Friday 20th September 2013
When a new chairman or chairwoman comes into a club they often have their own ideas on how things should be run on and off the pitch, which means whoever is the manager at that point is in danger of losing their job. In the case of Fulham under the new ownership of Shad Khan, it appears to be a minority of fans rather than a know-it-all businessman or woman that would do way with the current boss, Martin Jol. This was exemplified plainly at their home game against West Bromwich Albion, which left them in their usual area of 13th place. It’s usually the opposite although I wouldn’t be surprised if Khan was or will eventually be on their side going by the past actions of owners. The members of the Craven Cottage faithful that want Jol out of the club for not getting them to where they ‘rightly deserve’ are forgetting a few things.
Although The Whites have been established in the top tier for 12 straight years now, and reached the Europa League final three years ago after a remarkable spate of victories against much bigger clubs such as Juventus and Hamburg on route to it, Fulham’s highest top-flight finishes are 7th and 8th. They have never won a major honour throughout their entire history as London’s oldest club and have spent the majority of their lifespan in the lower leagues, so we are not talking crème de la crème here. But that is not what some impatient and narrow minded ‘supporters’ would have you believe going by some of their behaviour.
In terms of size, it’s arguable whether the club that are currently residing in 13th place in the Premiership (them) are even Premier League standard when you think of the likes of Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton Wanderers plying their trades in the divisions below. Whether fans thought that Fulham should have built on the dizzy heights of 7th, 8th and a European final then challenge for the Champions League I don’t know. But those calling for Jol’s head should remember that there’s stiff competition out there. You never know, with Khan’s backing they could do a ‘Manchester City’, but it’s highly unlikely.
Jol has done well in his managerial career including his spell at Tottenham Hotspur. It was him who got the ball rolling for the The Lilywhites, transforming them from the average mid-table side that they had been for the best part of a decade to coming within a whisker (and a rumoured dodgy lasagne) away from qualifying for the Champions League in 2005-06. He guided them to another fifth place finish the following season. Despite being sacked in October of the 2007-08 campaign, his fate was virtually sealed after two games when his chairman Daniel Levy was spotted in a Spanish hotel with Jol’s eventual successor, Juande Ramos. It proved to be a knee-jerk reaction on Tottenham’s part as they, despite winning the League Cup, ended up in 11th place, while then only gaining two points from their first eight games the following campaign, which ultimately led to the dismissal of Ramos. The club only picked themselves up again under his successor Harry Redknapp who actually got them into Europe’s premier competition, with a little help from Gareth Bale of back-of-the-newspaper fame whom Jol signed in his time at the club.
This praising up of Jol is not to say that someone else couldn’t come in at Fulham and achieve a similar degree success with the club i.e. getting them to 12th place like the man who looks a cross between Humpty Dumpty and a Mafia boss did with them last season. But what do those dissenting voices in the Fulham crowd expect from their club? Saying ‘‘you could do a lot of worse than Jol’’ is a compliment, but I would rather say ‘‘you won’t get many better than Jol,’’ because, disgruntled Cottage supporters, you won’t. A club of Tottenham’s size (much bigger than yours) were bottom a year after Jol was gone – what makes you think the same wouldn’t happen to you should you treat him the same way?
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