Over the past few years, it’s fair to say that Fulham have cemented their place as a mid-table Premier League side. Despite reaching the final of the inaugural UEFA Europa League in 2010, average league campaigns year upon year have left them trailing behind their local London rivals such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs.
Could 2013-14 be The Cottagers’ season? The club are certainly looking to improve on last season’s twelfth placed league finish.
After billionaire entrepreneur Shahid Khan, owner of NFL side Jacksonville Jaguars, acquired the club in July for a reported fee of £150-200m, the club have made some marquee signings. Here’s my evaluation of the new faces at Craven Cottage:
Sascha Riether – Following a successful loan spell at the London outfit last season, the Cottagers made Riether their first permanent signing this summer. Having made 35 Premier League appearances last season, the German international full-back is a solid defender who was quick to impress the fans last year.
Derek Boateng – The Ghanaian international – who has made 46 appearances for his country since 2001 – joined Fulham one a one-year contract after recently playing his club football in Ukraine.
Fernando Amorebieta – “I’m impressed with the talent already at the club and look forward to meeting the players,” said the 28 year old Venezuelan after arriving at Craven Cottage following eight years in La Liga with Athletic Bilbao. He has signed a four-year deal, keeping him in London until 2017.
Maarten Stekelenburg – After Mark Schwarzer’s departure to Chelsea this summer, 30-year-old Stekelenburg joined Fulham from Italian side Roma for an undisclosed fee. Standing at over 6’5″, the Dutch goalkeeper made 55 appearances in two seasons for La Maggica.
Adel Taarabt – An attacking playmaker with plenty of flair, Taarabt joins the club on loan from newly-relegated Championship outfit Queens Park Rangers. The 24-year-old told his parent club that he wants Premier League football this season, something that could not be fulfilled at Loftus Road. This is the second time that the Moroccan has played under Martin Jol. The current Fulham boss bought him to White Hart Lane in 2007, whilst in charge of Tottenham Hotspur. Last season, Taarabt made 31 appearances in the Premier League, scoring on five occasions.
Darren Bent – England striker Darren Bent fell down the pecking order at Aston Villa last season after suffering a hamstring injury that – along with the form of Belgian international Christian Benteke – kept him on the sidelines. Like Taarabt, Jol also acquired Bent whilst at Spurs in 2007. His loan to Craven Cottage was confirmed on 16th August.
Scott Parker – With Tottenham Hotspur’s new midfield signings this summer, first-team football was no longer guaranteed for midfielder Parker. The Cottagers beat Queen Park Rangers to Parker’s signature after both clubs had agreed a fee with Spurs. The 32-year-old, who captained England last season, has said that he’s looking forward to helping the team progress even further over the course of his three year stay.
So, do Fulham have what it takes to establish themselves as a successful European club? With anticipation over this season’s Premier League hotting up by the day, we’ll just have to wait and see.
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