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This Is My Preview And I'm Sticking To It: Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur

Fulham host Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow, but the match is just the beginning of a long and complicated question Rene Meulensteen will be required to answer.

Ian Walton

Look, I could get well into the minutiae of formations, personnel, and form. I could draw parallels between Andre Villas Boas's suddenly tenuous footing and the last days of Martin Jol. I could talk about Rene Meulensteen and what his appointment may mean for Fulham Football Club moving forward. I could even call all Fulham supporters to man the barricades, get behind the team, and hail the dawning of a new day. I could cry out how a Spurs are ripe for the picking and label tomorrow's match a possible catalyst through which the Cottagers could begin the digging themselves out of the relegation sized hole in which they currently find themselves. (Aside: I've caught flak from a segment of supporters for my usage of third person pronouns when referring to the players, the manager, and the owner. I do so not out of a lack of passion, but rather because it's not my sweat, footballing acumen, or money guiding the club from match to match. Think of it as my own humble attempt at respect for their endeavours rather than dismissive aloofness). But I'm not going to do any of that.

Fulham are and will remain a club in crisis until performances on the field suggest otherwise. Martin Jol has been given his marching orders, and although I'm sure he's a good guy through and through, it seemed well time for a change. That said, football is a player's game and while we can all critique the outgoing manager's decisions, the fact remains that Fulham are a club with considerable weaknesses amongst its playing personnel. The club leaks goals and scores few; has a notable lack of pace; isn't especially creative in central midfield, and seems adrift with respect to on-field leadership.

All of the clubs currently occupying the same strata of the Premier League table as the Cottagers have shown signs of life, fight, and organization that have alluded Meulensteen's charges thus far, and until a series of matches proves otherwise, it seems like a fool's errand to spend too terribly much time building a match into something other than a "wait-and-see" contest.

Sacha Riether and Brede Hangeland could find themselves back in the starting XI tomorrow, and that seems a good thing as stopping the glut of goals conceded is surely foremost on the list of problems Meulensteen must address. Dimitar Berbatov is also back in contention after illness and will either have a fire lit beneath is insouciant Bulgarian backside or will be biding his time until the January transfer window opens. Which you prefer is an option most Fulham supporters will already have decided long ago.

AVB on the other hand is a manager blessed with a remarkably talented side that has inexplicably under preformed this campaign. He will have high hopes that his Spurs can enjoy a dynamic day out against a floundering Fulham side. Jermain Defoe or Roberto Soldado is about as significant a quandary as the Portuguese manager faces.

Any time a club changes manager there is a period of departure from the mean. One match is not large enough a sample size through which to draw any conclusions. Is Fulham a capable side that has thus far been encumbered with an incapable manager? Or is Fulham an incapable side that has rightly been marked with the stigma of looming relegation?

Tomorrow is just the beginning of the answer to that question.