Sport Soccer

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Fulham target Jones after Ajax meet Jol's demands

Mark Fleming

Fulham are to turn their attentions to Cardiff City's Dave Jones after their preferred choice as manager, Martin Jol, performed a U-turn yesterday and decided to stay with Ajax.

Jol's change of heart left Fulham high and dry. The west London club have been without a manager for three weeks since Roy Hodgson took over at Liverpool and are keen to have a replacement in place quickly.

Jones is believed to be the preferred choice of many of the Fulham players, after performing well in testing circumstances. He took Cardiff to the verge of the Premier League last season, losing 3-2 to Blackpool in the play-off final at Wembley in May, despite the club's financial problems. Jones also led them to the 2008 FA Cup final, losing 1-0 to Portsmouth.

However, Cardiff remain a club in crisis. They are currently banned from signing players because of a £500,000 debt owed to Charlton for defender Mark Hudson. Two weeks ago they finally paid the £1.9m owed in tax that had threatened to put them out of existence.

Jones would be likely to relish the chance to work again in the Premier League, having previously managed Southampton and Wolves in the top flight.

Fulham had to start the hunt for a new manager all over again after Jol backed out yesterday. They had offered double the salary they had paid Hodgson, but it was not enough to land the Dutchman, who used Fulham's interest to negotiate the funds to buy two new players at Ajax, a right winger and a striker.

Jol had agreed personal terms with Fulham earlier this week, but then subsequently made several demands to the Ajax board concerning player sales and recruitment. The club agreed to a number of concessions and at the 11th hour the manager decided to stay.

Jol yesterday gave contradictory accounts of events depending on who was asking the questions.

To the Dutch media he played down Fulham's interest in bringing him back to England. The former Tottenham manager told Amsterdam-based newspaper 'De Telegraaf': "I've always had the intention of staying at Ajax. I was just looking to get some clarity on the future of the club and that's what I got when I talked with (Ajax chief executive) Rik van den Boog on Wednesday evening. Fulham was just a nice alternative."

Later, however, he told Sky Sports News that Ajax had blocked his move, although he wanted to go.

"It was unbelievable. I like Fulham, I like England, I like London," he said.

"So, I was probably a bit disappointed I had to say no, because the board don't want to let me go under any circumstances.

"He (Fulham chief executive Alistair Mackintosh) was offering a good job at a good club." (© Independent News Service)

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