Things Are Bad At Fulham, But The Only Way Is Up

So, almost inevitably and as predicted by the man himself, Martin Jol has been sacked as Fulham manager less than 24 hours after Saturday’s defeat against West Ham. It followed a run of six successive losses (in all competitions), the climax to an abysmal run of form which included eighteen defeats in twenty four and a points return of around 35 from the last 38 games (estimated from the data a couple of weeks ago). Jol had always been a little sullied, but the aura of resignation that emanated from him in every press conference of the last few weeks seemed to turn this into a self-fulfilling prophecy anyway. Rarely are managers so defeated before their game has even finished.

To be honest, we’ve been playing so badly that it all seemed inevitable. Like a particle within the Schwarzschild radius, we were being sucked in to a black hole by the end of Jol’s, a rut from which there was no escape; even with the addition of renowned coach Rene Muelensteen things failed to improve.

And there’s just so much wrong with Fulham at the moment. There’s nothing to celebrate in the senior team at all. I won’t elaborate because it’s been done exhaustively before by anyone who has a word to say about Fulham, but everything from the lack of cohesion going forward to the abysmal defensive shape and organisation, about as much pattern in our play as the store layout of Holland & Barrett (you shouldn’t have to spend 20 minutes looking for wheatgerm), a complete failure to integrate the best youth team in England in to our first team squad outside of Europa League qualifiers, team lineups which chop-and-change arbitrarily, dropping players for no apparent reason, exiling others for no apparent reason, a team playing too individually, an unbalanced squad… There is a lot of Jol’s tenure in the last 13 months that is utterly baffling, and we are left with a team with no resolve, completely mismanaged.

And I say the last 13 months, because for a time Jol’s Fulham was quite gorgeous to watch. We put 5+ goals past teams 4 times within between October ’11-August ’12, and he gave us a wonderful double over QPR with some nice wins over the bigger teams too (we won at Anfield! What dreams are made of!). Our run of form after signing Pogrebnyak and Diarra was truly sparkling. It was why I was willing to give him time after an indifferent second season, to work out what our established norm was, and I don’t think I was being deluded or an apologist in doing that. It’s just a shame that we settled on ridiculous rather than sublime, and actually I would have gotten rid of him after the Cardiff game. Realistically, we should be grateful that we are on 10 points already, and not below Palace. We’ve had three wins in ever so fortunate circumstances, and the only game I can think of that we deserved to win over 90 minutes was West Brom at home – a game in which they scored from a last minute set piece, and can you think of a goal that sums up our current predicament more right now?

How about things outside of Jol’s control? Is he entirely to blame? Probably not. As I say, in the first season, we looked set for something special. Dembele and Diarra were blossoming as a partnership, and probably remains the most complete central midfield Fulham has ever had, most certainly one of the best in the League at the time. Dempsey, playing left midfield, broke all sorts of scoring records. Frei had broken through, and Kacaniklic was on his way up through the Fulham ranks too. But then Dempsey, desperate for Champions League football, moved to… Spurs… and then the US… while Dembele had an offer he couldn’t refuse from Tottenham also. Diarra’s loyalties were misplaced, and got injured with yet another career-defining knee injury which it looks unlikely he’ll ever recover from. The £22m from the Double D sale was not invested fully back in to the squad as it should have been, and with a team as old as ours we needed to go through a Milan-esque revamp of the squad. That didn’t happen. (And what was the point of appointing Muelentseen to work with Jol, then sacking Jol 17 days later? Why not just do it then and there?)

But our players are not so bad that we can’t manage a shot on target away at West Ham who were level on points going in to the game, or get outshot 20-6 in almost every game this season. You do not have to be of a certain standard of player to give commitment, and demonstrate an understanding of each other and themselves on the pitch. Those are universal qualities that are expected in every football team, from Barcelona to the Unibet divisions, and those qualities were wholly absent for far too long.

So, what now? I can’t work out if Muelensteen is our new permanent manager, it’s all a little vague and we are hearing different things depending on who you speak to. I am apprehensive because of his abysmal management of Brondby, but hopefully 6 years at United have learnt a little bit on how to deal with players. There’s no doubt he’s a good coach, but I would be much more comfortable with someone above him – a Director of Football even, who can produce a cohesive plan and comprehensive identity throughout the club. Perhaps Huw Jennings should get a little more influence too. If we DO go down, then we are in a good position to adapt well to the Championship, with a great Academy and plenty of high-earners contracts running down this summer.

