The penultimate club to be considered in this series is Fulham. Last season, the Cottagers were reaching for the stars. A fairytale run that led them to the Europa League final had the fans in awe. This season, however, the Cottagers are reaching for something, but it’s only the rope that will lift them away from relegation.
Mark Hughes recently denied that he was facing the sack and in truth, sacking him would be harsh because there’s little to work with at Craven Cottage. Injuries certainly have made matters worse. Key men like Bobby Zamora and Moussa Dembele have been missing up front. That would surely explain why goals have been in such short supply.
Mark Hughes may not have had the best of times at Manchester City, but at Blackburn, he proved that he can work wonders with a shoe-string budget. That said, he’ll be looking to get as much business done as possible, come this January. What positions need strengthening at Fulham, though?
(1) LB– Carlos Salcido has done well since his arrival from PSV. However, in case of either injury, suspension or a need for a break every now and then, Mark Hughes needs a reliable understudy to call upon.
(2) CM– Danny Murphy is doing a great job of stringing things together in midfield. However, he won’t be in the game much longer. Fulham have a few holding midfielders at the club, but very few creative ones. Mark Hughes needs to purchase an understudy for Murphy. That understudy would eventually replace him.
(3) LM– There is a need for a naturally left-footed winger to add some balance to the midfield. He would also offer a different option when it comes to set-pieces, particularly in the absence of Zamora.
(4) Striker– As aforementioned, Fulham have been lacking firepower. Their talisman, Bobby Zamora, is still not fit. Moussa Dembele is back, but he can’t do it on his own. Andy Johnson has been trying, but he looks a shadow of his former self. The likes of Diomansy Kamara, Eddie Johnson and David Elm have failed to impress. Surely, a priority for Mark Hughes in January has to be a striker. He needs to sell some of his current strikers and bring in new ones who will score goals consistently, thus softening the blow of Zamora’s lengthy absence and taking some pressure off of Moussa Dembele.
So, those are the needs of Fulham. Some may say that the club over-achieved last season and they may be right, but the fact that the club achieved something like that should surely give the fans reason to believe that given the necessary improvements, such an achievement can be equalled or even bettered at some stage in the future.
This January transfer window is crucial for this club. If the right players aren’t brought in, then Mark Hughes and company will have a tough job on their hands for the rest of the season. If the right players are acquired, however, they would be taking a few steps in the right direction. Mark Hughes is a very talented manager who, as was mentioned, can get the best out of a tight budget. Hopefully, he does the same this time around.