Turmoil at the Cottage

Paul Gilham

Why Martin Jol and Fulham are not suited to one another.

Things at Fulham seem to be going from bad to worse. On the pitch we have a disjointed mesh of hardworking and arguably defensive players in Scott Parker, Steve Sidwell and Pajtim Kasami, who line up each week alongside two luxury attacking options, Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz - players who are, for me, out of their depth in this team.

Off the pitch Martin Jol continues to divert the pointed finger, choosing instead to state the obvious with such comments as, "we are not Real Madrid". After failing to beat West Bromwich Albion at home, Jol claimed that the fans have too high an expectation - a comment that as a life long Fulham fan, I've never heard before.

New chairman Shahid Khan has also sent a worrying message to concerned fans from across the pond, stating that he hasn't even considered the security of Martin Jol's job. With this 'brushing under the rug' attitude emanating from both chairman and manager, are things at the Cottage going to get better?

The problem I feel at Fulham right now is structure - and that stems from the directors in suits all the way to the substitutes bench on match day. Martin Jol is, despite what people may think, a very good manager - his record at Ajax alone proves this. The same can be said for Berbatov, and perhaps even Ruiz, when considering his recent form for Costa Rica. The reason I believe these three are failing to perform at Fulham however is because they do not abide by the ethos of the club.

As a Fulham fan I am well aware that we are not a big, successful club, and despite what Jol may think, I do not expect us to win every game we play. What I do expect however is passion and desire. Under Roy Hodgson I feel we produced the kind of football that as a club we are capable of producing. We were very defensive, annoyingly so at times - but structured and together. Our away record was abysmal, and although frustrating at the time, it was irrelevant to some extent as we picked up essential points at home - the fortress that Craven Cottage had become.

In the same way Hodgson's defensive ethos was not welcomed at Liverpool - and Liverpool fans will still tell you how poor Hodgson is as a manager, as if we passed him on to them because we no longer wanted him - Jol's attacking ethos is not welcomed at Fulham.

I think, one way or another, we will have to acknowledge and admit that. The gung-ho style of play introduced by Jol, where we play an outrageously high line in a team featuring Darren Bent, Berbatov and Ruiz away from home, is not for us. In some ways, looking at our results, we probably would have the same points tally, at this point, under Hodgson - beating West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff at home, but losing away to Sunderland and Crystal Palace. That said however, our team would feel organised and as fans we would feel safe in the knowledge that we had the capability of beating anyone at the Cottage.

For me Jol's recent media activity has done nothing but further distance himself from the fans. In stating ignorantly that we expect too much tells me that he does not understand the clubs history. I strongly believe that if we had started the first half of Saturday's match against Manchester United the same way we started the second, then the players would have been applauded by the majority at the final whistle - regardless of the final score.

The warning signs have long since passed, and things are not going to get better if they are not addressed. Fulham need to be taken in a new direction, and I'm afraid that Martin Jol will only be taking us in the wrong one. Our season and future in the Premier League is very much in the hands of Shahid Khan - we can only hope that he realises that.

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