On the Sidelines

Wednesday 3 March 2004

It could be argued that one of the side-effects of the recent transfer window has been to turn the transfer market in favour of the selling club. Whereas the old setup allowed buyers to get the drop on their competitors; clubs on the lookout for a new signing are now somewhat forced into a process of courting their targets before a move can be made - with the sellers safe in the knowledge that time is on their side.

The fact that the last transfer window saw a comparatively small number of big money moves go through could suggest that few clubs are willing to lay their cards on the table for fear of falling victim to a higher, last-minute bid. Whilst the new system creates its own set of pressures for those involved in top-end transfers, the complexities seem to ease off further down the scale - as the quantity of loan and free transfers has started to suggest.

Jerome Bonnissel was a relatively unknown player upon his arrival during the summer. Not registered with any club, Bonnissel joined up with the Fulham squad for their pre-season friendly campaign in Austria and made two appearances against Voitsberg and Roma. His performances did enough to convince Chris Coleman to offer the Frenchman a permanent deal.

His good form continued into the start of the season as he slotted into Fulham's back line with surprising ease. His positional sense, passing and strength in the tackle certainly put him in the running for one of the best value for money signings in recent years.

However his season was soon to be cut short after he picked up a knock in Fulham's 3-1 victory at Old Trafford which ultimately led to the leftback requiring an ankle operation. Speaking to Fulham Today, Club Physio Jason Palmer explained in further detail.

"The surgery was needed to build up the ligaments on the outside of his ankle to try and give him greater stability," he said. "Jerome will now go through a lengthy rehabilitation programme to build up the strength in the area.

"It started when he rolled his ankle in the match against Manchester United; he played the following weekend's game against Liverpool without any problems but during the Bolton game he received a blow to the muscles in the front part of his lower leg - which are very important in the process of controlling ankle movements. As a result of that knock, his ankle began feeing unstable.

"Unfortunately, after the Bolton game he found it very hard to regain his sense of balance in the ankle. We tried to rehabilitate him here and went through a variety of tests, which all came back relatively clear. Even the scans we took of his ankle were not significantly different to those that were taken when he first joined the club as part of his pre-signing medical screening.

"Consequently we tried to get him back and he got to the point where he could almost train but he still didn't feel quite right.

Palmer added: "He had an analysis carried out with some of the top specialists in France who, at that point also agreed with our opinion. He then underwent another ten days of rehabilitation at Clairefontaine where they approached the problem from their own perspective.

"Unfortunately, by the time he finished his programme, the specialists in France found that he was more or less still in the same state. He could get to a certain point but just didn't feel comfortable and confident enough to play."

So after making such a promising start to his Fulham career, it seems that his first season in Black and White is going to finish, rather frustratingly, on the sidelines. With a comeback target of next pre-season now set, it looks as through the Whites will place their faith in two other low-cost leftback options in Adam Green and Carlos Bocanegra. Who said you only get what you pay for?