Making waves

Posted by Phil Mison

Martin Jol's team failed to thwart UnitedGettyImagesMartin Jol caused a ripple with his comments earlier in the week.

Our wonderfully idiosyncratic football club is serving up a rich diet of issues for discussion presently, even if the on-pitch activity remains somewhat sepia-tinted.

Conscious as any half-decent chronicler must be that continual strokes of the pen with mailed fist leads only to tedium, I am striving to drive a more positive narrative at present on the state of all things Fulham. We are only four games into a new season with four points on the board. By common consensus the performances have not been great, but anyone who cares to refer back on blogs past will find my take on things have been consistent for some time. I wear my heart on my sleeve and say what I see. I don't deal in rumours or half-truths and never hesitate to give praise where it is due.

I am also the first to admit I never played the game to any high level and am not the smartest at analysing charts, chalkboards, tactics and all the statistical stuff. At the end of the day I'm nothing more than a mad-keen Fulham fan hoping his team comes out on top.

All credit to those (you know who you are) who do serve up the data graphics. Thanks as ever to Rich and Viva el Fulham for more great insights this week. Mind you, as politicians well know, data can serve any purpose you require. While I noted no side in the EPL had a higher successful pass rate than the Whites (88%) over the weekend, the only stat that matters is still how many times you get the ball in the net. And that remains our problem.

Things really turned ugly this week just as I decided to go easy for once. If Phil was keeping his powder dry, plenty elsewhere were shouting their displeasure from the rooftops -- and more than a few within earshot of our manager last Saturday as he trudged off the pitch.

By Monday, far from having brushed off the critics and got back to work, Martin dug himself a bigger hole with some ill-chosen words attacking supporters. Our expectations were too high, we needed to take a reality check, and -- it was implied -- should be grateful to have such a high profile manager as Martin in charge. I thought that was significant. If managers show weakness and start reacting badly to criticism the sack is rarely far away. You wonder how Jol's comments went down in Florida?!

I was inclined to ignore this little show of petulance from Jol until I saw Jose Mourinho's morning quotes after Chelsea's home loss to Basel. "The buck stops with me. Blame the manager." Yup, the only words required. Ones that actually enhance a manager's standing with supporters.

But it was a busy day in London, and in the lead up to our own game with Chelsea this weekend, Jol held a press conference. Had words come down from up high? Martin back-tracked on his comments at the top of the week, said he was wrong to criticise the fans and that they had every right to express their views. There was more refreshing frankness. "We tried to get Lukaku a year ago on loan, but Chelsea insisted on a clause that he could be hauled back across the borough in January if necessary. I wanted a season-long loan or nothing." Fair enough, no problem with that. Jol even admits to having made a mistake in the interview. But how much better if fans had been told of this last winter with us all still bewailing the loss to the team of top scorer Clint Dempsey while struggling to get past Blackpool in the Cup?

"As to this summer, we tried for the player again. Chelsea dragged their heels in the last week of the window and we had to make a decision on Darren, so we went for Bent."

I'm not naive enough to suggest the club should give us chapter and verse on every single transfer deal that fails to materialise, but a little bit of healthy spin now and then would surely help us supporters being kept in the dark all the time? An aspect of club culture where the vibe from Florida might help in the future I fancy.

So what do we make of rumours linking hugely-rated coach Rene Meulensteen to Fulham? This is the guy who served 12 years under SAF at Old Trafford and is rated by Robin van Persie as "the greatest coach in the world". The 49-year-old Dutchman did not figure in David Moyes' plans and is mulling over his options. Hmm, the trouble with this story is that it comes from the Daily Star, who, if their front page told me milk came from cows, I'd still ask for confirmation elsewhere. However, let's wait and see. It's generated a flurry of responses on Twitter, not least because so many of us, I sense, feel Jol badly needs support in this department. Watch this space.

And we've more to mull over on this busy day. Yes, it is indeed farewell and don't spare the horses in the removal of Mohammad's mad folly by the river. I personally never really let Jacko's statue get under my skin. Having given it the once over on the day it was unveiled against Blackpool, I never went past it again.

Team news and our local derby clash with Chelsea to come -- the week is looking up. Keep the faith.




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