Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The New Manager

Lawrie Sanchez did not make the impact I had hoped for when he came in as Fulham's very own Red Adair. I was expecting direct football, I was expecting passion and excitement, I was expecting a few more wins, but in the end he did the job he was asked to do. Having got quite excited at the prospect of Ronald Koeman (or another high profile manager) coming to the club, and a possible return to the pure footballing style of the Tigana years, I now accept that Sanchez was always the sensible and more likely choice. He's now got the chance to build the team that he wants and has certainly wasted little time in bringing in new faces. I am surprised by the size of the transfer fees reportedly paid so far, I thought Sanchez was brought in as a frugal option, but it seems the board have realised the need to keep investing in the team.

Comments made by Sanchez early on pointed the way to our future. He is looking for players who will give him 100% every week, he will get us organised in every department and will aim to play simple football with every player knowing his role. I think we are trying to emulate the pattern that has proved effective for Bolton and Blackburn and even Reading. This might not be pretty football, but if we can do it well it could be exciting. I also think Sanchez won't be afraid to give youth a chance so Elliott Omozusi, Gabriel Zakuani, Chris James and the like could all see some first team action. Matthew Briggs debut on Saturday at 'Boro last season made him the Premierships youngest ever player at 16 years 65 days, a nice touch by Sanchez, if a little self-aggrandising, and hopefully a sign of things to come.

Lawrie didn't waste much time in clearing the decks with Montella sent back to Italy before the 'Boro game, Radzinski and Claus Jensen released and Lastuvka and Routledge returned at the end of their loans. Ten days into July and we've already got three new players on board and Sanchez has talked about bringing in 3 or 4 more before we depart for Hong Kong, on the 21st July to play in the Barclay's Asia Trophy. Despite my early reservations I like Lawrie, he talks a lot of sense and seems to be single-minded and ambitious enough to succeed at this level. There's a story in the Vinnie Jones biography that says Lawrie was never much liked at Wimbledon and never considered one of the lads. Eventually this led to Sanchez getting involved in a fight with John Fashanu (awooga!). Fash is a big bloke and kept knocking Sanchez down only to see him get back up to his feet each time. Fashanu eventually asked if he'd had enough to which Sanchez replied something along the lines of "I will never give in to you, it doesn't matter how many times you knock me down I'll keep getting up". If Lawrie can instill that sort of spirit in our football team then I think we're going to do OK.

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