Archive for July, 2010

Welcome Mark Hughes

July 29, 2010

So after weeks of speculation regarding the vacant managers position at Fulham, Mark Hughes has been unveiled as the new gaffer on a two year contract.

My instant reaction is one of relief combined with the excitement that a new managerial appointment brings.

What can we expect? Well to a certain extent it is a case of wait and see. New managers bring new players and new ideas to a club. I cannot pretend to be an expert on Hughes tactics/playing style but his managerial record is certainly impressive. With Wales, Hughes was on the verge of qualification to Euro 2004, beating Italy twice in qualification (much to my chagrin). At Blackburn, Hughes turned around a side destined for relegation and got them into Europe (sound familiar?). Success at Blackburn meant that when Sven Goran Eriksson was fired from Man City, Thaksin Sinawatra came calling. His tenure at Man City ultimately ended in disappointment in rather harsh terms having not lost a game all season.

As a personality I won’t pretend that I am a massive fan. To put it plainly he is a moaner and a rather sore loser, which is something that is a major difference from the previous regime. I was always a huge fan of the Hodgson approach to the media and not the biggest fan of Hughes’. However, if Hughes starts to deliver results one can hardly criticise how he handles the media. To put a positive spin on Hughes’s attitude, it is the attitude of a winner. He has a fire in his belly and in all probability a chip on his shoulder since his exit from Man City.  A manager who shows real ambition is always a bonus and I am sure that he will be working his hardest to achieve what I believe to be his ultimate goal, replacing Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Overall I am pretty pleased with how the Fulham managerial search has turned out. Hitzfeld would have been the standout appointment but that was always unlikely to happen. I think that Jol and Hughes are very much on a par so or new manager is not in any way a step down after the public chase of Jol. Sparky has a lot to live up to following in the footsteps of Roy Hodgson but I am sure he is up to the test.  Whatever happens, I am sure the coming season will be interesting.

No Jol

July 22, 2010

Well that ended rather abruptly! After a week of careful negotiation, Ajax have finally put a stop to the deal.

Or at least that is what Fulham are telling the media. Ajax claim that Jol wants to stay. Who knows what happened, but there is little point discussing it now. However frustrated we as fans feel, I am sure Alistair Mackintosh and the rest of the board are even more so.

Who is next? To be frank, nobody knows. I am sure that Fulham have a shortlist and I am also sure that there will not be a rushed appointment of someone unsuited to the club. I am still championing Vahid Halihodzic but he doesn’t even appear to be in the frame.

Whatever happens in the next few weeks I am sure the Fulham board will make a sensible appointment. MAF appears to want a high profile manager and he is a man who usually gets what he wants.

Fulham’s Next Manager – The Candidates

July 12, 2010

Although I have as much of an idea as the papers as to who will be managing Fulham next season (read: none at all) lets have a look at the candidates, or at least the ones that I consider serious candidates.

The Early Favourite – Sven Goran Eriksson. Has been touted by almost all papers as the successor to Roy Hodgson. As has been mentioned on other blogs Sven would represent continuity going forward. He learnt from Hodgson and plays a very similar style, albeit a slightly more attacking one. Opinion amongst the fans seems to be split here, some fans worried that he is a mercenary who will try to suck Fulham dry  whilst others see his outstanding track record at club level and his potential appointment as a massive step forward for the club. I am very much in the latter group. For me, Sven would represent a coup for the club. I am not expecting to be challenging for Europe, but Sven would consolidate Fulham further, maybe bringing in more flair and I would expect Fulham to comfortably steer clear of relegation. Will he come? Is he actually even in the running? Who knows, but I would be delighted if he was appointed.

