Fulham manager Martin Jol has admitted his new £10.6m striker Bryan Ruiz might not have joined the club had he realised he would not be playing any European football this season.
Ruiz, who made an undistinguished debut against Blackburn on Sunday, thought he had signed for a club which could guarantee Europa League football – not realising that an appearance in Champions League qualifiers for FC Twente in pre-season has left him cup tied.
That means he cannot appear against his former club in tomorrow night’s opening group stage game in the Europa League at Craven Cottage..
“He was pretty disgusted with the situation,” said the Fulham boss, who played for the Dutch side for three years in the early 80s. “That was a problem for him because he thought that he could be playing.
“If he had known before, it would have been a problem, maybe. I knew [he couldn’t play] but I didn’t know it was an issue [for Ruiz].
“I don’t agree with this rule. If you have played for another team, then you should not be involved in the same competition, but this is a new competition. I don’t think I can do anything about it. Maybe Sir Alex could,” he joked.
Jol admits that on reflection, he should not have started Ruiz in at the weekend, who he withdrew at half-time.
“For him, it was good to know how we play over here, but in hindsight, I would have started Moussa [Dembele] and then brought him [Ruiz] on in the second half when he probably would have given us a lot in the second half.
“It’s always difficult when you come to the Premiership, first game. I won’t say it was a gamble [to play him on Sunday] but you have to start somewhere and that was the decision we had to make.
“Of course it was difficult and he lost the ball a couple of times and I think in the first half, he felt there was some pressure from the crowd because they expect a lot.
“Brian Ruiz is probably one of the best player in Holland over the last five years but he has to cope with English football and you can’t expect him after two days to be in his prime.”
Jol, with half an eye on next Sunday’s visit of Manchester City, may rest Bobby Zamora against Twente, while he will be without an injured Aaron Hughes.
Dickson Etuhu has a thigh strain and Brede Hangeland has been ill, but the Norwegian should play alongside Chris Baird in central defence.
Jol played his best sides to ensure qualification for the group stages and will again play a strong hand. But he will be looking for a better return from crosses than against Blackburn.
“If you have 45 crosses like we had and you are only three or four times at the end of it, then you’ve got a lack of cutting edge. You have to attack the ball and be eager to score goals,” he said, saying Damien Duff might have to put more crosses in with his left foot, rather than his right foot.