Time for Jol to make tough decisions

Wednesday 6th November 2013 18:01

Martin Jol: Needs to make some difficult team decisions

Martin Jol: Needs to make some difficult team decisions

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Fulham FanZoner Andy Lye has questioned some of Martin Jol's decision making as the Cottagers' disappointing start to the season continues.

Losing to Manchester United is not a problem. On any given day, everyone loses to Manchester United, and those days are more common for the likes of us than they are for some others. It's no shame to be beaten by a team boasting the kind of players they've got.

There is, however, a great deal of potential for shame in the way you go about

at least trying to stop them winning. We can blame other things as much as we want - referee Lee Probert mothering every United player to fall over, and a linesman at the Hammersmith End who doesn't actually know the offside rule, didn't help - but the fact of the matter is that our first half performance was shameful. Scott Parker 0, United 3 was a fair half-time score line given the application of both teams.

We rallied a bit in the second half once the team on the field was the team which should have started the game, but when the biggest cheer from the home crowd was not for Alex Kacaniklic's deflected consolation goal, but for the removal of Bryan Ruiz, it should be obvious to all that something is wrong with the way we're going about our games.

Apparently that's not so obvious to Martin Jol, who could have gotten away this week with saying we weren't good enough to beat the nation's most successful club, and left it at that. He could right now have been enjoying a week where he doesn't look like a deluded fool, even if he did make foolish decisions on Saturday like throwing fit-again Ashkan Dejagah straight back into the starting 11 after he hasn't made a first team appearance in over two months (no surprise, he tried hard but lacked sharpness).

But no, he couldn't just leave it be, because you can't be saying bad words about Bryan Ruiz when Martin's around. Oh no. He had this to say, "It was very disappointing. That is something I can cope with because I know football. Bryan is a player that came back from Costa Rica's game against Mexico; he scored, they won 2-1 and he goes to the World Cup. Then to come here and get that sort of contradiction: over there he is a hero and here they boo him off the park. I said he is arguably my best player and that he should know that."

I genuinely have no doubt Bryan is a very nice guy, but the complaints everyone has are not in the spirit of putting down a player out of form. It's Martin Jol who needs to get the message that no player should be an automatic choice in their position and it's down to him to drop those who aren't performing. His continued backing of someone who can't tackle, can't head, can't protect the ball, doesn't defend, frequently passes to the opposition, and doesn't actually create very much is inexcusable. How a man who "knows football" can't see the difference between Costa Rica's international games and the Premier League is bewildering.

To go on and say he's our best player is idiocy. Say it to the player to give him some confidence by all means, but don't try to hoodwink everyone else. Not to mention the demoralising effect a statement like that can have on other players who put in good performances themselves and have to watch Ruiz make mistake after mistake.

On other matters, he continues to say he doesn't fear for his job, and doesn't feel under pressure. Well, he's got to say that (although I can't help but feel the reason he doesn't feel under pressure is because he doesn't actually care about the fortunes of our club, and because Shahid Kahn is never around to put any pressure on him in the first place), but what he seems to be missing is why the fans are so unhappy with him.

He keeps pointing to the fact that we're still above other teams, or that the points in the league are still very tight, as his arguments because he thinks we're all the kind of armchair fans who can only measure the situation in terms of league position, but we're not falling for it. Especially when he so often tries to back them up with references to how great his previous record was and how much other clubs love him (I highly doubt anyone has ever said "never fear, Martin is here".)

It would be nice if he gave the fans a little more credit. If we were playing really well, and losing, we'd be OK with that, because we'd see the potential for the wins to come, perhaps with a bit more luck. But nothing we are doing on the pitch is convincing the fans that the team are actually capable of improving our fortunes. At least, not with Jol in charge.

Let's not forget there are a lot of players who were here last year, who were good professionals, and who this year can't string a coherent performance together. They haven't all, at the same time, become significantly worse players. Even Ruiz hasn't. It can only be the coaching and tactics, or lack thereof as dictated by the manager.

By Andy Lye, FanZone's Fulham blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @jukeboxmetal - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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