Fulham manager Martin Jol has become the latest victim of this season’s Premier League after he was removed from his post following Saturday’s dire 3-0 defeat to West Ham.
Jol’s position had come under increasing pressure in recent weeks following a shocking run of form that has left Fulham in the relegation zone with just 10 points from 13 fixtures this season, having lost their last five games in the league.
It was no surprise, therefore, to see the Fulham board take evasive action on Sunday, sacking Jol and replacing him immediately with first team coach René Meulensteen in a move many believe had been on the cards for some time already.
The former Ajax coach can have few complaints about his dismissal. His side have looked totally bereft of ideas in recent weeks, rolling over to the likes of West Ham, Swansea and Liverpool, as well as losing 4-3 to Leicester in the Capital One Cup.
It was a slump that had little signs of ending, and despite captain Scott Parker’s claim following Saturday’s defeat that the players ought to be blamed, chairman Shahid Khan deemed it necessary to take action.
In Meulensteen, Fulham have a highly rated young coach who was never given a fair chance at Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala. However, he faces a tough task to turn around a rapidly sinking ship and save the Cottagers from a tough struggle against relegation.
Meulensteen’s primary concern ought to be the form of talismanic striker Dimitar Berbatov, who has looked out of sorts in recent weeks and missed the West Ham clash through illness.
After proving pivotal in securing Fulham’s Premier League status last season, scoring 15 goals in the league, the Bulgarian has struggled so far this term, scoring just one league goal against Crystal Palace in October.
Meulensteen will hope for a positive response from his players when his side takes on Tottenham on Wednesday night.
Jol appeared to have lost the faith of some of his squad in recent weeks, and Meulensteen will need their full support if they are to overcome a Spurs side that will have been encouraged by an impressive performance in their 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Sunday.
If Berbatov can recapture some of last season’s form, and the players get behind their inexperienced new coach, the Cottagers should have the quality necessary to avoid relegation. Failure to do this, however, could mean Fulham fans have little to cheer about come next May.
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