Tuesday 21st May 2013, 10:20 AM
A deeply unsatisfactory season; the sale of Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey in the final week of August knocked us for six. Very nearly sleep-walking into relegation, big questions need to be asked of both the board and Martin Jol. A repeat next year would almost certainly guarantee Championship football.
Top 3 players
Sascha Riether: a rare and constant bright spark in an otherwise sparkless team. Tireless running, often our biggest attacking threat, he has become a real fan favourite.
Ashkan Dejagah: bought on transfer deadline day from Wolfsburg, injuries meant that it took some time for Dejagah to settle in. When he did, though, he provided excellent and direct wing play, as well as some unheralded defensive work.
Giorgios Karagounis: a 35-year old who arrived as a free transfer in September; yup, that basically sums up Fulham's season. Yet Karagounis has been brilliant and provided the much-needed leadership and calm head that our central midfield required in the absence of Dembele.
Top 3 flops
Steve Sidwell: in the so-called peak of his career, Sidwell totally failed to capitalise on the exit of Dembele to make central midfield his own. Lacking in leadership qualities, the Ginger Iniesta's season was perfectly summed up by his back to back red cards in April. At least he gets a long summer holiday.
Mladen Petric: I'm not so much blaming Petric but Jol; why on earth did we sign him in the first place? A very good finisher but totally lacking the dynamism and physicality to influence the Premier League. He'll go on to score goals elsewhere; he just shouldn't have come to Fulham.
John Arne Riise: if it weren't for Kieran Richardson's injuries and Matthew Briggs' ineptitude, Riise wouldn't have played half as many games as he did this season. He has though, and he has been a shadow of the player we saw last year. Careless in possession, weak defensively; it has not been a good season for the Norwegian.
Highlight of the season
The 5-0 victory over Norwich City on the opening day. That says it all.
It's really hard to judge; are the team's failings down to Jol's management of the board's lack of leadership? I think it's a bit of both. While the board's failure to decide what, exactly, Fulham's plans and ambitions are, Jol has not helped himself. Having announced his desire to lower the average age of the squad when he arrived at Craven Cottage, all he has done is add older players on short-term contracts or loans; this lack of longevity and forward thinking cannot help the atmosphere within the dressing room.
Furthermore, he has been remarkably tactically inflexible given our weaknesses in personnel. It's taken him all season not to realise that playing counter-attack football without any pace doesn't work. Hopefully, one day the penny will drop. With speculation over his future, I can't say I'd be upset should he depart. A poor season all round.
Hopes for next season
My one hope is for greater leadership, at both the managerial and board level. What are the club's ambitions? Is Mohamed Al Fayed still interested? If we are to become 'self-sustainable' then we need a manager who can work under those circumstances; Jol is not that man.
With greater leadership will come stability and improvement. We need to stop thinking from season to season (which ends up being from transition to transition), we need a longer-term plan. If that happens, then there's no reason why we can't challenge regularly for Europe. If it doesn't happen, we may find ourselves slugging it out in the Championship before too long.
Published by: Henry Hoare
Read more: http://pickourteam.com/premierleague/fulham/news/20-05-2013/end-of-season-review-fulham/831878#ixzz2Tuw2bpvP