Jol well aware future 'grim' if Cottagers fail to banish that sinking feeling
Gloom in the east, doom in the west. Or, to put it another way, a couple of 'hams' in a pickle. This afternoon Fulham take on West Ham at Upton Park in what has become a time of anxious uncertainty for both. There is one sure thing about today, though: by tea-time one side will have been booed off.
The mood among the supporters of both London clubs is not one of sweetness and light and one set, possibly even both, will be glummer by full-time.
Fulham begin the day below the relegation line, West Ham above it only by a superior goal difference. The loser will be in the bottom three. Last time out Fulham were jeered off amid calls for the head of manager Martin Jol, after losing at home to Swansea. Later that day West Ham were run ragged on their own turf by Chelsea.
Their manager Sam Allardyce is secure, at least for the moment. Jol, on the other hand, accepts that if he does not conjure up points his future at Fulham is grim.
"It's unpleasant but it is part of our job, a big part," said Jol. "You can be in heaven one moment and two weeks later you get all the criticism. You have to get used to it."
Once, when under pressure at Tottenham, Jol gave a colourful interview to 'Match of the Day' in which he described how a cornered cat can produce a leap of surprise.
In his time in English football, three years at Tottenham and now in his third season at Fulham, the Dutchman has garnered a reputation for being one of the more cheery presences on the touchline.
But five straight defeats and discord in the stands is not a recipe for cheer – especially when watched over by a new owner, and it does not usually take much for a new owner to want a new man in the dugout.
Shahid Khan, the US-based, Pakistani-born car-parts tycoon, bought Fulham in the summer. Khan exudes flamboyance but his early months at the club have been anything but.
Khan speaks daily to the club's chief executive, Alistair Mackintosh, and regularly to Jol. The manager accepts his future is at immediate risk. "If I were on the board now I would be worrying," said Jol.
Meanwhile, it was this time three years ago that Allardyce parted company with Blackburn out of the blue. He is safe for the moment at Upton Park, although the need for West Ham to be in the Premier League come moving day to the Olympic Stadium is paramount.
It is a big day for both men and one that needs a return for both. "None of us expected to be where we are at this stage, but the league table tells the story," said Allardyce. (© Independent News Service)