Jol to take Fulham forward

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 22: (FILE PHOTO) Coach Martin Jol of Hamburg looks on prior to the Bundesliga match between Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburger SV at the LTU arena on February 22, 2009 in Leverkusen, Germany. The former Tottenham Hotspur manager is returning to the Premier League after accepting the offer of a two-year contract at Fulham. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

If at first you don't succeed, leave it a year and try again.

Martin Jol has, second time around, been appointed as the new Fulham manager with immediate effect. The signing is almost representative of a middle finger at Mark Hughes, who, despite being mooted as second choice to attain the role this time last year, still felt he was bigger than the club and walked out little under a week ago. Still though, enough of sweet revenge.

The Dutchman has signed an initial two-year deal, hopefully without any ludicrous clauses attached, worth a reported £2 million a year. Officially, the club have confirmed that they possess an option which can initiate another year on the deal if they so wish.

Upon signing, he stated, as most do, that he was 'happy to join Fulham Football Club' and that he's 'looking forward to being part of the Fulham family.'

More importantly, though, he went on to suggest that Fulham are a club on the up and with a European adventure in sight (yes, he actually wants to compete), perhaps some younger blood needs to be fed through the development system. About time.

"It would be ridiculous to say that I'm not happy with being in the Europa League," he stated to fulhamfc.com. "I think Fulham were the first and only club who had a lucrative income from the Europa League.

"Let's not forget though that can hinder you in the season, the last time Fulham were in the Europa League they were 12th in the table, but it is my hope that we can build a squad that is strong enough to compete in all of these competitions.

"We've got over 30 players, we'll start with the younger pros as well - we've got a big group. Not everybody will be back but hopefully most of the people will be back and there won't be a lot of difference to playing a game after six days of training or three days of training. It's a bit early, 30th June, so we have to work around it with good planning."

Good planning will indeed be an avid requirement, and, gladly, Jol is not a manager to shy away from the forward thinking aspects of the game.

With only three years in the world of English football, you could perhaps suggest that he is a little inexperienced with its finer workings, but if the success and mastery he achieved while at Tottenham Hotspur is anything to go by, inexperience is certainly not one of his flaws.

He made them a consistently high achieving side who were a lasagne away from the much lauded Champions League. And, quite unbeknownst to most, he can easily be portrayed as the man who has allowed Tottenham to go on to greater things now under the tutorship of Harry Redknapp, with his sacking being rash, unjust and wholly unreasonable.

Years followed abroad with Hamburg and Ajax, where his achievements again were widely recognised. However, the former ADO Den Haag gaffer admitted that his dream was always to return to England, and a club of Fulham's calibre is considered perfect for him:

"I'm very happy to be back and especially at a Club like Fulham. I remember coming here with Tottenham and I even think I played here when I was a player. Craven Cottage is a real football stadium, I loved going to Fulham.

"I could have gone to other countries but I was waiting for the opportunity to come back to England."

A perfect fit all round then, but given his brief stint in England, what can we expect of Martin Jol?

He's a manager who, on the surface at least, is very calm and he exudes stability thanks to his harmonious demeanour. Jol, however, is not short of passion and I would expect that to be shown in the way Fulham will play from now on.

With an air of continuity for us, following Hughes' reign, Jol likes his teams to attack but, as shown by the best defensive record in the Eredvisie with Ajax, he knows how to form a defence astutely. Hand in hand with the attacking, flowing football comes a neat style of play, again, something we're used to at Craven Cottage (post Sanchez anyway).

Tactically, I'd predict many similarities to the previous two reigns at Fulham, although expect more freedom for the more effervescent players such as Moussa Dembele; a striker who Jol will know particularly well.

And, transfer wise, the Dutchman won't be afraid to let a few boys go, as seen with the expectant releases of John Pantsil and co. Zoltan Gera has come clean about the possibility of him staying by the Thames, thanks in no small part to Jol's appointment. It puts into question how much he really 'loves West Bromwich Albion'.

Whom he'll sign is impossible to second guess. With his Tottenham connections, perhaps a few of his former employees could make a move to SW6, although don't bank on it, with the likes of Robbie Keane being well past his sell-by-date.

What is evident, however, is that not only is Martin Jol the man to take Fulham forward, but he is also the man to retain the quality aspects of our previous years. No decline shall be forthcoming and us fans should be delighted by this belated appointment.

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