Did Jol ever stand a chance once Meulensteen arrived?

Fulham Turnstiles

Martin Jol has today lost his job with Rene Meulensteen assuming responsibility for the first team.

Martin Jol has been sacked as manager of Fulham after a poor start to the season which has seen them lose their last five matches.

The defeat against fellow strugglers West Ham on Saturday was the final straw that broke the camel's back. Jol had looked so very despondent and downhearted in recent interviews, and it was inevitable after the 3-0 defeat that he knew his time was up.

Rene Meulensteen has stepped up to manage the team, although their doesn't seem to be much from Fulham regarding this. Whether his contract remains the same is unknown. If so, was it always the board's intention to slowly ease Meulensteen in?

Chairman Shahid Khan said "Rene Meulensteen was brought to Fulham to assist Martin and today was offered the challenge and opportunity to step in for Martin."

"I thank Rene for accepting and now we move forward. I have great confidence in Rene and high expectations for our squad to respond."

The former Manchester United coach arrived at the start of November as head coach, to assist Martin Jol. The job role immediately raised questions over Jol's long term future. In my opinion as soon as Meulensteen was brought in, Jol's days were numbered. It was obvious the Fulham board eyed Rene as the club's eventual manager. Perhaps Jol was given a few more games to prove his worth, but it was always going to be hard almost knowing your future successor was watching over you.

The duo could have worked well together and combined to turn round Fulham's fortune's. But as shown by their defeat on Saturday, and the fact they failed to muster a single shot on target, the situation had not changed. Fulham possess some very talented players in their squad, and certainly should not be occupying one of the relegation spaces.

Much has been said about Meulensteen and how crucial he was behind the scenes at United. Now he has his chance in the greatest league of them all to show his ability. He has a great challenge ahead of him, and come the end of the season if Fulham are 17th or above then you'd have to say he's met his targets for this season.

As for Jol, things clearly didn't get off the ground this season. However I still believe he is a very good manager as shown during his time at Tottenham Hotspur. At White Hart Lane he turned Spurs from an average mid table side into a team capable of competing for a top four spot. He missed out on Champions League qualification by just one place in 2006 and 2007. He will be given another opportunity soon enough in Europe. He is a respected manager, despite this blip on his CV.

image: © Tom Cuppens

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