However, we are at a pit now where we are playing so badly that we cannot play any worse, surely. And then by definition, things can only get better. I have not enjoyed Fulham for a long time now, and I am desperate that we have something to excite us on the pitch, a bit of verve, fight, some reason to get out of our seat.

Finally, while I feel it was needed, it gives me no pleasure at all to see Jol get sacked. On a personal level, I don’t have a problem with him. He always spoke honestly I feel (maybe a little too honest at times, as I alluded to at the beginning), and he seems like an affable kind of guy who left with dignity, wishing the club well. And so I will have to say, some of the way us fans have acted towards him have been nothing short of disgraceful. Things got far too personal. Like how some fans would literally stop calling him by name, and prefer to use “FDM” (Fat Dutch Mess, but considering the belly of some of them I’d be careful about throwing stones in glass houses). “Dutch c***” was another popular one. At West Ham on Saturday, one fella behind me spent the last 20 minutes calling Ruiz and other Fulham supporters “spineless gayboys”, and sitting near Dan was someone who chanted “Muslims out!” at Taarabt. And I mean, really? Really? We want to call ourselves a dignified family club, when we act like this? This is what we have become? Like parodies of playground characters? It was not a negligible minority either – or the ‘younger generation’, as some’d like you to believe. This isn’t some kind of precious rant demonstrating how delicate I am, but our football club is sacred, and while things on the pitch have been next to awful, it is the behaviour among the supporters that really turned me off. I feel like we lost a bit of the soul that made Fulham. Rich hit the name on the head in his article when he spoke about people who want ‘our Fulham back’. This is our Fulham. Through thick and thin. So by all means, pass judgement on Jol’s managerial ability, or the players competence on the pitch. But at the end of the day, football is not worth sacrificing dignity and integrity, is it?

Onwards and upwards.

LRCN

Looking Forward: The FFC Christmas List

The departure of Martin Jol has seen Chairman Shahid Khan thankfully taking some overdue action to arrest Fulham’s alarming season. Fulham fans have finally got their wish on the first day of Advent. With November turning to December it is less than a month till Christmas and the opening of the January transfer window. How the next two months now unfold could set the tone for years to come.

With change now affected, it is a time to look forward. There is a month for Rene Meulensteen, Alistair Mackintosh and co to plan, and on the somewhat wishful assumption that cash will go into Fulham’s January transfer kitty, who, or what, would you like to see on your Fulham Christmas Wish List? All the cries for a managerial change were only as fans wanted the best for their club. So what now? Will we get a late Christmas present from Santa Khan come January the 1st or will it be bargain hunting at the January sales come the end of the window?

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Before I list what I’d like to see happen in January, here are a few assumptions and hopes:

• The list is written on the basis, likely or not, that Shahid Khan sanctions actually spending some money. By finally pulling the trigger on Martin Jol’s tenure there is the sign that Khan understands the severity of Fulham’s current predicament. That the situation is also largely the result of penny pinching underspending last summer will hopefully also not have gone unnoticed.

• Though January is well recognised as the worst time to go spendhappy – prices are inflated, good deals are rare and unscrupulous agents look to secure transfers for their players off a whim or a prayer or less – another cheapskate transfer window is not an option. January shopping sprees can go both ways; Roy Hodgson kept Fulham up with some smart January spending in 2008 but QPR wasted millions in a vain effort to stay up last season.

• No more past-their-prime formerly decent players can be allowed to arrive on Ryanairesque budget. Players to be signed will hopefully have been long identified and mercilessly scouted, fitting the club’s style and philosophy, rather than simply the manager’s {well we’ll give Rene a chance with an old boy or two seeing as his former club is rather more successful than any of Jol’s} or on the basis of reputation or former talent.

