more of an obligatory nod. Not really a "this should really happen because its a serious need". If Felix is good with Joronen or Bettinelli, fine. That's even assuming that The Dutchman is gone. Which last I heard he's not yet out. Sure you can asume he's gone. We've done that with Mitroglou all summer but he's still here too.

Right Back

Vosser is really the only quality right back on the roster. I do not like Zverotifc as I've alluded to earlier, and it seems silly to depend fully on Hoogland and his ablility to play in a pinch. I'd love to see the club grab an extra fullback though this is something of a frivolous request. Stafylidis could likely switch sides if needed and Amorebieta could fill in at left back. There are options on the roster but I'd like to have a bit more at hand. That's, again, purely my preference. Not an indication that the club will make move.

Central Defensive Midfielder

This is my biggest point of contention with this roster. It doesn't have a suitable replacement for Parker at this stage. Hoogland is probably your best option and it seems as though he's more favored a long the backline. I love me some Hoogland but I want a true defensive destroyer type for this roster. If Alistair Mackintosh is taking request I'd would like to see one of

--- Lee Cattermole, Sunderland - Does dirty work, led all midfielder's in the Premier League in Blocked Shots per 90 minutes and is your basic tough SOB. Think of a British footballing John McClane and you're getting the idea.

--- Joe Edwards ,Yoevil Town - Is a younger, possibly better version of Hoogland that has played more defensive mid. He gobbles up loose balls, is willing to put his body on the line and is possibly a very underrated player in the Championship, depending on who you're asking. And can play out on the flanks as well.

--- Will Trapp, Columbus Crew - Forget about nationality and that this kid is American. He's going to be a very good player abroad and he'd be perfect for Fulham in their current situation. He is a defensive midfielder can get to loose balls, prevent shots and also is good at creating them. He'd be a brilliant guy to sit behind Scott Parker. Throw roughly £2mil at him and thank me later.

Attacking Midfielder

Eisfeld, David are about the extent of the attacking midfield depth. While that's good, I'd like to see another piece added for assurance. It's great if someone like Emerson Hyndman pushes for minutes it's bad if we are forced to play him because we lack positional depth. Alternatively you could have Roberts or Ruiz in this role though I'm skeptical that either would flourish.

Wingers

As mentioned above I'm not sure that Felix will stick with the diamond through the whole season. It probably ends up being a primary formation but trying to get both Kaca, Chihi and Ruiz minutes may result in a change of process. I'd like to see another young winger/wide midfielder type added to the squad.

Strikers

IF both Mitroglou and Rodallega are sold off and it's looking like a possibility. We are going to need some depth at the position. Another striker with experience would be nice. It would be cool to grab someone like Marvin Emnes from Swansea on a loan deal (much like what he's been doing with Middlesbough) or maybe a player in the vein Will Buckley from Brighton. Again the idea is targeting players that can play a variety of minutes, provide some suitable performances while understanding they aren't sitting top of the depth charts. If we are looking beyond the English pyramid I would be a fan of Diego Farias of Serie A. He's looking for his annual loan spell and I wouldn't be against giving him some time here. These are all random ideas and serve more as examples than specific players that I want them to target.

Rumors

The latest rumors about Fulham connect them with three different though almost the same individuals.

Oliver Norwood, Central Midfielder - Huddersfield

Norwood has been linked to the club perpetually through the summer but this rumor seems to have a bit more smoke. Maybe that's just more people feeding into it. Maybe there is an actual fire somewhere.

Glenn Murray, Striker - Crystal Palace

Take this with a grain of salt as the Sun has recently connected Fulham (and Reading) to the striker on a move away from South Norwood.

Giancarlo Gonzalez, Centre-half/fullback - Columbus Crew

I spoke earlier about Gonzalez team-mate Trapp, here is the true defensive stalwart of the team being linked with two failed bid attempts from Fulham. Gonzalez of course is also an international team mate of Bryan Ruiz with Costa Rica.

There is probably one or two that I missed here. But these rumors come and go daily that it's near impossible to keep up with the hottest rumor. But think these three emphasize my previous points about what the club maybe aiming for prior to the transfer window closure.

The Summation

This has all been a near 7,000 word under taking and if you're still reading this I feel sorry for you. I've been with this club since 2008 and mostly through the rough spells of the Premiership days. But that said, though sometimes it doesn't show, I like to believe I'm an optimist for Fulham. Generally speaking I support Bryan Ruiz, I feel like Taggart hasn't gotten near enough support since his arrival and I may just be the biggest Kay Vosser supporter in the room.

I'm sure that some of these opinions you disagree with though I urge you to keep reading until you find some common ground. My thoughts aren't completely far fetched and ultimately the aim isn't necessarily to speak to the rugged Fulham Cottager that has been with the club since 1978 and recounts the days of Gordon Davies. Rather maybe someone that is on the periphery who can pick this up and get an idea of what a common American thinks of this club before the marathon of the Championship season begins.

Cheers.

Come 'n Fulham!!!!!