Huzzah, the people have spoken.
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.