Fulham have been down the road of fighting relegation before during their current 12 year run of Premier League football. However, it seems every time the Cottagers were threatened with relegation, something either miraculous happened, or the grit and commitment of the squad came through. The current group of players at Craven Cottage however seem to be a hodgepodge of malcontents from other clubs and run-of-the-mill chance signings that Martin Jol has put together, proving a radical departure from the formula that long worked for the West London club.
New owner Shahid Khan has inherited this situation. One must wonder about the long-term health of a club without a robust supporter base whose success has largely been down to the generosity and commitment of one man, the former owner Mohammed Al-Fayed. Fulham must learn to live within its own means as the new owner has repeatedly stated and while my feeling is going down may not be the worst thing for the West London club, no supporter of the club wants to hear that. Accordingly, alternatives to going down exist but every scenario probably involves the sacking of Martin Jol, who has been ineffective on job and whose buys have not worked out as planned. Even today’s announcement that Rene Meulensteen has been hired as Fulham head coach to work alongside Jol is a stop-gap measure and isn’t going to revitalize the team.
Previously, I have not taken the possibility of an American managing in a top European league seriously. But Bob Bradley could be the exception. He’s a manager who cut his teeth at home but has now shown he can manage abroad, has managed big egos well and is tactically astute. While most American managers would have a steep if not impossible learning curve to adapt to the intricacies of everyday management in Europe, I feel Bradley is the lone American who can make this jump and adapt fairly quickly.
With Bradley due to manage his last match for Egypt next week, he is readily available and perhaps the type of flier Fulham needs to kickstart a campaign that otherwise very well could be lost. The Cottagers have a list of established managers they could consider but almost each one brings the feeling of a “band-aid” solution to organizations problems that could flare back up in the near future.
Khan, as an American owner, could give Bradley his shot. The former USA, Princeton University and MLS manager follows European football closely and may be able to help identify the types of players the Cottagers must target in the January transfer window if they are to stay up. Furthermore, Bradley will help build on the base of support the club has cultivated in the United States that for years led to many new fans of the game adopting Fulham as the club they support.