Fulham have sacked boss Martin Jol and replaced him with head coach Rene Meulensteen.
The Cottagers have been in poor form this season and currently sit 18th in the Premier League. Fulham have lost the last six games in all competitions.
There had been speculation over Jol’s future in recent weeks and the Cottagers 3-0 loss at London rivals West Ham on Saturday was enough to end the Dutchman’s tenure at Craven Cottage.
Fulham chairman Shahid Khan confirmed the decision on the clubs official website stating: “Today I spoke with Martin to thank him for his efforts on behalf of Fulham Football Club over the past three seasons and, in particular, since my becoming chairman earlier this year,”
“Martin was very gracious and I appreciate his understanding of the situation. There is no question Martin is an excellent football man and he has my utmost respect for the commitment he made to our club.
“However, our poor form and results this season are undeniable, and Fulham supporters deserve better. With more than half the season still ahead, an immediate change was necessary.”
The Dutchman’s sacking really did not come as a surprise. The men from south west London have been in terrible form and have looked bereft of inspiration and ideas this season. They have claimed just three wins in the top-flight this season and it is no surprise that the manager got sacked.
It has to be said that the players have to take a big portion of the blame. Fulham have an aging squad, which has underperformed this season. They have not exactly set the world alight in the last few seasons either.
The squad may be full of international players, but they are aging international players. The team seem to be stale and lacking in energy. The likes of Damian Duff, Giorgos Karagounis and Scott Parker are just some of the players at the club in the twilight of their career.
Then there is the mercurial Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov, who at nearly 33 is supposed to be the star player in the Fulham team. The former-Manchester United striker was not even in the Cottagers squad for the defeat at the Boleyn Ground.
I am unaware of any injury to Berbatov, but even if he was fit then there was no suggestion that he would have provided the inspiration needed against West Ham, as he has struggled all season to find his top form.
Fulham could struggle to stay in the top-flight this season, if they do not strengthen their ailing squad in January. Even then there is no guarantee that the Cottagers will be good enough to survive.
When Rene Meulensteen was appointed to assist Jol, it seemed the writing was on the wall for the former-Tottenham boss. The team was struggling and it needed fresh ideas. I do not understand why the Fulham hierarchy did not just appoint the Meulensteen as boss and sack Jol, instead of leaving it a few weeks.
Jol welcomed the appointment of Meulensteen publicly, but must have realised that his appointment would mean extra pressure for his team to perform. The Fulham hierarchy should have acted in a better manner towards Jol, who is to be fair a very decent man.
There is plenty of time for the Cottagers to save themselves, but new boss Meulensteen will have to act quickly to raise spirits within the squad. When any team is on such a poor run then morale is likely to be very low.
Meulensteen has no managerial experience and the Fulham board have shown a lot of faith in the Dutchman. Whether his appointment is the correct one remains to be seen. He was a highly-rated coach in his time at Manchester United and he is now getting his chance to be a number one.
The Dutchman had a very good grounding at Old Trafford and seems to talk a good game. Hopefully for the Cottagers the Dutchman is up to the job.
Fulham’s new boss Meulensteen has a tough first game with Tottenham visiting Craven Cottage on Wednesday night. Spurs had been in poor form recently, but drew 2-2 with reigning Manchester United on Sunday.
The Cottagers are odds of 10/11 to be relegated this season. Time is on their side though and everybody connected with the Cottagers will be hoping that Meulensteen’s appointment gives them the boost they badly need.
Is Rene Meulensteen the right appointment for Fulham?