Early Europa return is blessing not burden, says Jol

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The Independent Football

The Fulham manager Martin Jol insists nobody is complaining about the Cottagers' early return to competitive football and even backed his charges to repeat the Europa League exploits of two years ago.

The former Tottenham manager began pre-season with his new troops last week in preparation for his first match at the helm against NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands in the Europa League first round tonight.

Fulham have fond memories of the competition having defeated the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk, Hamburg and Juventus on the way to a final showdown with Atletico Madrid in 2010. The run surprised many but Jol believes the Cottagers could once again progress through the competition.

"I would imagine that there are quite a few teams that would like to be in Europe," he said. "In Holland you play for Europe and I think it is the same in England. In the league you play for the support and yourself.

"You want to stay in the league firstly, but secondly you want to finish in the first five or six spots. You want to be in Europe. That is the goal. Maybe that wasn't the goal for Fulham but because they are playing the way they did, they did well in the Fair Play. If you can do that and if you're lucky enough you play in Europe, you can't complain. Two years ago they did unbelievably well, gave the club a good profile in Europe and the money was coming in as well."

Asked whether his side could repeat the exploits of 2010, he added: "You need a bit of luck but I remember Fulham playing against Shakhtar Donetsk and beating them. I cannot remember Shakhtar losing a game at home so they certainly played a way that could prove to be successful in Europe, so why not?"

Jol admitted that he would need a squad of more than 20 players to reach such heady heights again but refused to comment on any of the players he is looking to bring in. The likes of Tottenham's David Bentley and Jermaine Jenas have been linked with a move to west London, while West Ham striker Carlton Cole has also been mentioned as a target.

"I will never name names because in this business there are always other clubs watching you," he said. "We will do that privately. I have seen eight or nine names linked with us and that was not true.

"We need a couple of additions but I won't bring players here for the sake of it because we still have young players as well. I have to give them a chance to play, to be happy and to develop themselves. I think there will be two or three players coming into my squad and I will give them a chance in the next couple of weeks to prove themselves."