1st Team Squad Goalkeepers: Mark Schwarzer, David Stockdale, Csaba Somogyi
Overview: Mark Schwarzer has been great for the Cottagers since arriving from Middlesbrough, but last season there were a few signs of the aging process taking its toll. Long before that horrible night at home to Liverpool he was making silly errors we don’t expect to see from Schwarzer. His judgment when coming for crosses was suspect and his hands looked more and more jittery. The one thing I would qualify that by saying is very often he got away with it. Fulham didn’t tend to concede too many as a result of his slip-ups but we can probably put that down to large chunks of luck rather than anything else. With the Australian closing in on his forties, the Cottagers have identified the need for a long-term successor. David Stockdale is the man and following a run of games stepping in for Schwarzer while he was playing for Australia at the Asian Cup, he looks every bit like he could step into the Aussie’s boots when the time does come. He’s been linked with a season long loan elsewhere (Leeds is the destination often mentioned) and playing regulalry in an expectant environment would surely do his development little harm.
It’s a wise move in the longer term, but in the immediate future it potentially leaves Fulham with rather a shallow goalkeeping division. If Stockdale does spend the season on loan, that will elevate Csaba Somogyi to position of 2nd choice. The Hungarian could turn out to be perfectly capable, but as yet we don’t know. He caught the eye of Jol whilst he was manager of Ajax, but if making the step from the lower middle of the Hungarian top flight to the Eredivisie is difficult, then making it in the Premier League is going to be even tougher.
Worst case scenario: The major fear for Fulham fans would be that the blips that effected Schwarzer last season become more and more frequent. I would imagine that any loan deal for Stockdale would include a recall clause. but to invoke it would be humiliating for Schwarzer. Even if his form isn’t great, Fulham are still likely to persist with him, but hopefully it’s a decision that won’t cost them too many points.
Most likely outcome: Schwarzer bounces back from a disappointing end to last season and performs well under Jol. There are a few errors along the way, but he does the job well before stepping aside at the end of the season for Stockdale to take the first choice spot.