We are approaching the mid-way point in the January transfer window and as Fulham prepare to take on Wigan, sitting in a comfortable but uninspiring 13th position in the Premier League table, Martin Jol has already been relatively active in the market.
Last week saw the announcement that 19-year-old Dutch midfielder Chris David would be joining from FC Twente, while the club reportedly remains in discussions with defensive midfielder Derek Boateng. However, should that be the only area the Cottagers should look to strengthen in this month?
Previously, it was thought that in David Stockdale the Cottagers possessed the perfect eventual replacement but his performances since coming into the side in Schwarzer’s absence through injury have been decidedly shaky. Perhaps not a pressing issue when Schwarzer regains fitness, but Jol certainly has something to think about between the sticks in the summer.
Defence: While Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov-led attack has for the most part been entertaining so far this season, defensively the Cottagers have struggled all year long and indeed have one of the worst records in the entire Premier League. Captain Brede Hangeland remains a mainstay but seems to have let his form slip and with rumours of his impending departure at the end of the season continuing to rumble, perhaps it would not be the worst idea for Jol to consider a long-term replacement for the Norwegian.
Certainly, even if Hangeland does commit his future to the club, a new long-term partner is a necessary requirement and should be pursued this January. Aaron Hughes may be a versatile, excellent defender but at 33, his best days are behind him while Philippe Senderos has struggled for appearances, fitness and form this term.
Importantly, all three central-defenders mentioned lack pace and have been troubled by some of the attacking livewires the Premier League has to offer so far this season. Therefore, Jol should certainly be targeting a younger, quicker centre-back at least to compliment Hangeland and, eventually, replace him.
Midfield: As already mentioned, Jol appears to be making moves to solve the midfield problems that have dogged the Cottagers so far this season since the sudden departures of Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey. What the Cottagers desperately need is a creative midfielder and one would hope that the arrival of David is a step in the right direction on that front because certainly, for all of Steve Sidwell and Chris Baird’s abilities, inspirational midfield fulcrums they are not.
Attack: The one area where Fulham are perhaps well-stocked. Berbatov has been a sensation while when fit, Bryan Ruiz has been equally impressive. Elsewhere, Mladen Petric has proved a sharp substitute capable of scoring goals while Hugo Rodallega appears to just be recovering from his extremely slow start to life at Craven Cottage.
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