I will admit that I am slow sometimes when it comes to change in general. With Jol, I wanted him to have a chance to turn things around with the team he built at the beginning of the season. However, looking back at it now, his time to go maybe should have been earlier.
The Southampton match should have been the tipping point for me, because I watched a club that played as individuals, and were outplayed for ninety plus minutes. The Southampton game was the point when I started to feel that Jol had lost the teamand the players were not responding.
My nature is to give a person a chance to fix the issues they are having. However, looking back at it now, the biggest problem for Fulham back in late October was Jol. The players were running the club at that point, and he really lost control.
Jol is a fine manager, and I am sure will be a success someplace else, but he was not the right man for Fulham. He is a classic "players manager" that gives the players the freedom to express themselves, and just play. I don't think that this type of managerial style works at a club like Fulham.
When you are a smaller club, you can still attract high quality players like Dimitar Berbatov, but you can't have a team full of them like the larger clubs in the Barclays Premier League. So, I think playing together as a "team" with players that buy into a system can really work well at Fulham.
That brings us to the new manager, who really has transformed Fulham in just four matches. He has changed the culture, and the mentality of Fulham in such a short period of time.
It starts on the training ground, where Meulensteen has a reputation of being one of the best in the world of being a coach, and working with players the days leading up to the matches. It is obvious, he has prepared his team well going into the match.
Now, on to the matches, we have seen a Fulham club since he has been in charge, look more disciplined with the back four, a working triangle in central midfield, and width on either side that has been dangerous. We have also seen the threat of more scoring chances from the players up front. He has instilled a system that is working, and has put clubs like Everton, and Manchester City under pressure at times during the matches.
What we have also seen many players on the pitch playing with exceptional confidence. John Arne Riise, and Philippe Senderos look like two completely different players under Muelensteen. How about the play of Ashkan Dejagah or Giorgos Karagounis who has gotten chances to play once again and both have been extremely effective?
Now, as we move towards the rest of the season, the confidence that Fulham are playing with makes me feel strongly that the points will be coming, and they will be fast and furious. I really don't expect Fulham to be in the relegation zone or near it past February. The change in manager has convinced me that Fulham will push towards the top ten by the end of the season.
The club actually looks re-born under Meulensteen, and it makes my fear of change now look really silly. Sometimes change is needed, and I should have listened more to the Fulham supporters, who wanted that change sooner. Those supporters that wanted this change in manager earlier were right, and I was wrong.
Lastly, I want to mention that I am also the host of Cottage Talk, and I invite you to listen to the show, and here is the last episode below which is our post-match episode of the last match.