1. Sign at least one young central midfielder

Stamina and a lack of fitness have been one of several alarming traits that have characterised Fulham’s season so far. Whilst training, or the lack thereof, may have contributed significantly to our lack of physical athleticism, the age of the side is also an undoubted factor. In Boateng, Sidwell, Parker and Karagounis, our engine room options top a combined 120 years old. One of our more technical weaknesses also appears to be the inability to get the ball from midfield to the attack. Finding someone who can play a full 90 minutes as a defence to attack pivot could prove crucial to survival hopes.

Good athletic central midfield playmakers don’t exactly grow on trees, and when they do come round they tend to be on the expensive side of the equation. Unfortunately for Mr Khan’s wallet, this is one position that Fulham’s academy doesn’t appear ready to fill. Of the two leading candidates, Lasse Vigen Christensen has shown considerable promise at U-18 and U-21 level but is not yet first team saviour material, whilst the leading creative central midfielder in the youth ranks, Emerson Hydnman, is a year or so off senior football.

All this means the owners’ chequebook needs to be opened. Here are two targets I’d like to see Fulham linked with:

Will Hughes

18-year-old prodigy Hughes is the English crown jewel in the football league. With over 50 first team appearances already under his belt for Derby County, his is the signature that nearly every Premierleague club would give their proverbial right arm for. The teenage midfield maestro with the peroxide blonde hair is said to have an asking price in the mid teen millions, however how Derby would react to a concrete offer in the multiple millions remains to be seen. Though costly, Fulham could offer Hughes near automatic first team football, something that bigger suitors, such as Liverpool who were linked last week, could not. Signing young talent like Hughes would also make coming back from relegation a lot easier should the worst happen.

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Stefan Johansen

22-year-old Norwegian Johansen would be the perfect signing for Fulham. The majestic playmaker was recently voted Norway’s co-Player of the Year, sharing the award with our very own Brede Hangeland. It was a moral victory for the Stromsgodset player as Hangeland himself admitted to forgetting to cast his vote, which he retrospectively said would have gone to Johansen. A ringing endorsement from our skipper which should help Johansen’s cause in getting a move out of Norway, though truth be told he doesn’t need much help. A glorious left foot and the ability to glide across the pitch saw Johansen star for a strong Norwegian Under-21s last summer at the European championships in Israel and has seen him go on to progress into the Norwegian senior side, where a debut goal v Sweden and a league title as the star of lowly Stromsgodset capped a stellar year.

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2. Sign a strong centre forward

While the common opinion would have Fulham set up front, there are a plethora of problems with Fulham’s striking core. Aside from devastatingly talented 17-year-old Moussa Dembele, Fulham’s entire attack is on the decline. Berbatov has looked uninterested and sub-par all season, Darren Bent is proving unreliable and well past his prime and will hopefully be sent back to Villa for good as a 32 year old come the summer and the Hugo Rodallega experiment is a year and a half in. While Hugo would be a great striker at Championship level should we get relegated, a fit, hungry, agile and strong top level hitman or partnership is lacking and very much needed. Academy talent Marcello Trotta and Cauley Woodrow are both gaining experience on loan and Muamer Tankovic will likely do so at some point this season. This leaves reinforcements being needed. Though a midfielder should be the first cash deposit of January, some firepower is needed, even if on a short-term basis. Here are two below the radar options:

Pavel Pogrebnyak

One thing Fulham have lacked up front this season is an ability to hold onto the ball. The little round thing is never up front long enough to take any pressure off the midfield and defence. Former Fulham man Pogrebnyak was a fan favourite in his 6 months here. A long term Fulham target, Pogrebnyak was brought to Fulham on the instructions of chief scout Barry Simmonds, not the manager. He knows the club and the league, and is stronger than all our current strikers put together. At 30 he’s not exactly the long-term answer, but a loan from Reading would take the striker’s wages of the Championship club’s books and provide us some strength up front in a move that would potentially suit all parties.

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Jordan Rhodes

Blackburn striker Rhodes is someone I’ve wanted Fulham to sign for several years now. Stuck outside the top flight in a Blackburn side not going anywhere fast, Rhodes would likely jump at the chance to move up a division. Rovers might also be tempted to sell should the right offer come in. A natural poacher with 36 goals in 59 league games for Blackburn, at only 23, Rhodes would provide the long-term striker Fulham need rather than any of the current crop at Fulham, all of whom should be gone after the season closes.

