Thursday, August 14, 2008

Review of the summer - The Attack

Our most stunning piece of transfer business this summer (in fact for some time) has been the signing of Andy Johnson for a potential record beating thirteen million pounds. AJ's arrival, combined with the four to five million pound acquisition of Bobby Zamora, issues a serious statement of intent from the manager and board. Despite my initial reservations, particularly regarding Johnson, these are exciting additions to the team, raising expectations for the coming season. Finding a replacement for Brian McBride was always going to be one of the key targets of the summer and I'm pleased we've been bold in our choices. Beyond our two new stars the pecking order is less obvious. Rich did a nice chart here that highlighted the different facets of our striking options. They could all have a part to play and with the expansion of the bench to seven players may have greater opportunities if Roy is looking for tactical alternatives.

Rank Season 2007-08 Season 2008-07

1 Brian McBride Andy Johnson

2 Diomansy Kamara Bobby Zamora

3 Erik Nevland Erik Nevland

4 Eddie Johnson Eddie Johnson

5 Clint Dempsey David Healy

6 David Healy Diomansy Kamara

7 Collins John Collins John

Nevland impressed me in the limited pitch time he had last season. I'm sure he'll figure to some degree though more likely as a sub. Eddie Johnson seems to have a way to go before being a genuine option, his pace could be a real threat but, in the brief glimpses we've seen so far, he has a lot of work to do on positional play and decision making. As with the midfield a number of players find themselves in various states of limbo. Healy remains an enigma, he has been linked with several clubs over the close season, but if he stays will be keen to show he can cut it in the top division. Before getting injured in an international friendly, Kamara sounded very much like he was ready to move on. He's now likely to be out for several months so it seems unlikely he'll depart before January. Somehow Collins John is still on our books. I'm pretty sure his contract expired at the end of June, but he's young enough to still entitle us to a transfer fee if he moves on. He's not been involved at any level in the pre-season games so seems likely to be on his travels one way or another very soon. The seven subs allocation means that I think we have room for five or six strikers but we could get by with only four. Roy has discussed the flexibility he's looking for in our players and I think we have options to use attacking players from other parts of the squad (I'm particularly thinking of Dempsey and Gera here - possibly even Seol at a stretch ...).

When all is said and done Football is about goals so it is encouraging to see the club spend big money on new faces. I had my doubts about the move for Andy Johnson, but now he's an official part of the team I find myself getting more and more excited about the prospect of him and Zamora forming a potent partnership.

A small footnote to mention the three strikers that were released at the end of last season. Ishmael Ehui and Bjorn Runstrom were never able to make the break through from fringe players into the first team. Jari Litmanen's Fulham career may well have just been an urban myth. Very few people actually saw him in a Fulham shirt and his appearances were pretty much limited to a couple of reserve games and the occasional mention on the official website. It seems appropriate that a player who can claim to be little more than a footnote in the history of our club should be discussed one final time in this one.


Anonymous said...

Collins John is injured, apart from that I agree with all you've written

smfifteen said...

I agree with your pertinent analysis, Chopper. However, I would place (and play) Healy ahead of E. Johnson. Despite Healy's shortcomings, he has at least demonstrated that he has a football brain and can score in the Premiership. Whereas I'm not sure Johnson even knows what the Premiership is: he appears to have fallen from the sky one day and landed at Motspur Park, still wondering where he is and what this strange activity is that's going on around him.

chopper said...

anon - I hadn't realised CJ was injured. Actually did that happen at the end of last season?

SM15 - Thanks. I put EJ ahead of Healy based on what I thought Hodgson's choices would be. I agree he's got more to offer but seeing he's just been dropped from No. 9 to No. 31 I don't think Roy agrees.

Considering two of the seven players are injured it seems a shame to not use Healy to some extent. I guess it will all come down to money at the end of the day. If someone's prepared to pay a decent price we'll let him go.

EJ seemed an odd signing for Hodgson to make. Doesn't seem to be the type of player he would have targetted. I think he could still surprise us though. It does take time for players to settle in so he could yet prove to be a good purchase.

colin said...

I think John picked up this injury around mid-season last year while he was with Leicester. He didn't play when we sent him to Watford, despite the fact that they were pretty desperate for strikers at the time.

Chopper said...

Thanks Colin - that's a shame. CJ certainly has talent, he needs to find aclub where he can utilize it.