Friday 24 November 2017

Jol to bolster squad as Fulham target cup run

Jim van Wijk

Martin Jol intends to make an impact at Fulham, but knows nobody is expecting him to launch the west London club into the Champions League.

The 55-year-old former Tottenham boss was unveiled as Mark Hughes' successor at Craven Cottage yesterday -- the Welshman resigned at the end of last season.

Jol has been linked with a raid on his former club for Ireland striker Robbie Keane. While he refused to name possible transfer targets, Jol maintains he will need four or five new signings to complement what he feels is already a decent squad.

"It's a good squad, experienced players with a couple of young exciting players like (Moussa) Dembele who I know very well from Holland," he said.

"I will decide on the players in the next few weeks. Four or five left, so we need to make a couple of signings."

Jol had spells coaching in Germany and at Ajax, who blocked his potential move to Fulham last summer, after being dismissed from White Hart Lane following three years at the helm in 2007.

Relative

The Dutch coach, however, understands that success with his new club will be very much relative.

"Expectation is the same everywhere," said Jol, whose first game in charge will be a Europa League qualifier against NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands on June 30.

"At Spurs we finished fifth twice and of course they wanted to be ambitious, so we had to tell everyone that we wanted to be in the top four and we were in that position for seven months of the season until the last game.

"However, that does not mean that you don't want to achieve a lot for the club.

"There is always one thing that is familiar and that is to make people happy, so I can only be satisfied when everyone around me is happy.

"I had a good look at the (fans' website) forums and they expect us to do well, but they don't expect us to be in the Champions League."

Fulham rallied following a poor start under Hughes last season to finish in the top half of the Premier League, and landed a European campaign via the Fair Play table.

Jol sees no reason why he cannot look to emulate those achievements during his first season at the helm.

"We were eighth last season and hopefully we can get into the top 10 because four points could be the difference between seventh and 11th.

"With English players as a good base, hopefully we can do well.

"It is Premier League safety first, then you want to try to do well in the cups, because it has been a long time since Fulham played in a (domestic) final. Hopefully we can do something there and also finish as high as possible in the league, to build a young team for the future."

While Jol admits the early timing of a European campaign is not ideal, he hopes having a competitive fixture will add bite to the Cottagers' pre-season preparations.

"This is only the second or third time Fulham have been in Europe," said the former Hamburg boss.

"I could have said 'let's start (training) early in June', but I thought it was a bad idea.

"You could consider it a friendly game with a serious touch.

"We will get the information we need and do the preparation for the game.

"However, it is not a good combination, the Europa League and Premier League, so we focus on the Premier League."

Jol is relishing his return to the English game, and insists it is not a case of unfinished business or any "hard feelings" towards his old employers at White Hart Lane.

"I have got a very good relationship with (Tottenham chairman) Daniel (Levy)," said the Dutchman.

"He looked after me, he always did. There's no hard feelings. Of course you'd like to stay -- I would like to stay here for four, five years."

Irish Independent

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