Jol still has it all to do at Fulham

rss logoTuesday 24th September 2013 17:29

Martin Jol: Needs to turn to the likes of Kasami

Martin Jol: Needs to turn to the likes of Kasami

Fulham FanZoner Andy Lye has welcomed the decision to offer deals to Steve Sidwell and Damien Duff, but still wants more from boss Martin Jol.

After a thoroughly downbeat week there are actually a couple of things to be positive about for Fulham fans this week. Although taking up our deserved position in the bottom three obviously isn't one of them.

Darren Bent's howler of a miss at Chelsea was all we really offered in attack all game, and although no one could really have expected us to win at Stamford Bridge, the fact that there was so much truth in the comment "Petr Cech could have brought something to read for the second half" from Sky's text commentator, is a damning indictment of the way we're playing under Martin Jol at the moment, with or without Berbatov and Ruiz, it seems.

For anyone who wasn't able to watch it on TV or wasn't at the game, it didn't look any better than it reads, and given the way they've both played lately, it's hard to see how Berba and Bryan would have improved matters.

Chelsea were also poor, so it's a missed opportunity to at least claim a point from them while they're in a slump, but the result was no less than we deserve at the moment.

Off the field however Jol has confirmed the club are quite rightly discussing the terms of a contract extension for Steve Sidwell who, apart from his two consecutive red cards last season, has definitely earned the chance to stay, and that they will extend Damian Duff's contract if he's able to play on for another year.

It's obvious to anyone who has watched our games this year that Duff is not what he was, but as a bench player he can still offer us something at the Premiership level, so likewise deserves the chance to see out his career with us.

Jol has also finally acknowledged the efforts and qualities of one Pajtim Kasami, our 21-year-old Swiss midfielder, about a season-and-a-half after the rest of us. A self-confessed believer in loan spells for young players, Jol signed Kasami from Palermo two years ago, and promptly barely used him, eventually sending him out on loan to Lucerne after the poor kid endured more than a season in the reserves.

It was a silly situation, especially when we were having poor spells with the players we were using and the team could have done with a refresh.

Now this season Kasami has leapt straight from the reserves to the starting 11, and had another good game at Chelsea, providing the exquisite pass for Bent's big miss, and often being our most incisive player going forward. He's validated the long-held opinion of many fans that the lad deserved a chance long ago, and thankfully Jol has noticed.

So it's good to know Martin is capable of breaking his funny little obsessions from time to time. Like in the quite ridiculous case of Derek Boateng. Jol obsessed over signing him, trying three times before finally getting it right, and after one League game he hasn't played again, not even making the matchday squad Saturday. Jol's explanation is that he's not up to speed after a year or so of limited football, and isn't versatile enough.

The real reason, of course, is that he never actually planned to sign Scott Parker, but couldn't resist the opportunity when it was presented to him (probably by Parker's agent) and now, with Parker playing so well, and the new deal given to Giorgos Karagounis, who is a much more impactful sub in that position, Boateng simply isn't needed until such times as we have an injury/suspension crisis in central midfield.

Still, at least it's evidence that when a better situation comes along, Martin is not above changing tack (unless the name Dimitar is involved).

But the root of such problems is still the same. There's no plan. Someone can be in the reserves one week, in the team the next, and back out again after not really doing anything wrong the week after, with no real rhyme or reason. If the squad isn't being managed with any consistency or coherence, how can they be expected to play with any? This season already feels like firefighting, and the home game to Cardiff already a "must win". Six games into the season that shouldn't be the case.

We'll no doubt field a full strength side against Everton in League Cup too, but with games like the Cardiff one on Saturday already looking like they're going to be of vital importance in the league, I'd rather we didn't. Roberto Martinez loves a cup run, and is bound to care about it more than we are, so why not break the habit of a lifetime and give a few fringe and youth players a chance, instead of rushing Berbatov back from injury and forcing yet another 90 minutes on players like Parker, Sidwell, and Hangeland, who we're going to need at their best on Saturday.

That's probably a little too close to a fresh idea for Martin, though. One thing at a time.

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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