Jol sacking at Cottage inevitable

Tuesday 3rd December 2013 18:33

Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen: Situation at Fulham seemed inevitable

Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen: Situation at Fulham seemed inevitable

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FanZoner Andy Lye feels that the decision to relieve Martin Jol of his Fulham duties was long overdue, and was of the Dutchman's own making.

It's finally happened before we all went slightly mad! That performance at West Ham on Saturday was so lacking (no shots on target against a team who couldn't buy a goal before this week is truly dreadful), and the reactions so downbeat, Sunday's announcement had an overwhelming sense of the inevitable to it, and I include Meulensteen's appointment in that too.

It seems many fans' suggestion that Meulensteen was being lined-up to take over were somewhat true, as it has now been all but confirmed that the plan after all was for Rene to be in charge of the team, and for Jol to step back into an "upstairs" role, as it was termed. Which explains the rumour that Meulensteen picked the team against Swansea.

But the performances on the pitch getting even worse accelerated the thinking a little, and although Shahid Khan's "immediate" decision wasn't quick enough for some, I believe it is the right one.

Around the league we're being told by fans of other clubs, who've doubtless only watched a few potted highlights, that Jol doesn't deserve to be sacked. Most of this seems to be based on some out-dated notion, left over from his unfair treatment at Tottenham, that he's some kind of master tactician and our poor results must be entirely the fault of the players.

Anyone who has watched us play for the last 12 months knows that isn't the case. It's not just about the black-and-white of results, it's about how we're playing.

Jol was under-funded, there is no question of that. With Mohammad Al Fayed lining up the sale of the club, he was understandably reluctant to put serious money into it last season. And Khan has been similarly reticent over something he doesn't yet understand. That can't continue under Meulensteen, but not being able to buy superstars isn't entirely to blame when Jol's ruined an entire squad of hard-working professionals as well.

That's without his awful matchday decision making, obvious lack of coaching evident in a lot of what we do, insulting stubbornness with regard to team selection, and unwillingness to turn to other players simply because their names don't carry the same cachet as Berbatov, Ruiz and Bent.

So I have no regrets about wanting him out, and am glad the decision has been made. The back room gets a reshuffle too, most of which I have no feelings about, but I'm very disappointed that Billy McKinley is to leave. Billy has been a terrific servant to the club under several managers, and was far more passionate on the touchline during these difficult times than Jol ever was. If his reputation has been tarnished along with Jol's team then that is very unfair.

I know little of Jonathan Hill, the man being drafted into Meulensteen's "old" role, but it might be a little concerning that we're bringing in someone with no first team coaching experience to assist someone with no management experience. Everyone needs their first role in a new profession, and I have no qualms about giving someone fresh a chance, but I would normally have expected them to be paired with someone seasoned.

Nevertheless, it's good that they already know one another, and have worked in this configuration before, just one step down the ladder each, so it should mean they are both hungry for the challenge at least.

Meanwhile, Turkish side Trabzonspor have made their intentions clear over Berbatov and as far as I'm concerned he can go. It's obvious he'll leave when his contract expires next summer anyway, so if someone's prepared to give us some money for him now, we should take it.

If not, fine. I'm happy for Berbatov to be a part of the team, provided he's the only player we have to cover for. We can't keep fielding teams with four or five players who don't help out when we don't have the ball, but we can field a team with one, and in that case, Berbatov is best. Meulensteen has already stressed in an interview the need to spend in January, and hopefully he pushes that agenda with Alistair Mackintosh over the coming weeks so we can fill those other gaps.

Elsewhere Brede Hangeland and Sascha Reither cannot return soon enough. If the last few games have taught us nothing else it's that Fernando Amorebieta and Elsad Zverotic are very poor defenders. Fortunately, Reither has now completed his ban, and the word is that Hangeland is close to overcoming a sciatic nerve problem. Stabilising the line-up with committed players could go some way to giving us back our shape and rhythm. Hopefully with that, confidence, and results, will follow.

We can't get carried away and think with all these changes we're going to now beat Tottenham on Wednesday, but we have to look at Sunday's game against Aston Villa as a must-win. It will be interesting to see what kind of side Meulensteen selects now.

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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