Way back in May, when the 2014/15 season ended, many agreed that Fulham Football Club needed major changes during the offseason. A side that was expected to challenge for the playoffs ended up embroiled in a relegation dogfight, and finished 17th. Some called for Kit Symons to be sacked amid a disappointing end of season run. Yet Symons remained as manager and was given funds to strengthen the team. Here we will examine each of Fulham's summer deals and evaluate how well the club did.
Andy Lonergan- The 31 year old British goalkeeper joined from Bolton Wanderers early on in the window, initially signed as backup for Marcus Bettinelli. However, Lonergan has featured heavily early on, as Bettinelli sat out the first couple matches of the season. After Bettinelli tore his ACL against Hull, Lonergan looks to be the first choice keeper until his return, and saved a penalty against Rotherham last week. A solid signing, especially on a free, Lonergan was a shrewd acquisition.
Ben Pringle- Pringle joined on a free the same day as Lonergan, arriving from Rotherham. The 26 year old midfielder was productive for the Millers, steering them to two promotions and bagging 19 goals in the process. So far he has slotted in at left wing and has produced dangerous crosses and probing passes. Pringle scored his first goal against his former club, Rotherham, and hopefully will create and score many more this season. A talented English midfielder with Championship experience, Pringle looks another quality signing.
Tom Cairney- Fulham signed the promising Blackburn midfielder Tom Cairney on a 4 year deal this summer, for a reported 3.5 million pounds. The skillful midfielder hit the ground running, scoring two superb left footed goals against Brighton and Hull. Cairney has been brilliant so far and if he keeps up his early season form, he can hopefully develop into a wonderful midfielder for the Cottagers.
Jazz Richards- The left back spent part of last season on loan at Fulham, making 14 appearances in total. Richards joined on a permanent basis from Swansea in early July, but has so far failed to impress. He possesses pace but is still not an ideal defender, and will most likely serve as a reserve fullback.
Jamie O'Hara- In one of the biggest surprises of the season so far, Jamie O'Hara has excelled in a deep lying centre midfield role. After joining from the disaster that is Blackpool, many thought the 28 year old was past his prime. But a number of battling man of the match performances this year have earned him the nickname 'Putney Pirlo', and with his passionate and dedicated style of play, it is not hard to see why. O'Hara has been one of the bright spots early on, and replicating his performances later on in the season could propel the Whites into the playoffs.
Luke Garbutt- The full back joined on loan from Premier League Everton, but was immediately sidelined by an injury sustained in a preseason friendly against Crystal Palace. When fit he should be a solid defender who offers options in attack, given his top flight experience. An exciting young talent, it was great business to secure Garbutt on loan.
Sakari Mattila- A real head scratcher, the signing of the Finnish international looks more suited to Felix Magath than Kit Symons. Mattila has never played in England before, and has not featured at all in the league up to this point. An odd signing, this feels like the only true mistake of Fulham's window.
Tim Ream- A signing that excited Fulham's American following, Ream joined from Bolton on a four year deal in August. The centre half was desperately needed, considering the abysmal state of our backline, which has conceded numerous crucial late goals this year. Ream was a consistent Championship defender, and has already made our defense look more composed. Overall, Ream is classy acquisition that adds to Fulhamerica.
Joe Lewis- Fulham signed Lewis on a season long loan from fellow Championship club Cardiff. Lewis will serve as a backup goalie for Lonergan, and will probably drop down to third string once Bettinelli returns. He was on loan at Blackpool last year and will be a solid back up keeper.
James Husband- Husband spent last season on loan at Fulham, and joined on a short term one month loan from Middlesbrough this year. He immediately slotted in at left back against Rotherham, and will shore up our defense during his stay. A decent defender, it is a shame Husband will only be with the club for a month.
Ryan Fredericks- Another young defender joining Fulham's ranks this summer, Ryan Fredericks signed from Bristol City on a three year deal. The 22 year old right back started his career at Tottenham Hotspur, and spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough. Fredericks is yet another promising young talent who can defend and attack with vigor.
Richard Stearman- Fulham's only deadline day signing was Wolves centre back Richard Stearman. Stearman made over 200 appearances for Wolves, including 77 in the Premier League, and was voted their player of the year last season. A much needed signing, Stearman has the talent to transform our leaky defense into a clean sheet machine.
In all, the 2015 summer transfer window has been a successful one for Fulham Football Club. Whereas last year Felix Magath signed a multitude of inexperienced gambles, Kit Symons has made shrewd signings with heaps of Championship experience. This year the side has added talent that above all knows the Championship inside and out, a vital tool needed to achieve promotion. It was clear to all that a stronger defense was necessary, and Fulham have signed 6 defenders as a response. A strong transfer window can hopefully turn into a brilliant 2015/16 season for the Cottagers, and with the new look squad, promotion is in our reach.