Putting the snippets together into a small home-made blanket:
It appears that Mark Hughes very nearly didn’t survive 2010. After the West Ham defeat he was in big trouble, but senior players persuaded MAF to put his axe away. This was partly because they understood how important Bobby Zamora was to the team, and partly because of a general belief in what they were doing under the new manager. However, there may also have team meeting around that time in which the players asked to revert more to their old style of playing.
They then beat Stoke 2-0 – the narrative here would be that they were determined to make a point, but in the cold light of day that away game was like many others, except Chris Baird scored two screamers. Whatever, Fulham started to play much better – in part because of an easier run of fixtures – and the pressure was off.
Nevertheless, wheels had been put in motion, and about this time Alastair Mackintosh may have been in touch with Jol about replacing Hughes (Jol was out of work as of early December). (Clearly this goes against the prevailing thought that Jol had messed Fulham around in the summer, and that he really had been blocked by a determined Ajax board.)
So there we were, Jol teed up but then not required, as form improved.
Meanwhile, could our friends up the road have had a whisper in Mark Hughes’ ear? The season ends, Hughes resigns, and for reasons outlined above, Mackintosh is able to act fast and get the man he wanted all along.
Is he the right man? Time will tell.
Raphael Honigstein of the Guardian has been quick to prick our balloon. From Twitter today:
“I always thought Jol was a good manager. Then I talked to some Hamburg players/agents…”
“Ask anyone at Ajax! He was terrible there.”
A retweet: “Check only his last season with Ajax. 3rd place, terrible football with Suarez in squad and fired.”
Q: “You’re judging a manager on his reputation with agents?”
A: “No, on his actual work, in training.”
Q: “he’s still a good coach. Didn’t work out at Ajax. Did a great job at Spurs and there after at Hamburg. Has eye for good players.”
A: “That’s the perception. Reality somewhat different, sadly.”
“there’s a wider point here. because there is little to no transparency at PL clubs, UK media have little idea what managers do or don’t do..”
“… that’s why opinions are formed on the basis of pressers and interviews.”
All of which overlooks a decent managerial career in which he won 45% of his games at Spurs (acceptable), 60% at Hamburg and 65% at Ajax. All of those are well into the “competent” level of management (Spurs) and depending on what was expected of him, well beyond that since.
We’ll just have to see, won’t we? It’s nice to have a charismatic manager who will reassure some of the better players that we still mean business. It’s less nice that they’ll all have to prove themselves again, find a new style, etc, etc, but such is football. Under the circumstances I believe we ought to be happy with how things have turned out. Welcome, Martin Jol!