Official: Martin Jol sacked at Fulham, Rene Meulensteen to take over (video)

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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:

Video: Ronaldo scores fourth goal, gives Portugal early lead

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He has four goals in less than two matches, and Portugal is off to another flying start courtesy of their star forward.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Portuguese a 1-0 lead against Morocco in the fourth minute after brilliantly heading home a corner kick.

The Real Madrid star gave Portugal a similar spark at the beginning of their 3-3 draw against Spain in their first Group B match when Ronaldo drew, and scored a penalty kick inside of the opening three minutes.

Is there anything this man cannot do?

Reports: Alli unlikely to play in England’s second Group G match

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The Three Lions may not have taken all good news away from the team’s 2-1 win over Tunisia in their World Cup opener.

[ MORE: Russia races past Egypt, likely en route to next round ]

Several reports are suggesting that England will likely be without Tottenham playmaker Dele Alli in their second Group G match against Panama on Sunday.

Alli was forced out of England’s opener with a thigh strain, which gave manager Gareth Southgate the decision to put in Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

There isn’t a timetable for the 22-year-old’s return to the pitch, but his absence will definitely present a major question for Southgate heading into the rest of group play.

Without Alli in the starting XI, it’ll likely be between Loftus-Cheek and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard to fill the role where Alli normally sits.

In the case of Lingard, who started against Tunisia, the England boss would have to bring in another starter if Southgate opts to have the Red Devils attacker sit in as the number 10.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.