As many of us have predicted over the course of the last few months, the first move Martin Jol has made this offseason has been to not make a move, thus allowing Andy Johnson to sign with QPR on a free transfer thanks to the expiration of his contract. The club has confirmed his departure, making it official, and thus he will join up with Bobby Zamora, his former Cottage strike partner, once again. It’s a move that makes me think about a few things a bit, but also a move that’s not in the least bit surprising.
We knew he was leaving. He’s 31, and just flat out doesn’t fit Martin Jol’s vision for the club. That, and the fact that he was hurt for not just much of last season, but much of his entire Fulham career, and that kind of liability just isn’t worth it for a team that is looking for higher things. So it was smart for Jol to let him walk.
Here’s the interesting part of it that really makes me think: for all the grief we give Mark Hughes (rightly so) for basically giving our club the middle finger, the players seemed to like him when he was in SW6 and obviously still have a liking for him now. Bobby Zamora certainly did, as he made it clear he wanted to join Hughes at QPR, and now Andy Johnson has said the same thing.
“I have worked closely with Mark Hughes before and there are also players here that I have played with previously, including Bobby Zamora and Shaun Derry. Those were factors in me joining, but this is a big, big club. I have spoken to the chairman and Mark, who both have great ambition for QPR, and it is something that I wanted to be a part of. Mark told me about the plans for a new training ground and how the club wants to go forward. That really excited me.”
It’s clear Mark Hughes, as a manager, is a likeable guy. That doesn’t mean I hate him less for giving us the bird, but it’s something to keep in mind. Whatever he did at Fulham was obviously well-liked. I know that before he went all Benedict Arnold on the Cottage, I was a fan of his as well.
AJ enjoyed a good career with Fulham, and I’m glad he was here. Overall, he scored 13 goals in 86 total appearances. He just didn’t really excel the way people had hoped when he moved to Craven Cottage for £10.5 million, mainly due to a struggle to keep his body healthy on a regular basis. Also, I would probably say that, given his scoring record, Fulham overpaid for him a bit at the time as well. It would have been nice to have sold him in January, but it’s not the fault of the Fulham brass, as Johnson rejected a deal to send him to West Ham. Fulham also offered him a one-year deal this season, most likely to sign him then deal him, but he wanted 2 years, and Martin Jol very smartly refused to give that to him. QPR did though, and they get what they need: their short-term stopgap, as well as insurance to Zamora, to help them avoid relegation for another year.
The mission now for Jol is to replace Johnson and, if necessary, the Pog and Dempsey as well. We’ll see how things sort themselves out, but those contracts expire at the end of June, so things are going to have to happen sooner rather than later. It helps that Pogrebnyak is back from the Euros now with Russia’s embarrassing collapse, and Danny Murphy is back from his holiday as well. So we may see some movement in the next week or two. I sure hope so.