I would like to start by proposing a toast to a man who played for Fulham and gave three great seasons to the club. But it may be in his departure that Paul Konchesky gives his most valuable contribution to Fulham.
In leaving for Liverpool, Konchesky netted the Cottagers two relatively unknown kids who, along with another youngster, could make serious contributions to the club this season.
When Konchesky was sold to Merseyside, attacking midfielder Alex Kacaniklic and striker Lauri Dalla-Valle were sent in the opposite direction. Those two, plus Italian striker Marcello Trotta could be candidates to fill some serious needs in the first team this season after spending the last few years out on loan getting valuable playing time.
Credit the front office for handling these kids well, giving them as much time as possible with loan spells at clubs such at Dundee United, Watford, Wycombe, Bournemouth, and Exeter. They found places where these kids could thrive. Some went very well, including both Kacaniklic and Trotta spending time at Watford, with the former openly expressing his thanks for the positive experience.
We’ll start with the strikers. I’m beating a dead horse by saying Fulham are in dire need of striking ability, even with the addition of Mladen Petric and Hugo Rodallega on frees this transfer window. Many are expecting Jol to make a relatively high-profile move for someone like Jordan Rhodes, for example. However, if our fearless leader believes that LDV (not to be confused with Lyle Della-Verde) and Trotta are indeed ready for first-team action this season, he may not even need to make such a move.
Both men have indeed gotten in the action already this season, netting three of the first four goals of Fulham’s friendly trip around Germany between the two of them. Trotta’s brace started out the match against German 5th division opponents Lokomotiv Leipzig, and Dalla-Valle (or the “Flying Finn” as one of my Twitter followers called him) finished it off.
The main question surrounding these two budding talents is: are they ready? I don’t think any of us are privy to enough information/have watched enough of them play recently to answer that question adequately, but Martin Jol certainly can, and if he deems them ready, get your popcorn ready because it’s going to be a fun year.
The other man we already know fairly well. Fulham fans got to preview the deadly crossing ability and solid possession of Alex Kacaniklic in the latter stages of last season. In addition, many fans were almost left speechless after Kacaniklic came on as a substitute against Norwich for his debut. The Swede blasted a screamer that just clipped the crossbar after being parried by John Ruddy.
Kacaniklic’s best attribute no doubt is his crosses, something Fulham are desperate to find. Their wingers are more goalscorers than crossers, and despite Ruiz, Dempsey, Duff, and even Riise all capable of putting a dangerous ball across the face of goal, I don’t think it’s their forte (except maybe Duff).
With Danny Murphy leaving, a hole is created in the midfield, and although they’re not the same type of player by any means, the midfield is still a position of need. Alex may be a great first-team player, someone Jol can rely on at the very least as a substitute.
Again, with the players at the ages of 20 (Kacaniklic), 19 (Trotta), and 20 (Dalla-Valle), there remain many if’s about how this season will shape up. Don’t be surprised, if Jol decides they aren’t ready, to see more loan deals for this trio. But if they are deemed worthy, they could be a massive bonus to a squad still needing many things.
Add someone like Kerim Frei to this mix, who’s also already featured many times in the Fulham first team, and there could be some exciting days ahead in the home-grown department.