Saturday, August 9, 2008

Starting XI

Woke up this morning to the happy news that Hameur Bouazza came to the Valley on a season-long loan in time for today's test against Swansea. Two seasons back, when both Watford and Charlton were in the Premier League, Bouazza and Ashley Young made Watford an entertaining side even in Marlon King's absence due to injury. Bouazza's talent is, I think, self-evident and equally self-evident is that the effectiveness of Bouazza's tenure with Charlton will be largely determined by the attitude he brings to the club. In any event, its nice to have replaced one Algerian international (Madjid) with another (Hameur).

But Bouazza's loan move raises a question that has bugged me since last season... what is Hodgson doing at Fulham and why is anyone letting him do it? I pay attention to Fulham largely because of the number of American players featured in last year's squad. This season, Bocanegra, Keller, and McBride have moved on, but Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson will likely see their talent buried in the massive mediocre Premiership talent Hodgson has now accumulated at Craven Cottage. Absent an injury plague of biblical proportions, Eddie Johnson will not feature in southwest London this season -- EJ has got to be frustrated to look up and see not only Andy Johnson ahead of him, but Nevland, Zamora, Collins John, Kamara and David Healy (?) blocking any chance he might have to get Premier League experience. And despite what I thought was a great year from Clint Dempsey last season, Hodgson's midfield, which now features Iran's Andranik and WBA's Zoltan Gera, may not permit Dempsey as many first-team opportunities this season (although a failure to harness Dempsey's energy, drive, and talent, would be a powerful indictment of Hodgson's coaching ability).

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