New Fulham Head Coach Rene Meulensteen Must Resolve Tactical Imbalance

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterNovember 13, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 05:  Sir Alex Ferguson the manager of Manchester United talks with Rene Meulensteen during a Manchester United training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Carrington Training Ground on April 5, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Fulham Football Club have confirmed the arrival of Rene Meulensteen as Head Coach on their official website.

The Dutchman will work alongside current incumbent Martin Jol to improve performances in the team and raise the standard of play.

Speculation was rife that the Cottagers would ditch their manager during the international break and start fresh, but instead have sought to appoint an influential, knowledgeable source to work alongside their beleaguered leader.

After a decade at Manchester United working under Sir Alex Ferguson, Meulensteen left the club at the time of the Scot's retirement. He chanced first-team management, but was quickly removed from his position as manager of Anzhi Makhachkala during one of the most famous U-turns in the history of football chairmen.

Since then he's been looking for work, and West London is his landing spot. The job? Sort out a bit of a mess at Craven Cottage, and to do so, the first issue he must address is the tactical imbalance in the side.

The warning sides were there in the summer: After a great opening salvo of transfers that included Fernando Amorebieta, Maarten Stekelenburg and the permanent signing of Sascha Riether, things started to go a little pear-shaped.

Adel Taarabt and Darren Bent were recruited—both single-minded attacking players with little to no work ethic defensively—and questions were raised over how Fulham were set to balance themselves moving forward and tracking back.

Adding Taarabt and Bent to the existing collection of Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz is a madman's move (unless you're Manchester United), and the signing of Scott Parker soon followed.

The intent was clear: We need some grit, some solidity, to counteract the incredible amount of flair and goalscoring potential up top. None of the four players in advanced positions have a track record of tracking back, and the onus is too often falling upon a beleaguered midfield.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09:  Fulham Manager Martin Jol looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Fulham at Anfield on November 9, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Parker's role was clear-cut, but he's struggling to ace it given the immense workload on his shoulders. He's not a mobile runner anymore, and when Steve Sidwell isn't on his game, the Cottagers can struggle to even supply their mercurial playmakers.

Fulham's record in the league isn't the worst this season, but their three victories have come against Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Sunderland. These are teams everyone would expect to beat given their respective early form, and the Cottagers' points tally of 10 is, in a way, false.

Jol's XI is either gung-ho attacking with a lack of balance, or ultimately defensive and struggling to get out of its own half. Southampton and Liverpool have both made them look like a lower-league club in recent weeks, and it's not solely down to to the strength of the opposition.

It's been a dodgy start to the season for Fulham, and Shahid Khan has decided Jol needs help, not firing.

Is it a precursor to Meulensteen taking the reins in a month, or is it a genuine partnership? Whatever the situation, both men need to get their heads together and sort out the balance (or lack thereof) in this side.