Fulham have sacked manager Martin Jol following a slow start to the campaign that will force the club to fight its way clear of the relegation zone during the second half of the season.
The club confirmed the move on its website:
Shahid Khan, Chairman of Fulham Football Club, this afternoon announced that Rene Meulensteen will run First Team duties, effective immediately, taking over for Martin Jol.
“Today I spoke with Martin to thank him for his efforts on behalf of Fulham Football Club over the past three seasons and, in particular, since my becoming Chairman earlier this year,” Khan said. “Martin was very gracious and I appreciate his understanding of the situation. There is no question Martin is an excellent football man and he has my utmost respect for the commitment he made to our Club.
“However, our poor form and results this season are undeniable, and Fulham supporters deserve better. With more than half the season still ahead, an immediate change was necessary.”
After finishing ninth in Jol's first campaign at Craven Cottage, Fulham faded into the bottom half of the table in his second term with a 12th-place finish. As the negative trend continued early in the season, Fulham decided it was time to make a switch.
The club's poor performance left few options beyond attempting to shake things up by letting Jol go. The Cottagers needed a wake-up call before it was too late, and this move should serve that purpose after a poor string of results.
Fulham's struggles aren't entirely Jol's fault, of course. The club has been unable to land top transfer targets in recent years, which caused the squad's talent level to dip and made it tougher to keep up with the clubs in the top half of the table.
That said, Jol failed to provide the leadership spark the club needed, and the relegation-level results illustrated that.
Jol talked about his time at Fulham in the release:
It was a privilege to manage Fulham, one of the great clubs in the Premier League or anywhere in the world. I am disappointed in this season but know there are better days ahead for Fulham and its supporters. I will always treasure my experience here and want to thank Mr. Khan and everyone at Fulham for the opportunity.
Jol previously made managerial stops at Ajax, Hamburg and Tottenham, among others. Although he's had stretches of success during each of his last four stops, he hasn't lasted four years with any club since earlier in his career with RKC Waalwijk.
Although he seemed like a good fit for Fulham at the outset, the Cottagers weren't able to sustain that initial success and it was impossible to ignore the increasingly troublesome position Fulham found itself in early this season.
So as Jol steps away, the onus will fall on veteran players like Damien Duff and Dimitar Berbatov to keep the squad together during the transition period. They don't want to dig an even bigger hole before the latter stages of the campaign.
The move certainly doesn't come as a surprise, but now it's official.