3. Sign a left back

Oh Kieran, honestly it’s not your fault; you’re just not a left back. Yes, one of Martin Jol’s more foolhardy moves has been to rely upon converted midfielder Kieran Richardson at left back. While this has been predicated mostly by the alarming decline of John Arne Riise and injury and lack of faith in Matthew Briggs, Richardson simply isn’t good enough to line up in a defence that needs to be better than the sum of its parts. A fine squad player, the left footed Chris Baird, I’d like to see Richardson stay at Fulham as a utility player, able to cover various positions. The defence has issues across the line. There is no doubt a centre back is needed but there is a good player in Amorebieta and Dan Burn will start next season, but full back is consistently a source of encouragement for opposition, just look at Jarvis and Downing for West Ham during the abysmal showing on Saturday.

Alexander Buttner

The somewhat obvious suggestion, Buttner was a supposed Fulham target before his surprise move to Manchester United in 2012 where he worked under fellow Dutchman and new Fulham Head Coach Rene Meulensteen. A pacy natural full back, a loan or permanent move for Buttner would suit Fulham’s needs at left back.

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Jamaal Lascelles

20-year-old England U-20 centre half Lascelles might seem a surprise answer to our defensive issues but a move for the Nottingham Forest man would suit Fulham in several ways. By signing a centre half, Amorebieta could play at left back for the remainder of the season, where he has done well when tried, and though not a natural left back, he is far more solid than Richardson. Signing a young centre half to potentially pair with Burn going forward is some forward thinking we’re not used to. While academy players Jack Grimmer and Liam Donnelly could well play first team football in the future, loan periods will be required before they are ready. Lascelles’ ability to play right back would also allow for more cover for Sascha Reither who has looked sub-par and unfit himself at times this season and Montenegran utility man Elsad Zverotic. Albeit this might be a pie in the sky suggestion too far. Lascelles is perhaps just too inexperienced to drop into the fire pit that is a relegation dogfight, but Fulham are the opposite to most struggling sides who usually have an abundance of exuberance but a lack of experience, we have the opposite, all the experience but non of the youthful exuberance.

4. Bring Clint Dempsey back on loan

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Not a complicated decision this one. Yes he left acrimoniously, but that was a result of ambition fuelled by incessant chirping in his ear from the US media that Fulham weren’t good enough for him. Fact is, we were. I’d bet a good dollar or two Clint now knows that, and with a loan to Europe supposedly being written into his MLS contract with Seattle, it is a deal that would hardly need mountains to be moved to get it done. We need goals and don’t have a bona fide starter on the left wing; Demspey is our record Premierleague goalscorer and scored nearly all of them from a starting position on the left of midfield. Put the ball in the back of the onion bag once again and all will be forgiven for the way he left.

5. Expand the Board

The departure of Martin Jol this afternoon was a decision that came not a second too soon. The entire management debacle has shown Fulham’s new ownership and management structure to be somewhat understaffed. Top down decisions come from the owner who along with Mark Lamping, make up half the board whilst being based several thousand miles from Craven Cottage. Day to day responsibilities in running the entire enterprise that is Fulham Football Club fall onto the other half of the board in the form of CEO Alistair Mackintosh and Finance Director Sean O’Laughlin. No wonder then that decisions seem to take a while under disjointed circumstances. Khan and Lamping need more help on the ground in England. A Non-Executive Director or two would give the existing directors some operational help and perspective. A few extra Fulham or Football brains in positions of influence would also help Fulham look beyond the week-to-week and towards the long term.

Postscript: Requiem for a Dutchman 

Seeing a man lose his job is never great. Wishing downfall on a man is not great, but there has been something not right at Fulham for some time. Whilst his first season in charge was successful, it was largely an inherited team and club scouted additions that led the success. Fulham have never recovered from losing those key men, Murphy, Dempsey and Dembele in 2012, and Jol’s tenure has only been going one way since. Comments about expectations and the fans led to alienation from the fanbase for Jol while on-pitch performances have been declining for over a calendar year (Sunderland last November was the beginning). Whilst always wanting to wish someone the best for the future, it was time for Fulham and Martin Jol to part ways and move on.

