Well who knows then?
I don’t mind Meulensteen going. I never warmed to him and thought he was a bit slick from the outset. It sounds like the Chief Executive had the same opinion and decided that enough was enough.
The trick here is that a season is finite. You have 38 games, no more, no less, to determine your future. It took 13 games to remove Martin Jol despite the fact that the team was very clearly in awful shape long before this. This might be an area where statistical analysis could have been useful: as I was pointing out week after week, we were being outshot by about 25 to 8 most weeks which was so calamitously bad that it shouldn’t have been allowed to carry on.
So what, we wasted how many games there? 5? Part of the problem was that Jol got the odd half decent result when he needed it: in retrospect the spectacular away win at Palace did more harm than good, with a crackling atmosphere and two world class goals convincing many that this team had the scope to get better, never mind that Palace were even worse than us at the time and had dominated spells of the game before Kasami’s intervention.
Meulensteen got the chance to try to turn things around but did pretty much what Jol did. It was Jol’s squad in the most part but as has been widely observed, Tony Pulis and Gus Poyet have organised their squads in much less time than Meulensteen took. And really, if we’re going to take two games against the top half in which we rarely saw the ball and jammed a point in total, well maybe we’re all going mad. 12 weeks might not be a long time but in that time span Lord Sugar has selected his Apprentice. Think of it that way! In any case, the 6-0 defeat in Hull could have spelled the end, the 4-1 home defeat to Sunderland should have done, but wins against Norwich and West Ham (since when are we using these as benchmarks for progress?) got him a bit longer, too. That and the nuisance of the January transfer window, in which a manager must be ‘backed’ if he is to then thrive.
If both managers had 5 matches too long then that’s 10 games wasted and that’s probably the season gone.
Some of this must be at the feet of the board. Not sacking Jol was in retrospect a huge blunder, but the ‘wait and see’ non-decision over Meulensteen and the embarrassment that has been Curbishley and Wilkins has perhaps even trumped it. As recently as the end of December, Fulham must have been buttering up these experience football men, telling them how their experience and know how could make the difference. Now, in mid February, the opposite is true. The club just wants them to go away.
This is football so usual rules of common sense don’t always apply, but goodness me. Is succession planning part of the board’s remit? Not by the looks of things.
This season has been a shambles from top to bottom. The sterling work with the youth sides should be a highlight but is being overshadowed by the carnage at first team level. The club needs to take a step back, have a look at what it wants to achieve and act sensibly to a 5 year plan that might include relegation or might not. If we act rationally then a talented squad can rebound quickly; if we act randomly and changing direction every three months we have no hope.