Date:Wednesday May 5 2010
The inevitable result of success for a small club is the poaching of players (and the odd manager) by bigger clubs.
Will this fate loom over Fulham's summer?
The potential departure of Rafa Benitez has seen Roy Hodgson's name move front and centre as a possible successor at Liverpool. There is virtually universal admiration for what Roy's achieved at Fulham, and while some seem delighted at the prospect of having Hodgson bring his tactical brilliance to Anfield, others feel that Roy is not the calibre of manager for such a big club.
However, coaching moves sometimes have a domino effect!
Let's say someone like Martin O'Neill was tapped for the Liverpool job. Who would take over at Villa? While one might rightly argue that Liverpool is too big for Roy; no one could seriously suggest that Villa is too big.
All this may be irrelevant as Hodgson seems pre-ordained as the successor to Fabio Capello in charge of England should the Italian leave after the World Cup.
I'd venture that, if tempted at all, the England job is the one Roy is eyeing. For now, the Fulham faithful will have to hold their collective breath and hope the suitors are few and far between.
Regarding the players, the top of the list is certainly Bobby Zamora. After a slow start, which put him at odds with some of the fans, Zamora has been a revelation.
His 19 goals in all competitions has Fulham on the cusp of European glory, brought a credible FA Cup quarter-final appearance and may yet bring another top ten finish in the League.
His hold-up play has been as solid as ever. Zamora has been impressive enough to bring calls for inclusion in the England World Cup squad. His stock has never been higher.
One might argue that Bobby would be foolish to leave such a great situation or that Fulham would be foolish to sell such an important member of the squad, and while I understand those arguments, I don't think they hold water.
It was clear that Zamora felt disrespected by some of the fans early in the season and he let his displeasure be known. Nothing I've seen indicates that Bobby has 'forgiven' the fans and approaching 30-years-of-age he may be looking to cash-in on his great season by moving to a bigger club and a bigger weekly salary.
For Fulham, it's always difficult to avoid cashing-in on a sought after player. Let's not forget, the club was willing to let Zamora go to Hull for £5m. The package deal that brought Zamora and Pantsil to Craven Cottage was reportedly worth £6.3m.
I've read nothing clarifying how that sum was apportioned, but for the sake of argument, let's say Zamora's cost was £4.5m. I think an offer of £9m would be in-line with Zamora's present value, and I think Fulham would jump at the chance to double their money on such a deal.
Brede Hangeland would certainly be next on the list of players that might draw offers. In comparison to last season, Hangeland has been largely unheralded, but has been just as solid in the centre of defence.
Reportedly, Arsenal has shown the most interest in the tall Norwegian. The Gunners highest priority this summer will be solving their goalkeeping issues, but with William Gallas apparently headed for the exit, finding a strong central defender to partner with Thomas Vermaelen will be crucial, as well.
Hangeland seems content in West London and seems to have an allegiance to Hodgson. However, a chance to play for a club like Arsenal would surely be tempting.
As Manchester United were willing to pay £8m for Chris Smalling, one would think that a player of Hangeland's caliber would fetch somewhere between £10 - 15m.
Considering Fulham only paid £2.5m, offers in that range will be hard to turn away. All this is speculation, of course. Nothing could happen. Roy may sign another rolling one-year contract. Hangeland (or Fulham) might not be tempted by a big money offer. And, maybe there is no interest in Zamora, after all. We will have to wait and see.
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Date:Wednesday May 5 2010
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