Monday, 4 February 2013

Jol Adept in Transfer Dealings

As the bewildered capitalism of Peter Odemwingie highlighted the madness of Transfer Deadline Day at Queens Park Rangers, just two miles down the road, Fulham manager Martin Jol flew under the radar to poach a succession of impressive signings for his club. Alike in geography and demographic, these two West London institutions were comparatively alien in approach, execution, and style. Fulham struck the fine transfer equipoise, whilst QPR flapped about recklessly at the last moment. The approach of Jol will prove more prosperous in future weeks and months, without a doubt.

Armed with an average budget, Martin Jol always seems to get creative in assembling his squads at Craven Cottage. In many instances, he is searching for that hidden identity which will carry Fulham once more into the upper echelon of the league; often he has put faith in experienced veterans, and sometimes promoted an accent on youth. What remains undoubted is the profound acumen Jol has in the transfer market; the Dutchman routinely utilising his profound knowledge of the continental game to extract maximum value for money. In this latest case, the larger-than-life coach dipped into the loan market, and came up trumps with four fantastic catches.

Brought in to help shore up a leaky Cottagers defence, Bulgarian full-back Stanislav Manolev will be a sensational addition. The twenty-seven year old Manolev carved out a successful niche for himself at parent club PSV Eindhoven under the management of Fred Rutten and Phillip Cocu; his consistent and insightful meanderings down the entire right flank setting the pulse of many scouts racing. However, with a reputation as something of a tempestuous type, Manolev's progression stagnated somewhat with the return to control of Dick Advocaat. This opportunity, for both Manolev and Fulham, is intriguing. If Martin Jol can cajole Manolev into a confident spirit, and make him feel welcome in London, then the Cottagers will have one exhilarating player on their hands.

At around the same time as Mr Odemwingie was signing autographs for loving QPR fans, and giving interviews as if a newly-purchased member of the team, Jol announced a further loan signing; that of Ajax midfielder Eyong Enoh. This is a potentially-brilliant deal. An ubiquitous defensive midfielder, Enoh graduated from the Ajax Cape Town satellite team, and has since gone on to make an impact on two Eredivise-winning De Amsterdammers teams. Industrious and infectious, Enoh could well provide the bite which has traditionally been missing from the Fulham midfield.

Emanuel Frimpong, newly-arrived on loan from Arsenal, will also add to the combative side of the Fulham game. The Ghanaian has seen limited action under Arsene Wenger, yet is nonetheless rated highly by the internal power-brokers at the Emirates; this chance to play Premier League football more regularly designed to enhance the midfielders growth both as a player, and as a disciplined person. Again, solid business by Jol.

However, the signing of the transfer window for Fulham was undoubtedly that of Urby Emanuelson. Again, Jol plumped the depths of his Dutch footballing knowledge, to clinch the loan signing of this sensational De Toekomst graduate from AC Milan. Emanuelson lit up the Eredivise during his impressive eight-year spell with Ajax; the Dutch international proving to be a stellar player in a number of different positions down the left side. A veritable Swiss Army Knife in the weaponry of any manager, Emanuelson's great strength is the variety of approached and techniques with which he can beat an opponent. Playing either from deep, or in among the forward line, Emanuelson seeks the ball, and, invariably, produces sensationally on it. For Martin Jol to lure such a talent to Craven Cottage is a testament to his skill for negotiation.

All of these new additions blend into a squad brimming with quality; the names of Manolev, Enoh, Frimpong and Emanuelson fitting coherently with those of Berbatov, Ruiz, Sidwell and Dejagah into a fine hypothetical lineup. On paper, such a team is scary. However, the game is played on grass, and, this season certainly, Fulham have encountered difficulty in producing the collective magnificence each component part is capable of wreaking on an individual level. Thus do these new additions join a side flirting with the boundaries of relegation candidacy, in thirteenth place and just seven points clear of the drop zone.

However, the cream usually rises to the top and, with a squad so laced with quality, Fulham will soon be upwardly-mobile. The injection of such talent and class into a progressive Craven Cottage outfit makes them appear formidable. Over at Loftus Road, on the other hand, chaos seems the only norm.

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