The Safe Pick – Alan Curbishley. Greeted with derision by the vast majority of Fulham fans, Curbishley would be the safe pick. He has an excellent record in the premier league with both Charlton and West Ham and would steady the ship. Again, I would expect Curbishley to help steer Fulham clear of relegation next season. Whilst not the most inspiring pick, he would undoubtably be good for Fulham and my Charlton supporting friends cannot say enough good things about him. The biggest obstacle to Curbishley coming to Fulham however, is his relationship with several key players. He has a rocky relationship with both Konchesky and Murphy so this move seems unlikely to me.

The Young Manager – Mark Hughes. Not exactly inexperienced but one of the youngest potential candidates. An excellent manager at Blackburn, Hughes was unlucky at Man City. Whilst there is no doubting his credentials as a manager, he is probably my least favourite manager personality wise, too often moaning in post game interviews and ungracious in both victory and defeat. I am sure that he could take the club forward but I just can’t see this coming off. Not only does Hughes come with a large entourage but I can see his demands being fairly stringent in terms of his wage and guarantees over the transfer budget.

The International Manager – Slaven Bilic. This would be the adventurous pick. Has a good record with Croatia but has very little managerial experience at club level. He would certainly be an exciting pick and Fulham would play more expansive football. It was rumored that he was poised to take over before Coleman took over, but that never materialised. Brave pick, but fortune often favours the brave.

The Wildcards – Ottmar Hitzfeld and Vahid Halilhodzic. These are the guys that I would love to see. Hitzfeld is one of the most successful club managers of all time. For me he would be a class appointment and show a real statement of intent by the club. He is currently with Switzerland but with a few years until the next tournament he may be looking for a new challenge. Halilhodzic is my preference. He has not even been mentioned as of yet, but he would be a very Hodgsonesque appointment. He has had lots of success with clubs a similar size to Fulham (Lilles and Rennes) but has struggled over the last few years in the wilderness. He made a comeback as the Ivory Coast manager but political rangling got him fired 4 months before the World Cup. Halilhodzic is experienced and out of contract, two things that Al-Fayed seems to prize above other things.

Now that I have laid out some of the options for the vacant managerial position, expect someone completely different to step into the breach!

Goodbye Roy and Thanks for the Memories

July 1, 2010

So Roy is now gone. After weeks of speculation Hodgson was confirmed as the boss of Liverpool FC this morning.

I will always consider Hogdson the best Fulham manager of all time. He performed miracles with the club, turning Fulham from perennial relegation candidates (and in the year of his appointment, near certainties for the drop) into a consistent, defensively strong (!!) and cohesive unit, whilst maintaining attractive football and a team first mentality. Anyone who can get Fulham to a European Final will have my respect.

Unfortunately the backlash has already begun. The messageboards are full of screams of ‘Judas’ and ‘Hypocrite’. Many fans believe that Roy has been disloyal to the Fulham cause, some sort of managerial tart who used Fulham for his own ends. This is nonsense. Roy’s silence over the last few weeks has been down to the fact that he was not officially offered the job until this week. People say that he should have been more open, but that would not have helped at all, jeopardising his position both at Fulham and in the managerial race for Liverpool. If you had been lined up for a job that was better paid and more high profile would you walk around your current employers and spout off about it before it was confirmed? Thought not.

An interesting summer period lies ahead for Fulham in terms of finding a new manager, new players and holding on to the players that they already have. The Fulham chronicle is reporting that Fulham might take up to a month to appoint a new manager, which has been met with howls of derision. ‘It’s damaging the club during the important transfer period’ people are screaming. Au contraire, the need to take time with what is probably the most important decision a club can make is crucial. Why rush into the appointment of a manager when there is time to asses the candidates properly? When a company looks for a new CEO there is an average period of six months searching. Football clubs could do well to heed this advice in order to find the perfect appointment rather than the easiest/cheapest/quickest option.

I will post my thoughts on a successor to Roy in due course, but for now all I will do is wish the man well. I would be delighted if he succeeded at Liverpool. After years in the wilderness he is finally getting the recognition that he deserves. Good Luck Roy, and as for Fulham, onwards and upwards.