So it’s official, Martin Jol will not be leaving the Dutch giants of Ajax to take over at Craven Cottage. Despite Fulham’s courting of the likable Jol, Ajax’s chief executive Rick van den Boog flew back to deal with the situation. Jol had agreed a contract in principle but after discussions, decided to stay in Amsterdam. What did surprise me about the whole situation was just how bad the financial situation has become for a club with the history, stature and standing of Ajax.
Fulham of course now find themselves in a situation of not having a manager with just over 3 weeks until the new Premiership season begins. The success of Roy Hodgson’s tenure has made it an attractive position and the way the team has performed in the last two seasons gives all Fulham fans hope that the good work can continue.
The question now is, who will Fulham turn to. I must admit, I was surprised they went after Jol, not because I don’t rate him, I think he’s a cracking manager who was treated disgustingly by Tottenham Hotspur back in 2007. No one at Tottenham who was involved in that debacle can be proud of how it turned out. Jol, of course, had the last laugh as Juande Ramos’ disastrous reign ended in just under a year with the club rooted to the foot of the Premiership and sinking like a stone.
Going after Jol was a real bolt from the blue so it isn’t easy to point to who the club will turn to now. Their are several high profile candidates currently out of work and most notably Sven Goran-Eriksson has already stated his interest in the post. Despite his desperate love letter to the Liverpool board, it could be replacing the man who got the job he wanted that gives him a way back in to the Premiership. Eriksson was also harshly treated by his previous domestic employers Manchester City, so he would be keen to get back quickly.
Unfortunately, his positions since leaving the City of Manchester Stadium have hardly extended his reputation, with a dreadful spell in charge in Mexico and an underwhelming spell looking after the Ivory Coast. Yet Fulham do have a reputation of being quite left field with managerial appointments. With Kevin Keegan, Jean Tigana, Chris Coleman, Lawrie Sanchez and then Roy Hodgson, none were expected to take the reins but did so with varying levels of success.
Craven Cottage has seen such progress over the last two years under Hodgson that any new manager could have to deal with raised expectations. A highest Premiership finish in 2008-09 was followed by a wonderful run to the final of the Europa League which could not have been anywhere near the expectations of the fans two years ago. A nucleus of a fine footballing side, filled with experienced, talented players has made Fulham more than just another London club.
Following Hodgson is of course going to be a hard act to follow, but the quality of the playing staff, a lovely ground on the banks of the Thames and renewed sense of belief in the stands makes it a very attractive club right now. The new manager will have plenty of tools at his disposal to continue the upward progression of the last two seasons and fans will be disappointed over Jol’s decision to stay in the Netherlands. The club, in choosing to court Jol showed a desire to continue that and the future looks very bright for the Cottagers.
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