Tricky Cup tie faces Fulham

Posted by Phil Mison

Getty ImagesDefeat to Leicester in the Capital One Cup could spell the end of Martin Jol's tenure at Fulham.

Capital One Cup action on Tuesday night gives the Whites a chance to quickly dispel the wave of negativity that has engulfed the club following Saturday’s surrender at Southampton.

A match-up with one of the Championship form sides in Leicester City, however, looks fraught with peril, while the ramifications from that performance at St. Mary's run deep, and may yet come to be seen as a watershed in Martin Jol's stewardship of Fulham.

Boasting an enviable home record that has seen the Foxes win their last seven games in all competitions on home turf, a shell-shocked Fulham will be there for the taking on Tuesday night at the King Power Stadium if Nigel Pearson gets it right.

Leicester's manager has already been making the running in the pre-match build up, calling on his side to prove they have the credentials to play in the Premier League. Fulham on the other hand may well by the end of 90 minutes have demonstrated all the hallmarks of a team heading for the Championship.

A 2-1 win over Bournemouth at the weekend pushed City above QPR into 2nd place in the Championship race, where Leicester have the best home record in the division -- won six and drawn one of seven, scoring 30 goals in the process.

The one crumb of comfort for Fulham fans is news that top scorer David Nugent is struggling to be fit. But Leicester have been scoring from all over the pitch this season -- in contrast to the visitors. Fulham, need I remind you, are recording the lowest number of attempts on goal in the entire Premier League, and did not manage one single effort on target last Saturday.

How one addresses Fulham's chances for this fourth round tie I'm not too sure. Has Martin lost the dressing room following the debacle at St. Mary's?

Yet again Jol lost no time undermining his players when asked to analyse just why Southampton could so comprehensively destroy Fulham. No blame must be attached to the anonymous Darren Bent, the dismissive arrogance of Dimitar Berbatov, or the journeymen in midfield. No, it was all the fault of the back four! The way Southampton poured through our ranks with such ease, I reckon the back four did well to keep the score down to two!

Look in the mirror, gaffer. As so many have pointed out with their graphic boards and diligent analysis, thanks to Jol's inability to deploy the right tactics Fulham were a beaten side on Saturday evening before the off. Are we actually watching sides before we play them? Does Jol have any idea what to expect come Tuesday night?

Plenty of questions need answers right now. Not least, can the owner and his advisers ignore the clamour for Jol's head after the Southampton loss? With Manchester United down for the game this week, Jol I feel sure will look to rest some of his favourites. Can those who dodged the bullets at the weekend then step up with real appetite and application? Or is Martin already dusting off his excuses for Tuesday night's press conference?

It's a ghoulish prospect, but this Cup tie will be a barometer as to the current state of a very sick looking football club, playing week in and week out now to a level as poor as anything seen under Lawrie Sanchez.

Amidst so much pessimism, let's point out that Fulham have won four of their last five meetings with Leicester, and just when things could hardly be bleaker, how Fulhamish would it be to see the Whites sweep into the next round. Whoever gets the nod, can they please play for the shirt. The long-suffering support that will follow the team bus up the M1 deserve that at the very least. Win lose or draw, let Fulham FC this week just claw back some self-respect.

This may be an outrageous note to end on, but if Fulham lose badly at Leicester, Jol should be dismissed instantly and Kit Symonds asked to lead the team into Saturday's game against United.


twitter@fulhamphil My appreciation for the compliments received on previous post


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