We were beset with rumours before Christmas about the shockingly low morale in the Fulham camp and the “bust-ups” that Jol was having with ever player (or so it was made out). Jol was “cold-hearted”, “harsh”, “misunderstood” and, more importantly, had no relationship with the players.
From my perch in Y2 yesterday, I made sure I kept an eye on the “morale”, mostly because I really wanted the players and coaching team to present a solid wall to QPR, as that was the best way we would not only win on the day, but also win in future, and improve that away record that is banded about every single away match.
And what did I see? A remarkably high amount of morale in the camp. During the warm up the players were certainly enjoying it, sharing jokes with the coaching staff. One moment that specially caught my eye was a moment between Stockdale and Goalkeeping Coach, the infamous Hans Segers, where, after Stockdale crashed a shot that the Pog himself would be proud of into the bar, they both fell apart in stitches after Hans said something. It was a brilliant moment.
Throughout the first half, Jol was a passionate man on the touch line, returning to the dugout only once or twice. His instructions were not ignored, but were taken on and listened to by the players. I could see Murphy turning his head a number of times towards Jol to listen to his instructions. Not quiet the lack of understand between the players and the manager that some papers said.
The players worked as a unit right to the end, playing for each other. They made sure they thanked the crowd together, and every player gave their shirt away to say thank you. That is called working as unit, that is a team working on high-morale.
But finally, I was delighted to see that every substitute gave Jol a high-five when they came off. AJ looked delighted as Jol patted him on the back, Ruiz gave him a high-five and a quick talk and Danny Murphy gave him a double high-five and a mighty smile. Morale problems? What morale problems?
Martin also tried to pat Mark Hughes on the head at the end. Martin Jol, you absolute joker.