A draw at Old Trafford.
A last-gasp yet promising loss to the hottest team in the Premier League.
Apparently that’s enough to get you fired these days at Craven Cottage.
Just as Fulham were starting to turn things around in their ill-fated season, first-year owner Shahid Khan and his underling Alistair Mackintosh have hit the reset button.
A stunned Rene Meulensteen took the news like a champ, saying all the right things despite the decision coming as a “surprise” to the Dutchman, but apparently he could feel it coming for some time.
“You know that you’re playing with a deck of cards that are not yours,” the 49-year-old told BBC 5 Live minutes after the news broke.
There are still plenty of problems with the club, but nobody can fix the league’s most porous defense in a couple of months.
Meulensteen had injected a feeling of youth into the London club. He brought Dan Burn back from loan and inserted him into the starting lineup, a move which has turned masterful. He bought Manchester United youth members Ryan Tunnicliffe and Larnell Cole for pennies on the dollar, and they both featured in the last two matches.
For a club that boasts overflowing youth talents, Meulensteen’s decision to bring in select youngsters was nothing less than a shot in the arm.
So what is the objective in changing managers? Sure, in a vacuum Felix Magath is a pretty outstanding hire. This is his first time venturing outside the Bundesliga, but in German soccer he has plenty of experience in this position.
But that’s all in a vaccum. If players see that promising performances like the ones of the last two weeks aren’t enough, what are they playing for?
“Our Club has shown promise in recent matches, but the fact is we have not won a league match since January 1,” argued Khan. “Given our form, we can no longer merely hope that our fortunes will finally turn.”
Meulensteen, a former assistant at Manchester United for a decade, countered by lumping Shahid Khan into a general pot of “owners who don’t really understand the Premier League.”
A club once thought of alongside Everton as the model for Premier League consistency has shattered into a fragment of its former self. Fulham need a direction, and we learn today that even on the heels of potentially season-saving performances against top Premier League sides, they have no direction or plan at all.
They better get one soon, because anything less than three points next weekend against West Bromwich Albion all but seals their fates to the Championship.
Felix Magath, the man who saved Stuttgart in 2002 and Wolfsburg in 2009, could be staring relegation in the face just eight days after being hired. Was this the right move?