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.
Kevin De Bruyne has been as valuable an attacker as any in the Premier League season, so his injury suffered this weekend is quite a big deal.
There were fears that Manchester City’s Belgian attacker would be gone for more than a month, but manager Pep Guardiola has quelled those concerns to an extent.
[ MORE: NCAA star’s fastest hat trick ]
De Bruyne will miss Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League match against Celtic, which shouldn’t bother the club too much, though his absence Sunday against Tottenham Hotspur could be felt more keenly.
Guardiola said that both De Bruyne and his Belgian teammate, Vincent Kompany, should be back in two to three weeks time. In De Bruyne’s case, Guardiola’s specifically mentioned after the international break. That puts him in line for an Oct. 15 trip to Everton.
The manager also related that he’s excited for his first trip to Celtic Park, as he’s not been to Glasgow to face Celtic in his career.
“Everyone talks to me about the atmosphere, I’m looking forward to playing here. I know how strong they are here. I spoke with my old players, and they have said this is a special environment.”
Kickoff from Scotland is 2:45 p.m. ET.
There are some absolute beauties on tap for Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League, with two Premier League clubs in play and a pair of matches pitting top teams from Germany and Spain.
[ MORE: UCL Tuesday roundup ]
All Wednesday matches kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET.
Celtic vs. Manchester City
Having been hammered 7-0 at home by Barcelona, Celtic’s “reprieve” is a trip to face Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. Brendan Rodgers will need to pull every trick out of his hat to avoid another blowout, as City had little trouble in dispatching a solid Borussia Monchengladbach side 4-0.
Arsenal vs. FC Basel
Both Group A matches were 1-1 draws to open the stage, though few expect draws on day 2. That’s because giants Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain move onto perceived lesser lights in Basel and Ludogorets Razgrad.
The Gunners are flying, having gotten their toughest fixture out of the way in a 1-1 draw at PSG. Arsene Wenger‘s crew is fresh off a 3-0 thumping of Chelsea, and will be aware of Basel’s best: Serey Die, Birkir Bjarnason, and Taulant Xhaka, brother of Arsenal’s Granit. That’s right… all the Xhakas.
Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich
A road goal led Diego Simeone’s Atleti past Bayern in last year’s UCL semifinal, and the Bavarians will hope for a better fate under new boss Carlo Ancelotti.
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Barcelona
Man, this group. A very good Gladbach side will have to rebound from a 4-0 loss to Man City by hosting Barcelona. The good news for the Germans is that Barcelona will be without Leo Messi, though that mattered little in Barca’s 5-0 win in La Liga play this weekend.
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Napoli vs. Benfica
Besiktas vs. Dynamo Kyiv
FC Rostov vs. PSV Eindhoven
After being named the NCAA Soccer Men’s Player of the Week, Spanish junior Albert Ruiz went out and set the base for a repeat.
The Florida Gulf Coast striker scored three goals in three minutes and 19 seconds on Tuesday, and the Eagles needed everyone in what turned out to be a 6-5 thriller.
FGCU was up 5-0 after 16:16, but saw that lead drop to 5-4 by the 55th minute.
[ MORE: Pochettino happy with “must win” defeat of CSKA ]
Back to Ruiz, his three goals all came before the game was 10 minutes old (9:02 to be exact). The team’s Twitter account says that’s a record to start a game, besting the record was set by Indiana’s Steve Burks on Oct. 6, 1973. Burks scored his three goals by the 11:41 mark of the first half.
If you look at the clock, too, we think it’s more like nine minutes on the dot.
Ruiz scored seven times in 11 games as a sophomore, and is battering that impressive mark this year. It’s not even halftime at FGCU, and he’s up to 11 goals in his ninth game of the season. That puts him into a tie with Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone for the most goals in men’s D1 soccer (and Ruiz has more than 45 minutes to play).
The 6-foot-2 forward is going to be attracting a lot of attention, especially considering this is his second hat trick in 10 days.
Manchester City visits White Hart Lane for a match-up of this early season’s first and second place Premier League clubs.
City will have one less day of rest than its Premier League rivals, though both are coming off road matches in Europe.
Spurs beat CSKA Moscow 1-0 on Tuesday, while Man City is battling Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany a day later.
[ MORE: Pochettino happy with “must win” defeat of CSKA ]
A win would pull Spurs to within a point of the leaders, while a City victory would guarantee, at-worst, a five-point table advantage for Pep Guardiola‘s bunch.
Kickoff is at 9:15 a.m. ET Sunday, and our own Joe Prince-Wright has the preview for you with the latest PST Extra (above).