The transfer window, where Fulham is concerned, shut on Tuesday with a whimper. As mentioned in the August 5 Club Focus, Hodgson was indeed looking to bring in Elm, and he did just that with hours to spare. It was assumed, however, that it would be the coveted one, Rasmus, who is setting the Swedish league on fire, rather than his brother, David, who, according to Allsvenskan enthusiasts, was far from a likely Premier League target. Perhaps after his year contract is up he will tell his brother what a lovely club Fulham is. Described as a target man who assists rather than scores seems to makes it clear Roy Hodgson must have an obsession for strikers who shy away from goal scoring responsibilities. Elm, then, is presumably in as backup for the Whites’ other target man who assists rather than scores, Bobby Zamora.
The Elm signature seems more bizarre as Stoke managed to capture Tuncay Sanli a few days before. He is a striker who can create his own chances which is essential in the absence of Danny Murphy. This is what Fulham have missed since Louis Saha, why do the powers that be not seem to realise this? It is hardly as if Tuncay went to his boyhood club to rejoin his former manager like Peter Crouch did. He was available, so why was there no contact? Hodgson could even have used this ice-breaker to convince the player: “Tuncay, would you like to live in Stoke, or west London?” No disrespect to Stoke, of course, but Fulham might well have been a more appealing club to join, not only in terms of location (foreign players regularly prefer London to the north), but also the fact that the Cottagers are playing in Europe. Then again, Tuncay is not an unknown playing in Scandinavia, and nor did the manager show any interest, but Fulham fans must be wondering why was the Turkish striker never considered? Lack of funds? Wages, perhaps? Not if you go by anything that has come out of the SW6 management this summer.
Hodgson always assured the fans and the media that there were funds available should the right target become available. Crouch was considered, although no formal bid was made for the player. One might have been tabled, however, had Bobby Zamora agreed terms with Hull. When the maths were done, it seems that yes, Roy did have money to spend, but it needed to be combined with a player sale if there was to be another Andy Johnson-money signing (although at least for Fulham fans their club will be likely to spend more than the team from down the road in the next two windows).
Instead, the most likely reason for missing out on such a player is the sheer lack of urgency to improve the squad. For example, if a Lescott-esque bid had come in for Brede Hangeland in the last week of the window, a replacement simply would not have been brought in. By the time those at the top of the pyramid would have realised the Norwegian was wearing a different colour jersey, there would be three figures in Fulham’s goals against column and England would have won another World Cup.
In fact so slow is Fulham on the uptake, that instead of finalising the transfer of long-pursued Polish striker Pawel Brozek before 5pm, they now must wait until January if they are bring the (much needed) goal-poacher to the Cottage. As it is, things are as-you-were on the Thames. Except, of course, with star performers a year closer to retirement in Murphy and Mark Schwarzer, a injured striker in Johnson, and no solid improvement to the squad in any area. It all adds up to a somewhat anti-climactical end to the transfer window.
It is quite simple to sum up Fulham’s transfer activity – bargain bin, loan deals and short-term contracts are all fitting phrases. Perhaps Mohamed Al-Fayed is waiting to see how the current squad can cope until January before releasing funds. Or maybe he is waiting to see whether other teams spending to survive, i.e. Stoke and Sunderland will be hit hard by the credit crunch. Whichever way you look at it, Al-Fayed is a businessman first, and a club chairman second – and that is not a criticism by any means. It just means that the club is run with one eye on the future not a fixation on the present.
Fulham Club Focus
Long season ahead – July 29
Confirmed: Zamora’s foot does fit in his mouth – August 5
Fulham needs Brede to survive – August 12
How do Fulham push on? – August 18
Roy Hodgson raids the Post Office queue – August 21
Lethargic Cottagers slump to derby defeat – August 25
Makeshift Cottagers shuffle into Europa League – August 28
No ammunition from midfield as Cottagers continue to fire blanks – September 1
Window shut firmly for Fulham – September 4