Crystal Palace v Fulham match preview: Pressure building on Martin Jol and Ian Holloway to rescue poor starts to Premier League season
Defeat for Fulham or Palace tonight would leave losing manager fearing for their future
Sunday 20 October 2013
Martin Jol may be under pressure, but he remains typically relaxed. When asked whether he has yet met with Shahid Khan, the new Fulham owner widely understood to be assessing his position, the manager could not help a humourous flourish. “Of course. I met him last time he was here with the girls, with his beautiful girls.”
Jol was talking about the Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleaders, who were at Craven Cottage when Fulham finally claimed a first win since the opening day by fortuitously beating Stoke 1-0. They will be back in London on Sunday, when Khan’s NFL franchise play the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley. Jol has been invited to watch but the wonder is whether the cordiality will last much longer. Some around Fulham believe Khan has been delaying any decision until this visit, because he wants to give Jol the chance to steady the team.
The intrigue of tonight’s match at Selhurst Park is that Crystal Palace are apparently viewing it in a similar way. Although Ian Holloway’s poor record of just one win and six defeats has hardly been helped by a difficult opening set of fixtures – Tottenham Hotspur at home, Manchester United and Liverpool away – the questions will become tougher if he cannot claim points at home against Fulham. Defeat tonight could begin to determine either manager’s future.
At least Khan has a clear idea what he wants to do with Fulham, which has been complicated by the manner their form has dropped off from this point last season, as well as the rumours of some squad discontentment. Jol abrasively denied such speculation on Thursday.
With Palace, it’s more complex. Essentially, their perceived troubles have become exaggerated because the regime achieved success ahead of schedule. Having seen his club promoted giddily quickly, chairman Steve Parrish had to re-adjust his steadier three-year plan for the Premier League. Most conspicuously, that necessitated rethinking their summer transfer policy three times – balancing an attempt to stay in the division with their existing approach to buying young and securing the future. It was something Jol alluded to as he discussed Holloway’s pursuit of eventual Fulham signing Darren Bent.
“Maybe they haven’t got the resources like Liverpool, [Manchester] United, whatever, but I think they did well. If you look at the quality they’ve got up front and the players they bought, they wanted for example Darren Bent. They were in for Scott Parker.”
In the end, Palace got a somewhat curious mix of signings which has affected the balance of the squad and not necessarily lifted the standard. As it is, only Joel Ward and Mile Jedinak have really excelled. This is also not to absolve Holloway. Although he spent the summer insisting lessons had been learned from his 2010-11 relegation at Blackpool, Holloway continues to play the naïvely expansive football that does not quite work.
It is the sort of space that players such as Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz could finally revel in, like they did for the first half of last season. At the same time, it might just be the approach to unnerve an anxious Fulham backline.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
Latest in Sport
Phil Hughes injury: Cricket world reels as Australian opener 'fights for his life'
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund player ratings: Who was the star man at the Emirates? Alexis Sanchez? Santi Cazorla? Or Yaya Sanogo?
Phil Hughes: A swashbuckling, raw and talented batsman who had the world at his feet
Phil Hughes dead: List of players who have tragically died on the cricket pitch
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund report: Yaya Sanogo and Alexis Sanchez are on target as Gunners secure impressive victory
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'