FULHAM boss Rene Meulensteen last night denied that his recent arrival at Craven Cottage had triggered the departure of Martin Jol, insisting that he was shocked to hear of his fellow Dutchman’s sacking.
Meulensteen only joined Fulham as head coach less than three weeks ago, prompting suggestions he was being lined up as Jol’s replacement.
Yet the former Manchester United coach, who left Old Trafford in the summer, says he was not promised the top job as part of the deal.
“I totally disagree with that,” Meulensteen said. “I’ve known Martin for many years, we go back more than 25 years. Obviously my departure from United took some time, it wasn’t a straightforward thing, but eventually I felt it was the right thing to do – to come to Fulham and to help Martin.”
Jol’s dismissal, announced by Fulham yesterday afternoon, had seemed likely after Saturday’s 3-0 loss at West Ham – a fifth consecutive Premier League defeat that leaves the west Londoners in the bottom three.
Meulensteen maintains there is no bad feeling between himself and Jol, yet joked that his arrival at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala last summer also prompted a quick sacking of their then-manager Guus Hiddink.
Meulensteen took over from Hiddink at the end of July, yet was dismissed himself just 16 days later.
The 49-year-old also used last night’s comments to push for funds to buy new players in the January transfer window, as he looks to lead Fulham to top flight survival. “Everyone needs to realise we must invest,” Meulensteen said. “We need to make sure the players take responsibility, with work-rate and their discipline.”
Meanwhile, Jol appears to have departed on good terms, thanking Fulham for his time in charge. “I’m disappointed in this season but know there are better days ahead for Fulham and its supporters,” Jol said, as part of a club statement.
“I will always treasure my experience here and want to thank [chairman] Shahid Khan and everyone at Fulham for the opportunity.”