Cottagers Confidential: Lewis Dunk didn't play and didn't make the bench for your League Cup match. That's a sign he's coming to Fulham right? We certainly would love to have him. What can you tell us about him, and how likely do you think it is that he switches clubs? Brighton is just trying to keep him past this week so he can't be used against them, right?
Jason: I wouldn’t be so sure. Tony Bloom has gone on record saying that it makes no sense to sell Dunk to a Championship rival. However, everyone has their price. From what I understand you are offering Dunk a large wage increase and so we appear to have three options. Refuse all offers from you point blank and have an unhappy player on our hands (unlikely). Offer Dunk a vastly improved contract (quite likely). Wait till you make the right offer and sell him, claiming it was too good to be true (see Ulloa, L) (also quite likely). Even though we’ve just signed Uwe Húnemeier a new centre back from Paderborn, both our local paper and the North Stand Chat Facebook page are saying he is an addition rather than a replacement. Your chances are 50/50.
You’d get a hell of a player if he went, with future potential too. For a young centre back he reads the game very well (leading the team in interceptions last season) but for much of it he also led our goal scoring. That says more about the pathetic players that were recruited under Hyypia than it does about Dunk but he is good in the air from set pieces.
I expect him to play for us against you. Perhaps he and his agent will have competing dinner invites afterwards though.
(If you’re reading this on Friday and he’s signed please feel free to disregard this bit).
CC: David Stockdale, Bobby Zamora, and Liam Rosenior. Brighton seems to enjoy picking up ex-Fulham players. Who's going to be the next Fulham player you hope to employ in the future.
Jason: Ha ha! Literally no one regards Bobby as an ex Fulham player down here. It’s like the majority of his career as a Premier League player in London never existed! I was interested to see some Fulham fans angry at losing Stockdale as he arrived out of shape and prone to mistakes. He’s buffed up now though and looks a different player. The most interesting thing about Rosenior is that I’m old enough to remember standing on the Putney End watching his dad play for you against us.
Which ex Fulham player would we want? Steve Sidwell played for us briefly and there were silly rumours on NSC linking us with both him and Riise that I got quite excited about at the time. So basically anyone ginger with Premier League experience will do.
I’m quite gutted we missed out on Patrick Roberts though. Ahem.
CC: Brighton had an even worse season than Fulham last year. What makes you confident this season will be better? Where do you expect to finish? Any guesses on who goes down and who goes up?
Jason: We had a truly dreadful season but the two men most responsible left just before Christmas. David Burke, head of recruitment or whatever BS title they give these people these days brought in several League Two quality players for too much money and Sami Hyypia tried to make them play like Germany. This is no more. Burke’s last act was to bring in Darren Bent on loan who gave us the song "we’re Brighton and Hove Albion, our striker is Bent", scored against you, to much pantomime goings on and then buggered off for Derby.
Since then Chris Hughton did the best he could with an awful squad, just avoiding relegation by the skin of our teeth, but he has slowly re-built the squad with some more solid looking players. As well as Zamora and Rosenior we’ve added Tomar Hemed who looks like a proper number nine even though he wears ten, Gaeten Bong, a quick and instinctive left back and a couple of strikers for the future. Uwe Húnemier was Paderborn’s skipper and leader last season but I bet there are no more than three Brighton fans who have actually seen him play. We have a couple of wingers that we’re tracking. If we land at least one, if not two or three more creative players we’ll be fine and should be top half. I also thought we were excellent against Forest, though this may just be in comparison to last season.
I can’t see past Middlesboro, Derby and Wolves for promotion. I’d expect Rotherham to go down and Preston to struggle. The third relegation candidate may be a surprise, perhaps affected by FFP. Blackburn will struggle if they sell their good players and Bolton will if they don’t recruit further. QPR won’t though as they seem to have some sort of Jedi mind trick that makes "special payments" of sixty-odd million pounds perfectly acceptable.
CC: Predicted lineup and scoreline?
Jason: We beat you at the Cottage last season in one of our only decent away performances. Although I expect a better season that performance last year was exceptional and this time round I’ll go for a 1-1 draw. We’ll probably be largely unchanged in a 4-4-2 from Forest:
Bruno Greer Dunk Bong
March Kayal Stephens Lua Lua
Bobby won’t even make the bench.