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Whatever Newcastle United are doing, Fulham think they're doing better
FOR Newcastle United and France, read Fulham and Germany. While the Magpies have turned France's Ligue 1 into their own private shopping mall, Fulham boss Martin Jol is determined to continue plundering Germany's Bundesliga as he attempts to re-establish his side in the top half of the Premier League table.
Since the end of last season, Jol has signed three players on cut-price deals from Germany, and the trio have all made a considerable impact this season.
Full-back Sascha Reither joined on a season-long loan from Cologne, and scored Fulham's second goal as they claimed a 2-2 draw with Sunderland at the weekend. Mladen Petric was a free signing from Hamburg, while Iranian Ashkan Dejagah, who was the Cottagers' most effective player at the Stadium of Light by a distance, cost around £2m when he moved from Wolfsburg.
Just as Newcastle's scouting team regard the French market as offering excellent value for money, so Jol believes there are bargains to be had in Germany provided you are willing to look beyond the more established names.
“If you go over there and want to buy another (Edin) Dzeko then you would have to pay £25m,” said the Fulham boss. “But that it not what we did. I got players I know very cheap.
“Dejagah was cheap, Riether was cheap and Petric was the cheapest of the three because he cost nothing. We tried to get them on the cheap, but they are still good players and I get enormous satisfaction from that.
“Dejagah was always a good player for Wolfsburg and I watched him a lot when I was in Germany. He is a boy from Berlin, but there are three or four others like that I also know very well who are just as talented.”
Saturday's result ensured that Fulham remain three points clear of Sunderland in the table. The Cottagers are nine points clear of the drop zone, while the Black Cats boast a six-point gap to the bottom three, but Jol does not believe that either team will be in trouble come the end of the season.
“Deep down, I don't think we will get dragged into relegation,” he said. “We always try to look up, but on the other hand if you look at the situation, Wigan have 24 points, Southampton 27 and even QPR can stay up with six wins.
“It is not easy, but I expect Sunderland and Fulham to be playing in the Premier League next season. I am not a wizard though and I don't have a crystal ball.”