Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
Too late to the first fire, too early to the second. This is no way to run a… fire department. (We’re mixing our metaphors before we’ve even begun. Hold on tight. This could get iffy).
Alright. So Martin Jol does bad things. The club is in disarray. Rene Meulensteen comes in with various new ideas that he tries out in turn, as is his right (Roy did the same, remember? Eddie Johnson started against Everton in the run-in.) He gets some things right, draws a line in the sand where ‘flair’ players are concerned, and makes a conscious effort to make the team younger.
Then, when the team finally looks like it might be his, when he’s finally starting to win this observer over (honestly I didn’t like him at all until Manchester United), when the team looks like it might be worth something next season (even in the Championship), this.
Meulensteen has done a lot right. It took time, but he realised that the Sidwell/Parker ‘engine room’ was a busted flush. He slaughtered the sacred cow and banished Parker to the bench (sorry, I’m not even trying to self-edit here). He has whopped another sacred cow on the head and dropped Brede Hangeland, which might or might not be reasonable but at least shows some guts. He has entrusted young Dan Burn with a typically “experienced” role and Burn has done very well, more or less. He has shown us a side to Kieron Richardson that we didn’t know existed. He has been very astute with his acquisitions: I love what I’m seeing in Ryan Tunnicliffe, who looks very mature for such a young player. William Kvist is a dream for a fan like me. I love players like him. EVEN DARREN BENT IS SHOWING SIGNS OF LIFE.
No, we are not on an upswing in the way you might normally describe an upswing but we appear to have left behind our “calamity Fulham” period and the future is something we are not afraid of. That is Rene’s doing (or Ray’s and Alan’s – how could we ever know?).
Wolfgang Felix Magath (seen here in his Villa days*).
He’s supposedly good at rescuing struggling teams. He’s supposedly all about fitness, hard work and discipline (really). He’s supposedly extremely good. Well, fabulous. This is quite a coup. A boon, even. But…
And, Meulensteen may apparently be staying as first team coach, which amounts to something of a dream team if it’s true. But…
It’s like we’re a moth, and OOOH, THE LIGHT IS ON, LET’S GO OVER THERE!!!! OOOH ANOTHER LIGHT, OVER THERE! And on and on and on. We had a bad plan to start with (Jol), plan B was to help Jol with Meulensteen, then the Jol bit was dropped, then at some point the two horsemen of the Champsionship (tish-boom!) arrived (Wilkins and Curbishley), and that’s either plan C, D or E, and now we think that no, despite Wilkins’ fine record as a number 2, despite Curbishley’s vast knowledge of managing in English football, regardless of Rene’s previous work with Cristiano Ronaldo on the training ground, THAT’S NOT ENOUGH and now we have “F Plan”, which may be the best idea anyone’s ever had but there’s bugger all time to find out now. The team might adapt to Magath exceedingly quickly and coast through the remainder of the season, in which case I take everything back, but…
No, maybe that’s right. Maybe desperate times do call for desperate measures. They haven’t done something really ridiculous, Magath is a good manager and as long as he doesn’t break the youngsters this doesn’t have to derail anything. It’s just so weird. Fulham don’t tend to do things like this. I think that’s it: this may very well be the right thing to do, but it’s happening in a way that makes it look like the very wrong thing to do. I think there’s a story about a giant wildfire and the cleverest fireman’s response was not to run away, but to start his own fire in the probable path of the incoming one. It looked like utter madness but of course the deliberate fire burned all the things that could be burned and in so doing prevented the big fire from spreading. Something like that.