Adel Taarabt has signed for Fulham on loan for the coming season, once again linking up with Martin Jol, the manager who signed him for Spurs.
Taarabt needs to play Premier League football, of that there is no doubt but he also needs to play in a side where his managers, and fellow players value him, and understand the way he plays.
Oddly, the manager to get the best out of him was known disciplinarian Neil Warnock, during QPR’s triumphant championship winning year, which must seem so long ago now for hoops fans.
Warnock knew that Taarabt, on his day was a match winner, and despite being kicked from pillar to post in the championship, he didn’t sulk, he played for the team and scored some memorable goals as they romped to the title. Warnock got the best out of this phenomenal talent and the results flowed.
Taarabt doesn’t really seem the player that Warnock would have had the time for, and nurture, but he could see the quality, had players around him who would clean up after him if things went wrong and would put an arm round his shoulder and massage his considerable ego. It is seen as one of Warnock’s greatest pieces of management.
This, remember is the player who on wishing to leave Spurs thought either Real Madrid or Barcelona would be his next destination, rather than Loftus Road. Nothing wrong with having confidence in your own ability, but even the most myopic critic could see that was not going to happen anytime soon.
It was Harry Redknapp, as manager of Spurs who initially loaned Adel to QPR, and now as manager of QPR, it is Redknapp who is loaning him to Jol and Fulham. At least, since his arrival in England in 2007, he wouldn’t have had to move house!
It seems safe to say, that Taarabt is not a player that Redknapp rates particularly highly, despite the praise lavished on him after QPR’s first victory of the season last year, against ironically Fulham.
Battling relegation though is not what Taarabt’s game is about, and it is no wonder that he was played more sparingly as the season progressed as Redknapp overhauled his squad with his own signings in his desperate and ultimately doomed effort to avoid the drop.
Fulham though is an interesting destination on Taarabt’s tour of London’s Premier League grounds. They struggled for much of last season, only putting together a run towards the end of the year which saw them finish relatively comfortably in 12th position. Is Taarabt the sort of player which Fulham really need?
A comparatively small and extremely aging squad certainly needed new blood, but Fulham already boast the mercurial talents of Dimitar Berbatov, Bryan Ruiz, and Kerim Frei. Will all three be able to play together, as all are known to not be the best at tracking back! The Cottagers defensive players will be wondering where any cover will be coming from, especially if John Arne Riise is rampaging up his wing as well.
Martin Jol has made some sound acquisitions this window, and also shipped a lot of dead wood and out of contract players out. It still looks like a season of transformation for them though, especially considering the change of ownership as well.
There is no way that new owner Shahid Khan will want to see his investment go down to the Championship, so if Jol needs it there will be more funds available. It is encouraging however that creative, intuitive players will be leading Fulham’s attack in the coming season, and there will be no lack of entertainment down by the banks of the Thames.
Taarabt could just be the key to an abundance of goals, probably at both ends in Fulham games this season, and maybe the Cottage will become an even more becoming stage for his lavish skills than Loftus Road was.
Jol should be able to nurture his talent in a similar way to Warnock did, and while there is a change of mindset at Fulham, Taarabt should take this opportunity to once and for all prove that, one day he will be gracing Real Madrid or Barcelona as he bravely foretold.
image: © wonker