Khan bets big to save Fulham's season

Posted by Phil Mison

The transfer window shut with Fulham involved in a frenzy of activity that saw the revolving door at the Motspur Park training ground spin faster than a roulette wheel.

Bravo to the new club owner, Shad Khan, for putting up serious funds in the last 48 hours; there has been no investment in the side on this scale for over a decade.

With Fulham languishing in the bottom three following Tuesday’s loss at Swansea and Khan tight-lipped over his strategy for the club he bought last August, this blog was pleading for a 20 million pound gamble to stave off impending relegation.

Lo and behold, that’s exactly what we got! Whether the credit goes to Khan for his grasp of the situation or CEO Alistair Mackintosh for loosening the purse strings, we shall have to wait for the dust to settle before finding the answer.

As of now, on the eve of the home fixture with Southampton, the bigger picture at Craven Cottage is transformed from the mood at the top of the week. Two things are immediately apparent: Rene Meulensteen and his staff had clearly done their homework in identifying the players they wanted.

- Fulham sign Mitroglou
- Berbatov joins Monaco on loan

Was the public statement of chasing Ravel Morrison, I wonder, a smokescreen to throw the hounds off the scent, while also serving to unsettle the lad and upset West Ham? Fulham, remember, is a club that is notorious for never coming out tops in a bidding war.

William Kvist got the ball rolling with his loan switch from Stuttgart, the Danish international midfielder coming on the recommendation of captain Brede Hangeland.

That move, though, was quickly topped by the stunning news of a move for prolific Greek striker Konstantinos Mitroglou.

Even as the story broke the player was en route to London and after some haggling over terms, our sensational capture was in the bag. Mitroglou has looked the real deal at Olympiakos and he’s traded an upcoming start vs. Man United in the Champions League last-16 for a relegation scrap with little old Fulham.

Champions League
GettyImagesKonstantinos Mitroglou has scored four hat tricks for Olympiakos this season.

What’s more, the 25-year-old has been tied down to a four-and-a-half year deal, so I guess the player himself doesn’t see Fulham sinking into the second tier anytime soon.

At 11 million pounds he is Fulham's all-time record signing. Just don’t mention the miserable return the club had from our previous three signings over ten million: Steve Marlet, Andy Johnson and er, Bryan Ruiz.

Right now, I don't know much about our new great hope but I’m as excited to see him run out in the white shirt. Fulham have not had a genuine target man to lead the line since Bobby Zamora (and Pavel Pogrebnyak, to a degree).

And the recruitment didn’t stop there: Next to be enticed across was Lewis Holtby from Spurs. You only have to read the disgruntled postings from Tottenham fans to know how highly they regarded the 23-year-old ex-Schalke man. It’s another loan deal for now, but Fulham do have an option to buy come May.

Completing the deals in were Johnny Heitinga, signed on a free from Everton. The Dutch international is a feisty character, but a no-nonsense defender is just what is needed for the side with the leakiest defence in the division.

Then, as the clock ticked down, Rene completed his shopping with two Manchester United starlets, Larnell Cole and Ryan Tunnicliffe. They are ones to watch for the future, hopefully.

As if all that wasn’t enough to keep the club on their toes, Fulham found time also to ship out some dead wood. Quite what AC Milan imagine Adel Taarabt is going to bring to the San Siro is way beyond me, but I’m ecstatic to see the back of him while in Monaco, Dimitar Berbatov has surely found the ideal home for his languid talents.

To Philippe Senderos and Aaron Hughes, however, thanks and best wishes are sent for past endeavours. This season simply proved time and again that they had passed their sell-by date at the Premier League level.

As a page turns at the start of February, there is just a scintilla of frustration that the problem position of left-back was not solved. The club were desperate to push through the signing of Swansea’s Neil Taylor but domestic issues got in the way. We must pray that Achilles heel does not undermine our quest to start moving up the league.

Will the process start with the visit of Southampton? Perhaps not as the game comes too early for all our new signings. Fulham had no answer to the Saints’ high tempo pressing game and aerial threat earlier in the season at St. Mary’s and I would settle for a point. After that, the fixtures get tougher again and you still fear for the club until some wins are on the board.

But what a different pool of players there is now to pick from, compared to those with which the month began. Frantic buying in January is not ideal, yet nobody among the strugglers has purchased to the level of Fulham. Thus, as ever on a match day I will sign off with fresh optimism and our rallying cry: "Come on you Whites!"

And thank you Mr. Chairman.


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