Fulham - Zamora Situation Looms Large
While Bobby Zamora has enjoyed mixed reviews during his season and a half at Fulham, there is no questioning that over the past three months, he's enjoyed the best form of his Premier League career and Fulham have been the beneficiaries.
Now, we've lost him for at least 8 weeks! The dislocated collarbone he picked up against Stoke is not only disappointing for Zamora, as it interrupts a run of form that has seen him go from a goal-scoring joke frequently employed by various pundits and commentators to having his name mentioned as a possible addition to the England squad, but also incredibly troubling for the Cottagers.
Fulham simply have no one to replace him!
Andy Johnson has only recently returned to squad and is as different a forward in terms of playing style as one could imagine, in comparison to Zamora.
Erik Nevland is a clinical finisher, but not equipped for the week-in, week-out pounding a starting forward must endure.
Diomansy Kamara is still sidelined with an injury, but even healthy, is no replacement for Zamora.
Clint Dempsey can play forward, but is better suited to in a withdrawn position.
That leaves the untested David Elm, who is a complete mystery, as no one has seen him play Premier League football. Who knows what we could expect from him.
Zamora has been one of the best hold-up, back-to-goal forwards in the league the past two seasons, and Fulham's attack is built around this ability, but his recent goal-scoring has just made his presence even more vital to Fulham's success.
So, what recourse do we have?
My personal opinion is that a loan deal is the way to go. Zamora's psyche is somewhat fragile these days as demonstrated by some of his antics toward the Fulham fans in recent weeks.
I'd be against any move that might undermine Zamora's growing confidence or exacerbate the situation. A loan deal for Roma's Stephano Okaka seems to be in the works, but let's keep in mind that this deal was developing prior to Zamora's injury, so one can assume the loan was to provide depth; not necessarily to provide an outright backup for Zamora.
I do not know enough about Okaka to say whether he could fill this role or not. For the sake of argument, let's say that Okaka is not a good hold-up forward.
So, what now? Who could we acquire on loan to replace Zamora? And, let's be realistic here. We're not going to land someone like Ruud van Nistelrooy. Even if we could afford his wage, which we can't, he wouldn't come to Fulham.
So, who's out there?
I'll provide four realistic options:
Cameron Jerome - If reports are to be believed, Birmingham are going after Kenwyne Jones. Should they land him, Jerome would certainly find himself on the bench. Should this scenario occur, perhaps regular football would be appealing to Jerome. He has the same basic style as Zamora, though a bit quicker, and could do the job in Zamora's absence. Not a perfect replacement, but it could work for a couple of months.
Emile Heskey - Heskey is one of the best English holding forwards of all time. He's not getting much time as Villa and seems to be anxious for regular football to garner a spot in the English WC squad. He won't score much, but would be a natural replacement for Zamora.
Jason Roberts - Roberts is not as good as Zamora at holding up play, but he's a big-body who can also score. Certainly not my first choice, but a loan for Roberts could tide us over for a few months.
Benni McCarthy - It's become clear that McCarthy wants regular football and that he's not likely to get it under Sam Allardyce. Though Blackburn does not have a great deal of depth at the forward position, many expect McCarthy to be moving on in the January transfer window. He's a different style forward than Zamora, but a proven goal poacher. I don't think he'd be a natural replacement, but McCarthy could shoulder the scoring load.
Any possibilities there?