Manager Roy Hodgson
had a huge task ahead of him when was hired by Fulham in late December. The
club, which had four Americans on its roster at the time, was languishing in the cellar of the Premier League standings and needed a serious turnaround to help avoid relegation.
60-year-old manager brought in a few new players, including American Eddie Johnson
. It was the return of another U.S. forward, however, that helped reverse
the club's fortunes. Brian McBride
came back from a dislocated kneecap to lead the Cottagers to four wins in their final five games. The turnaround
catapulted Fulham to 17th place in the final standings and guaranteed another year in the Premiership.
Now, Hodgson is directing a drastic overhaul of first team personnel. McBride chose
to leave the club at the end of last season and is now on Olympic duty in Beijing before he returns to his native Illinois to play for the Chicago Fire. Gone, too, is U.S. national team captain
, who was not offered a new contract joined Rennes in France's Ligue 1 this season. The future if 38-year-old goalkeeper Kasey Keller
remains in doubt.
After these departures, Fulham is left with two American players - Johnson and midfielder Clint Dempsey
Those two will have to put in some serious work to remember the names of their new teammates. Since the transfer window opened, Hodgson has brought in eight
players. New to the mix are Fredrik Stoor
(Sweden), Andranik Teymourian
(Iran), Zoltan Gera
(Hungary), David Stockdale
(England), Toni Kallio
(Finland), Bobby Zamora
(England), John Pantsil
(Ghana) and Mark Schwarzer
(Australia), whose arrival will likely
spell the end of Keller's time in a Fulham shirt.
But Hodgson isn't done yet. In the coming days, Fulham is expected to secure the signing of Everton forward Andy Johnson
in a deal that could be worth up to $26 million. Rumors have also linked Stuttgart forward Mario Gomez
to the club in a proposed
$30 million move.
Hodgson is hoping his new-look squad will avoid another relegation battle this year. In the meantime, Johnson and Dempsey will have plenty of competition for a spot in
the first team.