I’m sure a lot of clubs have their equivalent of “Fulhamish” phrases such as “Lads it’s Tottenham” and “Same old Arsenal” come to mind. Fulhamish is an adjective that describes something bad happening to a football team in a comedic way, something that has plagued Fulham FC for years prior.
Icelandic midfielder Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson has been making a name for himself this season. If like me you have Fulham’s Twitter on notifications you will surely have seen that Thorsteinsson has been on fire this season. Scoring 7 in 21 from midfield the 19 year-old has aspirations of reaching the first team in the coming years.
In the past 24 hours it has been confirmed by multiple news outlets that Stefano Okaka may be returning to Craven Cottage 8 years after his first loan spell.
There is a serious interest from Fulham however, there is a stumbling block that may force The Whites to look elsewhere. Watford are asking for a £2m loan fee for Okaka.
£2m for a 6 month loan seems very steep although, it is a risk that may pay off if the Italian forward can fire Fulham to the Premier League. Fulham are currently only 5 points away from 2nd place in The Championship.
They are also the 2nd highest scorers in the league trailing only Wolves however goals from their strikers have been hard to come by. Aboubakar Kamara has hit good form recently however his goal tally stands at only seven for the season. Summer signing Rui Fonte has fared even worse scoring only three during this campaign.
It is clear to see why Fulham want to bolster their attack as Wednesday’s deadline approaches. Will Fulham pay £2m to have a striker for 6 months? If history is anything to go by then yes. In January 2012 Fulham paid £4m to sign Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak on a 6 month contract. Pogrebnyak had a great half season at Fulham but moved to Reading when his contract was up in the summer.
Stefano Okaka has played for Fulham before in 2010 he joined on loan playing 11 games and scoring twice.
Fulham captain Tom Cairney is set to leave The Whites during the January transfer window joining London rivals West Ham United. A £15 million bid was rejected earlier this week by The Cottagers however a revised bid including add ons is thought to have been accepted.
Cairney is one of the most talented midfielders in the championship and is definitely cut out for Premier League football. The arrival of Cairney at West Ham however could pave the way for the departure of Manuel Lanzini.
Fulham have seemingly already set their targets on Cairney’s replacement. As I reported on twitter earlier this week Fulham have made contact with Rubin Kazan over the transfer of Ex Blackburn Rovers midfielder Ruben Rochina.
It is thought that Rochina would be a direct replacement for the departing captain adopting the same attacking midfield role.
Rochina always looked a talent in the Premier League during his time with Blackburn Rovers. The 26 year-old looks set for a return to England after leaving the Lancashire side in 2014. Rochina scored his first ever Premier League goal against Fulham in a 1-1 draw most remembered for the debut of Bryan Ruiz.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have just been beaten narrowly by the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game; being denied the opportunity reach the Super Bowl for the first time in their history.
It was no secret that Fulham were pursuing Dwight Gayle over the summer but the deal fell through after Newcastle were unable to sign a replacement in time.
When you look through a list of Balon d’Or winners you see a who’s who of the biggest names in football history. From Stanley Matthews to Cristiano Ronaldo; every winner of the Balon d’Or has gone down in footballing history as an icon of the game. Every winner except for two. Oleh Blokhin and Igor Belanov. Two Balon d’Or winners from Dinamo Kyiv in 1975 and 1986.
So why did they win the most prestigious individual award in football in these years? In both years Kyiv won the Cup Winners Cup with Belanov leading the scoring charts in the competition in 1986. But surely that isn’t enough to warrant being called the best European player for that year.
Beginning with the 1975 winner Oleh Blokhin. A Ukranian striker who had a fantastic goalscoring record in the then Soviet League. scoring a career league total of 225 goals in 495 games. A great return for any striker but in a league of that quality should he have been a Balon d’Or winner?
In 1975 he scored 23 in 36 appearances in all competitions including five goals in eight appearances in the cup winners cup. Although it is a good return it is nowhere near good enough to be the called the best player in Europe. To score 18 in a poor league in the Soviet Union and 5 in Europes B list competition albeit in a winning effort. He wasn’t scoring at an unbelievable rate especially when you compare it to Jupp Heynckes who places 7th in that years Balon d’Or vote who scored 42 in 43 in the 74-75 season and won the UEFA Cup with Borussia Monchengladbach. Or Gerd Muller who scored 30 in 43 in that season as well as being the joint top scorer in the European Cup with 5 goals as Bayern Munich went on to win it. Muller only got 4 points in the Balon D’or voting whereas Blokhin got almost 3 times as many votes as second place Franz Beckenbauer who captained Bayern to the second of three consecutive European Cup wins.
Fast Forward 11 years and another Dinamo Kyiv player was picking up the award. Igor Belanov. A similar story to Blokhin in that Kyiv won the Cup Winners Cup and Belanov topped the scoring charts joint on 5 goals with no other than Oleh Blokhin himself. So why did Belanov win the Balon D’or in 1986? Upon further inspection, Belanovs top goalscorer award is not the amazing feat of goalscoring that it seemed. three of his goals were against minnows Universitatea Craiova as well as a brace against another small side in Rapid Wien. His other two goals were penalties.
There was an obvious winner that year in Diego Maradona but in those years the award was only open to European players. Even still there were two much more obvious choices than Belanov with Gary Lineker and Helmuth Duckadam. Scoring 38 in 52 for Everton in the 85-86 season, going to the World Cup in Mexico scoring 6 goals and winning the golden boot in the process. Then getting a move to Barcelona and continuing to score at a fantastic rate. Of course, there is much more to football than goals and stats but When Lineker was scoring at that rate as well as winning the golden boot in the biggest football competition in the world you have to question why Belanov won that year.
Helmuth Duckadam was a part of the historic Steaua Bucharest European Cup winning team. He pretty much lead the team to the trophy in one of the biggest upsets in European cup history. In the final Duckadam saved 4 penalties in a row in the Penalty shootout pretty much winning the cup for Bucharest single-handedly. In the league Duckadam was also a standout performer, conceding only 25 goals in 34 games and leading into the 86-87 season where he only conceded 17 in 34. An amazing goalkeeping record that deserved recognition like a Balon D’or win.
I can’t find any reason for Blokhin and Belanov to have won these two awards these years. Potentially European nations appeasing the Soviet Union by voting their players as Balon D’or winners as a political move perhaps a bit of corruption in the voting system. One thing is for certain though these two players were not the two best players in Europe in these years and these awards went to the wrong players in these years.