Bring on the first game of the Rene Meulensteen era, however long that is. We await news of his tenure and backroom staff. January will be crucial. Time for making excuses is over. Results must now improve. Fulham are a Premierleague club, starting on Wednesday lets all show it again. The energy has been put back into Fulham Football Club. Perhaps now we can believe again.

COYWs

All at Swansea: A Game Too Soon or a Game Too Far?

As we reach the end of November, a month adopted as Movember for many around the world, Fulham remain in charitable spirits when it comes to opposing teams.

Not wishing to flog a dead horse, there is little that needs to be said around the management situation at Fulham. It is really just starting to get very tiresome watching Fulham lose every week.

Questions in the media have shifted to Fulham as relegation candidates and what would happen if we went down. It is telling that while the fans tried to embrace some cautious optimism following Rene Meulensteen’s appointment over the last fortnight, the press focussed on how Jol was now on borrowed time with his successor in place.

What we needed on Saturday was some glimmer of hope, some ray of light, a performance or a result. We got neither.

The sense of optimism that was palpable on the walk through Bishops Park – with the arrival of Moussa Dembele to the first team squad, Berbatov correctly dropped as captain and Boateng starting in place of Sidwell – quickly dissipated as soon as Swansea woke up after the first ten minutes.

While Jol’s post-match comments touted Darren Bent’s trio of wasted chances as testament to Fulham being in the game, only his missed header was created as a systematic result of team play. The others, and particularly the shot that hit the post, were the result of freak breaks in play such as a miscued Chico Flores header. Swansea on the other hand created chance after chance as the game wore on. Three outstanding Stekelenburg saves and a Sidwell clearance were the only reason the scoreline looked so close come the end.

37% possession and being double-digit outshot at home say more than the scoreline. It would be unreasonable to expect much from Rene Meulensteen’s coaching in such a short space of time, it was a game too soon, but there was little for us to cling to in reality.

Any talk of the team carrying significantly more shape ignores the fact we had no width. Defensively there actually was more seeming solidity, in fact, Hughes and Amorebieta played pretty well for their first time together. It was possibly Fernando’s best game in a Fulham shirt. Yet with Richardson and Zverotic having to push forward and act as almost flying wingbacks with no midfield support out wide, the team became bloated and overstuffed in the middle like a thanksgiving turkey. Boateng as a sweeping midfielder worked until he got his seemingly obligatory booking. Kasami was pigeon-holed to the left of central midfield for the mostpart and could only get into the game in fits and starts. Parker was the lone emblem of solidarity. His goal capping a captain’s display.

Up front it was not the good, the bad and the ugly, but a case of ugly, fugly and grotesque. Bryan Ruiz was again lacking in substance, and struggled to get into the game in his role as conduit from midfield to attack. Berbatov got 90 minutes despite failing to have a shot and Darren Bent, only in the team to take the sparing chances he does get, spurned three gilt edged opportunities and showed the first touch of a steam locomotive.

The problem with this squad that Martin Jol has assembled of his own accord is that to get our best team on the field we’d need to play with thirteen men.

Maybe there were glimmers of hope. The more you think about it perhaps Rene will be able to have an impact. However, the main questions remain. Why not make the actual managerial change rather than a soft half measure? With Rene Meulensteen looking after coaching, it is Jol’s job to motivate and finesse the tactics (what tactics I hear you sarcastically cry)? How then can he be excused for sending Fulham out the dressing room after half time looking like a fearful deer in the headlights, while Swansea came out firing like hunters going for the kill.

For the first time a tuneful “We want Martin Out, say we want Martin Out” was audible coming from the Hammersmith End. It didn’t exactly turn into a chorus but it was clear and distinct even from a different stand. One fan had to be restrained by stewards for giving his opinion near the dugout in the Riverside. It could well be the case of a game too far for Martin’s Fulham career.

Swansea wanted and deserved the three points. Credit to them. Their passing was crisp and efficient, but without their leading attacker, Michu, and winger, Pablo Hernandez, they could be forgiven for taking their time in sealing the points. Fulham looked like losing, especially in the second half. Was Jonjo Shelvey’s goal a surprise? No.

The game at West Ham next weekend is crucial. Another week under the tutelage of Rene Meulensteen will hopefully give Fulham’s players more chances to improve.

