Jol targets Hughton as first signing for Fulham
MARTIN JOL'S first task as the new manager of Fulham will be to try to persuade Chris Hughton to join the club as his assistant.
Jol signed a two-year deal, with an option for a further 12 months, to take over at Craven Cottage yesterday and immediately set about trying to get Hughton, who successfully worked as his No 2 at Tottenham Hotspur.
However, it is understood Hughton is reluctant to step back into being part of a back-room staff and wants to explore any opportunities he has to be a manager himself again before making a decision. The former Irish international has been strongly linked to the vacant post at Cardiff City.
It was Jol's close friendship with Hughton that led to the 55-year-old Dutchman ruling himself out of the running to become Newcastle United's manager at the end of last year. Hughton was harshly sacked at St James' Park and has been out of work since.
For Fulham owner Mohamed al-Fayed, the pieces of the jigsaw have fallen into place like a dream. His 11-month marriage of convenience to Mark Hughes has ended without the club owing anyone a penny and now he has the manager he had wanted when Roy Hodgson resigned last August.
Hughes was appointed only when Jol was unable to extricate himself from his contract at Ajax after agreeing a three-year deal to take over at Fulham.
According to sources in the Netherlands, the Cottagers' owner kept in close contact with Jol, particularly since he decided in December to resign as manager of Ajax after a run of bad results.
Jol is understood to have told Fulham that he was keen on taking a break from the game, and he has spent the past few months at his home in the seaside town of Scheveningen.
However, the club's persistence has had its reward as Jol has turned down interest from Aston Villa and Wolfsburg to take up the reins at Fulham, where he will be given around £15m to invest on new players.
Jol has agreed an initial two-year contract at Craven Cottage, worth around £2m a year, with the option of a further 12 months, and becomes the club's third manager in as many seasons.
The Dutchman will appoint his brother, Cock, as one of his assistants and will also hire Michael Lindeman, who worked with him at Hamburg and Ajax, as well as Ray Lewington, who is already at the club and was Hodgson's assistant.
Jol (55) returns to England with an impressive, if not overwhelming, record in management.
After a playing career that included three seasons in England with West Bromwich Albion and Coventry City, he was appointed as assistant manager at Tottenham to Frenchman Jacques Santini in 2004, after 13 years working as a coach in the Netherlands.
Santini resigned in November that year and Jol took over, leading the club to a ninth-place finish -- enough to earn him a new three-year contract.
In 2006, he led Tottenham to fifth spot, missing out on a Champions League place when players were hit by food poisoning (from lasagne) hours before the final game of the season.
They finished fifth again the following campaign, but continued clashes with chairman Daniel Levy ate away at Jol's standing and the club were caught red-handed negotiating with Juande Ramos behind his back.
The much-liked Dutchman, whose successful signings included Gareth Bale and Dimitar Berbatov, was later shamefully sacked, having been texted during the club's UEFA Cup defeat to Getafe by his nephew informing him of his fate.
The folly of the move was exposed when Ramos was axed a year later, with Tottenham bottom of the table.
Jol returned to management at Hamburg in 2008, where he finished fifth in the Bundesliga, before taking over a year later at Ajax, whom he led to the Dutch Cup and second place in the Eredivisie, scoring 106 goals and conceding just 20.
However, that relationship soured when the Ajax legend Johan Cruyff was called in to overhaul the club and recommended recruiting more former players, leaving Jol's position untenable.
Yesterday, he intimated that he felt he had unfinished business in the Premier League.
"I could have gone to other countries to coach but I was waiting for the opportunity to come back to England," he said.
Al-Fayed paid tribute to Jol, declaring: "Martin knows my vision for the club and he believes in what we are striving to achieve. We have enjoyed three incredibly successful years, and my hopes and dreams for this club are for that journey to continue."