This post kicks of my EPL team previews for the 2011-12 season. They will be done in no particular order, just by which club suits my mood that day.
Last year finished: 8th
Fulham have made a large stride away from mediocrity this summer by ousting Mark Hughes, and wrapping up manager Martin Jol. Making his return to the Premier League after a coaching spell with Hamburg. Fulham fans look-on in hope and expectation that the former Spurs boss can bring them back into Europa League contention. He is a charismatic figure, a real fan favorite, which is much needed after the departure of the sullen Hughes. It's hard to believe that Fulham, real mid-table mediocrity, was competing in the Europa League final not to long ago! A talented unit, who under Manager Roy Hodgson played out of their skin. Jol will look to recapture such inspirational play, and I would bet that he will be successful in creating that cohesive unit once again
Transfers: Fulham have seen more players leave the club than join. Jol seems to be building for the future through signing of younger foreign talent, an eye for such talent is know to be one of his better qualities.
John Arne Riise from Roma, brings the Norwegian hammer back to the EPL, which is a welcomed sight to many. This talented player spent many years at Liverpool and now can implement his bombarding style in West London. Unfortunately of Arne, he will not be playing along side brother Bjorn- also at club- as he has been loaned to Sheffield United.
Gael Kakuta remains on loan from Chelsea, a player who is still young, but has much to prove. With regular spot at Chelsea not in the cards, the young French-man has been sent down the road a bit, to get some valuable experience. Brilliant in flashes but needs to be more consistent and impose himself on proceedings more.
Signing of Palermo youngster Pajtim Kasami is a perfect example of Jol's eye for young talent, as the Swiss Midfielder looks to have a bright future at age 19.
Kagisho Dikagacoi has joined Crystal Palace on Loan,
Much maligned John Pantsil has signed for Leicester City on a free, after too many lapses in concentration forced his stock to plummet among Fullham fans.
American Eddie Johnson has been loaned to Preston North-End which saddens me deeply, as another American gets sent to a lower division, making viewing the player that much harder for American audiences.
Key to Success:
Clint Dempsey! call me a nationalist, but the tricky American gets around the park, creates space and can score fantastic and clutch goals - just look at the winner against Juventus in the Europe League. For Fulham to succeed Clint needs to be on song and have a healthy striker to link up with.
When all is said, and done:
Fulham does not quite make it to a Europe League spot, which is ok because they are building, but give Aston Villa a run for the 7th spot, but end up 8th like last year.