The Swansea match provided more questions than answers. With each passing game those answers will get harder to find. If Meulensteen’s appointment signals that Jol’s end is nigh, why wait? If it signals that the previous coaching staff were failing, is one man enough to save a system and regime mired in negativity and failure? Who selects the team and who chooses the substitutions? If, as appeared on Saturday, one man does one and one does the other then there can be little hope.

After a decade slowly but legitimately raising expectations brick by brick it is painful seeing them being knocked down at once by management and board’s consistent stubbornness that eschews common logic . It’d be nice to begin to enjoy going to The Cottage again. Hopefully it won’t take being in the Championship for that the happen.

In hope, fear and desperation COYW

Have We Got Our Fulham Back?

Huzzah, the people have spoken.

Well…sort of.

Finally after days, weeks and months of lowering performances, absent tactics and unmotivated players, Fulham have reacted and sacked Martin Jol appointed Rene Meulensteen as Head Coach.

The move is as exciting as it is confusing. Jol seemingly stays on as Motivator-in-Chief, where the need to work weekdays becomes optional, while former Manchester United First team Coach Meulensteen, takes over the day to day coaching, tactical preparation and overall football based tomfoolery at Motspur Park.

The appointment of Meulensteen is definitely something of a coup for Fulham. Trusted aide-de-camp of Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, Meulensteen also brings with him some managerial experience, such as a year at Brondby and a mere 16 days in the Dagestanian goulash pot that is the Anzhi Makhahkala hotseat.

Reportedly it was Jol who instigated the chase of his long-time acquaintance Meulensteen. His subsequent arrival is likely a significant show of support for the beleaguered manager. Having turned down an offer to run Qatarian football and after being linked with the managerial posts at Bundesliga side Nurnberg and Crystal Palace, Meulensteen is unlikely to have come on the cheap.

With Shahid Khan saying he would support those in charge and hold them accountable following the season, this move correlates strategically. Give the incumbent manager what he asks for, in this case a coach of vast experience, and should failure continue, then there are no excuses to fall back on come performance review time in June.

What is clear from the way Meulensteen’s arrival has been described is that this is more than a simple addition to the backroom staff working under Jol. Meulensteen has been appointed to “work with” Martin Jol not for him. Questions will need to be answered in due course; who picks the team? Who tells them what formation to play? Who determines set piece strategy? (That last one is of particular importance).

There are still many issues to be resolved, and, whilst the players clearly needed a coach of technical renown, the club remains somewhat rudderless to its fans. Should the football improve, efforts intensify and results turn, past deficiencies will be slowly erased from the collective memory. Martin Jol will unfortunately likely remain on press duty, so his procession of useless statements such as bemoaning our chances against difficult opponents must now stop with immediate effect.

What the change does signify is that the club has recognised there is a problem. In the long Michaelmas period between transfer windows, this was about as drastic a change the club could make whilst still supporting the existing manager and his collective group of assembled former players. Should there be truth in the statement that Jol identified Meulensteen as a target for the club, this would indeed be a great show of humility in recognising his own deficiencies. Perhaps having a coach taking over from him will allow Martin to spend more time scouting players who haven’t actually ever played for him before.

One thing is certain – without a change in attitude, effort and tactics we will find it very hard to stay in this league. A change of coaching is a start, but targeted recruitment in January and the flexibility to drop certain players must follow. Martin Jol stands on the precipice of a managerial cliff edge. His club do not trust him with enough faith to let him continue unaided, yet show him enough faith to keep him in their employ. Should results not come by Christmas, there will be no option but to label Jol’s position untenable and move Meulensteen one office door down the corridor.

Frankly, Martin Jol is lucky such a solution was found. Had Meulensteen said no, reasons to keep Jol would have extended to a list of none. Change for changes sake can take a team backwards, but a failure to embrace the moment when change is needed can set a team back years. For now, let’s hope this is enough of a change to turn things around. Let’s back the team and see if this is enough change to spark some renewed hope.

Have we got our Fulham back? We’ll have to wait and see.

COYWs

I Hope We Get Our Fulham Back

As trigger points go, being sat here on a Sunday evening seeing Fulham in the bottom three is a fairly bad one.

Whomever you blame, and there are various candidates, Fulham are nothing better than an embarrassing shambles at the moment.

