It’s possible that the new owner of Fulham, Jackonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan will prove to be a different breed of owner. Not only being the most pimpingly awesome moustachioed premier league chairman ever but also patient willing to stick by his manager giving that most precious of all commodities time. Afterall one only has to look at how successful the Jaguars are to see that this someone who knows how to run a professional sports team successfully.
Yeah, I don’t think that is going to happen either. What I can guarantee however is that in the somewhat likely event that Jol and Fulham bid adieu the professional football pundits will talk about the importance of stability and how Jol should have been given more time. This is complete rubbish. It is Jol’s poor transfer policy that has got Fulham into this position To illustrate this lets have a look back over the last few years of Fulham FC. Aside from the Michael Jackson statute the key figure of the last half a decade was without doubt Roy Hodgson. Taking over a sinking ship in December 2007 Hodgson pulled off the great escape building a very hardworking functional side that was tough to break down. After taking Fulham to the Europa League final and losing in extra time Hodgson left to take on the Liverpool job where even today in some alternative universe he is winning the league playing an extremely well organised 4-4-2.
Back at Fulham however, Mark Hughes spent a year in charge changing very little so that the team he left was essentially unchanged from in terms of personnel and certainly not altered to any significant extent in playing style. The team that Martin Jol played for his first game in charge was as follows:-
GK – Schwarzer LB- Riise CB- Hangeland CB – Senderos RB – Hughes LM – Dempsey CM- Murphy CM – Etuhu RM – Duff FW – Zamora FW – Johnson.
Eight of these players were over thirty the youngest of which being 26. The only new signing to start was the then 31 year old Riise. Clearly, then Fulham desperately needed an injection of youth whilst keeping their hardworking ethos preferably whilst adding quality. Fast forward to the start of this season and the squad does have some younger players unfortunately it also has many of the same experienced players of two years ago. The result being that there are some young players who might be consistent performers in a few years time e.g. Kasami but do not do it week in week out and a collection of players past their prime.
Worse still Jol has assembled a squad whose attacking talents included Darren Bent, Berbatov, Taarabat, Rodallega, Ruiz. It is as if he went out and signed all these players after only seeing their highlight reels and didn’t bother to think about what they were going to do for the other 95+% of the the time i.e. nothing. Martin Jol morphed Fulham away from the hardworking team that were whatever else at least going to compete into a team who can be consistently outworked by the other side.
Even in a division with a lot of weak teams this is a recipe for relegation and have no doubt that Jol was the chef.