Why Rene Meulensteen can keep Fulham in the Premiership

Paul Gilham

Why Rene Meulensteen's appointment was a shrewd move by Shahid Khan, and why our man Rene can turn our season around

Since Martin Jol’s departure there have been dramatic improvements at Fulham.

Not only are we lining up more positively, with wingers in the form of Ashkan Dejagah and Alexander Kacaniklic wanting to get forward and take the play to the opposition, but in the positive attitude emanating from all areas of the pitch.

At home to Tottenham we extended our woeful tally of defeats, but there were unfamiliar positives from the performance; notably the way we made one of the most expensive teams in the league run down the clock in order to get three points against us – the team that spent the least over the summer.

The Aston Villa result was brilliant. Not only because we broke our straight run of losses, but because every player put in a great performance for 90+ minutes, and we kept a clean sheet.

Everton today was always going to be a difficult place to go to. Over the years we have struggled to make any sort of mark there, even with the likes of Clint Dempsey, Moussa Dembele and Danny Murphy in the team.

That said, our recent performances brought a sense of unusual positivity, and that was visible on the pitch in the way we fearlessly went about our business – something that we barely did even under Roy Hodgson away from home.

Yes Everton did put four past us, but not for the same reasons four would have been put past us under Jol. Instead of playing a ruthlessly high line while trying to defend against an onslaught of blue shirts, today we attempted to get a winner, and then an equaliser, despite being away at from home.

In Rene we trust

Initially I was dubious of the way Shahid Khan chose to go about his business in terms of hiring Meulensteen to fill an untitled role at the club alongside Jol, who he then chose to reluctantly sack.

I didn’t feel like anyone knew were they stood (even now Rene is without an obvious title) and that the players would become even more disillusioned with the lack of guidance and authority being shown at the club.

Now however, I would praise his decision as for me it shows he understands the club.

He could have played into the media’s hands and turned Fulham into a circus spectacle while he tried to secure the coup of the season.

Regardless of who would have got the job, they would have been under immense pressure from day one and there would be the overriding feeling that the owner was breathing down their neck.

In quietly bringing in a man, who I feel was destined to take the reigns at Fulham, before letting Jol go shows the modest, respectful and intelligent way in which the self-made Billionaire is prepared to go about his business.

Being granted a settling in period, before taking over as boss, Meulensteen isn’t being thrown in the deep end.

Additionally, while his unspecified title may by worrying in some ways, it attaches no unnecessary pressure to his already intense job.

A great example of where a manager under little pressure has over achieved was at Chelsea.

Swapping a mop and bucket for the keys to the training ground, Roberto Di Matteo, who was steadily bringing West Bromwich Albion down before being replaced by Roy Hodgson, won an average Chelsea team the Champions League.

Something that no other Chelsea manager was able to do, even with the job title and Roman Abramovich’s credit card.

While Jol may have been motivational for the players, Fulham were crying out for a tacticianer, and by all accounts we have one of the best in football right now.

Shahid Khan’s recent comments that Meulensteen is always on the phone to him, something Jol didn’t do, again speaks volumes.

Meulensteen has brought the heart back into the team, and despite the fact we are still going to struggle this season, there is a definite feeling that we can once again give a good account of ourselves against anyone in this division.

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