Following yesterday’s thrashing at the hands of Liverpool, one national journalist tweeted the best comment I’ve seen about Fulham this season:

Defensively we are lackadaisical, offensively we are incoherent, we have no leaders and a manager who seems to think it is ok to lose at Anfield because we can get points off teams like Sunderland. Oh yes, the Sunderland that went and beat Manchester City this afternoon.

For a club that sprouts rhetoric about a club philosophy, sustainability and good football, Fulham are sure doing their best to lull the rest of the Premier League into a false sense of security.

The football for the last 12 months, since the defeat to Sunderland at home, has been predominantly awful. 2013 has seen us win ONE of our last nine league matches at home. Fortress Fulham is currently smouldering in ruins.

Away performances are a farce. Sure we beat a Palace team devoid of Premiership talent and a Sunderland team who hated their manager, but we are fast becoming the easiest three points in the league. At least Palace fight and show spirit for more than the first 15 minutes. Teams barely have to try to beat Fulham.

The inane statements offered by our manager are just that, inane drivel. Do you care what Martin Jol has to say anymore? I sure don’t. Apart from collecting more evidence against a man who should be destined for the managerial gallows, what good are his press conferences for? We are told we’re lucky to have him, that we’re lucky to have some of the players he signed and that we shouldn’t expect to win against teams like Liverpool. Great, thanks, glad I stopped my day to listen to that.

Our squad, now one almost fully assembled by the Dutchman, is its worst for several seasons; full of over-ego’d players who were good several seasons ago. We have players signed with no position in mind. Young players are not getting games or are treated like schoolboys and in one week and out the next. What’s worse is that Dimitar Berbatov is bleedin’ captain.

A managerial change will be a good start, but if we are fortunate enough to stay in this league come the end of the season, wholesale changes are needed. If there are more than a handful of first teamers that you honestly want to wear the Fulham shirt come next season, I’m struggling to see them this season.

One thing is a success this season, Martin has got his wish. Expectations have been lowered. At this rate, Fulham can expect to be in the bottom three come May – a far cry from the talk of Top 10 when Shahid Khan bought the club in July. Southampton expected to finish next to us in mid-table and they’re third in the league with three players in the England squad. Expectations are not the crime, how you approach them can be.

It is high time Shahid Khan got off his chair in Jacksonville and did something at Craven Cottage. Ignorance is not an excuse, it’s a problem. Justifying an endless malaise due to your own lack of knowledge is naivety of the highest order. If you can complete a takeover in less than one month, why does it take five to see it slipping between your fingers? Had Fulham’s struggles been a new thing, then Khan would have a leg to stand on. It’s a shame Khan has a fence the size of the Atlantic to sit on.

Had we not beaten Swansea on the final day of the season, Jol would have had his reign of smugness ended six months ago. Perhaps then we would not have wasted our second summer in a row with cheap, unnecessary signings of players past their prime. The sooner fans, the media and a new manager get stock that Fulham’s players might just be good enough to get relegated, the better off the club will be.

The lack of work ethic and the lack of leadership are crippling Fulham. Expectations are constantly being lowered and we are now being told not to expect our team to even compete. I’m glad I’ve bought a season ticket, replica shirt a programme subscription, it’s just so fulfilling to support a team who don’t even try to win.

Change is needed to survive the short term, wholesale changes are needed to survive in the long term.

The performances lost the fans, his comments have ensured they won’t return. With the international break upon us, Fulham must act now.

I rarely look forward to international breaks, they are an unwelcome distraction from the weekly activity of league football. Now, I wish there was an international break every week. We’ll all still be there in a fortnight’s time, but watching Fulham stopped being fun some time ago.

Fan’s infight, atmosphere’s become sour and vitriol is aimed at all corners. A crisis is what Fulham are in. The sooner someone comes out and recognises the problem, the sooner we can do something to put it right. The shirts that this team puts on may say Fulham, but they’re not our Fulham.

It is a long road to salvation but 27 games might just be enough. There is not a single fan, blogger, journalist, enthusiast or badger who wants to be sat here in June going we told you so. Fear is manifesting itself across the board. Fulham are in trouble.

I hope we get our Fulham back before it’s too late.

COYWs