With Fulham lagging in 18th place in the Premier League table and on five straight defeats, Shahid Khan had to make a change.
Khan and the Fulham front office have officially parted ways with manager Martin Jol, and the newly-hired coach Rene Meulensteen will take over first-team duties for now.
“Our poor form and results this season are undeniable, and Fulham supporters deserve better,” said Khan in an official club statement. “With more than half the season still ahead, an immediate change was necessary.”
Jol, initially supported well by Fulham fans, slowly lost the backing of the supporters at Craven Cottage with the results disappearing. The club finished last year very poorly, staving off relegation in the final two weeks.
The bad form continued this season, and after a slow summer transfer window, the shouts for Jol’s head grew louder. The 3-0 loss to West Ham this weekend was the final straw.
“It was a privilege to manage Fulham, one of the great clubs in the Premier League or anywhere in the world,” Jol said in the club statement. “I am disappointed in this season but know there are better days ahead for Fulham and its supporters. I will always treasure my experience here and want to thank Mr. Khan and everyone at Fulham for the opportunity.”
The two teams below Fulham in the table had already made managerial changes this season, and now all three relegation-zone clubs have made the switch.
There is no doubt a major turning point in Jol’s tenure as manager came last summer when Tottenham snatched Craven Cottage favorites Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele. Jol publicly rued their departure on more than one occasion, noting the exodus turned Fulham into more of a patchwork than he would have liked.
Interestingly enough, the club statement made no mention of whether Meulensteen’s appointment is temporary or permanent. One would assume he will take over on an interm basis while the club searches for a permanent solution, but no mention of such a search was made in the initial club statement.
All it said was, “Shahid Khan, Chairman of Fulham Football Club, this afternoon announced that Rene Meulensteen will run First Team duties, effective immediately, taking over for Martin Jol.”
Khan then said, “Rene Meulensteen was brought to Fulham to assist Martin and today was offered the challenge and opportunity to step in for Martin. I thank Rene for accepting and now we move forward. I have great confidence in Rene and high expectations for our squad to respond.”
Here is the interview new manager Rene Meulensteen did with Sky Sports: