What Matt Smith Brings to Fulham

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What Matt Smith Brings to Fulham
Rob Munro/Getty Images

On deadline day Fulham sealed a £500,000 deal to bring Leeds Striker Matt Smith to Craven Cottage. The 25-year-old, 6'6" forward has signed a three-year deal with the option for another 12 months.

Smith’s arrival provides Fulham with another forward with experience playing in the Championship, adding to their depth at the position since Ross McCormack and Hugo Rodallega were previously the only veteran choices.

The striker played more than 40 times for Leeds last season and notched 13 goals, having previously made 62 appearances for League One's Oldham Athletic.

As a tall striker, the first thing Smith gives Fulham is an aerial presence they have been missing up front. Smith is a big, powerful forward who can latch onto crosses supplied by Fulham’s young wingers. 

Other forward options such as McCormack and Rodallega are both under 6 feet, and Bryan Ruiz, who has been desperate for a move away from Craven Cottage, has proven unable to cope with the physical demands of the English game.

Smith’s physical ability up front will provide the midfield with a target man, while speedier forwards can run ahead for a ball flicked on. This allows Fulham some tactical versatility and the option of throwing the ball into the penalty area late in games, knowing that Smith can get his head to the ball.

The striker will also be extremely useful defending and attacking corners, providing a real threat when timing a late run at the ball, as evidenced by this late goal in the FA Cup against Everton.

Perhaps the greatest area in which Smith will boost Fulham’s chances this season is in rekindling his blossoming partnership with Ross McCormack. While together at Leeds, the duo combined for 42 goals, a huge total considering that Leeds only scored 59 times in the League last season.

Fulham’s £11 million star has struggled for form and fitness to start the season, although he has improved and scored his first goal for the club in the Capital One Cup. Manager Felix Magath will be hoping that Smith’s arrival will bring the best out of his strike partner, helping McCormack replicate his sensational 29-goal tally from last year.

With McCormack’s playmaking ability, running onto balls flicked on by Smith, Fulham gain a new dimension to their attacking play.

Smith told the club’s website that he is looking forward to being paired with McCormack again: “We formed a good partnership with one another last season and hopefully we’ll see that again at Craven Cottage. It’s a partnership I hope will come to fruition again."

If nothing else, Smith is a cost-effective option for Fulham to add some depth and quality to their squad, something much-needed after the expensive flop of Kostas Mitroglou last season.

Fulham will hope to stabilise their season after a disastrous start. Dreams of an immediate return to the Premier League may be dashed already, but there is no reason to believe that Smith can grow with some of the young starlets in this Fulham squad as they look to gain promotion in the near future.

At just £500,000, Smith represents something of a bargain in this summer’s market, one that has seen Fulham overpay for proven Championship quality in McCormack. Smith should prove a savvy signing for Fulham, and if he can help get the best out of his strike partner and halt the club’s rapid descent down the table then he will prove well worth the money.

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