Fulham: Board's Treatment Of Muelensteen Was Embarrassing
What was looking set to be a quiet weekend swiftly changed tone on Friday evening. With Fulham out of the FA Cup, most fans were embracing the possibility of a hassle free weekend. However, in true Fulham style, controversy came to fruition with the ‘sacking’ of Rene Meulensteen and appointment of Felix Magath. The word controversy fails to describe the saga at all.
The news was dealt with anger and frustration on Twitter news as questions were being asked left, right and centre. Now, if you ask me, things seemed to be setting pace, following encouraging performances at Old Trafford and at home to Liverpool, but the panic button appeared out of nowhere. A club statement read that precautions had to be taken and that results had not been of a good standard, which did little to soothe the pain of Fulham fans.
One thing that strikes me as strange is Shahid Khan’s financial backing of Meulensteen in the recent window with some big singings, and proceeding to relieve him of his duties only three games after the closure of the transfer window. What needs to be reiterated is that he had 75 days in the job, the majority of which was spent sorting out the mess Martin Jol had left the club in.
It can be agreed that since his takeover of managerial duties, things hadn’t changed results wise, but it was clear to see that steady improvements were being made on the whole. Having brought in players of his own liking, it was fair to say that we were starting to look a completely different proposition. Admittedly, when you look at the amounts of points we had picked up since January 1st, it didn’t make for pretty reading, but when you are dealing with a squad which isn’t tailored to your managerial abilities, the job is a damn sight harder.
The weirdest thing of all is the clarification of roles at the club of certain personnel. The way the situation has been handled by the club is beyond laughable. Following no mention of Meulensteen in the official club statement and the Dutchman stating he had been ‘released’ by the club, a change in events saw the club state that he, Ray Wilkins and Alan Curbishley were still under contract. The fact that the hierarchy have had the cheek to propose that Meulensteen be the assistant to Magath is both embarrassing and disrespectful. The man deserves a lot more respect than that and it is disgusting to see us act in such an uncharacteristic manner.
Using the example of the most successful manager in the club’s history, Roy Hodgson, you will see that patience is a virtue. Following his appointment in December 2007, he failed to win a league game until February 2008 against Aston Villa. What was to unfold was a remarkable safety from relegation along with a league high finish the following season and a major European final the year after that. What I’m trying to get across here is that sometimes time is needed to breed success. You cannot be fooled by examples of instant turnarounds elsewhere and expect the same thing to happen in your predicament.
Stability and continuity is a must at a top football club, and these are two things that have been severely undermined throughout the season. When you manage to go through three managers after only two thirds of the season, questions are to be asked. If you look at it from the perspective of the players, it does little to instill you with confidence when you have no idea who is at the club. Continuity plays a big part in forging a tight-knit, successful group of players, and the constant chopping and changing leaves you having to start from square one on a frequent basis.
In regards to Magath, if the appointment had been made following the sacking of Martin Jol, I’d of been brimming with elation. However, I feel the timing could not be worse. Of course the players will remain professional, but I can guarantee the majority will be scratching their heads in bemusement. With only 12 games remaining to save our season, it’s hard to envisage the German having enough time to settle in and get across his methods in time to help stave off the dreaded drop. Risky doesn’t half describe it, and it feels as if CEO Alistair Macintosh is trying to pull off a masterstroke whilst endangering the well-being of the club. We are not used to such blasé risk taking and it doesn’t bode well amongst supporters.
Despite my evident negativity in this article, there are many pros to the appointment. A big problem has been our fitness and attention to detail, and this is something that Magath prides himself upon. You only have to look up the stories of his training methods at previous clubs and it will tell you the players are in for a big shock. I sit here genuinely worried about the health of Darren Bent as he slowly realises he’ll have to put some effort in. The poor man looks like he’s been comfort eating for Britain and with Magath at the helm, his life will come under serious danger. I chuckle every time I think of the possibility of Bryan Ruiz, Dimitar Berbatov and Adel Taarabt still being at the club under the new regime.
With Magath’s ideology well documented and his tag of ‘The last dictator in Europe’, it will be a nice change seeing players giving 100% for the remainder of the season, which could help contribute to our survival. His previous record of keeping clubs up in similar situations is refreshing and breeds hope in light of the current proceedings. I may be somewhat disillusioned by the decisions being made up top, but I still feel we are in safe hands management wise.
Follow Jaik on Twitter, @JaikBFenton