French Connection

Sunday 7 April 2013 09:00

Martin Jol admitted that it is unusual for a club to have as many players from the same country as Newcastle United currently do with their French contingent, but praised the effectiveness of Alan Pardew’s foreign imports.

“I can only think of Arsenal a couple of years ago,” he said when asked if he could recall a similar example. “They were almost entirely French with one English player.

“We’ve got a lot of nationalities [at Fulham] so for me there is no difference. I said at the start of last season that I would prefer an English spine, an English team but, for us, it’s almost impossible to pay these prices and transfer fees so I have to be inventive.

“Most of the teams are doing the same and Newcastle did very well. If you look at [Moussa] Sissoko, he plays in the national team and they got him almost on a free. He still cost a lot of money – I think we couldn’t afford him – but he was relatively cheap. [Yohan] Cabaye is in the national team, too, so I think they did ever so well with the French players.”

In his pre-match press conference, our Manager was also quizzed on the future of two Fulham players whose contracts are set to expire in the summer – Mahamadou Diarra and Mladen Petrić.

“Diarra is injured,” he explained. “So unfortunately for him he is not in a strong position but, of course, we will look after him and hopefully he will be fit again and then – like with [Zdenek] Grygera last year – we will have to make a decision.

“Petrić is another one we would like to keep but, of course, Petrić is a player who wants to play and, because of Dimitar Berbatov, he couldn’t play. He was probably the most effective player in England – he scored goals even though he didn’t play a lot. Hugo Rodallega, for example, played more than Petrić. We will have to wait and see.”

Jol also took time to highlight the Fulham Under-19s’ recent success in the Dr Pepper Dallas Cup. Steve Wigley’s men brought home the trophy in emphatic fashion, and Jol admitted it bodes well for the future of the Club.

“I was very proud of them,” he said. “We’ve got a terrific team – they are the champions of England, the year before they played in the English Final, so it’s a terrific young team and I think we are doing very well.

“All credit to the people who work with them - they won the Dallas Cup so it was nice. I don’t want to talk about individual players but we’ve got three or four very good talents in there.”