Friday 22 September 2017

Jol stays positive despite criticism

Simon Peach

Fulham fans turned on manager Martin Jol and his players after Swansea condemned the west London side to a fifth successive defeat in all competitions.

There had been a feel-good factor around Craven Cottage early on, with a promising start by the Whites complementing the recent appointment of highly-rated Rene Meulensteen as head coach. However, that positive atmosphere turned poisonous as Swansea grew into the game, with supporters making their feelings known to under-fire Jol and his players during the 2-1 defeat.

'Jol out' rung out as time was called on the Whites' latest loss, with that anger continuing to spill over as he trudged across from the managers' bench to the tunnel.

"I can understand (the fans' anger), of course. You don't enjoy that, but the first half they were behind us because they could see us playing with a good rhythm, creating a few chances," said Jol.

"But the second half, if you are 1-0 down, then 1-1 and then 2-1 down, you get this sort of criticism. You need points, you need wins. But I think, especially in the first half, we were good enough to score three goals and we didn't."

Jol is the bookmakers' overwhelming favourite to be the next manager to leave after this latest defeat, which keeps them in the relegation zone.

The Dutchman admits he is "not sure" whether he can turn the fans around, but is confident he can oversee an improvement in the results. Asked what keeps him driven to succeed given the supporters' anger, Jol said: "But then somebody else has to do it and I still know these players. I brought a lot of players in and they know me. There is no problem in the dressing room.

"You need 40 points and Swansea, for example, would have been below us if we would have had the winner today and there is no problem over there. We scored their first goal for them, so what is the difference between success and failure?"

Things could have been so much different had Dimitar Berbatov or Darren Bent netted during a dominant start to proceedings. The latter came closest by hitting the post, with Swansea taking the lead through an Aaron Hughes own goal early in the second half.

Scott Parker drew parity when a cross looped in, but Fulham were unable to hold out as substitute Jonjo Shelvey rifled home spectacularly with 10 minutes remaining. While galling for Fulham, it was a morale-boosting first three points for Swansea since October 19, propelling the Welsh side into the top half.

"Well, a win is always important," Swansea manager Michael Laudrup said. "It was a great away win after what happened in the last game (against Stoke), when we should have won only for two points to fly away in the last second.

"We knew that Fulham would be very difficult opponents today. They have lost some games recently but they had a chance to beat us today and go above us and away from the relegation zone.

"We got a great second goal and in the end the win, so I really have to say I am very, very pleased with the win and the performance."

Sunday Independent

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