West Ham eased to a comfortable victory over Fulham leaving Martin Jol fearing for his future after losing five games on the bounce.
The Dutch head coach admitted before this London derby that the Cottagers’ next two fixtures could shape his future but Fulham were so abject in what felt like a must win game that it is distinct possibility that Jol could lose his job immediately. West Ham could have been out of sight at half time after dominating the first 45 minutes, but Fulham somehow clung on to parity until the interval with Modibo Maiga’s effort rattling the base of the post. In perhaps a sign of his desperation, Jol had packed his side full of inventive midfielders but they made virtually no impression on the contest.
The home side kept up a frenetic pace in the second half and it was just a matter of time before Fulham’s fragile defence caved in. It took since 75 seconds after the interval for Sam Allardyce’s side to go in front when Steve Sidwell meekly surrendered possession to Mohamed Diame. The visitors stopped, appealing for fouls on Sidwell and Scott Parker, allowing the Senegalese midfielder to advance to the edge of the box. His speculative shot struck Fernando Amorebieta and completely bamboozled Maarten Stekelenburg.
The goal didn’t exactly galvanise Jol’s troops who seemed to have little idea how to respond. Maiga and Matt Jarvis both spurned good chances to add to West Ham’s lead before Stekelenburg, who had made a string of fine saves in the first half, was almost outwitted by a dipping Stewart Downing cross that glanced the top of the crossbar. Ravel Morrison contrived to miss an open goal before a brief period of Fulham pressure culminated in Pajtim Kasami testing Jussi Jaaskelainen from distance.
But the visitors were soon put out of their misery as two West Ham substitutes made the game safe in the last ten minutes. First, Carlton Cole converted a Downing cross to score his first goal since returning to Upton Park in October only a minute after coming on and Joe Cole curled in a fine third after being teed up by Morrison. On a bleak day for Fulham, even the first team debut of teenage forward Moussa Dembele was marred when the youngster picked up a hamstring injury shortly after coming off the bench.
The Fulham players and Jol were barracked by a mutinous travelling support after the final whistle. The likeable Dutch manager might just have run out of road – but any replacement has a hell of job to keep this Fulham side in the Premier League now.
WEST HAM UNITED (4-3-2-1): Jaaskelainen; Demel, McCartney, Collins, Tomkins; Diame, Noble; Downing, Jarvis (J. Cole 66), Nolan (Morrison 77); Maiga (C. Cole 81). Subs (not used): Adrian, O’Brien, Taylor, Collison.
BOOKED: McCartney, Diame, Tomkins.
GOALS: Diame (47), C. Cole (82), J. Cole (89).
FULHAM (4-4-1-1): Stekelenburg; Zverotic, Hughes, Amorebieta, Richardson (Dembele 83); Parker, Sidwell (Karagounis 77), Kasami, Duff (Ruiz 65); Taraabt; Bent. Subs (not used): Stockdale, Senderos, Boateng, Kacaniklic.
BOOKED: Richardson, Sidwell.
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire).