The Perfect Storm

Posted by Phil Mison

Yohan Cabaye (L) and Alex Kacaniklic (R) battle for the ball in Newcastle's win.APYohan Cabaye (L) and Alex Kacaniklic (R) battle for the ball in Newcastle's win.

I have been taking comfort in the past. A natural human response when seeking answers to the doubts and uncertainties that lead to a lack of clarity of vision. It is important at times like this not to lose a sense of perspective. Calm and clear-headed thinking are the order of the day. We are not cattle to be stampeded by a clap of thunder - we are men!

It was a somber exercise on Sunday to trawl back through the old Soccernet Fulham archives of the past three seasons - not least for the 'lost family' of acolytes who used to post and kept me constantly entertained (and on my toes). I understand why so many regulars may no longer be contributing, but I hope you're still around and no doubt feeling the pain and bewilderment of our current plight. Seems we had a lot more fun on the blog back then?

Have Fulham been here before? Not since the darkest of days of 2008 in terms of what's happening on the pitch. But three seasons ago there was no holding back on where we thought Mark Hughes was getting it all wrong, and the carping went on in strident fashion throughout his brief tenure. I know, because I was leading from the front!

Then Mr. Jol arrived. He talked of 'sexy football' coming to the Cottage and 'unfinished business'. He didn't however hit the ground running either. We had to wait until the start of October for a win - though when it arrived it was a belter. And we cut the big man plenty of slack, we accepted the club was in transition and needed to radically bring down the average age of the oldest squad in the league. We knew that to be true, because Mr. Jol told us so himself…

But while Clint was banging in goals for fun, and Mousa Dembele really came into his own in midfield (didn't he take some stick in his first few months) we never looked like a team in trouble. There were plenty of happy days to recall from 2011/12 and some big wins. But the downward spiral began with the loss of influential players, hesitant and poor judgment in the transfer market, and the gradual erosion of faith in our manager's ability to really cut it.

Fulham folk are a charitable lot, and many supporters can easily pre-date my own allegiance to the colours. By my own admission, I do tend to see things in black and white (no pun intended) and can be both quick to make my mind up and unforgiving. So the message boards last season were a healthy mix of views on where we were heading and, I would guess a 50-50 split, on Jol's management style. I had seen enough muddle by December to sense Jol was a lost cause.

I did my own checking and found that advice I'd taken from both Spurs fans and friends in Holland two years ago pointed out that our new manager was not too hot on tactics, but he would prove a good fit for friendly old Fulham.

No more. It is no longer a question of if our Martin is shown the door, but when. The Viva el Fulham tactics board's damningly forensic analysis of the confused tactics deployed in the Newcastle defeat defines, in diamond-cut clarity, how Jol is getting it wrong - repeatedly - all through the ranks. To come out before the press after such appalling ineptitude against a side that will be bottom six again this season and say, "we dealt pretty easily with their pressure and I felt we should have had a point at least," simply insults the intelligence of all. I urge you to source the above article – the evidence is all there.

So this blogger is into new territory. Much fun has been had in the past two seasons poking fun at QPR, Blackburn, Stoke and the like. But now it's our turn. Two clubs presently have buffoons at the helm and both are at the bottom. Paolo di Canio and Jol are brothers in arms - tactically naïve, too ready to publicly criticise players, inept in transfer dealings and deluded as to their own credentials. Neither will still be in situ by Christmas.

We have 14 days to lick our wounds before the visit of WBA. They too have made a bad start to the season. This will be Jol's last chance to save his skin. He also has the final day of the transfer window to pull a rabbit from the hat. Perhaps by Tuesday the black cloud over SW6 may have lifted. I am not bothered, it's off to the beach for me. Too much around the club at present is toxic.

Actually, on the playing front, I think the majority of the team are too good to be in a relegation scrap (although the Hammers still dropped even with Scott Parker turning in a formidable season). Jol of course has put himself in a massive bind with both his love children - Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov - and there appears no exit strategy to this scenario. But organisation is 50% of the battle, and Jol has now become dead man walking.

I'm going to be pragmatic about the whole thing - heaven knows Newcastle have spent a year screaming for Pardew's head on a platter. Results will dictate Jol's future and force the chairman's hand. Khan doesn’t come with any baggage. Having been the man who so assiduously courted Jol in the first place and lured him across, the CEO may still be firmly in the gaffer's camp. But that's unlikely to cut any ice with Shahid.

Lose the fans, the respect of your team, and then your peers and it is time to smell the coffee and grab your coat. Fulham must, and will, survive and prosper again. But there’s more pain to endure first I fear.

twitter@fulhamphil

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