This is maybe the most mind-boggling situation and frustrating decision I’ve seen Fulham have to make. And as a fan, I’m certainly not jealous of Martin Jol for being in this spot. It’s also an issue for this summer that’s really been shoved under the rug, overshadowed by the Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele rumors.
The situation I’m talking about is the one of David Stockdale. The Cottagers have a 39 year old rock in goal in Mark Schwarzer, a guy who signed a contract extension this January to keep him at the Cottage until the end of next season. Schwarzer has said he even wants to keep playing at a high level until the next World Cup is over, meaning he could be around Fulham for a few more years.
However, they have a talented youngster……well……crap. He’s not even young anymore. David Stockdale, the now 26 year old man stuck behind the Aussie, is wasting his talent on the bench at Fulham. He’s voiced his frustrations before, and while not having said anything this summer, everyone knows he’s running out of time at Fulham if he doesn’t get a chance. He was even inexplicably left off the England Euro 2012 squad as well, strengthing the argument for him to leave and get first-team time elsewhere, so that he can prove his worth.
Everyone involved with Fulham knows just how talented he is, having stepped in for an injured Schwarzer on multiple occasions, playing admirably, and showing us all that he’s got immense talent, something no club wants to lose for their future.
But now a perfect opportunity has arose for Stockdale to get first-team Premier League action and make a case we all know he can to make the English squad. It’s been widely reported that talks between Robert Green and West Ham have stalled, opening the door for someone like Stockdale to make a first-team impression.
So now I ask you, the fans, what I think is the most difficult question Martin Jol will have to face in his early time here at Fulham. In a perfect world, he can keep Schwarzer until he no longer can play at a high level, and then throw David Stockdale in permanently once the Aussie’s time has come. But we all know Stockdale won’t wait around another year or two on the bench until he’s finally called upon. But on the other side of the coin, Schwarzer has proved more than capable, plus he’s got the loyalty card in his pocket since he’s given numerous quality years as Fulham’s first-choice goalkeeper. So what do you do?
I’d love to know what you think Jol should do. Should he cut ties with Schwarzer after this season and promise the 26 year old he will be the future of Fulham in goal? Or do you sell David, reinvest the money, and hope Schwarzer holds out a few more years? Also, even if you think the club should go with the Englishman, how do you convince him to stick around for another year, given that Schwarzer has signed that extension and will obviously be the first choice for the coming year? A loan might make sense, but then you lose him as your backup option on the bench, leaving the club with Csaba Somygi if Schwarzer – 39 years of age and counting – goes down. I’m sure he’d accept nothing less than a season-long loan, most of which don’t have a recall clause. Lots of tough questions, leave a comment with your solution! It will be interesting to see how Jol handles this scenario.