In recent weeks daily newspapers have begun to strengthen the rumours about Symons departure, which originally began as simply social media speculation. This is due to a horrendous string of results and winless performances against Rotherham and Wigan, leaving Fulham daunting another 46 matches in this league, or maybe even one lower. Symons position looks tenuous, and inevitably questions are being asked about his future. The big papers, including the Daily Mail, have lined up West Ham boss Sam Allardyce and Brentford chief Mark Warburton as being next-in-line for the Fulham hot seat. Yet these names are just meaningless by themselves. Fulham fans will want assurance that the next man for the job truly is the right one; two years of manager bingo have been costly. So let's take an in depth look at both coaches.
|Brentford||10 December 2013||Present||73||38||15||20||52.05|
The papers say: "Fulham will sound out Brentford manager Mark Warburton about taking over at Craven Cottage with owner Shahid Khan planning to release a budget of £20million to spend on new players." - Daily Mail.
Warburton took on the role of Brentford manager at the beginning of the 2013/14 season - his first professional management job. After previous behind the scenes work at Watford, few knew his name, and virtually none expected him to have the stunning impact he did. In 27 games in the managerial hotseat that season, Warburton won 17, drew six and lost four. He earned the club automatic promotion out of League One; a fantastic achievement. Yet when promotion odds were set by the bookies last August, Fulham were ranked most likely for return, with Brentford backed for relegation. Warburton once again defied the odds in the 14/15 season, with 21 wins from 43 games so far - a record which has Brentford poised for a play-off position. It is hard to comprehend why a club would let go of such an outstanding manager, but Fulham could easily draw him to the Cottage.
"Brentford have confirmed that manager Mark Warburton will leave the club at the end of the season after an agreement was reached with owner Matthew Benham." This what how the papers read on the 17th of February 2015. Owner Benham made the decision, which was met with dismay by Brentford fans, following a disagreement over the long-term direction of the club. Heart-breaking for some, exciting for others. At the time Symons was still in a comfortable position, but with 2 wins in 18 it's not hard to see why Khan may be keeping tabs on Warburton.
Not only has he provided Brentford with a chance to reach the Premier League. He has set them up to play with intensity and pace over the full 90 minutes, a quality which Fulham only showed in patches this season. Additionally, the young squad at Brentford is similar to ours but Warburton gave the players direction and clear and organised roles. It seems only logical that Warburton is the man for the job. All the qualities Fulham lack he seems to fix. The papers did, however, also report that another coach is waiting in the wings...
|Preston North End||30 September 1992||30 November 1992||12||3||4||5||25.00|
|Blackpool||19 July 1994||29 May 1996||102||44||23||35||43.14|
|Notts County||16 January 1997||14 October 1999||145||56||39||50||38.62|
|Bolton Wanderers||19 October 1999||29 April 2007||371||153||104||114||41.24|
|Newcastle United||15 May 2007||9 January 2008||24||8||6||10||33.33|
|Blackburn Rovers||17 December 2008||13 December 2010||86||30||23||33||34.88|
|West Ham United||1 June 2011||Present||175||67||45||63||38.29|
The papers say: "EXCLUSIVE: Fulham keeping tabs on Sam Allardyce" - Daily Star
Sam Allardyce's managerial honours include coaching Notts County - Third Division winners (1997-98), Bolton Wanderers - First Division play-off winners (2000-01), League Cup runners-up (2003-04) and West Ham - Championship play-off winners (2011-12). His most recent promotion of West Ham was considered as one of the greatest achievements of his career, earning him plaudits from all around England. Since then he has guided West Ham into a top 10 position - in fact, at the start of the season they looked like European material. Nonetheless, Big Sam has managed to swivel West Ham back around in recent years, a feat un-achievable for most managers. It seems obvious that Allardyce would suit Fulham perfectly with his robust defensive tactics (clearly needed at the Cottage).
However, sides who are coached by Sam Allardyce seem to rarely be pleased with his long term influence. His latter months at Bolton and West Ham will be remembered for the furious outbursts aimed at him by fans. Why, though, would you criticise such a well regarded, successful coach? The pressure has been growing on Allardyce ever since the turn of the year, with West Ham struggling to match their early season form and it would appear his attempts to absolve himself from blame have not done himself any favours. He has been outspoken on numourous occasions, blaming injuries, conditions and even fans for his side's occasional poor performances. To add to this, he has become well known over recent years for being one of the most defensive coaches the Premier League. His football is unexciting, lacking of innovation; possibly the wrong answer for Fulham, who would struggle to park the bus against a Sunday league team.
Though some of the criticism of Allardyce may seem unfair, it in fact isn't the main reason that his move to Fulham seems unlikely. Big Sam prefers to spend his days in the Premier League: he has managed there for over three quarters of his professional career. Plus, Allardyce is actually the 14th highest paid manager in the WORLD. That's right, he's paid more than all the Championship managers combined. Cost-efficient? No. But at the end of the day, if Fulham want promotion even if it means playing poor football, this man seems probable to complete the job.
Football is a lottery in these circumstances. To be frank, it's tough to conclude when both managers contrast so much. Warburton may be the best manager, but is 2 years at 1 club enough evidence to make that call? And as for Allardyce, few would consider him a realistic option with his high wages, especially for a smaller club like Fulham. If it was my choice, Warburton edges it. But it's not my choice. It's Khans. So let's hope that he doesn't take the laissez-faire approach this time and he takes authority, and for once gives the club direction, leadership and hope.