Thursday 14 December 2017

Meulensteen casts long shadow over under-pressure Jol

Fulham manager Martin Jol may not get the chance to oversee the promised transformation at Craven Cottage.

Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Swansea was Fulham's fifth loss in a row and dampened hopes that Rene Meulensteen's arrival as head coach would trigger a rapid improvement.

The result puts even more pressure on Jol, who is the bookies' odds-on favourite to be the next Premier League manager to be sacked. Jol insists he was the one who made the decision to bring in Meulensteen ("he called me and told me that he would like to come"), despite many seeing the former Manchester United coach as a manager in waiting.

"He said he would come and that is good because it is a different mouth," Jol said.

"It gives you different things in training and on the pitch. He said he would like to get the best out of (Dimitar) Berbatov, for example, which is what I always try to do and it didn't pay off against Swansea."

Tony Pulis begins work as manager at Crystal Palace today with the fillip of a first away win of the season on the day of his appointment. Palace's 1-0 win at Hull City came in only their fourth match so far against opponents who might be considered fellow relegation candidates; their next three fixtures pitch them against Norwich, West Ham and Cardiff.

Newcastle United's recent revival continued with a 2-1 win over Norwich City – their third consecutive victory – and defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is confident the upward trend will continue, thanks to France's qualification for the World Cup finals.

Yanga-Mbiwa is part of a large French contingent on Tyneside and is hoping to join clubmates Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy in the squad to travel to Brazil next year.

"All the players are confident," he said. "All the players are happy and trying to do well to help themselves go to the World Cup."

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet said he would wait for a call from referees' chief Mike Riley, who phoned Steve Clarke last week to apologise for an error.

Poyet felt aggrieved after Kevin Friend sent off Wes Brown in the 2-0 defeat to Stoke which sent Sunderland back to the bottom of the Premier League. (© Independent News Service)

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