Friday, 7 August 2009

Season 09/10: Fulham

While the 08/09 season was deemed a huge success thanks to Roy Hodgson's side securing a Europa League berth for the coming campaign, where do Fulham go from here??

Defender Brede Hangeland was recently quoted saying that their aim for the season is Premier League survival. Doubtful. But it is this defender that remains so integral to Fulham's fortunes this seaon.

Fulham fans have every reason to be optimistic this coming campaign.

No, they won't be challenging for Champions League places but expect them to be around the Europa League positions again come the end of the season.

A strong spine to the team consisting of Mark Schwarzer, Hangeland, Danny Murphy and Andrew Johnson (all of whom will remain at the club for the coming campaign) shows that Hodgson has built a sturdy unit, capable of testing the best of teams, as Arsenal found out last season.

I watched them last night brush aside a Vetra side with ease as they qualified for the first knockout round of the Europa League where they have been rewarded with a two-legged tie against FC Amkar Prem of Russia.

The focus for Hodgson, I imagine, will remain the Premier League and attempting to reach the dizzy heights of last season.

Hodgson has shown himself to have a good eye in the transfer market too during his stay at Craven Cottage. The signing of Hangeland has been inspirational. The sale of Jimmy Bullard to Premier League rivals Hull City proved to be a worthy (if not lucky) piece of business as minutes into his debut he injured himself to be out for the rest of the season.

During this transfer window he has brought in promising young right-back Stephen Kelly from Birmingam and brother of former Liverpool defender John Arne Riise, Bjorn Helge Riise from Lillestrom.

With no major departures from last season's squad, team spirit and unity should not be a problem as I expect Hodgson to show faith in a team that effectively punched above it's weight last season, finishing above the likes of Tottenham and Manchester City.

It will be interesting to see if there are any more new faces brought into the squad at Craven Cottage or even any departures, with Arsene Wenger declaring his interest in defender Hangeland, we will see if Fulham and Hangeland can resist the overtures of Arsenal.

If Hangeland remains then Fulham fans can look forward to a European adventure and a season of promise in the Premier League.

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