Fulham: Blame Jol But Our Side's Lack Of Effort Is Unforgivable
I’m finding it increasingly tough to write about Fulham, and any thought pattern involving football continues to end with me raging.
Saturday’s loss at Cardiff left me having to accept the inevitable fate of which I’ve been hopeful of avoiding for some time. Our performance was abject and beyond disappointing. Cardiff had gone 400 minutes without finding the net in the Premier League, cue Fulham to end the drought by conceding thrice, such has been the trend this season. All you have to do is ask John Obi Mikel and Tom Huddlestone.
Pre-match, there was a worrying sense of optimism amongst Fulham fans when the line-ups were announced. After waiting longer than for a lift at Covent Garden station to see our record signing Kostas Mitrgolou start, we were treated to an attacking two of the Greek and 19-year-old debutant Cauley Woodrow. Any exclusion of Darrent Bent is met with a hero’s welcome.
However, in true Fulham style, this positivity evaporated quicker than the Aral Sea. After what was an uneventful first half, we conceded right at the death which did little to riddle the camp with confidence. I’m not going to talk much about the game as it is deeper than that. So to summarise a few goals went in and we lost 3-1.
I’ve seen myself watching most Fulham games both online or at stadiums with my head in my lap and this was no different. It’s gone past the point where your stomach feels sick and there is a numb feeling with every game. I’m so used to the mental abuse that it has a firm spot in my every day life. “Oh you support Fulham? Bloody hell.” is the common response amongst people, and that sums it up really.
I often put myself through the torture of relieving the not so distant good times in the Europa League and I think to myself what exactly has gone wrong? We had the opportunity to build as a football club and we have taken so many steps backwards. There are so many outlets to blame as to why we are in our current predicament.
One of which is previous owner Mohamed Al-Fayed. The man did wonders for the club, starting well before my time, and has been the reason behind our successes in previous years. However, his inability to spend after our Europa League Final appearance has severely hindered our progression. Such a position was a prime moment to better ourselves and we blew it. In a climate where even clubs in and around us are parting with tens of millions of pounds on new recruits, you need to compete on that scale to keep your head above water.
In no way am I blasting Mohamed’s time at the club as he has done unthinkable things for us. He cleared debts totaling obscene amounts of money, making the club marketable and effectively saved the club in its darkest hour back in the 90s . These are things that will never be forgotten on the banks of the Thames. But when you are unable/unwilling to provide certain funds, it has a detrimental effect. A lot has changed in the world of football since he first took over the club, to when he handed it over to Shahid Khan. His stance of low spending became toxic and has been a small factor as to why we face certain relegation.
Shahid Khan has come in and done what Al-Fayed should have adopted, but it looks as if it is too late. I can’t blame Khan as he has put his money where his mouth is when asked. However, it is clear that the people advising him on decisions, particularly CEO Alistair Macintosh, have made a real mess of things. Two sackings after only two thirds of the season is quite frankly embarrassing and has shown a real lack of judgement. Macintosh had an awful summer window in 2013 which ended with him admitting we had brought in all targets. These included Elsad Zverotic, who has become the club’s boot boy, Darren Bent, who has invested in treacle on the sole of his boots, Adel Taarabt who was more interested on the colour appearing on the roulette machine than training and Derek Boateng, who I’m not sure still exists.
Admittedly he got Fulham fans salivating on Deadline Day back in January, only for two of the signings to be shipped out on loan in under a month, Kvist to fall out favour with new manager Magath, and our record signing succumbing to the sidelines due to injury problems and a lack of match fitness. Having backed previous manager, head coach, or whatever title they gave him, Meulensteen, in the window, he then proceeded to advise Khan to relieve the Dutchman of his duties three games prior to the closure of the window. This rid the squad of any stability or continuity and left many pondering their futures. Meulensteen’s sacking put us back to square one again and left Magath with a near impossible task.
Martin Jol has a big part in our current failures, of which we have, and are currently enduring. His negative attitude along with his puzzling tactics and approach left the squad riddled with problems. Having a line-up consisting of Adel Taarabt, Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov leaves you to imagine what the work rate and desire was like on match day. Some of his post-match comments left you bemused. He had developed a squad lacking any commitment or drive and these are two characteristics associated with most players we currently have on our books.
It’s sad to see your team under-performing on a weekly basis, but it is despicable to see an evident lack of care and effort from the majority. When you have fans spending the majority of their disposable income on watching their team, you don’t expect to win every game, you expect a performance of which you can see the players have given their all. I can count those performances on one hand and that explains our current plight. Many said that Cardiff was the final nail in the coffin. However, there are so many nails in the coffin right now, that the coffin feels pretty awkward and out of place.
Follow Jaik on Twitter, @JaikBFenton