Fulham blog: At least we’ve got Berbatov
There are few, if any, Premier League squads that would be able to deal comfortably with the loss of Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey. Regardless of the American’s conduct over the summer months, they are both players of fine quality and will be sorely missed from the Fulham squad. It won’t have helped Martin Jol to see Moussa kicking off his Spurs career with a fine goal on his debut.
September 6th, 2012
Their departures will be felt around Craven Cottage for many months, and maybe even years to come. It was clear as the early kick-off on Saturday started that the holes left by them haven’t been filled with completely obvious replacements.
Fulham were never quite at the races against West Ham United. The timing of the fixture, with the window closing the night before, the two high-profile departures occurring less than 48 hours before kick-off and the manner of West Ham’s usual game was always going to cause Jol’s team problems.
The Lilywhites possess big, strong players capable of adapting themselves to the physical side of the game, even that it isn’t how they like to play. However on Saturday, Fulham weren’t even given the chance to adapt. Sam Allardyce’s side were in their faces from the very first whistle – and before they could react, Fulham were 2-0 down and well on their way to conceding a third.
The second half was admittedly better and positives were clearly evident. Fulham were able to take a certain level of control of the game, even if it was against a team comfortably in the lead. The midfield dictated the play and looked comfortable as a unit. For so long a utility player, Kieran Richardson appeared assured in a central role that he excelled in when at West Bromwich Albion. Most important of all, Fulham showcased Dimitar Berbatov for the first time.
For just £4 million, Berbatov is a steal; even if he just floats around the Craven Cottage pitch from time-to-time looking glorious in white. The Bulgarian is a player of huge quality and almost peerless technical ability. He can, and probably will, change games all by himself.
Of course, the arrival of two former Manchester United players doesn’t replace Dembele and Dempsey directly. They are four very different players. It won’t even get close to replacing the work-rate levels because no-one is expecting Berba to do any defending. He’s there to be marvellous.
At the beginning of the summer I wrote about how Martin Jol would be able to start work on sculpting the team in his own image with a full pre-season. That work starts again with his new look squad.
Fulham fans won’t easily forget the departures of Dempsey and Dembele. They are far too good to be easily replaced, especially when no obvious heirs to them are around. For now though, we can all take real joy in seeing the glorious Dimitar Berbatov in the glorious white of Fulham.