Jol is dead. long live Rene.
The blood letting was conducted in a civilised if insincere fashion. Chairman Khan thanked Jol for his contribution, Jol praised Fulham as a club, coach Meulensteen who for the second time in 3 months finds himself after 2 weeks replacing the manager says it was not intended this way. Whenever I feel sorry for Jol, who finished up without a friend at the club on or off the pitch aside from his brother Cock whose role beyond the fraternal was never clear, I remind myself he will walk with a 7 figure compensation for being a failure. And a failure he indubitably was. Mandated to overhaul the side with younger players and blessed with a fine academy he left an ageing valueless squad. He could field a whole team of over 30s. Only Kasami bought as a 19 year old from Palermo and Kacaniklic who was already there would command a £5m plus tag in the market. His personal relationships with both existing coaching staff and players he inherited was poor. Once in a trough of poor results he was clueless how to restore winning ways . He indulged Berbatov creating disharmony in the changing room and saw something in Bryan Ruiz lost to everyone else . His arrogant post match interviews estranged fans.
Whilst we are universally pleased he has gone, and wish Rene Meulensteen his temporary replacement well, there are understandable misgivings. Meulensteen has never managed in the Premier league, coaching and managing are 2 separate skills and not all adapt them, he has no connection with Fulham and does not understand our club. As coach these past 2 weeks he has made no difference. We still give away soft goals and cannot create opportunities at the other end. The only hope is negative: we have seen the last of Jol. The word most fans used of him was ” arrogant”. Behind his bluff smiling exterior he appeared to have a low opinion of everyone except himself.
However my fears go deeper than the manager. We have a absentee chairman who dismantled a board of Fulham men when he took over. This could be a Venky situation when the indian chicken breeders made a fine old mess of Blackburn Rovers . Khan is shrewd enough to realise that relegation could mean the loss of his £ 165 m and the need to invest in the team. But hey QPR did this and were still relegated .
There are some winnable games coming up: Spurs and Villa, the next 2 home games. and then after that tricky encounters with Everton away and Man City at home, Norwich, Hull away and West Ham at home. The target must be 20 points after New Year’s Day . He therefore needs to work short term to build up confidence, garner points and then strengthen in the January window. He still has half a season and Fulham are not adrift. He should get the fans onside with an ex-player appointment like Danny Murphy, an articulate analyst, but he will probably recruit someone he knows from Manchester United where he was Fergie’s number two like Mike Phelan.
Fulham might be saved in the end not by themselves but by others. Its compact at the bottom and any of Crystal Palace who look doomed, Sunderland, Norwich, Stoke, Cardiff, Swansea and Hull if they hit a slump like ours could get relegated