Rene Meulensteen, who served as Head Coach under Sir Alex Ferguson for seven years, has been officially appointed to the same position under fellow Dutchman Martin Jol at Fulham.
Thought to be headed back to Qatar where he began his managerial career, Meulensteen was instead convinced by Fulham to join ranks with the Southwest London club which is toiling in the relegation zone.
He’s also recently been linked with open managerial jobs at Middlesborough and Crystal Palace.
The question becomes, is Meulensteen being lined up as Martin Jol’s replacement, or is the addition of a player motivator and tactical sidekick actually a move to back their current manager?
Martin Jol has been one of the favorites to be next up on the managerial chopping block in the Premier League, and as Fulham continues to struggle the pressure rises on new owner Shahid Khan to make some sort of decision.
However, don’t see this as the appointment of Jol’s successor just yet. It’s quite possible that the move instead is a realization by Fulham that, despite Martin Jol’s tactical weaknesses on gameday, he has value in his connections and personality. There’s a chance Meulensteen takes over the reigns for most of the operations on matchday, while Jol assumes more of a technical director’s role.
The two also have a history. Rumors flew this summer that when Jol lost his first-team coach Ray Lewington to the England national team that Meulensteen was his first choice replacement. Instead Meulensteen went to Russia to manage at Anzhi Makhachkala. That didn’t go so well, and Meulensteen was out in just 16 days as the owner found himself in financial shambles and the club looked to cut ties with everyone who had a decent salary.
It remains to be seen what will happen at Craven Cottage in the coming months. Will Jol be out and Meulensteen the manager by Christmas? Or will Khan stick with his man and provide as much assistance to him as possible to get the club away from the bottom three?
It’s an intriguing move that initially raises more questions than it answers about the management status at Fulham, but time must be given to this side to respond to the new appointment.