Unusually for this time of the year, there are more talking points on the pitch at Fulham, than off it. Roy Hodgson is his usual quiet self with regards transfers, so the only thing fans have had to shout about is the start Fulham’s second European outing this decade. The Whites played their first competitive match of the season even before August arrived, in a muggy Lithuania, with no new faces in the starting line up. In fact, the only change from the XI that played the majority of games last season was Chris Baird, who replaced an unfit Dickson Etuhu in midfield. Whoever against, an away trip to Europe is never easy and opponents FK Vetra had nothing to lose – which showed in their bright start. Eventually, however, quality prevailed and Fulham ran out comfortable 3-0 victors.
All eyes were on Hull City target Bobby Zamora who, still stalling on a £40 000-a-week offer from the Tigers, must learn to let his football do the talking – and not his mouth. The Lithuanian outfit are not Premier League standard by any stretch, but a goal and two assists against any opponent is a good return – a return which Zamora can take credit for. As mentioned in last week’s Club Focus, the Cottage faithful are split down the middle on the often-misfiring hitman, and this week he decided to answer the half that criticise him – by scoring the first and setting up the other two against Vetra – before undoing his hard work by speaking out against his critics. Analysing his post-match interview, there were comments to please both sides of the Zamora wall. Some fans, last season, complained that the striker did not show them enough respect. But, after the win in Europe, Zamora said: “Their fans were good, but ours were magnificent. To come all the way out here and show themselves in the numbers that they did was sensational, and we’re pleased to be able to send them home happy.” Perhaps all is forgiven, then?
Or, maybe not. Ending there would be fine, showing he wants to please the fans – no-one can complain about that. He went on to discuss his lack of goals – a common complaint and perhaps justified considering his league tally of two last season: “It is another goal for myself, to score some goals personally and for the team and to silence a few people as well.” This writer thinks they would rather cheer you, Bobby. But, when the fans do not count, it does not matter: “But the people who count, my teammates, know exactly what I do for the team.” A prime example there of removing your foot from sinking sand with one hand, and then shooting it with the other.
Behind the scenes, everything is rather vague, with Managing Director Alistair Mackintosh apparently struggling to bring in Roy Hodgson’s targets. No more new faces have been seen this week, except for the imminent arrival of the invisible man, Kagiso Dikgacoi, who Fulham fans have known about for at least a year now but – thanks to work permits and regulations – have had to wait to see him in a white jersey. There is nothing concrete on either the in or out column as loose speculation still hangs over Brede Hangeland – the latest being Hodgson supposedly wanting Arsenal’s Carlos Vela on loan should the north Londoners make a serious bid for his defensive talisman. The manager is, of course, keeping his cards close to his chest, still insisting no bids have been made.
The latest player linked with a move away from the Thames is striker Diomansy Kamara. It seems Hammersmith is not big enough for both Kamara and Zamora, and if the latter rejects Hull, the former could be heading to France, with Bordeaux his preferred destination. In the other direction, Roy was in Europe again on Monday night, only this time he was in Sweden without his players, watching 21-year-old starlet Rasmus Elm play for Kalmar. Everton and now Manchester City are rumoured to be interested, so the Fulham manager will have his work cut out if Mark Hughes’ new employers throw a bit more money around, this time at Elm.