Was Fulham ever really the right move for Martin Jol?

The return of Martin Jol to the Premier League would have been one welcomed by many neutral fans. The amiable Dutchman hasn’t been seen on these shores since he was sacked by Tottenham back in 2007, and a return to England with Fulham would have given him the chance to cut his teeth in the Premiership once more. The 54-year-old was being lined up to replace Roy Hodgson at Craven Cottage, which would have given him the unenviable task of building on a 12th placed finish and a Europa League cup final enjoyed by the Cottagers last season. On the face of it, it looked like an impossible task, and is this why Fulham wasn’t the right club to prove the Tottenham board wrong?

Since he’s been away Jol has plied his trade in Germany with Hamburg, where the Dutchman achieved some success, before returning to his homeland and taking the prestigious job of Ajax manager after just one season. Despite an impressive points tally, Ajax were pipped to the Eredivisie by one point by Steve McLaren’s FC Twente and once again Jol is on the move after just one season in the job. If he had of left Amsterdam he would have left behind the most high profile job in Holland, surely a move to Fulham wouldn’t have been the right way to go?

Martin Jol enjoyed three years at White Hart Lane in charge of Tottenham, during which time he built a good rapport with the Spurs fans. After finding his feet at the club, Jol led Tottenham to consecutive 5th placed finished in the league and back-to-back European qualification. In the summer of 2007 Jol spent big money on bringing the likes of Darren Bent, Younes Kaboul and Gareth Bale to the club, spending in the region of £40m and thus big things were expected. But a dismal start to the season immediately put the Dutchman under pressure and it wasn’t long until the Tottenham board gave him his marching orders.

You feel that since Jol’s been away he’s always kept one eye on the Premier League and was waiting patiently for his chance to return. The way he was dismissed at Spurs will stick in the back of his throat and it will also irk him that Harry Redknapp has achieved the Champions League qualification that he was chasing, something Jol will feel he would have achieved if left to finish what he started. Jol has to look at the bigger picture though, a return to the Premier League is desperately what he wants, but with Fulham he would not have been able to achieve his goals.

It would be disrespectful to Fulham to say that Jol was considering returning to the Premier League in a bid to prove a point to the Spurs board but it was a major reason and the fact that he considered leaving a high-profile club in the form of Ajax shows this. It seems as though proving the Tottenham board wrong is at the top of Jol’s to-do list in the near future, Fulham simply wasn’t the club to do that at, but which Premier League clubs would provide the Dutchman the springboard he needed? The answer is not many, so maybe Jol would be better leaving the past firmly in the past, where it should be kept.

 


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