Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fulham, You're So Moneyball and You Don't Even Know It

So you probably heard, Eddie Johnson is now the fifth and latest member of the "Fulhamerica" contingent at Craven Cottage. Though perhaps more curiously, he is just one of five strikers that Roy Hodgson will have potentially signed by the end of the January transfer window, with Marlon King, Daniel Cousin, Erik Nevland, and even Jari frickin Litmanen linked with the Lillywhites.

That's not to mention the forwards who are already at Fulham, including the incumbent Yanks Clint Dempsey and Brian McBride, as well as Hameur Bouazza and Diomansy Kamara!

Granted, the aformentioned players aren't exactly in the class of Dirk Kuyt, anyone who has watched Fulham play this season can tell you that their problems lie in the middle and the back; their reliance on long balls means they do lose possession and run out of gas too easily. Combine that with the lack of size and an authoritative central midfielder, and you can see why they allow so many goals in the last 10 minutes of the match.

So why another American? And why so many forwards when they really need defenders and defensive midfielders?

First question is easy - Americans are, relative to their value, cheap. Americans are reasonably priced, and for the most part, they've turned out to be decent investments in the past. Plus, they already speak English and the second-class status of the sport in the US means they aren't prima donnas. American players are the soccer equivalent of the emerging market stock - if you know what you're doing, you're going to get great price-to-earnings ratio.

And their insistence on creating a glut of forwards? For the same reason Fulham likes them Yank boys - market inefficiency. My fellow Unprofessional foulers have pointed out that defenders and midfielders are expensive, especially in January when demand outweighs supply, and recent history is littered with January acquisitions gone wrong. Rather than make a desperation buy on a player who might not improve their chances significantly, it's better to buy reasonably priced assets whose value would be about the same in the summer, when they'll either be selling off players (if they go down) or looking to fill their needs in the transfer market (if they stay up).

If nothing else, the surplus of forwards might allow Dempsey, who's often isolated up top and forced to come back deep to get the ball, to drop back into midfield. Anyway, here's hoping that even if Fulham does relegated, at least some of the American 5 will find jobs elsewhere in the Premiership.


E-town Hooligan said...


Precious Roy said...

Can I steal "Free the American 5" (or maybe "Free the Fulham 5") for a post-relegation t-shirt?

JT said...

That should be a t-shirt. Mark it.