New Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen has challenged his team to stand up and take responsibility for their own form – starting against Tottenham on Wednesday night.
Fellow Dutchman Martin Jol was dismissed by billionaire owner Shahid Khan following what was a sixth consecutive defeat as the 3-0 capitulation at West Ham left the Cottagers 18th in the Barclays Premier League.
Meulensteen, 49, only arrived at the west London club last month to work under Jol, whom he had known for many years, but in that short space of time has been able to pinpoint just where the team’s deficiencies lie as he plots a move up the table.
“We need to make sure the players take responsibility, with work-rate and their discipline,” Meulensteen said.
“Fulham have had too many poor results and we must now create a platform to get away from our position.”
Meulensteen had two spells on Sir Alex Ferguson’s backroom staff at Manchester United but his experiences as head coach are limited, with just 17 days in charge at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala while previous management roles came at Brondby and in Qatar with Al-Gharafa and Al-Sadd.
The new Cottagers boss has moved quickly to bring in his own men behind the scenes in a reshuffle following Jol’s two and a half years at the club.
Former Manchester United academy coach Jonathan Hill has come in while Kit Symons, the current development team manager, will also be assisting with first-team training.
Meanwhile, Fulham confirmed Jol’s brother Cornelis, who worked as football operations manager, plus coaches Michael Lindeman and Billy McKinlay have also left Craven Cottage.
Meulensteen, who is understood to have a contract until the end of the current Premier League campaign, will also be looking to bring in some fresh faces when the transfer window opens again in January, with Khan likely to release funds to boost their battle to retain their top-flight status.
Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe, who is targeting regular first-team football ahead of the World Cup, and former Cottagers favourite Clint Dempsey, who left White Hart Lane for the Major Soccer League in August, are both said to be possible targets to help boost an attack which has managed just 11 league goals so far.
Right-back Sascha Riether will return from a three-match suspension for Wednesday’s clash with Spurs after he was handed a retrospective ban for stamping on Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj, which was not seen by the match officials at the time but caught on video.
Defender Brede Hangeland could be available again after a sciatic nerve problem, while striker Dimitar Berbatov is also expected to be fit following illness.
Northern Ireland defender Aaron Hughes feels the players must stay positive for the challenges ahead.
“We have just got to keep going and believing in ourselves. When you are in the middle of a bad run the last thing you want to do is let your head drop, feel sorry for yourself and make excuses,” he said.
“We just have to all pull together and try and get through this busy period coming up when there are a lot of games and you can pick up a lot of points quickly.
“We have to try and be positive and take the things we are doing on the training pitch into games.”
Fulham now have two successive home matches, with Aston Villa the visitors on Sunday, which Hughes feels can help the Cottagers turn the corner.
“If we can take six points from the next two games the table would look completely different, so that is what we are aiming for,” the centre-back added.
“We will look at the West Ham game and figure out where we went wrong, and then prepare for Spurs and Villa.”