Football

Fulham in freefall - but sacking Jol is not the answer

Martin Jol's side are struggling. (©GettyImages)
Martin Jol's side are struggling. (©GettyImages).

Despite accepting that he "can't criticise" the Fulham fans, boss Martin Jol was being painfully honest when he said that the Craven Cottage faithful should realise that "we are 20th in the table in spending money."

And after grabbing a last-minute win over Fulham on Saturday, Cardiff manager Malky Mackay backed up the Dutchman's concern over lack of spending: "I felt we needed a certain amount of investment to live in this league."

Cardiff most certainly invested, breaking their transfer record to capture Steven Caulker from Tottenham Hotspur. Fraizer Campbell and Peter Odemwingie were two other notable signings.

Whether or not Jol's statement was a veiled criticism of new owner Shahid Khan or just a general statement about the spending of weaker teams in the Premier League, it remains unclear.

It could be argued that the fans' criticism of their Dutch manager is justified. After all, they have two proven goalscorers in Darren Bent and Dimitar Berbatov who are yet to form a real striking partnership.

Scott Parker - the once irreplaceable Spurs midfielder - can provide a real midfield presence. Hugo Rodallega and Adel Taarabt have also shown their own flashes of brilliance. Perhaps the main problem is that the team are not creating chances for their strikers effectively.

The other problem - pointed out by Jonathan Liew in the Telegraph - is that Jol played "the classic 4-4-2 system" that is "debunked" and "discredited". As a result, their midfield was exposed.

Indeed, the most successful teams now have creative players in the hole to provide a link between midfield and goalscorers. Jol defended his chosen formation by effectively arguing that 4-4-2 was the only way to fit both Bent and Berbatov - their only two real goalscorers - into the team. He definitely has a point.

Despite the two ageing strikers, there are few consistent goalscorers and creators in Fulham's squad. This is perhaps why Jol was bemoaning the lack of investment in the summer transfer window.

Lack of creativity was evident in that Bent and Berbatov did not manage a single shot at goal between them in the first half; this was partly because of a lack of provision from midfield.

The feeling persists that real, consistent improvement will only come with new faces in the squad. Yet bringing real talent to Fulham may be difficult - they are not a top six side and young players from around Europe want to be playing in European competition.

Jol is most certainly in danger of losing his job, but that might not be the nub of the issue.

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Fulham

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