Fulham Focus – Berbatov signing could be the light at the end of the tunnel

Even the staunchest Fulham fan would admit that it has not been the best week for the Cottagers. After their defeat at Old Trafford last Saturday followed a dismal cup exit to Sheffield Wednesday in midweek, star man Moussa Dembele was sold to Tottenham Hotspur. On top of that, the Clint Dempsey situation remains unsolved.

Although the defeat to Manchester United brought a good performance from Martin Jol’s men, a defeat is a defeat and the Cottagers should have approached their Capital One Cup tie at Hillsborough in a determined mood. Aside from wanting to continue their encouraging start to the season, Fulham have not had a serious cup run since their foray to the FA Cup Semi-Final in 2002. The subsequent defeat and poor performance to a lower league club has perhaps disappointed fans more than Jol had anticipated.

However, the loss of Dembele has struck arguably the biggest blow of the week at Craven Cottage. The Belgian had started the season in superb form and as this column pointed to, dominated the midfield at Old Trafford. Interest in Demble has been well documented but with all the focus being on Dempsey, Fulham fans believed that with the transfer window so close to shutting and Dembele proving his commitment by his excellence on the field, that their new talisman would stay.

Thus, the accelerated nature of his departure to White Hart Lane has left a gaping hole in Fulham’s midfield. With a potential replacement in Dempsey refusing to play, the likes of Steve Sidwell and Pajtim Kasami are simply not in the same class as Dembele. The news that Kieran Richardson is in talks to arrive at Craven Cottage, while a good, pacey player who can fill in a variety of positions, will not pacify concerned fans.

So with very little time left before the transfer window slams shut, Martin Jol has much work to do if he is to retrieve the feel good factor that had been present around the club before the events of this week. Moves for Mark Noble have been mooted in some quarters but the potential arrival that has really captured the imagination of the fans is the enigmatic Dimitar Berbatov.

Jol’s announcement to fulhamfc.com that Berbatov would shortly join the Cottagers can potentially reignite Fulham’s stalling start to the campaign. The Bulgarian has his critics but he would offer the skill and creativity of Dembele but additionally, the goals that were lacking from the Belgian’s game. Indeed, 27 goals in his last 44 league games would bring a goalscoring threat Fulham have not had since Louis Saha.

Having worked with Berbatov to such great effect at Tottenham, Jol will feel he can get the best out of him at Craven Cottage. Of course, at the time of writing, the Dempsey headache remains but the imminent signing of Berbatov would at least provide some relief to a difficult week.

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