Incase you haven’t heard (which would only be because you’re living under a rock or had a gargantuan amount of meetings all day, both of which I feel bad for you), Fulham officially qualified for the Europa League through Fair Play.
Zoltan Gera, you may commence breathing again.
Fulham will learn who their first opponent will be June 20th, and will play that first qualifying match on June 30th, giving them a total offseason this summer of 39 days. And in actuality, Mark Hughes said he will begin training June 23rd, so chop 7 more days off that. That’s incredibly short, but enough that most of the knocks will probably heal by the start of the tournament (Damien Duff with his Achillies surgery I would assume would be the only one who might come close to pushing that). So, you can expect Mark Hughes to speed up his aquisitions in the transfer window to have them as ready as possible for the start of this qualifier.
We won’t be playing any ridiculously slouch teams either, and Fulham fans know all too well that in Cup soccer, anything can happen (see: Dempsey, Clint vs Juventus). And while I don’t think too many Cottager fans expect their beloved to make the final again (making the group stage is probably a good preliminary goal for now), nobody’s counting it out either.
We will have to wait until the official list to know if Fulham are seeded or not. You can refer to the Wikipedia page if you’d like, but seeing as it changes every 10 minutes, it’s not reliable at this point in time. Wikipedia is great for a lot of things, but breaking news is not one of them.
UPDATE: According to Jason Gatties, Fulham WILL be seeded. This is based on England’s UEFA coefficient (which is #1) along with Fulham’s club coefficient.
If Fulham are seeded, these are the unseeded clubs they could face:
Glentora, Milsami Orhei, Banga Gargzdai, Daugava Daugavpils, Olimpija Ljubljana, Cliftonville, Flamurtari Vlorë, Vllaznia Shkodër, Narva Trans, AZAL Baku, Irtysh Pavlodar, Shakhter Karagandy, Zeta, Banants, Nõmme Kalju, ÍBV Vestmannaeyar, NSÍ Runavík, Ulisses, 2nd placed team of 2010-11 Campionato Sammarinese di Calcio, Neath, Käerjéng 97, Lusitanos, UE Santa Coloma, ÍF Fuglafjørður & Fola Esch.
If Fulham are unseeded, these are the seeded clubs they could face:
Elfsborg, Tromsø, St. Patrick’s Athletic, Quarabağ, Rabotnički, Aalesund, Spartak Trnava, Dinamo Tbilisi, Honka, Varaždin, Minsk, Olimpi Rustavi, Rad, Häcken, Široki Brijeg, KR Reykjavík, The New Saints, Renova, Koper, Birkirkara, Paks, Ferencváros, the 3rd placed team of the Polish Premier League, and the 2nd place team of the Montenegrin First League.
Having covered that pretty thoroughly, it’s time to get into today’s transfer roundup:
-Zoltan Gera didn’t rule out a return to Craven Cottage earlier in the week, but now it looks like he will rejoin both his former club and former manager. Roy Hodgeson looks keen to bringing the winger to West Brom, and Gera also looks ready to leave Mark Hughes, despite what he said earlier in the week. I wish the guy the best and hope he will get more playing time under Hodgeson, who is sure to remember Gera’s contributions in Roy’s magical Europa League run 2 seasons ago.
-Rumors of Clint Dempsey moving to PSG have settled down a bit, but it’s still been in the back of many Fulham fans’ minds. However, now that the Cottagers have qualified for the Europa League, he may be more keen to staying, so long as he gets his requested break time. Hopefully he will stay. Some fans seem to think he’s a bit overrated, citing most of his goals came against lesser clubs, but I still think the new career Premier League goalscorer for Fulham remains a valuable asset, and so does Mark Hughes.
PS: Incase you were wondering, that “living under a rock” link is a screenshot of newsnow in my browser. Yeah, if you haven’t heard, I feel for you.