René Meulensteen has had a rough time of it since officially taking over the reins at Fulham at the start of December. While Martin Jol didn’t leave him much to work with – the Cottagers had just notched their sixth straight defeat and were sitting 18th – Meulensteen hasn’t done much to put Fulham back on track. The side are now sitting dead last in the Premier League, four points from safety, and have lost their last four in a row, outscored 11-1.
As if having to watch his side fail to score in their last three outings wasn’t enough, Meulensteen now has to deal with the threat of Alan Curbishley, currently the club’s technical director, taking over at the helm. Oh, and he has to do it all while looking ahead to Sunday’s match at Old Trafford, where Fulham need a result against his former club Manchester United.
Fortunately, Meulensteen has someone in his corner: former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, whom the Dutchman worked under while coach at the club. According to Meulensteen, Ferguson is still mentoring him: “Sir Alex Ferguson was the first man to reassure me and say ‘stick to your beliefs and know what you’re capable of'”.
The Fulham manager seems to be taking Sir Alex’s advice. Meulensteen, in an interview with the Telegraph, talked about building upon Ferguson’s managerial style to encourage his players. He wants his side to have the same sort of winning mentality found at United under their former manager: “We are standing at the bottom of the mountain. The players can say: ‘Let’s make sure we get to that first base and we are all right.’ I say: ‘Hold on a minute, if you go a bit further, there’s the best restaurant on the mountain, with the best view you can get, and it’s even better.’ That’s the mentality: look beyond.’’
Meulensteen may want his side to be able to admire the view from the top of the mountain, but the fact is, there’s still a steep incline to hike. And while United may not be flourishing under David Moyes as they were under Sir Alex Ferguson, going to Old Trafford will not be an easy stroll through the park for Fulham. But if Meulensteen pulls off a result on Sunday, he’ll likely have the support of more than just Sir Alex behind him.