Fulham is a hot mess. For all that’s gone on over the last few days, weeks, months at Craven Cottage — that’s all you really need to know.
For those of you trying to get all the recent Fulham drama straight – we’ve got you covered:
On December 1st, Martin Jol was sacked by Fulham after two-and-a-half years in charge and immediately replaced by long time Manchester United assistant coach, Rene Meulensteen.
On December 24th, Fulham appointed Alan Curbishley as first team technical director. Six days later, the Cottagers appointed Ray Wilkins as assistant head coach.
How the balance of power at Fulham would pan out under these three was anyone’s guess, until last Friday when things got really weird and the club appointed Felix Magath as first team manager.
Most presumed the Magath hiring meant Meulensteen had been fired. Indeed, even the Dutch manager believed this to be the case as he took to the radio to explain that chief executive Alistair Mackintosh had told him that he had been “released.”
Fulham, however, have since come forward to claim that Meulensteen has not been sacked. He’s merely been “relieved” (thanks?) of his first-team duties after only 75 days at the helm. What role Meulensteen currently occupies at the Cottage, no one seems to know and the fact that he faces a fight to secure a pay-off from the club (he’s on a contract until 2015) only complicates things further.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more bizarre they did on Monday when Curbishley and Wilkins were reportedly sacked the club.
So there you have it. New Fulham owner Shahid Khan is not hitting the panic button, he’s positively smashing it. Guess that’s what happens when you suddenly realize the club you paid $300 million is four points adrift of safety with 12 league matches to play.
Welcome to the Mad House.
Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:
Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.
I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.
Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.
I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.
I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.
A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:
Ireland 1-0 Germany
Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.
With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).
Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece
Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.
With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.
Portugal 1-0 Denmark
Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.
Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action
Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar
Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland
Albania 0-2 Serbia